No. 95
7 February 1859
There remains nothing of much importance to communicate by the present Mail respecting the state of British Columbia, as I have already mentioned to you the return of the Lieutenant Governor to this place, and result of theManuscript imagethe expedition to Yale.
2. I have not yet received a return of the Expenditure incurred for the conveyance of the Troops, and the transport of the Stores for the use of the Expeditionary force employed on that occassion, but I understand that the outlay has been considerable; caused in a great measure by the high rates paid to the River Steam Boats, for passengers and transport, a species of imposition to which the Government will inevitably be exposed on all occasions whenever Troops or Stores are moved, as may be often necessary, from place to place in the Colony, untilManuscript imageuntil such service can be performed without the intervention of the Steam Boat.
3. To limit and fix by enactment, the rates chargeable on stores and passages for public account on Fraser's River, would be an impolitic and perhaps oppressive interference with private rights. I have therefore to propose another measure which will be equally effective in protecting the public interests, while it will probably also be less repugnant to public feeling, and more compatible with the true dignity of Her Majesty's Government.
4. That measure would be eitherManuscript imageeither to purchase, or build in this country, a strong powerful River Steamer for the public Service of British Columbia.
5. The first cost of a Boat adapted in all repects for that Service would not exceed the Sum of £10,000 Sterling. Her current expenses for maintenance would be inconsiderable, as beyond a very small regular crew. To keep her in perfect order, she might be manned on occasions of emergency from any of Her Majesty's Ships in Port.
6. A Boat adapted of that Class well manned, and armed with two serviceable guns, would perform all the public transportManuscript imagetransport, protect the revenue, and command every Mining Bar on Fraser's River below Fort Yale, and to Port Douglas on the Harrison's River. She would thus become an invaluable instrument, if necessary, for reducing the refractory to obedience and restoring the authority of the Law.
7. The importance of having means at our disposal for the rapid conveyance of Troops on Fraser's River has been long apparent, and I was restrained from providing such means only by the fear of being plunged into financial difficulties.
8. I am of opinion that our attention should be immediately diverted toManuscript imageto that object, and providing the measure meets with the approval of my Executive Council, we shall probably undertake without delay the construction of a Vessel for the navigation of Fraser's River, such as I have described, trusting to defray the cost of her construction out of the Revenues of British Columbia, and, should they prove insufficient to meet that and other public expenditures; that Her Majesty's Government will, in such a case, protect any Bills we may be compelled to draw on the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury, in order to cover any temporary deficit so caused.
BeforeManuscript image9. Before closing this subject I beg further to observe that the River Steam Boat herein referred to, is not intended to supercede the demand made in my Despatch No 37 of the 27th November Last, for Two small Boats of light draught, which are intended more especially for coast service, and are probably from their build and small steam power not adapted for river service.
Orders given for these Boats, & complied with by the Admiralty.
10. Advices have been received from Fort Yale to the 26th of January.
11. Mr Commissioner Brew reports that he had succeeded inManuscript imagein collecting the Miner's Licence Tax on Hills Bar, amounting to 292 1/2 Dollars, and that 150 Dollars for a Licensed House was to be paid a few days afterwards, and the collection of the Miner's Licence was to be further continued on the other Mining Bars.
12. Mr Brew suggests a reduction of the Mining Tax to quarterly payment of 25/s by every Miner, instead of the present Monthly Tax of 21/s on each claim holder, and other modifications of the Mining Regulations which will have due consideration.
ItManuscript image13. It also appears that the Trading Licence at Fort Yale with two exceptions, had all been paid for the previous month.
14. Mr Brew also reports that the migration of miners to the interior country beyond Fort Yale had commenced on an extensive scale, several crowded Boats from below, having passed on the 25th and on the previous day a great number of men had started from Fort Yale, by land and in Boats for the Fountain, for Bridge River, and for the Canoe Country. Mr Brew is of opinion that 5000 MinersManuscript imageMiners will soon be collected in those Districts, and recommends the appointment of an Assistant Gold Commissioner to be stationed at the Fountain.
15. Mr Brew's report contains nothing further of importance.
16. The numbers of the Victoria Gazette, as per margin
29th Jany
1st Feby
3rd "
5th "
8th "
are forwarded for your information.
I have etc.
James Douglas
Minutes by CO staff
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Mr Merivale
Should the Governor be informed that the measure he proposes of building a Govt Steam Boat for Colonial Service would seem very judicious; but that he must himself determine whether the finances of the Colony will admit of such expenditure. Remind him that he has to repay the Imperial Treasury a heavy debt—which it sh. be his earliest effort to extinguish, and state Manuscript imagethat until that obligation is discharged Sir Edd Lytton considers that the L.C. of the Treasury would not feel themselves at liberty to accept any bills drawn on them for the proposed Steamboat even though the advance be only temporary.
ABd 30/3
I think such a despatch might be judicious on our parts? At the same time, I have little doubt that the Governor is convinced that this Steamboat would be invaluable to the government, and will act accordingly.
HM Mh 30
I doubt—as I have minuted on former occasions—the policy of so frequently checking the Govr in expenses wh at the outset of the Colony may be essential by reminding him of the debt wh the Colony owes to this country. It is impossible under the most favourable conditions that that debt can be liquidated under two or three years, and though it is desirable to keep the expenditure as low as may Manuscript imagebe, this is not the first or the only consideration. The arrival of fresh miners appears to have commenced. Substantially I believe that I agree with Mr Blackwood; but I merely wish to guard against the risk of possibly falling into one mistake in desiring to keep clear of another.
C Mch 31
I disagree with Lord C. about checking Govr Douglas. If not checked he will get himself & us into [great?] scrape, "Out of Debt, out of Danger." I agree entirely with Mr B.—for the sake of the Colony itself. Write in Mr B's sense, & call upon Govr D first to pay what the Coly owes.
EBL Ap 1
Other documents included in the file
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Draft reply, Carnarvon (in the absence of Lytton) to Douglas, No. 50, 12 April 1859.