31 May 1860
My Lord Duke,
In continuation of my last report marked Separate and dated New Westminster 23rd May, I have to communicate for Your Grace's information, that the 24th of May was spent in making a tour, in one of the River Steamers, to Pitt Lake, distant about 40 miles from New Westminster, accompanied by the Colonel's command Manuscript image command, the civil and military Colonial Officers, the local Magistrates, and Lord Bishop of British Columbia, his chaplain, and many of the citizens of New Westminster, who were invited to celebrate with me the auspicious natal day of our most Gracious Queen, amidst the wild romantic scenery of that mountain Lake, and never I believe has any part of Her Majesty's dominions resounded to more hearty acclamations of loyalty and attachment, than were heard on Manuscript image on that occasion.
2. The other Towns in British Columbia vied in loyal demonstrations with the inhabitants of New Westminster, a fact which I record with pleasure as a proof of the growing attachment of the alien population of the Colony to our Sovereign, and to the institutions of our Country.
3. On the 25th May, I proceeded from New Westminster, with my party in one of the revenue boats, towards Derby. In our progress up the Fraser we passed a number of tributary streams flowing into it from the North. The "Pitt" is the most considerable of these tributaries, being navigable for vessels of three or four hundred Manuscript image hundred tons to its source in Pitt Lake, a distance of 35 miles including the Lake, beyond which it is acceptable for Indian canoes a few miles further, but not for any larger craft.
4. The banks of Pitt River are exceedingly beautiful; extensive meadows sweep gracefully from the very edge of the river towards the distant line of forest and mountain. The rich alluvial soil produces a thick growth of grass interspersed with the Michaelmas daisy, the wild rose, and scattered groups of willows. This fine District contains an area of 20,000 acres of good arable land, requiring no clearing from timber, Manuscript image timber, and ready for the immediate operations of the plough. Many parts of it are however exposed to over-flow, through the periodical mundations of the Fraser which commence about the first week in June, and generally subside before the middle of July. Owing to this circumstance the Pitt River meadows are not adapted for raising wheat and other cereals which require the entire season to mature, but may be turned to good account in growing hay and every kind of root crop, and may also be used extensively for pasturing cattle, and for the purposes of the dairy.
5. The Brunette, Coquitlum, and Manuscript image and "Whytus," the latter opposite the site of Derby, are streams accessible by boat or canoe for some distance from their debouch into Frasers River, their importance to the District, as an easy, and inexpensive means of communication, is very great, seeing that they form a series of natural canals, intersecting the country, in all directions, and admirably adapted for the transport of goods and produce, to and from the navigable waters of the Fraser.
6. The banks of Frasers River are almost everywhere covered with woods. Varieties of Pine and Firs of prodigious size, and large poplar trees, predominate. The Manuscript image The vine and soft maple, the wild apple tree [dogwood], the white and black thorn, and deciduous bushes in great variety, form the massive undergrowth. The vegetation is luxurient almost beyond conception, and at this season of the year, presents a peculiarly beautiful appearance. The eye never tires of ranging over the varied shades of the fresh, green foliage, mingling with the clustering white flowers of the wild apple tree now in full blossom, and filling the air with delicious fragrance. As our boat gliding swiftly over the surface of the smooth waters occasionally swept beneath the overhanging boughs which forms a canopy of leaves, impervious to the suns scorching rays, the effect Manuscript image effect was enchanting, yet amidst all this wealth and luxuriance of nature, I could not repress the wish that those gorgeous forests might soon be swept away by the efforts of human industry, and give place to cultivated fields and the other accessories of civilization. This however will be a work of time though there is no doubt that the facilities and inducements now held out to settlers in this Colony by the pre-emptive law and other enactments, might enable thousands of the destitute poor of Britain, by a few years of steady industry, to secure for themselves, happy homes and a comfortable independence for life.
7. Manuscript image 7. Leaving the boat at Derby we travelled 2 miles by the bridle path which skirts the Fraser to Langley. In my despatch No 224 of the 18th October last I communicated to your Grace the intention I then entertained, of opening up leading roads in the Districts bordering on Frasers River from Derby to Hope to connect those places, and for the relief of settlers exploring the country; as they cannot otherwise make their way through the woods which are blocked up in every direction, by thick brush and immense quantities of fallen timber.
8. A portion of that road from Langley to Smess [Sumass], which completes Manuscript image completes the line of communication between Derby and Hope, having been lately finished, I proceeded on horseback from Langley with the intention of riding the whole way to Hope; that intention could not however be fully carried into effect as Frasers River had overflowed its banks, and inundated the low plains through which the road has been injudiciously led. After a ride of 13 miles our progress was arrested by a flooded plain, impassable in its present state for horses, and we were therefore compelled to seek the River and to proceed by canoe.
9. The tract through which we rode is well adapted for settlement Manuscript image settlement the soil being a deep rich loam, and the woods which once evidently covered the whole face of the country, having been in parts so completely destroyed by fire as to leave large patches of ground almost clear of timber. The tract alluded to and that extending to Smess River contains about 150,000 acres of land, easily cleared and generally well adapted for tillage, its advantageous position on the banks of a navigable river, further recommend it as an eligible place of settlement.
10. Captain Parsons with a party of Royal Engineers is now engaged in a reconnaissance of the Manuscript image the country on the Sumess and Chilwayhook Rivers. I will therefore defer the notice of that district until I receive that Officer's report on its capabilities.
I will now close this communication, as a steamer is in sight, and I will proceed by her from this point towards "Douglas" or "Hope" with the intention of continuing this sketch.
I have etc.
James Douglas
Minutes by CO staff
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Sir F. Rogers
I think that a copy of this despatch and of the sequel to it in 7722 might be appropriately submitted to the Queen, as containing the latest information concerning British Columbia. I wd also accompany these despatches with a Map. Present to Parlt in due time. And acke rect. Communicate also to Land Bd for infn.
ABd 6 Augt
I hardly know whether this is worth sending to the Queen? The loyalty of the people is a favour of Repun Institutions.
FR 6/8
To Land Bd. only, I think.
CF 7
Other documents included in the file
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Draft reply, Newcastle to Douglas, No. 45, 10 August 1860.