No. 33, Miscellaneous
22 March 1860
My Lord Duke
I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of Your Grace's Despatch, No 3, of the 5th of September 1859 transmitting an Act passed in the recent Session of Parliament to make further provision for the regulation of the Trade with Manuscript imagewith the Indians and for the Administration of Justice in the North Western Territories of America.
2. Your Grace with reference to that Act, also calls my attention to the circumstance that it applies only to the Territories over which the Hudsons Bay Company lately held an exclusive license of trade with the Indians, and not to the Territories held under their Charter, nor to British Columbia; that the Act has been passed to enable the Crown to take measures for establishing order in the administration of the Executive and in the conduct of Manuscript image of trade in those vast regions; and Your Grace concludes with observing that you will be glad to receive from me a report as to the persons whom I may consider eligible for Magistrates in those North Western Territories; and also as to any regulations as to the conduct of the Indian Trade which I may consider advisable.
3. I would submit, in the first place, with reference to Your Grace's enquiry, as to persons eligible for Magistrates in those Territories, the advisability of appointing to that Office, persons acquainted with the geography of the country, and who also possess Manuscript image possess a knowledge of Indian character, and a sufficient degree of intelligence to administer the Laws with propriety and discretion.
4. Gentlemen possessed of those requisites may be found among the Officers of the Hudson's Bay Company, and in the Red River Settlement, where now reside many persons of great intelligence and experience of Indian character.
5. In case none of the former should be disposed to accept of employment in the public service, or that neither class be considered by Your Grace Manuscript image Grace qualified to undertake the chief duties of so responsible an office, it may then be thought advisable to appoint one chief or presiding Magistrate of Known ability, and to permit him to select as many otherwise qualified persons, from the classes I have alluded to, as Her Majesty's Government may wish to employ; and by that means I believe that a well trained and efficient body of Magistrates may soon be found.
6. I regret that I cannot personally recommend to Your Grace's notice any of Manuscript image of the gentlemen I have alluded to, as it is upwards of 20 years since I last visited Red River settlement, and the countries east of the Rocky Mountains; but I have no doubt the Governor of the Hudson's Bay Company will readily furnish Your Grace with information on that subject.
7. On the other point of Your Grace's enquiry respecting the regulations for the conduct of the Indian Trade, I would take the liberty of suggesting as a necessary precaution against the rapid demoralization of Manuscript image of the Indian Tribes, and for the prevention of crime, that all persons entering the Indian country for the purposes of trade, should be licensed, and required to enter into bonds under a heavy penalty, and to the following effect; .off Firstly,
Not to deal in, nor to furnish ardent spirits either gratuitously or in barter for any consideration whatsoever, to the Indians with whom they trade. .off And Secondly,
To enter into securities for their own good behaviour, and for that of all persons employed Manuscript image employed in their service. .off end
8. As any attempt to fix the relative exchange values of Furs and European goods would in all probability fail of the intended effect, and be of no ultimate advantage to the Indians, it would perhaps be advisable not to interfere with prices but to leave their regulation entirely to the natural effects of competition; especially as the Natives are acutely alive to their own interest, know the value of furs and could not be induced to dispose of them for less than Manuscript image than their value.
9. The Machinery by which I would propose to enforce those regulations, and generally to maintain law and order within the Territory, is simple and inexpensive; involving as I will now endeavour to shew, no greater expense than the formation and maintenance of two, or at the most three Military or Police Stations, each to become a nucleus of settlement.
10. I ought here to explain that the region extending from Lake Superior to Red River, as Manuscript image as well as North of the Saskatchewan River to the Arctic Circle, and East of Lake Winipeg to the shores of Hudson's Bay, being a vast wilderness of continuous and almost impenetrable forest, is, for all practicable purposes of trade, inaccessible by land, or otherwise than by following the course of its navigable streams and Rivers. To the westward of the "strong wood" country there is a natural road practicable for pack-horses and carts through the borders of the Prairie Country from Red River Settlement to Carlton on the Saskatchewan Saskatchewan River Manuscript image River River; but that route requiring an expensive outfit, being only accessible from Red River, as well as dangerous for small parties in consequence of the predatory habits of the Natives, was never used for the purposes of trade; the water communication being always preferred as a safe and much cheaper route for the transit of goods.
11. The navigable route from the North end of Lake Superior to Lake Winipeg, to the sources of the Sascatchewan, and to McKenzies River, is traced out upon the accompanying Map Manuscript image Map. There are certain points on that route by which all the traffic of the country must unavoidably pass; and I propose that Government should hold those points by means of a small Military or Police Force, and by that simple plan govern and control the whole Indian Territory east of the Rocky Mountains.
