Berens to Lytton
Hudson's Bay, House London,
12th August 1858
I have the honour of transmitting for your information copious extracts from the correspondence of Governor Douglas on the subject of the Gold diggings in British Columbia and Vancouver's Island. And as an act of justice to Governor Douglas I take this opportunity of expressing the strong feeling of the Committee of the Hudson's Bay Company on the admirable judgment with which that gentleman, in the face of unprecedented and unlooked for difficulties, has contrived to maintain peace and order among the lawless
2n as to lawless. ABd?
crowds who have so suddenly assembled in the territory. The Committee feel confident that Governor Douglas's [efforts] will also meet with the approbation of Her Majesty's Government.
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As the extracts from Governor Douglas's despatches which we have sent are rather voluminous, I take the liberty of drawing your special attention to one which appears under the date of June 23rd, with respect to the sending out of an additional number of Surveyors. Governor Douglas not being aware that this territory had been erected into a Colony, and that consequently the authority of the Hudson's Bay Company had ceased, wrote to us to send out Surveyors. Such a duty no longer devolves upon us, but as he seems to attach importance to the prompt arrival of assistance in the Surveying Department, I take the liberty of drawing your attention to his request.
I have the honour to be Sir
Your most obedt Servant
H.H. Berens
Depty Govr
The Right Honble Sir Edwd Bulwer Lytton Bart.
&c &c &c
Minutes by CO staff
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Mr Merivale
It would, perhaps, be the most convenient course to allow MrBerens to peruse the late despatches to Govr Douglas, as they show that Sir E. Lytton has cordially approved Governor Douglas' general proceedings. These papers add little if anything, to the infn already furnished to this office.
ABd 14 Agt
I was going to recommend that MrBerens should see the Despatches, for a frank communication with the Company is due to them & facilitates final negotiation.
EBL Aug 14
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Put by.
Documents enclosed with the main document (transcribed)
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1. Douglas to William G. Smith, 7 June 1858, reporting on his visit to the gold fields.
Copy of a letter from James Douglas
Esqre to W. G. Smith, Esqre, Secretary,
Hudson’s Bay Company, dated Victoria,
Vancouver’s Island, 7th June 1858.____


I have just returned from the Falls of Fraser's River, having in the course of that journey visited all the gold diggings between Fort Langley and Fort Yale. The ascent of the River by canoe, occupying about four days from Fort Langley to Fort Yale was arduous, on account of its being then in a flooded state, but not at all dangerous; and I think that Stern wheel Steamers drawing not over 36 inches may effect the ascent to Fort Yale at the lowest stage of water, or in fact at any Season of the year except when the river is frozen.
I am, however, anticipating the course of my narrative. In consequence of my requisition to Captain Prevost, Her Majesty’s Ship “SatelliteManuscript imagewas anchored off the mouth of Fraser’s River, and her launch and gig, well manned and armed, proceeded with me to Fort Langley. I there appointed two Revenue Officers, uneducated men for want of better instruments, to enforce the Revenue laws and the trading rights of the Hudson’s Bay Company, as set forth in my Proclamation of the 8th May. They have since made seizures of several lots of contraband goods, and had 16 unlicensed canoes in custody on my return from Fort Yale.
As the canoes were manned exclusively by gold miners, and contained only their provisions, mining tools, and personal clothing, without any articles for trade, I caused them to be released, and granted to each canoe a pass, of which I enclose a copy, at a charge of 5 dollars for each, and the amount, 80 dollars so formed has been carried to account of “Public Revenue.”
The contraband goods will be brought to trial on the 11th Instant, Manuscript imageand be probably condemned as lawful seizures, under the 167th Section of “The Customs Consolidation Act 1853.”
The “Satellite’s” launch was left at Fort Langley, to support the officers of the Revenue, and Captain Prevost in his gig, with 6 hands, accompanied me to Fort Yale, a post, allow me to explain, which exists only in name, as the few huts of which it was composed were several years ago abandoned, and have disappeared. As the place is now one of great importance, we have re-occupied it, and commenced building a Store house there, which I expect will be finished in course of a few weeks more.
