Clarke to Under-Secretary of State
Army & Navy Club
My dear Sir
I send you a Report on the British Columbia Papers and which I now return.
I have written this report in the form of a proposed Order in Council under the second section of the Act of 1858 providing for the Government of British Columbia explaining each section as proposed.
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I am aware that I have gone far beyond the intention with which these Papers were sent me, but I found in reading them so many points suggesting themselves as well as the difficulty of explaining an isolated portion of a system that I have been rather forced to write more than was perhaps necessary.
Even as it is I almost fear I have failed to explain clearly a system which if it is Manuscript imageadopted in B. Columbia will effectively secure its settlement without on the one hand playing too much into the hands of the Americans, or on the other checking Immigration from any quarter.
As I believe that but little time ought to be lost to give to B. Columbia a clearly defined land system—whatever system may be adopted—I have sent the Report as first written. This and as most of last week I Manuscript imagewas engaged in Colchester, will I trust plead for me for the very imperfect shape I send this Report.
Believe me
Yours faithfully
A.W. Clarke

The Under Secretary of State
Other documents included in the file
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Draft reply, Newcastle to Douglas, No. 3, 7 January 1860.
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Draft reply, Newcastle to Douglas, No. 18, 16 April 1860.
Minutes by CO staff
This Draft is submitted for approval.
Gov. Douglas appears to have followed the Canadian Law which was sent as a model by Sir E. Lytton.
I have not introduced the 10th par of Sir F. Rogers' Report?
This is an important observation of Mr Irving's.
Other documents included in the file
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Draft, Merivale to Emigration Commissioners, 24 February 1860, forwarding extract of Clark's letter and his report for information.
Minutes by CO staff
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Mr Elliot
This is an interesting and to B. Columbia a most important subject for consideration—and one which you will know well how to handle.
So far as I can make out Capn Clarke's views, & I may add handwriting, I do not perceive that he has ansd the special point whh the Duke wished him to consider, & for which purpose I placed copies Manuscript imageof these papers in his hands. I am not, myself, acquainted with any precendent of a limit to persons of British origin of occupation licenses in the Colonies. But the Land Board must know. I feel every day that the regulations for disposing of the Lands in B. Columbia and in V.C. Island are as important to the welfare of these Colonies as the gold which, in the former Colony, has the credit of making it so valuable. I annex for your convenience in reviewing this subject the latest instructions issued by this Office. See also Series 2 of B.C. Parly Papers.
ABd 21 Oct/59
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Disposal of Lands in British Columbia
At Mr Blackwood's suggestion I have looked into this matter, and have reperused for my own satisfaction all the despatches from the Governor and all the reports of the Land Board which we possess on the subject.
The single practical question however at this moment pending is what notice to take of a casual remark made by Governor Douglas. In the course of a report on the general state of affairs, he laments the slow progress of Surveys, and throws out the idea that perhaps it may obligeManuscript imageoblige him to permit the occupation of Lands, without their being surveyed, on license. Mr Murdoch has pointed out that this course has been followed by evil consequences elsewhere. Upon the question so raised, some weighty and interesting remarks have been made in the Minutes in our Office. Captn Clarke (formerly of Victoria) having mentioned that he had some experience of licenses, was asked for further information; and he has answered by sending in no less than the draft of a long draft of an Order to be passed by Her Majesty's Council, consisting of many Chapters and Sections; andManuscript imageand minutely regulating the whole treatment of land in British Columbia.
Captn Clarke should doubless be thanked for the great labor which this task must have cost him, but whatever may be the merit in other respects of his views, I think it will probably be agreed that the idea of regulation by Order in Council should be dismissed. For legislation of the proposed kind from an Office in Whitehall would be certain to excite a spirit of resistance in the Colony and to be condemned in this Country as an unwise dictation in mattersManuscript imagematters of detail.
My own experience in such matters has led me to be humble in my anticipations of what can be effected, and yet it has been somewhat extensive. It is rather more than 30 years since I wrote an Abstract of the effects at that period of licenses of occupation in New South Wales. The same paper also reviewed the first land regulations, and the reports of their operation, in New South Wales and Tasmania, and in the North American Colonies. Since that time I have seen the creation of the Colonies of WesternManuscript imageWestern Australia, South Australia, Port Phillip, New Zealand, and also such smaller or more exceptional Settlements as the Falklands, Hong Kong and Labuan. In the larger of those Colonies three quarters of a Million of Englishmen are now settled upon many millions of acres, which, at the date to which I refer, were either desert or inhabited only by Native Tribes. I can well remember the devising of the several land regulations for these places; the hopes with which we saw enterprizing adventurers start for them; the complaints which we received from many who were disappointed; and above all the numerous reports bothManuscript imageboth upon those parts of the successive regulations which were found to be beneficial, and upon those others which proved to be injurious. Of course it is impossible for any man however unobservant to have been a witness of such a long series of kindred events without forming some general opinions, and in this sense he will be in danger of becoming justly liable to the designation of doctrinaire. He will be doctrinaire in the sense in which a Physician is doctrinaire about medicine, or a lawyer about law, or any one else about any subject with which he is sufficiently conversant to expect that similar consequences willManuscript imagewill flow from similar causes.
