No. 78
24 August 1860
My Lord Duke
I have now the honor of submitting a Report upon the scheme of Captain Clarke, R.E. for the disposal of Manuscript image of land in British Columbia forwarded to me with your Grace's despatch No 3 of the 7th of January last.
2. The Scheme has, I may premise, merits of a high order, and indicates the large experience, and, on many points, liberal views of the writer; I fear however, its introduction here, would not, without modification, be attended with any immediate or ultimate advantage.
The System appears to Manuscript image to be adapted to the present advanced state of the Colonies in Australia, which are relatively wealthy and populous; and where the genial climate, open surface, rich pastures, the accumulation of capital, and profits derived from Stock Farming, make land a desirable investment, and lead to its rapid sale; but is inapplicable to a Colony like British Columbia, just called into existence, and where Manuscript image where the physical conditions of climate and soil are altogether different, and country land as yet, with some few exceptional localities, absolutely unsaleable.
3. In principle however, Captain Clarke's scheme is, not widely different from the Laws now regulating the disposal of land in British Columbia, the difference being chiefly observable in matters of detail; a fact which will appear from the following review of his plan, engrossed in red for the sake of contrast, and Manuscript image and the Laws now in force in British Columbia.
Sections 1 & 2. (1) Alienation of Crown lands to be by sale at public auction as hereafter described. (2) Excepting from above provision Country lands once or oftener submitted for sale at auction, and not bought, which may be purchased by Contract with Governor or Officer named to receive purchase-money, also lands required for the purposes of Government either general or Manuscript image or municipal, or held under public trusts where trustees not named or approved by Executive Government, or incorporated in Legislative Acts, also with respect to engagements made by the Crown to Naval and Military Settlers.
Both Schemes adopt the Auction System in the alienation of surveyed Crown Lands, and sanction the selection and temporary occupation of unsurveyed lands, with hardly a shade of difference, except that the upset price in British Columbia is Manuscript image is fixed by law at ten shillings per acre, exceeding by five shillings the upset price proposed in Captain Clarke's scheme.
Section 3. Province to be divided into Counties, Hundreds and Parishes.
No objection occurs to me against the division of the Colony into Provinces, with subdivisions of Counties, Hundreds and Parishes, as recommended in this Section: but any such division at present, while the Country is Manuscript image is imperfectly known, would be premature, and would probably require speedy alteration.
Section 4. Lands to be distinguished into Town and Country Lots.
The Law of British Columbia add "suburban" Lots as an intermediate class between Town and Country Lands.
Suburban Lands are generally laid out in Five Acre Sections, forming a zone immediately beyond the Town Lots, and extending Manuscript image extending to the Country Land. This is found to be both a useful distinction and profitable to the revenue, inasmuch as the land brings a higher price than Country land, and its being put up for sale in small lots, leads to a more equal and satisfactory distribution of the valuable land near Towns.
Section 5. Authority to Governor to convey.
Section 6. No lands to be alienated or conveyed till surveyed and limits Manuscript image limits marked on Public Charts, and boundaries &c described in Register.
The Law of British Columbia gives that power to the Governor and provides for the alienation of country land in the same manner.
Section 7. No grant to cover alienation of more than one square mile, or 640 acres, or no greater area to be offered at auction than said quantity in one lot.
This restriction may be grafted on our present system, though I Manuscript image I must confess I do not see its advantages to the Colony.
Section 8. Lowest upset price to be five shillings per acre. The upset price of Country lots is Ten Shillings
This rate has been reduced. In desph No 41, of the 16 July 4s/2d has been sanctioned as the upset price of all Country Lands in B. Columbia. The same rate prevails also now in VanCouver Isld.
ABd 10 Oct/60
an acre in British Columbia; but I agree with Captain Clarke as to the expediency of fixing it at Five Shillings per acre.
Section 9. Upset price of Town lots to be fixed by Governor in Council.
Section 10. Town Lots to be sold only at auction.
Section 11. Manuscript image Section 11. Power to Governor in Council, in case of Country lands, the probable value of which is enhanced by circumstances, to raise upset price to approximate value.