Fort Hope is also an outpost, put up in the cheapest and most simple form, for the accommodation of the brigades passing to and from the interior, and is in charge of a labouring servant. The site, which is immediately on the banks of Fraser’s River, is very beautiful, and well chosen, about a mile below the confluence of the {Quequealla} River, through the valley Manuscript imageof which passes the best road to Thompson’s River.
The actual gold diggings commence on a River Bar, one mile below Fort Hope, and from that point upwards to Fort Yale, a distance of 20 miles, we found 6 parties of miners successfully engaged in digging for gold, on as many partially dry River Bars; the total number of whites employed on those six bars being about 190 men, and perhaps double the same number of Indians. The diggings became richer as we advanced, as far as “Hill’s Bar,” 4 miles below Fort Yale, which is the richest ‘bar’ workable at the present high state of water. The gold is taken entirely from the Surface, there being no excavation on those Bars, beyond the depth of two feet, the water preventing their going to a greater depth. Mr. Hill, the party after whom the Bar is named, produced for my inspection the product of his morning’s (6 hours) work, with a rocker and three hands besides himself, nearly 6 ozs. of Manuscript imageclean float gold, worth one hundred dollars in money, being at the rate of 50 dollars a day for each man employed. This was the largest day’s work he had ever made in Fraser’s River, and every day he observed was not so productive.
The other miners whom I questioned about their earnings were making from two and a half to 25 dollars to the man for the day. The greatest instance of mining success which I heard of in the course of our journey fell to the lot of three men, who collected in seven working days 190 ounces of gold dust on “Sailor’s Bar,” 10 miles above Fort Yale, being at the rate of 9 ounces a day for each man.
Thirty miners arrived from the upper country during our stay at Fort Yale, with a very favourable report as to its productiveness in gold. They prospected the river banks to the Great Falls of Fraser’s River, 40 miles beyond the confluence of Thompson’s River, and many of the tributary streams, in all of which they found gold, frequently in pieces ranging in size from one Manuscript imageto 10 pennyweights. The country beyond that point is considered promising, and for anything we know to the contrary, the whole course of Fraser’s River, even to the Rocky Mountains, may be auriferous.
Those miners were prevented from going further into the country by the want of provisions, which compelled them to return to the Settlements for supplies. They were very successful in mining about the Great Falls, and made from 10 to 30 dollars to the man a day.
William C. Johnson, an old California miner told me that he had prospected Morrison’s River, and passed from thence to the Great Falls of Fraser’s River, and he observed much gold-bearing quartz in the course of his journey. Another old miner assured me that he had found large quantities of gold-bearing quartz in the mountains near Fort Hope, which he thinks will pay better than the California quartz rock, a report which was confirmed by other miners. The miners generally think that Fraser’s River Manuscript imageis richer than any “three rivers” in California.
Thompson’s River & its tributary streams are known to be auriferous, and Chief Trader McLean writes that gold has also lately been discovered in the Great Okanagan Lake.
Mr. Hicks, a respectable miner at Fort Yale, assured me that he had found “flour gold,” that is, gold in powder, floating on the water of Fraser’s River during the freshet, and he thinks that by using quicksilver gold will be found in every part of Fraser’s River, even to its discharge in the Gulf of Georgia.
We have thus evidence of the existence of gold over a vast extent of country situated both north and south of Fraser’s River, and the conviction is gradually forcing itself upon my mind that not only Fraser’s River and its tributary streams, but also the whole country situated to the eastward of the Gulf of Georgia, as far north as Johnston’s Straits, is one continued bed of gold, of incalculable value and extent.
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The question then arises as to the course of policy which in those circumstances the Company ought to take for the protection of their interests and rights of trade.
My own opinion is that the stream of immigration is setting so powerfully towards Fraser’s River that it will be impossible to arrest its course, and that the population thus formed will occupy the land as squatters, if they cannot obtain a title by legal means.
