No. 207
23 August 1859
Having been much occupied of late with the affairs of Vancouver's Island, I have not, in my last Despatches, adverted to the state of British Columbia. That Colony is making satisfactory progress.
2. The great enterprise ofManuscript imageof the season, the Wagon Road from Douglas through the valley of the Harrison River to the upper Fraser, beyond the mountains, has been necessarily retarded by the withdrawal of the Royal Marines for service on the Island of San Juan, but the work is still being prosecuted by a Detachment of Royal Engineers under the command of Captain Grant. That force is however insufficient to make much impression this season, on a work of such magnitude; winter will in all probability find us unprepared, and we shall haveManuscript imagehave again to encounter the arduous task of feeding the mining population of the interior, by packing provisions on mules, over the present road, a process so expensive as materially to add to the cost of living and consequently notwithstanding their large earnings, the miners are, from positive inability to live, compelled in great numbers to abandon the country.
3. Money is greatly wanted for carrying on that indispensable work, which might be completed for the sum of Thirty Thousand pounds (£30,000).
The export duty, as soon as it can be imposed, will help the revenue.
4. That sum I have noManuscript imageno doubt could be easily raised by way of loan either in England, or in this Country, provided its repayment were guaranteed by Parliament, and I would beg to draw the attention of Her Majesty's Government to that subject in order to procure the necessary aid for accomplishing an enterprise worthy of our Country, and removing the great impediment to the development of the Mining Regions of British Columbia. Its influence in promoting the prosperity of the Country would be incalculably great, and it would lead to so large anManuscript imagean increase of the public Revenue as soon to repay the preliminary outlay.
5. On the contrary without such facilities of access, the Country will have to struggle on amidst the discouragements of poverty and distress.
6. The Mule Road from Fort Hope to Boston Bar has been recently completed, and will be of great advantage to that district of the Country.
7. Much is also required to be done in improving the road from Fort Yale by the passes of Frasers River; in short on all sides is the helping hand of Government urgently requiredManuscript imagerequired in opening a free access into a Country whose resources are probably greater than our most sanguine speculations ever contemplated. Every step in advance confirms that opinion, and reveals more distinctly the auriferous wealth of the Country.
8. My advices from Fort Yale are up to the 17th of August. Mr Commissioner Sanders reports that the miners are almost without exception, doing exceedingly well, and in the newly discovered diggings at Quesnel's River, are making on the average one ounce of gold to a man per diem.
9. Those accounts are confirmed by numberless letters from persons in the interior to their former partners or friends inManuscript imagein the Fort Yale District, exhausting all their powers of persuasion to induce them to join them at Alexandria.
10. Mr. Cox a Revenue Officer employed in the District of Thompson's River, reports that the miners in that part of the Country are making very large wages, and mentions that one company of five men were procurring by Sluices an aggregate return of from Two Hundred and Fifty ($250), to Three Hundred Dollars ($300) a day; and others with the cradle were averaging each from Ten ($10) to Twelve Dollars ($12) a day.
11. The newly explored tract of mining country aboutManuscript imageabout Alexandria and Quesnel's River is reported to have more of the general features of a Gold country than any yet known part of British Columbia. The miners appear fully satisfied on that point, and of the auriferous character of the soil in the valley of Frasers River. Already are Hydraulic Mining Associations forming, who expect to derive considerable profit by that process, from Benches and flats which cannot at present be worked to advantage for want of water.
12. The Miners on Frasers River have been much delayed this Season by the high state of the water, which has now SubsidedManuscript imageSubsided, and they have resumed work with great spirit.
13. Ditch owners, on the other hand have already felt the want of water, and complain that the streams from which they draw can hardly supply one fourth of the usual and requisite quantity of water.
14. Much anxiety has been expressed by the miners generally on the subject of Banks of Deposit, which are greatly needed in every District of British Columbia. The Miners' only alternative at present being to bury his gold dust for security, which is known to be the general practice in Frasers River; but were Banks of Deposit established, they would willingly pay a monthly per centageManuscript imageper centage on any sums they might deposit.
15. I have long been convinced of the value and importance of such institutions. But without the assistance of men of tried integrity and business habits, no such scheme could be carried out with advantage to individuals or to the public.
