National Archives of Canada, formerly the Public Archives of Canada until 1987, merged with the National Library of Canada in 2004 to become Library and Archives Canada. Established in 1872, it continues its mandate as part of Library and Archives Canada. As the national keeper of Canada's documentary unpublished records, the former National Archives continues to house material from many sources and relating to all aspects of Canadian life. An order-in-council (1872) appointed an officer in the Department of Agriculture to be responsible for historical documents of national significance. This marked the beginning of Canada's first federal archives. In 1903, the head of the Archives was given the additional responsibility of selecting and preserving valuable records of the federal government. An Act of Parliament (1912) transformed the Archives into a separate department, the Public Archives.
Collections now comprise millions of documents, such as copies of early French and British records relating to the colonial regime in Canada, files from all federal government departments and agencies, as well as documentary art, caricatures, maps and atlases, medals and photographs. Correspondence and other papers of individuals and private societies, films, TV programs, sound recordings and computer-generated records are also included. As part of Library and Archives Canada, the former National Archives continues to preserve these materials and provide consultation facilities to make them accessible to researchers from Canada and abroad.
To reach the general public, the Library and Archives Canada continues to maintain the former National Archives' web site, to produce brochures and reference material, and to present exhibitions that highlight its diverse holdings and illustrate the country's development. It also continues to play an important role in government administration by assisting federal departments and agencies in using efficient records management systems, in ensuring that papers created in the course of administration are systematically destroyed when no longer needed, and that valuable documents are preserved and eventually transferred to its permanent collections.