British Columbia Royal and Special Commissions: 1872-1980

Royal commissions commenced in British Columbia in 1872, under the authority of the Public Inquiries Act. Chaired by one or more highly-respected persons (usually retired judges), royal commissions are legally autonomous from government.

There are generally two types of royal commissions: policy commissions struck to investigate matters of great societal importance; or investigative commissions set up to investigate individual or institutional misconduct. The results are usually published in large reports detailing the commissions’ findings and recommendations for legislative and policy changes.

In 1979 the former Public Inquiries Act and Ministerial Inquiries Act were consolidated into the Inquiry Act. On June 21, 2007, the British Columbia Legislature passed a new Public Inquiry Act (S.B.C. 2007, c. 9) with revised parameters for conducting royal commissions in British Columbia.

About this Portal

The Legislative Library has the most comprehensive collection of BC royal and special commissions reports in the Province with documents dating back to 1872.

In Spring 2011, the Legislative Library digitized over two hundred reports published between 1872 and 1980. There are some gaps in the collection: several reports issued between 1872 and 1942 are reported as missing and some commissions were set-up and terminated before completing their work. The terminated commissions are not listed in this portal.

All royal and special commissions reports published after 1980 are available online and can be searched via the online catalogue.

Browse Commissions 1872-1980


Commissions are also listed in the following checklists published by the Legislative Library. Use the checklists to find summaries and related materials published by the commissions.

Checklist 1872-1942
Checklist 1943-1980

Errata and updated information as of November 2008
Checklist 1981-2005