No. 38
29 November 1858
1. The first operation disposing of public lands, in British Columbia took place here on the 25th of Instant, under the direction of Mr Pemberton, Colonial SurveyorforManuscript image for Vancouver's Island.
2. The spot selected for sale was the site of a former establishment of the Hudson's Bay Company, known as "Old Fort Langley", 1 on the left bank of Fraser's River
I.e. The South or American side of the River, which cannot therefore be quite so safe from an attack, if a Town is built there, as it wd have been if the right or North Side of the river had been chosen. ABd
about 28 miles from its debouche into the Gulf of Georgia. The anchorage is good and the River deep enough for ships close into the bank. With a cheerful aspect, a surface well adapted for buildings and drainage—it has the disadvantage of being in part low and occasionally flooded by the River—thegreaterManuscript image greater part of the site is however a dry elevated Table Land, closely covered with bush and lofty pine trees.
3. On the whole it is a place to which public attention was strongly directed as being a very advantageous site for a commercial town. I therefore directed that it should be surveyed and laid out into convenient lots for sale. The main streets 78 feet wide, are intended to run parallel with the River, connected by cross streets at right angles with the former, the whole site covering 900 acres of land,beingManuscript image being divided into 183 blocks of 5 by 10 chains and each of those blocks being further subdivided into 18 building lots 64 by 120 feet in extent, forming in all 3294 building lots.
4. It was arranged that the upset price was to be $100.00 or £20-16-8. There was a large assemblage of people on the morning of the sale, and much competition for lots. The highest price obtained for single lots was 725 dollars, and about 187 lots were sold on the first day's sale and 155 lots on the second day,theManuscript image the whole yielding a sum of about £13,000, on which a deposit of 10 per cent was paid down and the remainder is to be paid in course of a month, or the lots will be resold. 2
5. The sale is to be resumed on the 1st December and I will further mention the result in a postcript to this letter, should the Mail now daily expected, not leave before that date, and also forward Mr Surveyor Pemberton's Report of the sale.
6. The result of this first experiment is highly satisfactory as intimating theconfidenceManuscript image confidence entertained by the public in the resources of British Columbia, and at the same time yielding a needful supply of money for defraying the necessary expenses of the public service.
7. As much anxiety was felt by foreigners desirous of acquiring property in British Columbia, with respect to the rights of aliens to hold and transfer real estate under the British Crown, I issued a note giving a brief exposition of the question and caused it to be read before the crowd assembled at the sale, and generally circulated for theinformationManuscript image information of the public, in order that no misapprehension might exist on the subject, and I herewith transmit a copy of that note for your information. 3
8. I am now preparing a measure which proposes to secure to aliens the full rights of possession and enjoyment of any lands which they may purchase of the Crown for the space of 3 years, when they will be required to become British Subjects or convey their rights to other parties who enjoy that privilege by birth or naturalization. That measure being in conformitywithManuscript image with the spirit of your instructions will I trust meet with the approval of Her Majesty's Government.
I have etc.
James Douglas
[P.S.] 1 Decr. Mr Pembertons Report referred to in this Despatch is herewith forwarded with the latest particulars of the sale. Jas Douglas
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
Manuscript image
Joseph D. Pemberton, Acting Colonial Surveyor, to Douglas, 30 November 1858, reporting on the sale of town lots at Langley.
Manuscript image
Note "As to the purchase of Lands by Aliens," 25 November 1858.
Minutes by CO staff
Manuscript image
Mr ElliotMr Merivale
Land Board for early report, & observations.
ABd 31 Jany
For Parliament?
I cannot say I fully understand the meaning of the Governor's "note" about land held by aliens. But no notice need apparently be taken at present. Land Board?
HM Jan 31
At once—the sooner that they can give us their report the better as this desp. will have to be given to Parlt very shortly.
C Feby 1
Other documents included in the file
Manuscript image
Draft reply, Lytton to Douglas, No. 20, 11 February 1859. 4
  1. , See footnote in Douglas to Stanley, 10 June 1858, No. 24, 7828, CO 60/1, p. 29.
  2. = sale of land at Ft Langley. For the names of purchasers and prices paid, see the Gazette, 30 November 1858.
  3. = Begbie's note The note was printed as Chief Justice Begbie's Opinion, concerning Rights of Aliens, and appears in British Columbia, List of Proclamations and in (CO 61/??) Papers Relative to the Affairs of British Columbia, Part II, p. 38. Is note in file printed??
  4. = 2nd draft reply This is a second draft of the draft reply in Douglas to Lytton, 27 November 1858, No. 37, 1053, CO 60/1, p. 447.
People in this document

Begbie, Matthew Baillie

Blackwood, Arthur Johnstone

Carnarvon, Earl

Douglas, James

Elliot, Thomas Frederick

Lytton, Edward George Earle Bulwer

Merivale, Herman

Pemberton, Joseph Despard

Organizations in this document

Hudson's Bay Company

Places in this document

British Columbia

Fraser River


Old Fort Langley

Strait of Georgia

Vancouver Island