No. 167
Government House Victoria
Vancouvers Island
8 June 1859
Since my last Report, a number of miners originally from California, have returned to Victoria, from the Upper Fraser River. Many of these men have amassed large sums in Gold, the majority of them have not howeverManuscript imagehowever been so fortunate.
2. They assign various reasons for leaving the country, some the high price of provisions, others, a desire to see their friends and to spend a few months comfortably in California; others the irregularity and shallowness of the diggings in the Upper Fraser District, all however admit that any industrious man can at any time make from Four to Five Dollars aManuscript imagea day, but owing to the high price of provisions, that sum will scarcely maintain the miner in that part of the Country.
3. The cost of Transport from Victoria to Lytton is the real cause of the high price of provisions.
4. The river steamers however have lately reduced their fares and now make a reasonable charge for freight, probably not more than is remunerative: The great impediment to the development of the interior resourcesManuscript imageresources of the Country now arises from the want of roads. British Columbia can never become great or prosperous without them, and we propose devoting all our means and energies in improving the Harrison River Road into a good waggon Road.
5. A Body of Royal Engineers and Royal Marines numbering about one hundred men augmented by 30 civilian labourers will be detached forManuscript imagefor that service, as soon as Lieutenant Palmer who is now employed in surveying the road has completed his report.
The Admy would not approve much of this if they knew that their marines were made Road-makers. But orders are gone for reducing the strength of the Marines.
6. The successful completion of this great enterprise will open a safe, easy, and comparatively inexpensive route into the interior of British Columbia and give facilities at present unknown to the miner and merchant, for the development of its mineral resources.
7. The people at Port Douglas have expressed theirManuscript imagetheir willingness to aid either by their personal labour or by pecuniary contributions in the important work, as however none of them are wealthy, their contributions will not be great but their zeal for the progress and prosperity of the country is encouraging to us and very honorable to themselves.
8. Another road is now being opened from Ft Hope to Lytton on the left bank of the River; It follows the Valley of the Quiquinalla and from thence strikes AndersonManuscript imageAnderson River which it keeps as far as Qua-yome from whence there is a good road to Lytton. This route was discovered and explored by an inhabitant of Ft Hope and the people with great spirit immediately raised the sum of Two Thousand Dollars ($2000) among themselves for the purpose of opening a horse-path, which is made nearly half the distance to Qua-yome: Lieutenant Lempriere and two men ofManuscript imageof the Royal Engineers who were lately sent by Colonel Moody to examine that line of road will report upon it hereafter, and we propose giving further assistance if requisite, to promote so useful a work.
9. Our latest advices from Ft Yale report that a number of miners had arrived at that place from the upper country with unfavorable reports of the Gold districts: on the other hand the Commissioner atManuscript imageat Lytton reports that the persons who have left that part of the country, are a class that can well be spared, being principally gamblers and idlers, who will not steadily follow any avocation. The feeling against the mining License fee is very general among the Miners and the tax is almost unproductive of revenue.
The Governor has elsewhere mentioned that he intends imposing an export duty on gold and a Capitation tax on Miners.
10. We are now engaged in remodelling the Mining LawsManuscript imageLaws of British Columbia so as to approximate them as nearly as circumstances will permit to the Mining Laws of Australia.
11. We have issued the New Customs Act and the Alien Act which I will shortly forward to you. A very interesting Report from Mr Begbie, Judge in British Columbia is herewith forwarded forManuscript imagefor your information.
I have etc.
James Douglas
Minutes by CO staff
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Mr Merivale
Print for Parlt.
Ack: rect & thank the Governor for the general information which his despatch Conveys as to the state of the Colony. And direct him to thank the Judge for his very full & interesting Account of his expedition (it can be scarcely be termed "Circuit") up the Country.
ABd 27 July
Have we got any kind of map which could be annexed to this? For present use.
HM July 29
Annexed. This interesting journal might also go to the Geog. Society?
HM Augt 7
CF 15
N 16
Other documents included in the file
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Draft, Colonial Office to Secretary of the Geographical Society, 31 August 1859, forwarding copy of Begbie's report for information.
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Draft reply, Newcastle to Douglas, No. 16, 5 September 1859.
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
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Begbie to Colonial Office, 25 April 1859, reporting on circuit just completed in British Columbia, including index (44 pages).
Other documents included in the file
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Note in file as follows: "Map of British Columbia and Vancouver Island 1859 being fo. 497 of C.O. 60/4 has been removed to the Map Room. Map Room Reference M.P.G. 646, 2 November 1950, D.B. Wardle."