No. 10
28 January 1861
I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of Mr Fortescue's Despatch No 57 of the 27th of October, on the subject of two
letters
letters addressed to me by Colonel Moody, dated respectively the 24th and 22nd of August last; the first relative to my having instructed the Magistrate of the Hope District "to select the site," and lay "out a Town" on the Shimilkomeen River; and the second respecting the provision made in the Estimates of 1860-61 to meet the expenses of the Royal Engineers in
British
British Columbia.  
2. Those letters having been received on the eve of my departure on a protracted journey into British Columbia, where I had an opportunity of conferring personally with Colonel Moody, and there being really no point at issue with him, and the subject referred to in his letter of the 24th of August never having been
since
since brought under my notice, I have inadvertently neglected to forward those letters to Your Grace.  
3. I now however, do myself the honour of transmitting them, with some necessary remarks. I will not attempt to explain Colonel Moody's object in addressing to me his letter of the 24th of August, but I beg to assure Your Grace
that
that so far from restricting the exercise of his legitimate powers, I have used every effort to increase and promote the efficiency of the Department of Lands and Works; and I have no doubt Colonel Moody will be the first to admit that he has personally met with every consideration and attention from me; and that our intercourse, both public and private,
has
has been uniformly cordial, confidential, and friendly. So far from assuming any vexatious controul over the subordinate departments of Government, I have in every instance allowed the freest scope for the exercise of talent and experience, by throwing the whole labour and responsibility entirely upon the Officers conducting the departments; using only
a
a necessary discretion in regulating details, restricting expenditures, rejecting the wild and theoretical in principle, and striving to establish a thoroughly sound and practical system.  
4. In a Colony so extensive, inaccessible, and of whose physical character so little was known as British Columbia, the Lands and Works
Department
Department had to cope with peculiar difficulties that would have taken years to surmount, and the energies of the department might have been exerted to little purpose had it been cast upon the wilderness and left to take its course without experienced direction. The mountain passes and the general character of the ground had to
be
be examined before roads could be laid out, and the country opened for travel; a service which alone cost a vast amount of labour.  
5. To save time and expense, all the preliminary explorations on the great thoroughfares leading from Douglas, Hope, and Yale, into the country beyond the mountains, were executed by the District
Officers
Officers, assisted by Indian Guides, and white men inured to hardship and privation: and when by that means the shortest and most accessible routes had been unmistakeably established, the Commissioner of Lands and Works was authorised to complete the surveys, to lay out the roads, fix the grades, to contract for the work, and the necessary funds
were
were placed at his disposal, in order that the whole execution should be left entirely in his hands.  
6. The Town Sites in British Columbia, New Westminster excepted, which was a deliberate selection, were all determined by public choice, influenced by local circumstances of necessity or convenience; for example—Hope, Yale
and
and Douglas, from being at the head of Steam Navigation in their respective Districts, and Cayoosh and Lytton convenient termini in the route by land: the plans and laying out of those Towns, however, devolved in every instance on the Chief Commissioner of Lands and Works.  
7. The circumstance which gave rise to Colonel
Moody's
Moody
's letter of the 24th of August was as follows: owing to rumoured discoveries of Gold at Shimilkomeen and Rock Creek, I directed Mr O'Reilly, the Magistrate of Hope, to visit those places for information; and as the public exigencies absolutely required that a Town Site should be selected without delay, in the country beyond the Hope mountains, for the
Storage
storage of supplies to meet the wants of the Shimilkomeen and Rock Creek Districts, and as all the Officers of the Royal Engineers were otherwise employed, and Colonel Moody himself supposed to be absent on duty, Mr O'Reilly was directed to make the choice.  
I, at the same time, addressed a note to Colonel Moody, of which a Copy is
enclosed
enclosed, repeating the instructions to Mr O'Reilly, which were—to select a Town Site—and nothing more; not, as is stated in Colonel Moody's letter, "to lay out a Town", an expression, which as Your Grace will observe, does not occur in my letter; and that such was not my intention, may be further inferred
from
from the fact that it would have been imposing on the Magistrate a task which neither his previous experience, nor the means at his disposal, qualified him to perform. When addressing that letter to Colonel Moody, I was under the impression that he was engaged in examining the Roads, then in course of formation, beyond Yale: it appears
however,
however, that he received my letter, and was present at Hope, when Mr O'Reilly left that place. As Colonel Moody did take those serious views of Mr O'Reilly's mission, represented in his letter, which though sound in principle, I think totally inapplicable to the case of a mere commercial town, whose position must after all be determined by
public
public convenience, as people are not generally disposed to perch their houses upon bleak mountains or inaccessible cliffs, simply because they happen to be good military positions, his proper course, instead of referring to me for orders, which could not possibly reach him in time to be of any use, was to have proceeded at once
to
to Shimilkomeen, which is only 70 miles distant from Hope, and done whatever appeared to him necessary in the case.  
