Judicial District of Macleod

The Collections Management Section is pleased to announce that the records of the Judicial District of Macleod sous-fonds (GR0023.014SF) have been redescribed to the subseries level and are now available on HeRMIS.

The origins of this district date back to 1884, when the Government of the Northwest Territories created a Fort Macleod Division within the Judicial District of Alberta. Based in Fort Macleod and serving the southwestern part of the province, this division served as a judicial centre for the District Court, the High Court of Justice, and the Supreme Court of the Northwest Territories during the territorial era. With the creation of the Province of Alberta in 1905, the subsequent establishment of the province’s judicial system resulted in the creation of the Judicial District of Macleod in 1906. The District was disbanded on December 31, 1994, and its territory was added to the Judicial District of Lethbridge.

The sous-fonds consists of approximately 195 linear metres of records and 109 microfilm reels including civil, criminal, divorce, and probate cases that took place in Fort Macleod and area between 1880 and 1979. The sous-fonds also includes the records of the Sheriff and Clerk of the Judicial District of Fort Macleod. The court case files are rich sources of social, aboriginal, and family history that may contain statements of claim about disputed events, information pertaining to criminal complaints and their disposition, wills of deceased individuals, divorces, and, in some cases, verbatim transcripts of preliminary hearings and trials. The sous-fonds also comprises Workmen’s Compensation Act case files documenting workers’ injury claims against their employers, which include many of the coal mines in the Crowsnest Pass. The sous-fonds also contains records pertaining to the registration of chattel mortgages, liens, naturalizations, and other documents from 1883 to 1967 as part of the judicial district’s registration function.

The records of the District contain a number of unusual series including client files for the law practice of Edward P. McNeill, who later served as a local judge for District Court of Alberta; notebooks for Judge James F. Macleod, the Commissioner of the Northwest Mounted Police who later served Alberta’s first magistrate; inquest files from 1884-1905 that date prior to the establishment of the province’s coroner system; and a significant volume of Clerk’s files from the 1880s to the 1950s containing trial exhibits and other records.

The records of the Judicial District of Macleod sous-fonds are open without restriction and may be accessed in the Sandra Thomson Reading Room during regular hours. Thanks to the efforts of volunteers at the Provincial Archives of Alberta, finding aids for the probate files of this Judicial District for the period 1897-1975 have been completed and recently uploaded to the online HeRMIS database.