I would therefore recommend that the whole country be immediately thrown open for settlement, the lands surveyed, and sold at a fixed sale, not exceeding Twenty Shillings an acre. By that means and the imposition of a Customs duty on imports, a license duty on miners, and other taxes, a large revenue might be collected for the service of Government.
As the Company would, in that case, have to relinquish their Manuscript imageexclusive rights of trade, they should receive compensation for those rights by an annual payment out of the revenues of the country.
If that plan be adopted, as I think it ought to be, with as little delay as possible, a Surveying Staff should be immediately formed for the purpose of making an extensive survey of the country, and of laying it out into allotments for sale. Mr. Pemberton, the Surveyor of the Colony, and his assistants having a press of work upon their hands in consequence of the great demand for land on Vancouver’s Island, cannot be spared for any other service; assistance should therefore be sent out, and without delay, from England. Probably the Land Boundary commissioner might devote apart of his time to that service.
I will further remark, in conclusion, on the subject of the Company’s rights, that we will continue to guard their privileges of trade and transportation Manuscript imagewith the most scrupulous care, but all our efforts will fail in preserving them for any length of time. It is therefore, I think, better to make a virtue of necessity and to surrender with a good grace a right which is no longer tenable for a full and sufficient compensation, to be paid annually, out of the revenues of the country, and on condition of being secured in the possession of the different trading posts, with their several farms and gardens, now occupied by the Company’s servants.
I should also inform you, before closing this letter, that I appointed Mr. Richard Hicks, a respectable Englishman, whom I found engaged in mining pursuits, as Revenue Officer for the district of Fort Yale, at a salary of £40 a year.
The native Indians were up in arms the day we arrived at “Hill’s Bar,” and, but for the intervention of a merciful Providence, would have made a clean sweep of the whole party Manuscript imageof miners working there. The{y} are not without cause, jealous of the whites and feel greatly annoyed at the quantities of gold taken from their country. I lectured them soundly about their conduct, and took the leading man in the affray, an Indian highly connected in their way, and of great influence, resolution and energy, into my service, and he was very useful in settling other Indian difficulties.
I also spoke out plainly and distinctly to the miners. I refused to grant them any rights of occupation to the soil, and told them that Her Majesty’s Government ignored their very existence in that part of the country, which was not open for the purposes of settlement, that no abuses would be tolerated, and that the law would protect the rights of the Indian no less than of the white man. I also appointed Mr. George Perrier, a British subject, Justice of the Peace for the district of “Hill’s Bar,” and instructed the Indians Manuscript imageto apply to him for redress whenever wronged by white men.
Those arrangements will have the effect of preserving the peace for a time, but without constant and vigilant superintendence on the part of Government, Indian troubles will sooner or later arise.
I have &c
(signed) James Douglas
Minutes by CO staff
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We have received the chief substance of this Letter.
[ABd ] 14 Augt
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2. Douglas to Smith, 9 June 1858, reporting he had provisionally appointed J.D. Pemberton Surveyor General of Fraser's River.
Copy of a letter from James Douglas,
Esqre to W. G. Smith Esqre Secretary,
Hudson’s Bay Company, dated Victoria,
Vancouver’s Island, 9th June 1858._____


With reference to my letter on Fur Trade affairs of the 7th of June, reporting the observations made during my recent journey to the Gold District of Fraser’s River, I recommended, for reasons of obvious necessity, that the whole district of Fraser’s River should be immediately thrown open for settlement, and that assistance should be sent out from England without delay, to make an extensive survey of the country, and to lay it out in convenient allotments for sale.
It has since occurred to me that it may be difficult, on so short a notice, to find properly qualified persons to undertake a survey of so much magnitude and difficulty, and as the object is urgent Manuscript imageand the instructions of the Governor and Committee respecting the opening of Fraser’s River for settlement may arrive months before the arrival of the desired assistants from England I have given instructions to Mr. Pemberton, to whom I have confided the proposed plan with the intention of conferring on him the provisional appointment of Surveyor General of Fraser’s River, to enter into temporary engagements with any qualified persons he may find in the Colony, for the purpose of increasing his staff of assistants, and of engaging actively in those surveys, whenever orders to that effect are received from England.