As Colonel Moody exercises the absolute controul in his own department, and may in the course of duty visit at his own discretion any part of the Colony he pleases, I must confess my inability
to
to explain why he departed from the rule on that occasion; but of this I can assure Your Grace, that there was no cause for assuming that my approval would have been withheld.  
8. With reference to the remaining letter of Colonel Moody, No 438, dated Hope 22nd August 1860, I have merely
to
to remark that it was called forth by my communicating to him the purport of the information received from Your Grace with respect to the provision made in the Estimates for the Year 1860-61, to meet the expenditure of the Royal Engineers in British Columbia; but in doing so, I had no intention for one moment
of
of creating the impression that any breach of the terms and privileges guaranteed to his Command by Her Majesty's Government, was either contemplated or intended; and having afterwards personally explained this to Colonel Moody, I considered he was satisfied, and that there was no further occasion to take notice of the
matter
matter.  
I have the honor to be
My Lord Duke,
Your Grace's most obedient
and humble Servant,
James Douglas
Minutes by CO staff
Mr Elliot
In 9922/60 Colonel Moody represents that the Governor informed him in a letter dated the 15th Augt that the Magistrate of the District had been instructed to select the site and, as Col. Moody understood, lay out a Town on the Similkomeen River. Of the imposition of this duty on a Magistrate he, Col. Moody, complained to the Governor—the selection of Town sites, laying out of Towns, deciding on lines of roads being exclusively the province of the Chief Commissioner of public works.  
Col. Moody sent to this Office on the 17 Oct/60, copies of the above representation & of another one he had also addressed to the Govr touching the pay of the Royal Engineers.  
This office called on the Govr for a report, and in this despatch the Governor explains that he certainly did desire the Magistrate to select a Town site but that he did not tell him to lay out the Town. The Governor adds that he thought Col. Moody was absent from N. Westminster when he gave the above instruction to the Magistrate—that the contemplated Town had commercial prospects—that persons wd not settle themselves in a situation chosen solely for military reasons, & that Colonel Moody, might, witht fear of disapproval on his part, have gone to Similkomeen to do what was necessary.  
Colonel Moody in saying that the Magistrate was, as he understood, to lay out the Town certainly supposed more than he was warranted in doing. The Governor, whatever might be the inference said no such thing. Moody, therefore, went beyond the case. The fact, howr remains, that the Governor ordered the Magistrate to perform a duty which strictly devolved upon the Chief Comner to do. Consequently, as it seems to me the Governor committed an error, & especially a serious one as the town was to be in the vicinity of the Frontier. If Colonel Moody does not take into his consn all the reasons, commercial, military & otherwise, which dictate the solution of a site for a Town, when his decision has to be formed, he is unfit for the post he occupies. But we have no complaints or statements to that effect. The Governor has preferred none, nor any body else. I therefore think myself that the Governor made a mistake in employing the Magistrate on the business, and that the supposed temporary absence of Colonel Moody is not a sufficient excuse for his having done so.  
ABd
11 April/61
Mr Fortescue
I am obliged to say that I differ from this view. I think that Governor Douglas has given a sufficient explanation of the course he took. In a new Colony such as British Columbia promptitude and vigor are indispensable. Coll Moody is inclined to be querulous and has shown more activity since he was in Columbia, in writing letters than in effecting good works. I am afraid too that he has a disposition to write private letters to this Office which is an objectionable and unfair practice, and is one by which we ought to take care that no man finds that he gains an advantage over the Governor of a Colony.  
I should be disposed to answer that the Secretary of State is satisfied with his explanation.  
TFE
12 April
I agree.  
CF
15
N
17
Other documents included in the file
  • Draft reply, Newcastle to Douglas, No. 76, 30 April 1861.  
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
  • Moody to Douglas, 22 August 1860, discussing the finances of the colony with respect to the pay and maintenance of the Royal Engineers.  
  • Moody to Douglas, 24 August 1860, disputing the governor's action in appointing a magistrate to select a town site and lay out a town on the Similkameen River, such activities being properly conferred on the Department of Lands and Works.  
  • Douglas to Moody, 15 August 1860, discussing the growing importance of the Similkameen region and advising that he had directed O'Reilly to select a town site in the area.  
 
Despatch to London:
Douglas to Newcastle, 28 January 1861, National Archives of the UK, 3007, CO 60/10. The Colonial Despatches of Vancouver Island and British Columbia 1846-1871. Ed. James Hendrickson and the Colonial Despatches project. Victoria: University of Victoria. http://bcgenesis.uvic.ca/getDoc.htm?id=B61010.scx. Accessed 12 December 2017. 

Last modified: 16:11:56, 10/5/2015