Know How

The blog of the Great Library

Finding Old Regulations: Part II – Federal

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To paraphrase what we said in an earlier post, Finding Old Regulations: Part I – Ontario, finding regulations is much easier now than it used to be. Visiting the Justice Laws website, you can locate official versions of consolidated federal regulations, both current and previous versions (back to March 22, 2006). 

Justice Laws doesn’t include regulations as enacted, but these can be found in the Canada Gazette Part II. The Canada Gazette website contains all issues published since 1998.

So far, so good. But what if you are trying to find a much older federal regulation, say one from 1940 or 1899?

When you don’t know how to research older legislation such as regulations, it’s wise to consult a resource that explains these materials, including how and where they were published. The book Canadian Official Publications1 (Call #: Z 1373 B55) does exactly that. Chapter 10 provides a brief history of delegated legislation, including federal regulations.

On page 141 of this title you’ll discover the invaluable information that the federal government passed an Order-in-Council (P.C. 5355) in 1947 requiring all proclamations, orders, rules, and regulations that were registered in the Privy Council Office to be published in the newly created Canada Gazette, Part II, officially entitled Statutory Orders and Regulations. This Order-in-Council was effective January 1, 1947.

So, this means that federal regulations were not required to be published prior to January 1, 1947. If you are looking for a pre-1947 regulation, then you begin a needle in the haystack search in the Canada Gazette indexes for a possible regulation that may or may not have been published! You can search the print volumes available at the Great Library, or the digitized versions available through the Canada Gazette Archives (1841-1997).

Just for interest: currently it’s the Statutory Instruments Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. S-22, that governs how regulations are made, published and when they come into effect.

1 Olga B. Bishop, Canadian Official Publications (Toronto: Pergamon Press, 1981)

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