In the meantime the expense will not be thrown away, as the additional assistants can be usefully employed in laying out allotments for sale on Vancouver’s Island, there being at present a very great and increasing demand for land.
Mr. Pemberton has had many years experience in concluding surveys in the dense forests of Vancouver’s Island, Manuscript imageand I think it fortunate for the country that we have the option of securing the services of a gentleman so thoroughly well qualified by previous training and great natural talent for the responsible and highly important office of Surveyor General.
I propose that the whole Surveying Corps should be placed under the management of the Surveyor General, who will be authorized, after due application, to establish branch offices wherever required, and be held responsible for all details.
I have &c
(signed) James Douglas
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3. Extract, Douglas to Smith, 20 June 1858, recommending the urgent appointment of four more fully qualified surveyors be sent as soon as possible.
Extract of a letter from James Douglas
Esqre to W. G. Smith, Esqre, Secretary,
Hudson’s Bay Company, dated Victoria,
Vancouver’s Island, 20th June, 1858

Reports are continually arriving here confirmatory of the extent and value of the Fraser’s River Gold region. It is also reported that gold has been found in the Cowitchin Valley, Vancouver’s Island. It is also stated on good authority that an Indian brought in a sack containing £20 worth of gold dust, which he collected in Burrard’s Canal or Howe’s Sound, situated on the Gulf of Georgia, Fraser’s River. It is therefore not surprising that under these circumstances the gold excitement throughout this Colony, California and Oregon continues unabated. Crowds of people are coming in from all quarters. The American Steamer “Commodore” arrived on the 13th Instant from San Francisco with 450 passengers, and the Steamer “Panama” came in yesterday from the same port with 750 passengers, and other vessels are reported Manuscript imageto be on their way.
There is now a large and constant demand for the purchase of Colonial land, and our Surveying Staff is utterly inadequate to keep pace with the wants of the public. I have therefore to request that at least four active Surveyors of respectable character and attainments may be sent out to this country, but the Panama route, with as little delay as possible. I do not mean apprentices, but men of experience, capable of carrying on an independent survey under general instructions from the Colonial Surveyor. Mr. Benjamin Pearse, our present Assistant Surveyor, receives a Salary of £230 a year, with board and lodging, and it is probably that his salary will be increased when we commence the survey of the Fraser’s River district.
I mention that circumstance in order to suggest that competent men for the work should be at once employed even though the expense be greater in the outset, as their services are urgently Manuscript imagewanted, and the work will progress with more speed, and be done in a satisfactory manner."
Minutes by CO staff
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This shows the indispensable necessity of despatching promptly the R. Engineers to undertake surveying duties.
[ABd ]
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4. Douglas to Smith, 25 June 1858, relaying Pemberton's suggestions for the qualifications of surveyors wanted and a list of instruments needed.
Copy of a letter from James Douglas Esqre to W. G. Smith Esqre, Secretary, Hudson’s Bay Company, dated Victoria, Vancouver’s Island, 25th June 1858. _____


With reference to my letter of the 9th Instant on Colony affairs, I now beg to hand you copy of a letter from the Surveyor General (Mr Pemberton) containing suggestions respecting the qualifications of the Assistant Surveyors we lately ordered to be sent from England (see Fur Trade Letter of the 20th June). You will perceive that he wishes to have Gentlemen properly qualified by previous instruction and practice, as there is a great amount of work to be done, and their services are immediately wanted.
I also forward herewith a list of Instruments required for the Surveying Department, which we beg may be sent out by the first ship.
I also transmit herewith a Manuscript imagenote of alterations made by my order in the system of allotting land, which will save much time and trouble to the Department, while they will be the means of bringing in a larger revenue to the Colony.
