Separate
8 October 1861
I have the honor of transmitting herewith a memorial addressed to Your Grace by Mr J.A.R. Homer, and eight other persons for the purpose of stating their professed grievances, and urging the policy of establishingrepresentativeManuscript image representative institutions in British Columbia.
2. This document may be regarded as embodying at most, the individual opinions of the authors of the Memorial who have no just claim to the ambitious distinction of being considered a representative body, and I am not aware that their political influence or social status is such as would entitle them to assume the part of becoming exponentsofManuscript image of the views, and wishes of the people of this Colony.
3. I have refused to receive them in their assumed character of "The British Columbia Convention." The term is associated with revolution, and holds out a menace. The subject has an undoubted right to petition his Sovereign, but the term Convention means something more; it implies coercion.
4. I have no desire toaccuseManuscript image accuse the authors of the memorial of entertaining any malevolent designs; the majority of them being known as quiet well meaning tradesmen; sincerely attached, I believe, to the institutions of the country; but at the same time, I am not disposed to overlook the fact that they may become for seditious purposes, the dupes of artful men.
5. I have thereforechargedManuscript image charged the Magistrates to keep an eye over their movements, and not to interfere with their proceedings, as long as they commit no violation of the Law.
6. Their last meeting at Hope, of which this memorial is the only result, appears from the Magistrates report to have excited very little public interest, as after the first day's Session scarcely any person, except the authorsofManuscript image of the memorial, attended the meeting.
7. With respect to the prayer of the Memorialists, that is, the redress of grievances, and the grant of representative institutions, I will observe that I fully, and cordially admit the proposition that liberty is the Englishmans birthright, and that the desire for representative institutions is common to all Her Majesty's subjects. I have no wish to say anythingtoManuscript image to the contrary or to advocate any system of Government which deprives the meanest of Her Majesty's subjects, of their just rights, and privileges.
8. Parliament has, however, seen fit, for good and sufficient reasons, to establish a temporary form of Government in British Columbia not unusual in the infancy of British Colonies, the Government of the Queen in Council, and Parliament, I think, adopted a wise and judicious course.
9.Manuscript image
9. For my own part, I would not assume the responsibility of recommending any immediate change in the form of Government, as now established, until there is a permanent British population to form the basis of a representative Government, a population attached to the British throne and constitution, and capable of appreciating the civil and religous liberty derived fromthatManuscript image that constitution; blessings which I venture to assert are now enjoyed in the fullest sense of the term, by the people of British Columbia.
My opinion on the subject has in fact undergone no change since I had the honor of addressing Your Grace on the 22nd of April last in my despatch (Separate) reporting on a former Memorial forwarded at that time.
10. It is hardly I presumenecessaryManuscript image necessary that I should trouble Your Grace with a very detailed notice of the grievances enumerated by the Memorialists, which may be classed under the following heads: 1. The non-residence of the Governor, and Colonial officials. 2. The tax on passengers entering the Colony, and the want of a public hospital. 3. The absence of an official Survey of the Colony. 4. The want of a Mail service.5.Manuscript image 5. The want of public schools. 6. Inequality of taxation. 7. Duty on Ship building materials. 8. Establishment of the Gold Escort. 9. Grants to the Episcopal Church.
11. With respect to the first of these complaints, the residence of the Governor and Colonial Officials in Vancouvers Island,
I beg to inform Your Grace that all the ColonialofficersManuscript image officers with the exception of the Governor, Colonial Secretary, and Attorney General, who hold similar appointments in Vancouver Island, do actually reside in British Columbia, and it is my intention as soon as an Attorney General is appointed for British Columbia to require him to reside in the Colony.
The appointments are now separate. Mr Crease has been appointed to B. Columbia.
My own time is in a great measure occupiedwithManuscript image with the affairs of British Columbia, and since the beginning of the present year, I have resided nearly half the time within the Colony.
The Colonial Secretary is necessarily detained in Vancouvers Island to attend in my absence to the official duties of both Colonies, but even were it not so, his residence in British Columbia under existing circumstances would be to employ hisservicesManuscript image services in the least useful manner, and to the greatest disadvantage of the public business.
There appears therefore very slender grounds for this complaint, as with the exception of the inhabitants of New Westminster it is in reality a matter of little importance to the people of British Columbia whether the Governor resides at Victoria, or at New Westminster as matters can be referredtoManuscript image to him as readily at the one place as the other.
12. There is certainly nothing objectionable in principle, nor practically oppressive in the "Passenger tax," alluded to in the second complaint; it being levied under the head of Harbour dues, on Vessels entering the Colony, and not directly on Passengers. It yields a sufficient amount of income to defray the charges incurred for thereliefManuscript image relief of the sick, and casual poor,
The principle of such a Tax has been reorganized in British America. It is a very beneficient one.
TFE 10/12
but is altogether inadequate to the support of a public Hospital, an establishment which would without necessity, put the Colony to a very heavy expense, as the hand of private charity is equal to the relief of the very few cases of real distress, which occur.
13. "Official Surveys" will be made of the ColonywheneverManuscript image whenever a demand arises for land, but it is an error to suppose that, "but little is known of the internal resources of the Colony," or "of the best route to the Mining regions," on both of those points the Government is well informed, and the most strenuous efforts are being made, at this moment, to remove difficulties of access, and to open the internal communications of the country.
