No. 27, Financial
25 February 1860
My Lord Duke
I have had the honor of receiving Your Grace's Despatch of the 28th of October 1859, No 33, in reply to my Despatch of the Manuscript image the 23rd of August, No 207, reporting upon the State of British Columbia.
2. I regret to learn that there is no prospect of any assistance being afforded to the Colony by the Mother Country, towards raising a loan for the immediate prosecution of the urgently required work of opening Roads, and by so doing, hastening the settlement of the Country and securing its prosperity, but Your Grace may rest assured that no effort shall be wanting on my part to effect that desirable Manuscript image object to the best of my ability, with the means at my command. The want of available funds will retard the development of the Country, but nevertheless my unceasing solicitude will be to meet, and if possible to overcome, the difficulties which present themselves on every side.
3. I notice that Your Grace remarks upon the little progress that has been made in opening the communications with the interior, and that from the large expenditure incurred it was supposed that a route Manuscript image route would have been opened which would have rendered the upper Country more accessible.
4. I have not failed in former Despatches to represent the great natural difficulties which check the development of the Colony, and that they can only be overcome by much labour, at great expense, and in course of time; and in proportion as we have the means so can the Country be opened out, and increase in prosperity. The Country through which the communications have to be made, is perhaps the most rugged Manuscript image and impracticable in the world, and the cost of the work commensurably great. However, notwithstanding the natural obstacles presented by the line of road, we have succeeded through the agency of Civil labour, in opening Pack trails through the Cascade range of mountains, both from Yale and Douglas, and by these routes supplies have been thrown into the interior. Other pack trails are in course of construction, and I have never ceased by every means at my command to endeavour to prosecute the indispensable work of opening the communications; and Manuscript image although my hands are cramped for want of means, and although the task is one replete with difficulties, I do not despair of being able in time to attain the consummation so much desired.
5. The great object which the Government has now in view, and which the wants of the Country imperatively demand, is the immediate prosecution of the improvement of its commercial thoroughfares by the conversion, whenever practicable, of the pack trails into waggon roads. On the Harrrison-Lillooet road, which enters the mountains Manuscript image at Douglas and emerges at Cayoosh, a distance of 110 Miles, it is estimated that a reduction of Three Hundred Dollars a ton, may by this means be effected, making a clear gain, to that extent, on all goods carried to the upper Country. With a view of further illustrating that point I will here exhibit the distances from Fort Victoria to Alexandria, and the enormous cost for transport on each Section of that Road: Victoria to Douglas...166 Miles, Conveyance per Steamer
- Cost per ton.........................£25.
Douglas to Cayoosh...100 Miles, Land Transport Chiefly
- Cost per ton........................£360.
Cayoosh to Alexandria..210 Miles, Land Transport Entirely
- Cost per ton........................£440.
Manuscript image It is evident that the wealth of the Country, however great, cannot support so expensive a system of transport. The charge for packing attests at once the want of competition, and the difficult nature of the Road, and no other means is open to the Government but to induce competition by improving the communications, so that Waggons may be substituted for pack Trains.
6. Your Grace will therefore I doubt not readily appreciate the urgent necessity which exists for some energetic action to dissipate the enormous cost of transport, and this can only be attained by at Manuscript image once undertaking the improvement in the roads. I was directed by the Despatches of Sir Edward Lytton, Nos 30 and 31 of the 16th of October 1858, to rely entirely upon Colonel Moody and the Royal Engineers under his Command, for the great work of opening the communications of the Country. Experience has proved that the Force in question is utterly unable to grapple with the great difficulties with which it has had to contend, or to make any perceptible impression upon the rugged mountain passes which lead into the interior. Knowing therefore that if I relied alone upon the Royal Engineers Manuscript image Engineers the day would be far distant when this much desired end could be attained, I have felt it imperative on me not to delay longer in the employment of civil labour, and failing assistance from Her Majesty's Government, I have resorted to the expedient of levying a Tax of £1 Sterling upon all pack animals leaving Douglas and Yale, in order to raise the funds necessary for the Expenditure required.
7. I enclose to Your Grace herewith, a copy of the Proclamation imposing the Tax. The proceeds of the Tax will be devoted wholly to the improvement of Manuscript image of the roads, and although for the present increasing the cost of food by about one cent and a half per pound, will I feel sure, in the course of but a few months be the means whereby a wholesale reduction will be effected in the transit expenses.
For the moment the Tax is unpopular in the Colony—as indeed are all Taxes everywhere—but the necessity is urgent, and I feel confident that in a short time the benefits arising from the Tax will be so apparent, and will come so truly home to those upon Manuscript image upon whom it at present falls, that the measure will hereafter be as much extolled as it is now deprecated.
I have etc.
James Douglas
Minutes by CO staff
Manuscript image
Mr Elliot
Register the Proclamation—which has the force of Law in British Columbia—& refer it to Sir F. Rogers.
This tax will be obnoxious, & will somewhat increase the cost of food to the miners in the interior; but if a good track or road can be educed from it the result will be satisfactory to the complainants themselves.
ABd 17/4
Register, as proposed? I beg to draw attention to a passage at page 6, on the uselessness of the Sappers and Miners in B. Columbia.
TFE 21 April
CF 23
Manuscript image
If the Sappers & Miners could be replaced by an equivalent but less expensive force it would be well to do so.
N 24
Douglas, James to Pelham-Clinton, Henry Pelham Fiennes 25 February 1860, CO 60:7, no. 3624, 144. 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/B60027.html.

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