No. 143
25 April 1859
Since my last report of the 12th Instant, nothing of much importance has occurred respecting the Colony of British Columbia.
2. Mr Begbie returned yesterday from Fraser's River, after visiting all the settlements as farManuscript imagefar as the Fountain. The country appears by his report to be every where quiet.
3. The Indian population have suffered much privation of food, in consequence of the dearth of fish and their natural improvidence, but the white Miners were well supplied, though provisions were selling at a high price, caused chiefly, by the distance from the sea, and the heavy expense of transport.
4. The snow was still lying deep in many parts of the road, when Mr Begbie left the Upper Fraser. The Miners were however beginning theirManuscript imagetheir labors, and were moving into the upper country in great numbers.
5. The accounts from the mining Bars below Fort Yale are most satisfactory. Mr Perrier late Justice of the Peace, who arrived lately from that part of the country, has given me much interesting information, respecting the earnings of the miners, of which I will proceed to give a synopsis for your information. Hill's Bar on which he holds a mining claim, is yielding more gold than at any former time. The receipts of the companies who supplyManuscript imagesupply water for sluicing, amount to 1,200 dollars a week, and four men took out of one mining claim the large amount of 4,000 dollars worth of gold dust in six consecutive working days. Prince Albert's Flat, yields from 5 to 12 dollars a day to the man. Emory's Bar was nearly deserted, in consequence of the rush of miners to the upper country. Texas and Victoria Bars are yielding fair wages, and even as far down, and below Fort Hope, the miners are doing remarkably well, for the season. The Bars are now generally deserted for bank diggings, above the highest level of the River, and Mr Perrier is satisfied that all theManuscript imagethe table lands between Forts Yale and Hope in the valley of Fraser's River are auriferous, and will yield large wages to the industrious miner. Those diggings are yet but imperfectly prospected, and little known, but wherever explorations have been made, a highly auriferous stratum, varying from 3 to 4 feet in thickness, has been discovered, about 8 feet below the surface, and my informant further adds that the surface mould itself contains enough of gold to cover all the expenses of its washing and removal.
6. The Royal Engineers andManuscript imageand Royal Marines have been all safely landed at Queensborough, where they are now stationed, and Colonel Moody is also at that place, making arrangements for their comfortable accommodation and directing the Surveys of Public Land, and other affairs connected with his department.
Several numbers of the Victoria Gazette, as per margin
14, 16, 19, 21, and 23 April 1859.
herewith forwarded for your information.
I have etc.
James Douglas
Minutes by CO staff
Manuscript image
Mr Merivale
With these very favorable accounts of the gold producing powers of the Colony might not some earnest instruction be conveyed to the Governor to adopt such measures for raising a revenue as shall suffice for the exigencies of the Colony and comprize, in some measure, the charge for the Engineers. An Export duty was suggested to him more than once—which, if it had been acted upon, would probably have added considerably to the local Exchequer, & been a relief to us. If any such communication is made to the Govr we must look carefully over what has been written that we may not fall into any inconsistencies.
ABd 10 June
Lord Carnarvon
I am afraid the opinion of those best acquainted with the colony is that there is little chance of raising an export duty. The Governor as we know, thinks an assay office a necessary Manuscript imagepreliminary. And the reason is obvious. You cannot make miners pay an export duty on gold they may carry off with them. The only way is to make it worth their while, 1. by facilities of conveyance, 2. by a mint, 3. by facilities of assaying.
HM June 11
That is entirely my own view: but any recommendation to the Govr on this desp. will be best decided on by the incoming Govt.
C June 11
I annex, for the satisfaction of the Duke of Newcastle a despatch from the Governor of British Columbia, dated 8 April last (5439) containing an account of the revenue & expendre of the Colony from its establishment to the 23rd Feby last. As the receipts Manuscript imagewere obtained in the winter Season, when gold hunting is stopped there is reason to hope & believe that the next returns will be more satisfactory. Perhaps also as we are pressing the Treasury to sanction the establishment of an Assay Office it will be better to defer stimulating the Governor with any such recommendation as I proposed in my first minute, but wait for the improvement in the revenue which it is so much to the interest of the Colony that the Governor should devise means for effecting.
In a Minute I wrote this morning on the question of making Victoria a Free Port I assumed that the Govr had been informed that this new Colony must raise a sufficient income for its requirements. I should almost infer Manuscript imagefrom Mr Blackwood's Minute that this is not the case. If no such intimation has been given it should certainly form part of any answer to this Despatch.
I have some misgivings as to the proposed export duty, but have no doubt that an Assay Office is a necessary preliminary to any attempt to impose it and even if the attempt fails will be very beneficial to the Colony.
Write therefore to the Treasury—with reference to this despatch and that of the 8th April—and recommend the establishment of an Assay Office.
N 21-6
My minute has unintentionally misled His Grace. We have over and over again enjoined upon the Governor the duty of raising an adequate revenue, & suggested an export duty as one means of procuring it. It was my anxiety to see an improvement effected in that revenue, which led me to suggest a stimulating desph to the Governor. Such despatch is now unnecessary as by the last Mail he reports his intention to substitute an export duty and a tax on the Miners for the license tax.
ABd 13 July 1859