16. The Country is everywhere in a perfectly tranquil state.
17. A body of nearly one hundred gold miners sailed from this place on the 27th July to explore the gold fields of Queen Charlotte's island, and I trust this littleManuscript imagelittle band of Pioneers will meet with the success their enterprise deserves. The expedition was equipped entirely at their own expense. I promised however to exempt the party from all taxes for six months to come, and to allow them certain privileges in respect to quartz claims, not inconsistent however, with the provisions of the general mining regulations which I propose shortly to issue.
18. I also promised to protect them in the prosecution of their enterprise as far as the means at my disposal allow, and in fulfilment of that promise I have made a requisition on Rear Admiral Rear Admiral Rear Admiral BaynesManuscript imageBaynes, for the assistance of a Ship of War to visit the place where they intend to form their settlement.
19. If that attempt proves successful the result will be highly important for the Colony, and Queen Charlotte's Island, which abounds in minerals, and its coasts with fish, will soon become the resort of many flourishing settlements.
20. I am looking forward with great anxiety for the arrival of the two Gun Boats
Ask the Admy if they are gone. I do not recollect hearing that they had.
which Her Majesty's Government announced in your Despatch No 30 of theManuscript imageof the 10th March, it was intended to place them at my disposal for the defence and protection of this Colony.
21. Those vessels would be of incalculable advantage to the Country; its coasts might then be explored, settlements formed and protected from Indian violence, in a manner which with my present means is simply impossible.
22. The late numbers of the Victoria Gazette
Nos 8 to 26 of the Victoria Gazette. July 12 to Augt 23.
are herewith transmitted forManuscript imagefor your information.
I have etc.
James Douglas
Minutes by CO staff
Manuscript image
Mr Merivale
This report is highly satisfactory. I trust it is not too good to be correct. The Govr wants much help from this Country, but will it not be better to let him distinctly know that with such advantages as the Colony possesses, the Community must rely on it's own vigor to achieve success.
Shall any enquiry be proposed to the Admy abt the Gunboats?
ABd 12 Oct
Manuscript image
Duke of Newcastle
I have noted in the newspapers attached, some points not adverted to by the Governor, & which may be of interest, now that public attention is directed to this question.
1. Country land is now selling in Vanc. I. at the upset price of a dollar (4s2d). I was not aware of this lowering.
Inferior Land only under special arrangement. Reported by the Governor.
The newspapers had better go to the Land & Em. Office for information on this & other points.
2. The mining "population" of Fraser River, i.e. the balance of those who stay against those who return, estimated in June at 4000.
3. Meteorological journals give a most favorable idea of the climate. It is clear that the summer in Vanc. I. & the coast of B. Col. instead of being the dripping season we had imagined, is much drier than in England.
4. They have got up a "Reform Association" at Queensborough. I have always wondered, & thought it rather a singular sign of the times, that Sir E. Lytton's bold measure in starting this Colony without any political rights whatever had hitherto engendered so little opposition.
5. The question of incorporation between V.I. & Brit. C. is being much discussed, Manuscript imageand "Cassandra" writes furious letters against it; one of her reasons being the extensively practical one, that Vanc. I. now gets much of its business done by B. Columbian officials whom it does not pay.
6. In No 24 of the Victoria Gazette is a letter signed "Amor de Justicia" which gives a notion of the American view of the treaty question as to S. Juan.
HM O 13
These newspapers are very interesting. It is strange that the Govr has given no intimation of the reduction of the price of land, the E. Comrs may perhaps be able to explain it.
I am not sure of this.
See minute inMr Merivales minute.
I think an answer in the sense indicated by Mr Blackwood is required.
N 16
Other documents included in the file
Manuscript image
Draft, Merivale to Emigration Commissioners, 9 November 1859, forwarding a copy of the despatch and draft reply for information.
Manuscript image
Draft reply, Newcastle to Douglas, No. 31, 21 October 1859, on the expected arrival of promised gun boats for the service of British Columbia.
Minutes by CO staff
Mr Merivale
Founded on a private Letter of the Duke of Somerset to the Duke of Newcastle.
It is desirable to let the Governor know the state of the case.
ABd 20 O
Other documents included in the file
Manuscript image
Draft reply, Newcastle to Douglas, No. 33, 28 October 1859, noting various considerations and concerns on the development and finances of British Columbia.
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
Manuscript image
Note in file: "Folios 897-106v not photographed, Victoria Gazette, No. 8, 12 July, to No. 14, 26 July; No. 24, 18 August and No. 26, 23 August 1859; Steamer Victoria Gazette, 20 August 1859."