The practice is the same in British Columbia, except in respect to the sale of Town Lots, which, after having been put up at auction, may be sold by private sale at the upset price; a plan adopted to facilitate sales, and enable the local officers to meet applications as made; for it was found that official delays had Manuscript image had seriously deterred many persons from purchasing lots.
Section 12. All lands (Town and Country) put up to auction at prices respectively stated in Schedule of Sale, will be declared to be purchased by the bidder of the upset price, or the highest bidder above it, provided he shall pay down then and there the whole amount of purchase money, or a deposit of 25 per cent on the amount of purchase money. The remainder to be paid within 60 days from the Manuscript image the date of sale.
The Law of British Columbia is somewhat different in this respect, it required payment in cash of one half the purchase money of all Country land sold, at the time of sale, and the other half at the end of two years: and a deposit of 10 per cent on the purchase money of Town Land, and the balance in three months from the date of sale.
Captain Clarke disapproves of that practice; and I would observe in reference to his remarks on the subject, that the Manuscript image the system of deferred payments, or payment by instalments, and introduced with the view of encouraging the sale of Country land, and giving an impulse to settlement; as the experience derived from the Colonization of Vancouvers Island, proved conclusively, that the rigid enforcement of the system of prompt payment would certainly defeat both of those objects.
I may here state that no persons of large means have as yet settled in British British Columbia Manuscript image Columbia Columbia, and that the purchase of Country Land is considered a most unprofitable method of investing money in this country.
A high rate of interest is derived from investments in other real estate, or in Mining or Mercantile enterprise, while waste land yields no immediate return.
Capital has therefore not sought an outlet in that direction, and so limited is the demand for Country Land, that the very liberal terms offered by the "British Columbia Pre-emption Act" passed Manuscript image passed on the 4th of January 1860, have produced no other decided effect than the formation of several small settlements in favorable localities; but the Country at large remains untilled, unimproved, and unproductive of everything but Gold.
I may further remark, that the emigration to British Columbia, has, in most cases, been of the poor and laboring classes, some of whom were men of small means, but the great majority had not a Manuscript image a farthing on their arrival.
Those men are, however, the bone and sinew of the State; and if they can be induced to till and cultivate the soil, they will soon produce a sensible effect upon the country.
The whole of that class would, however, be excluded from purchasing land by enforcing the system of prompt payment; its effect would be to place the Colony in a false position, there being on the one hand no capitalists disposed to purchase land, while Manuscript image while on the other hand the stringency of the terms would virtually amount to a rejection of the only class who are desirous of settling in the Colony.
In Canada, New Brunswick, and other Colonies, a low price for land, and the system of deferred payment, has, I believe, been universally adopted, and with the happiest results.
The Donation Act, until very lately in force in the neighbouring Territories of the Manuscript image the United States, was singularly liberal and attractive to Settlers. It conveyed to all settlers, who had resided in the State before the passage of the Act, a free grant of 640 Acres to Married Settlers.
320 Acres to Single Settlers. and one half of those quantities to settlers arriving from and after the passage of the Act.
The general Pre-emption Law of the United States entitles settlers to enter into possession of from 160 to 320 acres of unsurveyed Manuscript image unsurveyed land, with the right of purchase at the Government price, of one Dollar and a quarter per acre, on the survey being made.
Those enactments all bear testimony favorable to a liberal land system. I believe it is cheap land, coupled with the condition of occupation, that has made the United States what they are; and that is now clearing the wilderness, and adding so largely to the population and the revenues of Canada.
The Manuscript image The settlement of British Columbia, is, I believe, dependent on the same wise policy, and must be fostered and promoted by the same means, or emigrants will be forced into the neighbouring Territories of the United States, where they may freely select from millions of acres, equal to any land in British Columbia, at the low price of one dollar and a quarter per acre, payable only after survey.
In tracing the effects of the two systems, I would remark Manuscript image remark that there is obviously no period of a settlers' career when capital is more useful, or more pressingly wanted for carrying on his operations, than at his first start in a new country. He must then purchase implements; working and stock-cattle; clear, till and enclose land; employ his own labor, and for a time purchase even his own food. In no case therefore, can it be advisable to allow the whole Manuscript image whole of the settlers' capital to be absorbed in the purchase of land, for that would be depriving him of the means of improving and bringing land into cultivation, precisely at the time when the aid of capital is most wanted.