In referring to the concluding remarks of Mr Pemberton’s letter I have merely to suggest that his services are invaluable to us at present, and I am of opinion that no person without his training and experience in the rough work of this country would be so useful or efficient in conducting the work of the Surveying Department.
I also transmit herewith copy of a letter from the Revd Mr Cridge, who has been employed to order an Organ for the Colonial Church at this place. His agent is the Revd A. I. Ram, Vicar of West Ham, Essex. The cost of the instrument will be between £60 and £70, and I have to beg that the sum may be paid to Mr Ram’s order as soon as the Manuscript imageInstrument is is completed, and charged to Vancouver’s Island Colony. The Revd Mr Ram has been instructed by Mr Cridge to send the instrument to the Hudson’s Bay House, and we beg it may be sent out by the first ship to this place.
The first number of the Victoria Gazette issued this day from Fort Victoria, edited by Mr Bartlett. I send two numbers herewith. This place is assuming an aspect very different from its former appearance. Houses are going up in all directions, and the streets are crowded with people.
I have &c
(signed) James Douglas
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5. Douglas to Pemberton, 17 June 1858, instructing him to discontinue estimating allowances for rock or swamp except to sales of more than 640 acres, to make the smallest parcel for sale at 100 acres, and to discontinue registering preemption claims for any reason.
Copy of a letter from Governor James Douglas to Joseph D. Pemberton &c Colonial Surveyor dated Victoria, Vancouver’s Island. Government House June 17th 1858


As it is necessary to simplify details as much as possible in order to get sufficiently quickly through the increased business of the Surveying Department - 1st Discontinue to make estimates or allowances on account of rock or swamp and sell Colonial lands at £1 per acre simply. In special cases however E. G. where the quantity of land to be sold to one purchaser amounts to 640 acres or upwards, you may make what you consider under the circumstances a reasonable deduction where the rock or swamp contained is considerable.
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2nd Make the smallest section of Agricultural land to be sold contain one hundred acres
3rd Discontinue to register Preemption Claims upon any grounds whatever
I have, &c
(signed) J Douglas, Governor
Minutes by CO staff
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This might be shewn to the Chief Officer of R. Engineers who will go out to B.Ca.
[ABd ]
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6. Pemberton to Douglas, 19 June 1858, reviewing arrangements and asking that if he were not to be placed in charge of surveying that he be informed as soon as possible.
Copy of a letter from J. D. Pemberton Esq to his Excellency James Douglas, dated Land Office, Victoria, June 19th 1858.___

You did me the honor to acquaint me with your communication to the Secretary of State for the Colonies dated            , stating your opinion that arrangements to conduct surveys and allocation of Settlers in Vancouver’s Island and in certain Districts bordering upon Frazer’s River should be entrusted to one person, Establishing Branch Offices for these purposes in the different Districts. That until properly qualified Assistants can be procured from England, Assistants shall be engaged at San Francisco, which last Instruction I acted on in my letter to Mess" Lowe and Co dated June 10th
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I would take the liberty of suggesting that in engaging Assistants in England steps should be taken to secure the services of Gentlemen qualified by previous instruction and practice (as there would be no time to instruct them here) and of approved moral characters, as although the situations offered would be subordinate they would be to a great extent Officers of Trust.
As to the exact form and size of allotments, price of Land, reserves, places to be first surveyed and allotted I would I presume receive your instructions before commencing work.
Objections to the present cumbersome form of Indenture and the serious objection that after a purchaser hasManuscript image paid he must wait 12 months for his Indenture, finding which time subsales are with much difficulty made are defects in our present system that you have already had under consideration.
The Instalment system is still in force and I think works well. By your order of thee 17th Instant I have discontinued allowances for Rock or Swamp contained in Section less than 640 acres, made 100 acres of land the minimum size of Sections and have discontinued to register pre-emption claims on any grounds whatever, orders which greatly facilitate Dispatch on our Business.
If Assistants should be sent from England Instruments and materials to work with should be sent too.
The enclosed list will serve as an example of the kind required.