And yet after all the long years, and the Multiplied experiments of vast extent to which I have above referred, so far should I be from being presumptuous that I believe that the truths about land which are worth enouncing from England are extremely few and elementary. The following are perhaps the chief of them:
That land should be disposed of by sale and not by grants:
That it should be sold (unless under some overruling necessity)Manuscript imagenecessity) for cash and not for credit:
That lots in Towns or in the neighbourhood of Towns should always be sold by competition:
But that ordinary Country lots, after being once exposed to Auction, should be purchaseable at the upset price as a fixed price, so that settlers need not be obliged to wait for periodical public sales:
That the Territory should be divided into reasonably small lots, forming aliquot parts of square miles.
These seem to me the leading principlesManuscript imageprinciples which ought to be aimed at in settling a new Country with people of European race, but then, with the exception of the second, to which their attention has been drawn and which must be admitted not to be of universal application, they are the very principles which have been adopted and carried into effect by the local authorities in British Columbia. They have been willingly adopted, most of them before even hearing on the subjectManuscript imagesubject from England, so that it may be presumed that they are not contrary to the wants and wishes or to the judgment of those residing on the spot.
But then there remains the question about occupation upon License. The Governor, conscious of the evils that would attend his being unable to put Settlers promptly on their lands, naturally contemplates the simplest and most obvious remedy. Mr Murdoch on the other hand with equal propriety points out that this remedy is in other cases being followed by very injurious effects. It seems to me that it is unnecessary for the Secretary of State to pronounce any universal or authoritative decision on the subject. Governor Douglas does not yet know that he will experience the evil and is not certain whether he will try the remedyManuscript imageremedy, but is merely speculating on the future. Might not then such an answer as the following be suitable to the case?
Ackge his despatch. Say that the Duke of Newcastle's attention has been attracted by his report of the inevitable delay in bringing Country lots into the market, that his Grace fully concursManuscript imageconcurs with him in the importance of finding means to place Settlers promptly on their lands, say that it is natural that it should occur to his mind, in case the surveys cannot be advanced with sufficient rapidity, to try the expediency of permitting occupation on license. Remark that he will probably have perceived from the tenor of former despatches to him, that there is no desire to fetter him by unbending instructions, but on the contrary a wish to make every allowance for the difficulties he meets with on the spot and to confide much to his discretion, that from this general principle theManuscript imagethe Secretary of State does not intend now to depart, but that it is only due to him and the Community over which he presides to communicate to him the light of past experience. In this point of view, transmit to him an extract of Mr Murdoch's report, shewing the serious inconvenience which has followed in other Settlements from having recourse to the plan of allowing the occupation of lands upon license. Great as might be the immediate relief derived from adopting that plan in B. Columbia, no reason is apparent for hoping that it would not in the end be attendedManuscript imageattended by the same effects which have been experienced elsewhere. Under these circumstances no effort should be spared for accelerating surveys sufficiently to provide if possible for the wants of any incoming population. I should say that Colonel Moody's experience will doubtless lead him to place a due value on the most urgent necessities of the Colony, and that the Secy of State will merely remark that the laying out of a reasonable extent of Country lots in eligible situations appears the most desirable object to which the strength of the Surveying Staff canManuscript imagecan in the first instance be directed. The remark also which is contained in Mr Murdoch's report about the relative urgency of Town and Country Surveys may be deserving of consideration. In conclusion I should say that without undertaking to prohibit occupation on license, if no other possible means can be found for supplying a bonâ fide demand for land, the Secretary of State feels no doubt that Governor Douglas will see from the considerations made known to him in the present despatch that it is of the utmost importance to endeavour rather Manuscript imageto survey the lands in time to dispose of really definite and ascertained lots to Purchasers, instead of running the risk of long future confusion & possibly expensive litigation about the boundaries of the property proved to be conveyed by the Crown.
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
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Report submitted by Clark in the form of an Order in Council proposing a scheme for the disposal of crown lands in British Columbia (25 pages).
Other documents included in the file
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Draft reply, Newcastle to Douglas, No. 17, 16 April 1860.
Minutes by CO staff
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Mr Blackwood
This is an Extract from a Private & not very carefully worded Letter from the late Surveyor Genl of Victoria: but it contains I think some useful remarks & I am sure that he wd be glad to afford any further explanations on what I believe was generally considered to be a successful system under difficult circumstances.
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Extract, Clarke to [Colonial Office], 8 September 1859, commenting on reports of discontent concerning land distribution in British Columbia, and outlining an alternate system based on his experience as surveyor general of Victoria.