No. 5
14 January 1860
My Lord Duke
In my report on the affairs of the Colony of British Columbia of the number and date noted in the margin,
24th Paragraph No 224, 18th October 1859.
I did myself the honor of laying before your Grace a statement of the expense, inconvenience Manuscript imageinconvenience, uncertainty and delays to which emigrants were exposed in making purchases of land in that Colony.
2. I also stated that the Government Surveys could not keep pace with the demand for public land, and I might moreover have added that the expense of moving Surveying parties of the Royal Engineers to the various points where land is required for settlement and cultivation, would probably exceed the money value of the land sold.
3. I at the same time, informed Your Grace that in order to remove so pregnant a Manuscript image a cause of complaint and to facilitate settlement, and promote the lawful acquisition of unsurveyed agricultural land, pending the operation of the public surveys, I had authorized the occupation of land to the extent of 160 acres with a preemption right, by any person immediately occupying and improving such land, and agreeing to pay the Government price, not exceeding Ten Shillings an acre, whenever the land is surveyed and Title granted.
4. I now forward herewith, a Proclamation giving to my previous instructions the force of Law, and also providing for the purchase, with Manuscript image with the same limitation of the ultimate price, of larger tracts of unsurveyed country land, in addition to the land preempted, as may be desired by persons of larger means; it being in that case, also provided in order to guard against the mere speculative holding of land, that Five Shillings an acre is to be paid down, and the residue at the time of Survey.
5. This Act has been reviewed with much anxious consideration, and every precaution has been taken to adapt its machinery to the state of the Colony, and to divest it of unnecessary forms, expense, and delay.
6. The Manuscript image 6. The District Stipendiary Magistrates will record the application for land, and immediately report the same to the Commissioner of Lands and Works, and to the Colonial Secretary, so that it will not cause any further drain on the funds of the Colony.
7. The object of the measure is solely to encourage and induce the settlement of the Country; occupation is therefore made the test of title, and no preemption Title can be perfected without a compliance with that imperative condition.
8. The Act distinctly reserved, for the benefit of the Crown Manuscript image Crown, all Town Sites, auriferous land, Indian Settlements, and public rights whatsoever; the emigrant will therefore on the one hand enjoy a perfect freedom of choice with respect to unappropriated land, as well as the advantage which is perhaps of more real importance to him, of being allowed to choose for himself, and enter at once into the possession of land, without expense or delay; while the rights of the Crown are, on the other hand, fully protected, as the land will not be alienated, nor Title granted, until after payment is received.
9. The system will, I trust, have the effect of enlisting the sympathies, and letting loose the energy, intelligence, and activity Manuscript image activity of the whole emigrant population upon the public domain, adding daily to its value, while it is to be hoped the people themselves will become more and more attached to the soil, and more studious to acquire property in land rendered valuable by their own labour. Thus men who have no serious intention of settling in the Country, and others who, on their first arrival, have not the means of buying land, become in the end devoted settlers, and in their capacity of producers and consumers, valuable contributors to the public Revenue.
10. Other good effects are expected to result from the operation of the Act; there is for example, every reason to believe Manuscript image believe that it will lead to the more rapid colonization of the Country; and to greater economy in its Survey, which can be effected hereafter, when roads are made, at a much smaller cost for travelling and conveyance, than at the present time.
11. The District Magistrates are authorised in all cases of dispute about land to proceed immediately in a summary way, to settle boundaries, to restore possession, to abate intrusions, and to levy such costs and damages as they may think fit, a course, which I believe will have the happiest effect, in preventing litigation, and private acts of violence for the redress of grievances; and to guard against Manuscript image against injustice on the part of the Magistrate, an appeal from his decision may be carried to the Supreme Court of the Colony.
12. I have only further to Express a hope that the measure may meet with the approval of Her Majesty's Government.
I have etc.
James Douglas
Minutes by CO staff
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ABd 6/3
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Mr Merivale
The Governor has carried into effect, formally, his intention of allowing occupation of Crown Land, with right of preemption.
I suppose the first step will be to refer this to the L & E. Commrs, for report.
TFE 6 March
HM Mh 8
CF 8
N 10
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
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Printed copy of British Columbia proclamation, 4 January 1860, as per despatch.
Douglas, James to Pelham-Clinton, Henry Pelham Fiennes 14 January 1860, CO 60:7, no. 2316, 55. 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/B60005.html.

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