14. A regular Mail ServicehasManuscript image has for some time past been established for the conveyance of letters to Douglas, Hope, and Yale; it has not however been extended beyond these points on account of the great expense to which the Colony would be put by an efficient overland postal service, and I may add that with the present small population, the cost would be altogether disproportional to the object.
This circumstance gives rise to no inconvenience, as lettersareManuscript image are regularly carried to the remotest gold fields at a not unreasonable charge, considering the cost of travelling by private express companies, which have been engaged in that business since the early part of 1858, and I do not consider it advisable to disturb that arrangement which relieves the Government of so much responsibility, and expense.
15. Government has not been unmindful of the subjectofManuscript image of education, and will make provision for the establishment of public schools as soon as required; there are at present two schools in New Westminster, and certainly not over half a dozen children fit for school at any of the other towns in British Columbia.
16. On the subject of taxation I may generally remark, that the Revenue is levied on a population of at least 35,000 persons, and not on 8000 as representedinManuscript image in the Memorial, and two thirds of the whole sum is paid by native consumers. I may further assure Your Grace that it has been collected without oppression on the part of the Government, or murmuring on the part of the people.
17. As a proof that the road taxes collected at Douglas, Hope, and Yale, are not considered "unfair", and meet the general approval of the people, I forward copies of three petitions lately receivedfromManuscript image from the Merchants and inhabitants of Hope, Yale, and Lytton, recommending an additional tax for the formation of roads, which have produced so large a saving in the cost of transport, as already to make a tenfold return to the tax-payer.
18. The Gold Escort, as I informed Your Grace in a former communication, has a two-fold object, the safe conveyance of Gold from thedistantManuscript image distant parts of the Country, and to assist the Magistrates in enforcing obedience, and respect to the laws. There must be a mistake about the irregularities alluded to in the Memorial, as the Escort has not yet accomplished its first trip to Cariboo, a distance of 500 miles, but is reported to be on the way with a large amount of Treasure.
19. The prohibiting dutyonManuscript image on ship building materials is hardly more real than the former complaint, as the timber is produced in the Colony, and is subject to no duty whatever, while none of the other materials are charged with anything more than the regular duty of 10 per cent ad valorem levied on other commodities.
20. I informed Your Grace in my Despatch Separate, 16th July, that I havegrantedManuscript image granted the sums of £200 each, at the request, and in aid of the private contributions of the inhabitants of Douglas, and Lytton for building Churches in these towns, with the sole object of providing decent places of christian worship, which did not previously exist, and to promote the interests of religion and morality.
21. In conclusion I have only to express mysincereManuscript image sincere regret that the authors of the Memorial did not bring forward some practical scheme for the advancement of the Colony, instead of occupying their time in an attempt to excite distrust, and foment discontent, when no real or substantial grievance does, I believe in point of fact exist.
I have the honor to be
My Lord Duke
Your Graces most obedient
Humble Servant
James Douglas

Manuscript image
P.S. As a significant commentary upon the Memorial herewith forwarded, I append cuttings, in connection therewith, from the "British Colonist", and "British Columbian" newspapers, both of which are noted for the acrimony which they display against the Government, but are nevertheless not able to accord upon this matter. James Douglas
Minutes by CO staff
Manuscript image
Mr Elliot
The general question of granting Representative Institutions to British Columbia has been for some months under consideration. See the Minutes on 4653.
VJ 10 Decr
Mr Fortescue
A collection of former papers on this subject has I believe been out of the Division in circulation for some considerable time. I have little doubt that the postponement of Representative Government is in fact a benefit to this or to any other young Community, and there does not appear to be yet any general demand for that kind of Constitution. A large proportion of gold-diggers in the population, including a considerable admixture of Americans, would not add to the favorable prospects of popular Government. The time of course will come when this like every other British Colony situated in a temperate climate & occupied by inhabitants of European race, ought to possess a Representative Legislature.
TFE 10 Decr
CF 11
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
Manuscript image
Memorial to Newcastle from the British Columbia Convention, 11 September 1861, expressing various grievances against the government, as per despatch, nine signatures.
Manuscript image
Petition to Douglas from the inhabitants of Yale, no date, stressing the importance of extending the inland communication routes and asking for taxes to be increased in order to finance certain projects.
Manuscript image
Petition to Douglas from the inhabitants of Lytton, no date, making application as noted above.
Manuscript image
Petition to Douglas from the inhabitants of Hope, 18 October 1861, making application as noted above.
Manuscript image
Memorial from the inhabitants of Yale, no date, reporting the results of a meeting held 5 October 1861 on the subject of a wagon road to be constructed between Yale and Cook and Kimball's Ferry, and thanking the governor for his support of the project.
Manuscript image
Newspaper clippings, British Columbian, 14 and 19 September and 3 October 1861, on the proceedings of the British Columbian Convention.
Douglas, James to Pelham-Clinton, Henry Pelham Fiennes 8 October 1861, CO 60:11, no. 10955, 36. 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/B61057SP.html.

Last modified: 2020-12-02 13:40:34 -0800 (Wed, 02 Dec 2020) (SVN revision: 5008)