The better to explain this, I will suppose the Territory in question to be divided into Districts - .off The first,
Extending from Lake Superior to Lake Winipeg. .off The Manuscript image The second,
From Lake Winipeg to "Frog Portage" on the one side, and to the sources of the Sascatchewan on the other, and .off The third,
From "Frog Portage" to McKenzies River and the sources of Peace River. .off end
12. The chartered possessions of the Hudson's Bay Company comprising the Territory around Hudson's Bay, and extending to the water-shed between Hudson's Bay and Lake Superior, and further, as traced in the accompanying skeleton Map, through Lake Winipeg, and from Manuscript image from thence in a Northerly direction to the 60th degree of North latitude, would, I assume, in any re-arrangement of the Territory, be left, as heretofore, to the custody of the Hudson's Bay Company; and thus all access to the interior country would be closed from the side of Hudson's Bay.
13. Should the Colony of Red River fall to the Crown, the Superintendence of the first of those projected territorial Districts, to wit, that extending from Lake Superior to Lake Winipeg, will naturally come come Manuscript image within the jurisdiction of the Courts of that Colony; on the contrary, a station judiciously placed on the Kaministiquia River near its dis-charge into the North end of Lake Superior, would entirely command that great outlet, through which, for the reason before stated, to wit, the absence of any other navigable communication, all the trade of the District towards Canada, must of necessity pass; and all parties travelling to and from Canada should be required to report to the Officer in command of that Station; and Manuscript image and those entering the country, to take out trading licenses, and to give the necessary bonds.
14. The second proposed Territorial District would comprise Cumberland Lake; and the extensive regions watered by the Sascatchewan River and its Tributaries. The key of that District is the Grand Rapid, a few miles from the discharge of the Sascatchewan River into Lake Winipeg.
15. This is in fact the sole navigable outlet of the second, and with the exception of the dangerous route by Nelson Manuscript image Nelson River Nelson River to Hudson's Bay, also of the third proposed Territorial District.
16. At that point therefore, I would propose to form a second station, to intercept all trading parties from the Colony of Red River and other places, who from their inland position, could not report at the Lake Superior Station; and there also licenses might be issued, and bonds received, as before stated.
17. Those two Stations would intercept all the traffic except that through Hudson's Bay by Nelson Manuscript image Nelson River Nelson River, before adverted to; and should circumstances require that outlet to be also guarded a third Station formed at "Frog Portage" would hermetically seal the Country, and enable the Government to regulate and control the trade with perfect ease and without much expense.
18. Thus, a Station at the North end of Lake Superior, composed of 2 Officers and 40 Men; another at the Grand Rapid, composed of 2 Officers and 30 Men; and a third at "Frog Portage" composed of 2 Officers and 20 Men; in all Six Officers holding Commissions of Manuscript image of the Peace, and Ninety Men, would render Her Majesty's Government masters of the Country.
19. Those Officers would, I assume, be required to act as Magistrates, and have power to hear and determine in a summary way, all cases brought before them; that is to administer quick and easy justice.
20. The trade with the Indians would then be exclusively carried on by persons duly licensed, and under bonds for their good behaviour; thus giving the best Manuscript image best attainable security against the baneful traffic in ardent spirits, and for the maintenance of peace and order in the Territory.
21. I conceive it would be essential in promoting the ends of Justice, that the Indians of those Territories, who are remarkably honest and trustworthy, should be considered and treated in all respects as British Subjects; that their testimony should be received as legal evidence in the District Courts, and that they should be punished and protected only by the Laws Manuscript image Laws of the Country.
22. A revenue might be raised to defray in part the expense of those establishments by levying a small duty on imports, should Her Majesty's Government deem it expedient to do so.
23. I trust Your Grace may not find that I have wandered beyond the points referred to me for report; though the subject being a large one, and full of interest to me, I have probably treated it more fully than was required; yet I trust the Manuscript image the suggestions I have made may not be without their use.
24. Begging to refer Your Grace to the accompanying skeleton Map of the Territory in question.
I have etc.
James Douglas
Minutes by CO staff
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Mr Elliot
This despatch contains valuable and important suggestions for use at the proper time.
ABd 17/5
Mr Fortescue
I will not detain this despatch now for the study which I should like to bestow upon its' subject. I will merely say that its views seem to me broad and commanding, and to afford fresh evidence of that practical ability which I always think apparent in Mr Douglas!
TFE 18/5
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I do not know what Govnor Douglas' authority is for the boundaries of the "Chartered Territory" marked on his map—which are much more limited than those claimed by the H.B.Co.
We have no information wh. wd. lead one to think that a system of Military posts, such as is here proposed, is at present called for—or that the withdrawal of the License has diminished the authority of the Co. throughout those vast regions—or led to indiscriminate fur trading or to Indian disorders. If such results sh. show themselves, then these suggestions will deserve every attention.
CF 25
This despatch will be valuable when we receive an answer from the H.B.C. respecting the Red River & their Charter. In the mean time I think we may ask Govr D: from what authority his Map is traced.
N 27
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
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Note in file: "Map of British North America, being an enclosure to CO 60/7, Report No 33 has been removed to M.P.G. 152, 18/1/1927, Hilary Jenkinson."
Other documents included in the file
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Draft reply, Newcastle to Douglas, No. 29, 3 June 1860.