If we suppose that the ready money system of payment cannot be enforced without checking, or perhaps wholly preventing, the sale of land, and retarding the settlement of the Country; and such, I may remark, would inevitably Manuscript image inevitably be the result in British Columbia, then I submit there can be no doubt as to the impolicy of a practice so fraught with evil.
The Crown Lands, should, I think, be treated as a means of aiding the progres and development of the Country, and not merely as a source of revenue. If the increase of population is admitted to be the paramount object of consideration, then I conceive the settlement of the Country should be encouraged through Manuscript image through the only means in our power, the cheap and easy acquisition of land that being probably the greatest and almost sole attraction which new countries possess: therefore if settlers are unable to make their payments at once, without sinking too large a portion of their capital, I submit that it would be advisable for Government to allow time for those payments, rather than lose the chance of retaining a resident and improving population Manuscript image population in the Colony.
It is of the utmost importance that the Colony should have a resident population as the basis of a regular and permanent revenue, and that object would, I conceive, be cheaply attained were it even to involve the free gift of a great part of the waste land in British Columbia; for the country would still in that event be a gainer by the sacrifice, as is pertinently shewn in the words of a great writer, who observes:
As Manuscript imageAs the Crown Lands, which are now unproductive, would, when they become private property, soon be improved and cultivated, their produce would increase the population of the country by augmenting the revenue and consumption of the people; and the revenue which the Crown derives from the duties of Customs and Excise, would necessarily increase with the revenue and consumption of the people.
I have in conclusion to Manuscript image to add, that I differ in opinion from Captain Clarke on the point of requiring immediate payment from purchasers of Country land; the introduction of that system, at present, would, I think, retard settlement, check the sale of public land, and be disastrous to the Colony.
Section 13. Purchaser to sign Sale Book.
Section 14. Should purchaser neglect to pay balance of purchase money within 60 Manuscript image 60 days, the deposit of 25 per cent will be forfeited, and the land if classed as Country land be declared open for future purchase, either at Auction, or as hereafter prescribed. Such Regulations are now in force in British Columbia.
Section 15. Country Lands, once offered for sale, and for which no offer has been made, or on which the deposit has been forfeited, may at discretion of Governor in Council be adverted as open for selection or purchase at private Contract Manuscript image Contract at prices affixed. A similar provision is made in the Laws of British Columbia.
Section 16. All applications for land to be purchased by selection, or private contract, to be made in writing, purchase money deposited.
Section 17. As far as practicable, all lands to be sold in or near site of such lands. All lands open for selection or purchase by private contract, should for 12 months after the date of Manuscript image of first advertisement be subject to selection only at the nearest Government office or Magisterial Branch to site of such lands, and then subsequently only at the Chief Crown Land Office.
Section 18. All contemporaneous or conflicting applications for the same land, to be determined at Auction.
Regulations to the same effect are now practically in force.
Section 19. All lands to be sold by Auction, or otherwise, to be advertised at least 30 days before time Manuscript image time or date of sale.
The Law of British Columbia provides that due notice shall be given of all auction sales.
Section 20. All lands sold to be described with purchasers name attached, and advertised within reasonable time after date of sale.
Section 21. Register with Charts attached describing each lot and subsequent history to be kept in Chief Crown Lands Office.
Convenient and useful and may be introduced with advantage Manuscript image advantage hereafter, when the revenues of the Colony are capable of defraying the cost of a larger establishment of public Officers.
Section 22. Beyond the limits of Survey, or in other words, beyond ten miles from the nearest lands surveyed, sold, or ready for sale, licenses, on application to the nearest Bench of Magistrates, may be issued to persons desirous of selecting land for settlement and the immediate purpose of cultivation or other Manuscript image other lawful occupation.
The gist of this Section is contained in the Proclamation of 4th January 1860, entitled the "Pre-emption Act."
Sections 23, 24, 25, 26, and 27. Prescribing the forms of application for land &c.
