No. 22
Victoria Vancouver's Island
15th July 1857
Sir
1. I have the honor of communicating for your information the substance of advices which I have lately received from the interior of the Continent north of the 49th Parallel of latitude, corroborating the former accounts from that quarter, respecting the auriferous
character
character of certain Districts of the country on the right bank of the Columbia River, and of the extensive table land which divides it from Fraser's River.  
2. There is however as yet a degree of uncertainty respecting the productiveness of those gold fields, for reports vary so much on that point, some parties representing the deposits as exceedingly rich, while others are of opinion, that they will not repay the labor and outlay of working, that I feel it would be premature for me to give a decided opinion on the subject.  
3. It is however certain that Gold has been found in many places by washing the soil of the River beds, and also
of
of the mountain sides; but on the other hand the quantities hitherto collected are inconsiderable and do not lend much support to the opinion entertained of the richness of those deposits, so that the question as to their ultimate value remains thus undetermined, and will probably not be decided until more extensive re-searches are made.  
4. A new element of difficulty in exploring the gold country has been interposed through the opposition of the native Indian Tribes of Thompson's River, who have lately taken the high handed, though probably not unwise course, of expelling all the parties of gold diggers, composed chiefly of
persons
persons from the American Territories, who had forced an entrance into their country. They have also openly expressed a determination to resist all attempts at working gold in any of the streams flowing into Thompson's River; both from a desire to monopolize the precious metal, for their own benefit, and from a well founded impression that the shoals of salmon which annually ascend those rivers, and furnish the principal food of the inhabitants will be driven off, and prevented from making their annual migrations from the sea.  
5. The officers in command of the Hudson's Bay Company's Posts
in
in that quarter have received orders carefully to respect the feelings of the Natives in that matter, and not to employ any of the Company's Servants, in washing out gold without their full approbation and consent.  
There is therefore nothing to apprehend on the part of the Hudson's Bay Company's servants, but there is much reason to fear that serious affrays may take place between the natives and the motley adventurers, who will be attracted by the reputed wealth of the country, from the United States possessions in Oregon, and may probably attempt to overpower the opposition of the natives by force of arms, and thus endanger the peace of the country.  
6. I beg to submit, if
in
in that case, it may not become a question whether the Natives are entitled to the protection of Her Majesty's Government; and if an officer invested with the requisite authority should not, without delay, be appointed for that purpose.  
I have the honor to be Sir
Your most obedient humble Servant
James Douglas
Governor

The Right Honble Henry Labouchere Esqre
Her Majesty's principal Secretary of State
For the Colonial Department.
Minutes by CO staff
Mr Merivale
The Governor again (see 5815/56) renews his suggestion for the establishment of some authority in the Upper Columbia District, whh shall be able to preserve order amongst expected gold diggers, & between them & the Indians. Any Officer, or force stationed there wd have to be paid by the British Treasury, for which Parlt would have to be applied to. The Appointment of a Protector of Indians without a sufficiency of men under him wd be of little avail.  
ABd
19 S
Mr Labouchere
The region referred to is within the North West Territory, over which the H.B.Co. possess the exclusive right of trade, under license, until 1859. If the Governor's request for the appointment of a British officer in that country were acceded to, there would be nothing unreasonable in saying that the HBC, who at present derive the sole & exclusive advantage from that country, should pay him so long as their license is maintained. But it is impossible to consider these questions in a mere insulated way. If any interference is to take place, I believe it will be necessary to except this district out of the renewed license: to form it into a colony: and to incur the cost of the necessary first establishments. If this extension of dominion is not worth our while, then the proposal must be rejected or at least adjourned until more definite information of the real importance of this gold field reaches us.  
HM
S 21
Mr Merivale
I will see Capt Shepherd about this.  
HL
23
I think that this question shd be postponed till we receive more definite information.  
HL
S 30
Put by—the further "definite information" not having arrived.
 
ABd
13 Feb
 
Despatch to London:
Douglas to Labouchere, 15 July 1857, National Archives of the UK, 8657, CO 305/8. 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=V57022.scx. Accessed 19 September 2017. 

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