Hamber to Lytton
20 Kings Arms Yard
London E.C.
Octr 14 1858 To the Right Honorable Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton Bart Her Majestys Secretary of State for the Colonies &c &c

A Company has been formed for the purpose of establishing Steam Communication between Victoria or the Harbor of Esquimalt, in Vancouver's Island and the Fraser River.
The route proposed will be from Victoria and other ports in Vancouver's Island, to Albert City at the mouth of the Fraser River, British Columbia, thence to Fort Langley and onwards to the Falls at Fort Yale on the same river and to such other places as may hereafter be agreed upon.
When the River Traffic has been fully established it is intended to organise Mule Trains for continuing the passengers and goods traffic from the Company's boats to the chief Mining Districts.
Previous to an immediate application to the Public it is deemed advisable to consult the wishes of the Government and to ascertain to what extent theManuscript image Company may be able to calculate upon its countenance and support.
The establishment of this Company was suggested by persons on the spot, well acquainted with the country, before the receipt by the Government of the despatch of Governor Douglas of the 8th of May last, in which his Excellency states:
To effect that object it will be requisite to facilitate by every possible means the transport of passengers and goods to the farthest navigable point on Frazer River, and the obvious means of accomplishing that end is to employ light Steamers in plying between and connecting the port with the falls of Frazer's River, distant 130 miles, from the discharge of that river into the Gulf of Georgia those falls being generally believed to be at the commencement of the remunerative gold diggings and from thence the Miners would readily make their way on foot, or, after the summer freshets, by the river, into the interior of the Country.
By that means also the whole trade of the gold regions would pass through Frazer's River and be retained within the British Territory forming a valuable outlet for British manufactured goods and at once creating a lucrative trade between the mother country and Vancouver's Island.
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Subsequent reliable advices tend to confirm these views and establish the importance of the gold discovery, and the necessity for keeping open the navigation of the Frazer River.
With this view I am desired also respectfully to request that I may be favored on behalf of the Company with an appointment of a time when it will be convenient for you to receive a deputation from them upon the subject.
The names of the Gentlemen forming the deputation will be previously forwarded in accordance with what I believe is the usual practice.
I have the honor to remain Sir
Your very obdt Servt
Fred: M. Hamber
Secy pro tem
Minutes by CO staff
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Mr Elliot
The writer solicits an interview with Sir Edward Lytton on the part of a Deputation.
I do not see what possible "countenance and support" H.M. Govt could or ought to give to a purely commercial enterprize: but having in view the great probable advantage which would flow from the establishment of a Steam Company to run from VictoriaVanC. Id—to and up the Frazer's River I should be disposed to suggest to Sir Edward that it wd be very proper to inform the Deputation that tho' this Office cannot give the "countenance" wished for we will readily show any responsible Member of the Co all the documents we possess from the Governor wh wd aid them in their project.
ABd 16 Octr
(See Minute annexed.
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The whole value of a proposal of this kind depends upon the question whether the parties are substantial and likely to be well informed on the prospects of their enterprise, or whether they are mere adventurers wishing to start a Company for purposes of speculation. Which may be the case in this instance. I have no knowledge.
It will be for Sir E.B. Lytton to decide whether he thinks fit to grant them an interview. If he does, our letter need saynoManuscript image no more.
If he does not, I do not think that I should expressly refuse "Countenance", which, if not a very definite is at least not an immoderate request. What I should say to them would be that the project which the writer describes is a commercial undertaking which must depend on private enterprise and in which it would be beyond the province of any public Department toManuscript image interpose, and therefore that Sir E.B. Lytton can merely state that if an efficient and successful line of Steam Communication should be established between Vancouver's Island and the Frazer River, H.M. Govt would be very glad of the result.
I do not think that it would be advisable to offer to these private persons an inspection of our reports from the Governor.
TFE 18 Octr
Sir Edward Lytton
Will you give an interview?
C Oct 19
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Write as Mr E. suggests.
EBL Oct 19
Other documents included in the file
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Draft, Carnarvon to Hamber, 28 October 1858, declining an interview as the project "is a commercial undertaking which must depend on private enterprize, and in which it would be beyond the province of any Public Department to interfere."