Sections 28, 29, and 30. These Sections are devoted to licensing land for depasturage of Stock, and are inapplicable to British Columbia.
Section Manuscript image Section 31. Annual Licenses to be issued to persons to fell timber, to remove stone, open Brickfields, &c Now practically in force in British Columbia.
Section 32. On the site of probable Townships, and on the Gold-fields where land for building &c has not been sold, Business licenses to be issued, annual—renewable—such licenses not on renewal to be subject to auction.
Section 33. Fees payable on said Business licenses to be in proportion to Frontage Manuscript image Frontage to Street or thoroughfare occupied, but under one License not to exceed [blank] feet.
Business Licenses are issued to all persons occupying Crown Lands and carrying on any trade or occupation in British Columbia.
Section 34. Declaring undesirable to sell auriferous Land, but when land sold Gold in it conveyed to purchaser with soil, but subject to tax, duty or Royalty, as other Gold from Crown Lands.
The Law of British Columbia conveys Manuscript image conveys all Mines and Minerals with the land, but reserves Mines of Gold and Silver for the benefit of the Crown, and I think it advisable to leave the law in its present state until the Country has been explored, and the extent and character of the Gold Fields ascertained with some degree of precision; otherwise the auriferous lands of the Colony may pass into private hands, and become the property of persons Manuscript image persons opposed to their being worked, except on terms oppressive to industry.
It has been the constant aim and policy of my government to encourage and protect the Miners, on whom all classes depend for support; theirs being the only productive branch of industry which is yet developed.
The public revenue is also wholly derived from the produce of their labours; and there is no other interest So Manuscript image so important, or which so well deserves the regard and consideration of the Country. The Law, for that reason, reserves a right in their favour, freely to enter upon and work all Mines of Gold and Silver.
Sections 35, 36, 37, 38, 41. Provisions, similar in effect, are made by the Laws of British Columbia.
Section Manuscript image Section 39. Similar powers for Mills, either for Quartz Crushing, sawing timber, &c, laying down tramways, Rails, &c.
Section 40. General rules regulating survey with regard to Main Roads, Navigable Waters, Permanent Streams, Lakes, Springs, general size and proportion of Lots &c May be engrafted into our Code with advantage.
Sections 42 to 50. The powers conveyed by these nine Sections are all actually or Manuscript image or virtually in force in British Columbia.
4. I have now brought to a conclusion my review of Captain Clarke's Scheme as compared with the Land Acts in force in British Columbia; and have freely given my opinion of the relative merits of each, viewed as a means of attracting population, the desirable object at which both schemes should aim.
5. The Manuscript image 5. The former commits the error of assuming that the country possesses a population desirous of settling in the Colony and of purchasing land; whereas I have shewn in the course of my remarks, that no disposition has been manifested by monied men to invest capital in that way; and the labouring classes cannot, for want of means, become landowners, unless the price is moderate, and payments made by instalments.
6. The reason, as I have Manuscript image have before shewn, is the profitless character of such investments for every one except the labourer, who does his own work, and makes a livelihood from the produce of the land. It is on that class therefore, that we must, in the first instance, chiefly depend for the permanent settlement of the Country, and it will be obviously unwise to throw obstacles in the way of their acquiring land.
7. I would therefore, not Manuscript image not recommend any change in our present laws until the "Pre-emption Act" of 4th January 1860 has been fairly tested; and should it not produce the desired effect of attracting population, it may be modified by reducing the price of Country Land to Five Shillings per acre, or by adopting the system pursued in Canada of making free grants of one hundred acres to Settlers, coupled with certain Manuscript image certain specified conditions of occupation and settlement.
I have etc.
James Douglas
Minutes by CO staff
Manuscript image
Sir F. Rogers
Land Board.
See also 9601.
ABd 10 Oct
FR 10/10
A good report. I believe the Free Grant system is the one really suited to improving heavily timbered land like most of that in B.C.
CF 16
Other documents included in the file
Manuscript image
Draft, Rogers to Emigration Commissioners, 24 October 1860, fowarding copy of the despatch for observations and suggestions.