From 1913-1919, the Board of Control was Halifax's most influential arm of civic government. It was composed of the Mayor and four controllers who were elected by the City at-large. Aldermen continued to represent their wards, however Council's power was greatly reduced, as was its size (down from 3 to 2 aldermen per ward). Aldermen met irregularly, whereas the controllers met as often as necessary, often three times per week. Power became centralized in the Board of Control and aldermen were often pitted against controllers.
By 1918 opposition to the Board of Control system was mounting; 10 of 12 aldermen resigned in protest, essentially leaving city governance to the mayor and controllers. The Nova Scotia Legislature had to step in and order a plebiscite on the Board of Control. Haligonians voted to eliminate the Board of Control and elections for aldermen were held on May 28, 1919.
For a more in-depth history, read the Board of Control (102-2) administrative history, or Henry Roper's Acadiensis article The Halifax Board of Control: the failure of municipal reform.
Significance of Board of Control minutes
The Board of Control lasted only six years, but 1913-1919 was an eventful and tumultuous period for Halifax. This was war-time, plus there were transit strikes, construction of Ocean Terminals Railway, outbreaks of infectious diseases, and then the Halifax Explosion devastated the City. All these major crises were discussed by the Board of Control along with the regular City decisions re: development, services, taxation etc. (Minutes related to the Halifax Explosion have been summarized as part of our Halifax Explosion source guide.)
Board of Control minutes are an important supplement to the City Council minutes from this time period, which are also available online.
How to find relevant minutes
Searchable copies of the original Board of Control minute-books are available below. Find minutes of interest in multiple ways:
- Open individual pdfs from the list below if you know a year of interest, or
- Open the Index created by the City Clerk and Find relevant entries; note the year and page#, then open the PDF below, or
- Search all of the minutes by: going to Google.ca, enter "site:https://www.halifax.ca/about-halifax/municipal-archives/source-guides/historical-council-minutes/halifax-board-control_your search term" (where _ is a space).
Board of Control reports and submissions
Some correspondence and reports were transcribed into the minutes; however lengthier documents were filed separately as Board of Control submissions (102-2B). These have not been digitized, however search in the detailed item listing (large PDF) and request any relevant documents from the Archives. These documents can give fuller context to the issues discussed by the Board.