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From this list I have purposely omitted Astronomical Instruments as not so much required at first. In the Frazer’s River Districts Settlements might be connected by actual measurement from the 49th parralel [sic] when marked.
A few Rain gauges, max. and min.
Thermometers & Barometers verified at Kew Observatory to be observed in each of the District Offices would not be expensive and might lead to very useful and practical results.
When all the preliminary arrangements may be decided on, an edition of Colonization Circular similar to those issued gratis at the London Emigration Offices, for the purpose of giving informationManuscript imageinformation to applicants and to save the time now occupied in explanation, also cheap maps to be sold at cost and charges should be very desirable.
To save trouble of reference I enclose a copy of existing surveys, reduced, omitting reconnaissances taken in Excursions and in crossing the Island twice, and the surveys at Nanaimo. It may be said with truth that I have not surveyed much of the Island, but limited means and time occupied in allocation of settlers and with Indentures, Towns, Town lots and Public works were drawbacks that you are aware of.
The foregoing remarks were made on the supposition that I should myself be promoted to the principal Office, as you did me the honor to recommend: It may be however, that previous to your recommendation or owning to circumstances over which you have not control, other arrangements as far as I am personally concerned may have been made at the Colonial Office, in which case it would be a kindness onManuscript imageon their part to inform me through you and to send out my successor as early as might be convenient, as I could from my knowledge of the country conduct a business here incompatible with my present duties with considerable pecuniary advantage. I would in that case as a matter of course, remain with and assist whatever gentleman might be appointed to the place, long enough to remove as far as I might be able every preliminary difficulty: This would be but a small return to the Hudson’s Bay Company, and to yourself for the able support which I have always received in the discharge of my official duties
I have the honor to be
&c &c
/signed/ J. D. Pemberton
Minutes by CO staff
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Sir Edward. I sd peruse the latter part of this, though the intimation made in the Despes to the Govr that a Surveyor Genl should be sent will meet Mr Pemberton's wishes.
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6.1 List of supplies and instruments required.
Land Office
June 19th 1858

List of Instruments etc. referred to in accompanying letter.
2. 4 in Theodolites, with extra eye pieces
2. 5 in __ ___ ditto __ ___ do __ __ do __ __
6 small Circumferentors
3 Box Sextants
3 Optical Squares
12 Pocket Compasses
3 Light Telescopes
12 Strong Land Chains
12 Measuring Tapes
2 Mountain Barometers
6 Cases of Drawing Instruments
3 Ebony rolling rulers
3 Boxes of Scales for plotting
AManuscript image A supply of drawing and tracing paper
Steel Crow quills
India Rubber and pencils, common colors Camel’s hair brushes, glue, gum
P. S. Troughton and Simms make the best field instruments.
Elliott and Sons the best drawing Instruments.
In the field instruments – Portability - is the great point. They should be strong, provided with leather cases and straps tooling; any small part liable to be lost in duplicate, and they should be japanned so as not to be mistaken for gold by Indians
Minutes by CO staff
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Show to R. Engineer, though he will probably not want the infn. Extract for War Off.
[ABd ]
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7. Public Notice, June 1858, stating as of June 21 purchasers may pay for up to six town lots in Victoria, naming an agent who may select from the unsold lots when the plans are complete, and applying the same rule to the sale of colonial lands in the eight surveyed districts, including Cowichan.

June 1858
Land Office, Victoria
Public Notice


Town Lots at Victoria
Sending the completion of the plans, purchasers may on and after the 21st instant pay for any number of lots not exceeding Six./60th X 120th at this Office, taking a simple receipt for the payments, naming an Agent at Victoria who will be empowered to select from the unsold lots when the Plans are Complete in the order in which they have paid.
Colonial Lands
The Rule above stated will also be applied to the eight Surveyed Districts and to the Cowitchin Country, liable toManuscript image to such Reserves as the Authorities consider in the first instance necessary
By order of the Governor
/Signed/ Joseph D. Pemberton
Colonial Surveyor