No. 60
15 October 1861
I have the honor of transmitting herewith, for Your Grace's information, the Copy of a Proclamation issued on the 27th day of August last, entitled the "Pre-emption Consolidation Act 1861."
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2. The object sought to be accomplished by this measure is to bring within the compass of one general Act, all the several proclamations regulating the pre-emption of land, and to arrange in a simple and lucid form the provisions of those Acts, so that every person desirous of settling in British Columbia and of acquiring unsurveyed land, may know how to proceed, and the rights which are secured to him by law.
3. The Pre-emption Consolidation Act is thereforeasManuscript image as its name imports, a mere rearrangement, excluding some few objectionable features of former Acts affecting the acquisition of unsurveyed land in British Columbia. It is the result of much care and reflection, and considerable experience of the working of this peculiar mode of acquiring land has been brought to bear in its preparation.
4. I may here remark that this Act has no application to the surveyed lands of the Colony, which are in allcasesManuscript image cases sold at public auction, under the direction of the Commissioner of Lands and Works; the upset price being in all such cases fixed at four shillings and two pence per acre for Country land.
5. In consequence of the great expense of moving surveying parties from place to place, the very limited demand for surveyed land, and the migratory character of the population of British Columbia, which makes it impossible to determine what course settlement will take or where surveyed land may bewantedManuscript image wanted, it has been thought advisable to postpone the general survey until the population and the demand for country land increases.
In the meantime the Pre-emption Consolidation Act enables bona fide settlers and improvers to make homesteads for themselves without waiting for the official survey, leaving each individual—within the conditions specified in the Act—the unfettered choice of situation, extent and boundary. All classesofManuscript image of settlers are provided for by the Act—the monied capitalist, as well as the labourer who brings only his own skill and enterprise—on condition of actual residence and settlement.
6. The Act does not directly impose any "settlement duties", but it withholds the power to sell or assign land, held under its provisions, until the settler has made improvements to the extent of ten shillings per acre.
7. The settler, who from want of means, is only able to utilize a smallpieceManuscript image piece of land, will not be harrassed or distressed for the purchase money, and he is secured in the ultimate conveyance of the land at four shillings a two pence per acre. The monied settler who contemplates larger acquisitions may, besides a claim of 160 acres, enter into possession of any contiguous land, on paying therefor two shillings and one penny per acre, as security that it is held for the purpose of immediate settlement.
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8. Provision is thus made for the real wants of all classes, while the Colony has the best possible security against the mere speculative holding of land for profitable resale.
9. As the Act contains nothing that is new in principle, and no provision that has not previously received your Grace's sanction, I submit it with confidence for Her Majesty's approval.
I have the honor to be
My Lord Duke
Your Grace's most obedient
humble Servant
James Douglas
Minutes by CO staff
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VJ 10 Decr
Land Board at once.
FR 10/12
(N.B. When an Act is taken from previous Laws, Imperial or Colonial, the Govr shd refer to them by name.)
CF 11
Other documents included in the file
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Draft, Elliot to Emigration Commissioners, 20 December 1861, forwarding copies of both the “British Columbia Land Repository Act 1861” and the “Pre-emption Consolidation Act 1861,” for suggestions and observations.