Murdoch to Elliot (Assistant Under-Secretary)
Emigration Office
25 March 1861
I have to acknowledge to Sir Frederic Rogers letter of 12th instant, enclosing a correspondance which had passed between Mr Dallas the Agent of the Hudson's Bay Co & Governor Douglas, on the subject of the course adopted by the latter towards the Company in British Columbia—together with a letter from the Govr of the Hudsons Bay Co enclosing theManuscript image copy of a rejoinder made by Mr Dallas to the Governors explanation.
2. First, Mr Dallas complained that with the exception of one Lot, the Governor had sold the whole frontage and available portion of the Company's reserve at Yale, in the clearing of which and in compensation to the Indians they had incurred "considerable expense," that a street had been run through a recently erected warehouse belonging to the Company, and that they had been required to remove it. The Governor answered that though a portion of theManuscript image Town of Yale had once been occupied by the Company it had long been abandoned as a trading post—that it was reoccupied in 1858 in consequence of the Gold discoveries—that very little expense could ever have been incurred by the Company in clearing the Land or in compensation to the Indians—that in 1858 the land was overrun by adventurers whom it would have been impossible to remove by force, and that it was necessary, in order to reduce this confusion to order, to layout and sell the land in Lots—but that strict orders were givenManuscript image to respect all land that could be equitably claimed by the Company, and that no injustice had been done to them as their land was marked on the map as a "reserve" and continues to this day to be respected. To this Mr Dallas rejoins by admitting that Yale had been abandoned previous to 1858, but denies that in the correspondence respecting its reoccupation any allusion was made to the Gold discoveries (which is not asserted).
He also admits that the expense of clearing the land & compensatingManuscript image the Indians was inconsiderable, not exceeding £75 and that it would have been impossible, and unwise if possible, to remove the first trespassers by force. But he complains that provisional titles have been given to the present occupants and that whatever orders may have been issued the available land occupied by the Company has been sold. To the statement that no injustice had been done to the Company he gives an "entire and unqualified contradiction," the portion of land marked as "Reserve" having been occupied by the Company only as an outrun for horses andManuscript image being of little value.
3. Upon this subject then the only point of difference between the Governor and Mr Dallas is, as will be seen, the extent to which land claimed by the Company has been sold to other persons. On that point the statements of the two are contradictory and the present papers do not afford the means of deciding which is right. Judging from the extent to which Mr Dallas is forced to acknowledge his first representation to be incorrect, I should infer that the Governors statement on this pointManuscript image also is most to be relied on. But the matter appears to me practically of little importance. Both agree that the land had been abandoned for some time before 1858 and was only reoccupied in the spring of that year. The Company's title could only date from the period of reoccupation and is in fact, therefore, no title at all. Assuming the circumstances to be as they appear from these papers, I do not see that the Governor was bound to reserve any portion of the land claimed by the Company, or consequently, that they have any ground of complaint by reason of its sale to others. This point willManuscript image no doubt be raised in the proceedings respecting the Company's title before the Judicial Committee.
4. Second, in regard to encroachments at old Langley or Derby of which also Mr Dallas complained, the Governor states that the site of that Town had for years been abandoned by the Hudsons Bay Co and a portion, if not the whole, was in the possession of Squatters, but that he nevertheless reserved 9 Acres which were claimed by the Company, and that they remain still untouched by the Government. Mr Dallas admits thatManuscript image Old Langley had been abandoned by the Company, but alleges that a Salmon Store and Wharf the property of the Company were sold to Strangers. He further complains that on the subsequent abandonment of the Town, an equivalent in Town Lots in New Westminster was given to other holders, "a boon not granted to the Company." It could scarcely have escaped Mr Dallas that the "other holders" had paid for their Lots at Old Langley and were, therefore, entitled when the Seat of Government was removed to equivalent lots in the new capital. The Hudson's Bay CoManuscript image had paid nothing for their lots and had therefore no claim to a similar exchange. On this point the Compy have clearly no ground of complaint against the Governor.
5. Thirdly, Mr Dallas complains of the delay in settling "the long overdue accounts" of the Company against the Colony, and of the illiberal spirit in which they have been scrutinized. At the end of his letter he adds a statement of these outstanding accounts amounting to $4467.87 or somewhat less than £900. The Governor in answer points out thatManuscript image the Colony has actually paid to the Company since its creation no less than £60,000 and that the Company have received upwards of £5000 as commission on monies received and paid by them for the Government. Of the above sum of $4467 he shows that the only old debt is $994 of which $450 is inherently doubtful—while of the remainder $2375 or more than two thirds are merely constructive and conjectural charges. Mr Dallas rejoins by a statement of the Costs incurred by the Company in consequence of the assistanceManuscript image which as the first establishment of the Colony they afforded to the Government and the claim they thereby acquired in its consideration, matters which have clearly nothing to do with the question whether the Local Government are chargeable with unnecessary and unreasonable delay in paying their debts to the Company. He does not deny that as stated by Mr Douglas $2375 out of $3473 of new charge are merely a conjectural estimate. On this head the Governors explanation is conclusive and is not touched by MrManuscript image Dallas' rejoinder.
6. Lastly Mr Dallas complained that the license of Trade fee of £5 had been enforced on the individual shareholders of the Company and that "against this grievance our Agent in Yale has in vain appealed to your Excellency and to the Resident Magistrate." The Governor answers that immediately the matter was brought to his notice the Resident Magistrate was directed to refund the money. Mr Dallas rejoins that it was only after repeated & fruitless applications to the Magistrate at Yale that he brought the matter toManuscript image the notice of the Governor. But he does not repeat the statement which forms the gravamen of the charge that the Agent had appealed in vain to the Governor.
7. Upon the whole it appears to me that the completeness of Govr Douglas' answer to Mr Dallas' first complaint is in no degree shaken by Mr Dallas rejoinder—but is rather confirmed by it. The admissions which Mr Dallas is compelled to make, prove the exaggeration of his first representation, while the tone of his lettersManuscript image which contrasts unfavorably with the Governor's answer appears to show the animus by which he has been inspired. It is fortunate under these circumstances that the management of the Hudson's Bay Co affairs has passed from Mr Dallas' hands—a continued antagonism between the Governor & the Manager of the Hudson's Bay Co could not fail in so small a Society to be seriously injurious and inconvenient.
8. I would submit that Govr Douglas should be informed that the explanation contained in his letter of 5th December of the mattersManuscript image in dispute between himself and the Agent of the Hudsons Bay Co is satisfactory, and that the rejoinder made by Mr Dallas on 13th Decr of which a copy has been received from the Hudsons Bay Co, does not appear to require any further notice from him.
I have etc.
T.W.C. Murdoch
Minutes by CO staff
Manuscript image
ABd 26/March
TFE 26 March
Duke of Newcastle
Write to the Governor, as advised by Mr M. and to the H.B.Co acknowledging their letter 1917 & expressing in similar termsManuscript image your opinion of Mr Dallas's rejoinder?
CF 26
N 30
Other documents included in the file
Manuscript image
Draft reply, Newcastle to Douglas, No. 75, 17 April 1861, advising that Douglas need not respond further in his dispute with Dallas.
Manuscript image
Draft, Fortescue to H.H. Berens, Hudson's Bay Company, 19 April 1861, advising that Dallas's rejoinder had not altered the position of the government.