No. 156
Government House Victoria
Vancouvers Island
23 May 1859
Sir
I have duly received your Despatch of the 7th February No 16.
2. I observe with much satisfaction that the system of Land sales, which we proposedManuscript imageproposed to continue in Vancouver's Island and to introduce into British Columbia, has generally met with your approval. With regard to your suggestion that an upset price, lower than one pound (£1) per acre for ordinary country Land should be adopted provided that good practical reasons for such a course should exist I would remark that during the completion of our arrangements for the sale of Land, it did occur to me that a lower upsetManuscript imageupset price than before proposed, would probably promote the settlement of the Country, which might otherwise be retarded owing to the low rate of land in the adjacent territories of the United States: for these and other reasons the upset price was fixed by the Proclamation of the 14th February last at ten shillings (£0.10.0) an acre as stated in my Despatch No 104 of the 19th February last. It is also very gratifying to observe that we have fallen into yourManuscript imageyour views in making one general upset price for the Land, and in adopting the system of sale by Auction. Conceiving as we did that the interests of the Public would be subserved by that more than by any other mode of sale and that perfect confidence would be established in the purity of the Land Sales.
3. The only material point on which we diverged from your own views was in not requiring prompt paymentManuscript imagepayment for land, and in permitting payment by instalments say one half on delivery, and one half at the end of 2 years.
4. The object of this regulation was to facilitate the purchase of Land by settlers with small capital, who form the bulk of the present intending settlers in British Columbia. This system is undoubtedly open to the serious objections soManuscript imageso forcibly stated in your Despatch, but we think it would not be advisable to alter it at present, nor until the settlement of the country is advancing favourably, and the public revenue begins to feel the influence described from the progressive expansion of the resources of the country, and through the increase of the Customs duties, and by direct imports on property, and on a population of profitableManuscript imageprofitable consumers well capable of paying taxes.
5. The system of prompt payment might however be adopted, after the partial settlement of the country. When land acquires more than a nominal value, and becomes in a manner a convertible commodity.
6. Country land will be arranged as you propose, in lots containing aliquot sections of a square mile, and Town Lands will be laidManuscript imagelaid out as at present in Lots of 60 by 120 feet. The latter are put up for sale at Twenty pounds ten shillings, and eight pence (£20.10.8), and some of the unimproved Langley Town Lots sold at a rate amounting to Five hundred and sixty pounds (£560) per acre.
7. We shall continue to deal with mineral Lands in the manner, of which you have approved and shall establishManuscript imageestablish such liberal regulations as may encourage the exploration of the Country by letting out the said Lands to the Discoverer.
8. I feel greatly obliged for the information you have kindly given me of the practise in other colonies in such cases which will be of much assistance to me.
9. We propose to abolish the system of licenses for digging Gold which at present barely pays the expense of collecting andManuscript imageand to substitute an export duty on Gold, and a direct tax on miners, from both of which measures we expect to derive a large increase of revenue.
10. Surveys are being extended to all the open districts of Land on Fraser's river so that the Country may be laid out for immediate settlement and occupation.
11. I shall not fail to furnish Her Majesty's Government with copies of all mapsManuscript imagemaps and plans which we may prepare and which I trust may be found useful in awakening an interest in the public mind respecting these Colonies.
I have etc.
James Douglas
Minutes by CO staff
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I have little doubt that the despatch of 7th May & further experience will have modified Govr Ds views & practice as to deferred payment. On this subject I would do no more than express concurrence in [cut off file].
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Mr Elliot
Land Board.
It is most satisfactory to learn from this desph that the Governor has determined on abandoning the thought to raise a revenue by licenses for digging gold, & on substituting for that duty a tax on exports, & a direct tax on miners. It might be well to mention this to T-y.
ABd 13 July
Print this for Parlt, for our 3d Series of B.C. papers comes out, as a sequel and termination to the correspondence which has passed on the subjects treated in this desph.
Answered as proposed?
TFE 13 July
CF 14
Duke of Newcastle
You will observe the Govr's arguments in favour of deferred payment for land, which are very weak, for that purpose, but strong for a low upset price. I confess I am suprised to find that the £1 an acre system wh. Ld. Grey maintained in V's Island, was introduced into B. Columbia the other day—tho' the £1 has now been reduced to 10s—of wh. 5s is deferred to the end of 2 yrs. I sh. be very much inclined to instruct Govr Douglas to abandon the deferred payments & let the upset price be 5s paid down, wh. will give him a better chance of competing with the U. States. The desp. of the 7th May has possibly led him to this already.
CF 14
Other documents included in the file
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Draft, Colonial Office to Emigration Commissioners, 2 August 1859, forwarding copy of the despatch for consideration.
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Draft, Colonial Office to G.A. Hamilton, Treasury, 2 August 1859, forwarding copy of the despatch for information.
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Draft reply, Newcastle to Douglas, No. 9, 28 July 1859.
Douglas, James to Lytton, Edward George Earle Bulwer 23 May 1859, CO 60:4, no. 6953, 371. The Colonial Despatches of Vancouver Island and British Columbia 1846-1871, Edition 2.2, ed. James Hendrickson and the Colonial Despatches project. Victoria, B.C.: University of Victoria. https://bcgenesis.uvic.ca/B59156.html.

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