Murdoch to Elliot (Assistant Under-Secretary)
Emigration Office
29 July 1861
I have to acknowledge your letter of 15th instant enclosing a despatch from the Governor of British Columbia on the subject of the claims of the Hudsons Bay Co to land in that Colony.
2. Governor Douglas states that the inconvenience arising from the unsettled state of the Company's claims becomes daily more apparent, and that the difficulty of a final settlementManuscript image will increase in proportion to the delay in arriving at it. He therefore suggests as a basis of Settlement, that the places occupied by the Company as existing Forts or Posts, and which are necessary for carrying on their business, should be transferred to them in fee, together with any fields or gardens actually enclosed by fences & under cultivation—provided that no such grant should exceed 100 Acres of Country land at any one place, except at New Langley and Kamloops, where the Company have a number ofManuscript image Cattle and Horses. In those places the grants he suggests might be increased to 500 Acres. In the Towns Governor Douglas proposes that the Grants should be restricted to building lots actually occupied by the Company's business houses.
3. This arrangement the Governor proposes as a liberal concession to the equitable claims of the Company, and as exceeding what they are legally entitled to claim. If there were any probability that they would accept it, it would I think be unquestionably an advantageous settlement for the public. But itManuscript image falls so very far short of the claims put forward by the Company, and supported on a former occasion by Governor Douglas himself, that I cannot believe it possible that the Company should accept it.
4. In the Month of October 1858 the Governor of the Hudsons Bay Co Mr Berens, brought the question of the Company's claim to the Lands they had occupied in B. Columbia under the consideration of Sir E.B. Lytton. On the 16th of the following November Sir E. Lytton transmitted the correspondence to Govr Douglas,Manuscript image and directed him to furnish a report on the extent and nature of the Cos claims. In that despatch Sir E. Lytton stated that he was prepared to draw a considerable distinction between land which had been subjected to cultivation or had involved outlay on the part of the Company, or was necessary to the maintenance of their existing stock or establishments, and land which had served the more occasional purpose of affording pasturage to herds or beasts of burden.
5. The report thus called for was furnished by Governor Douglas' despatch of 31st May 1859. The resultManuscript image was that the land claimed by the Company amounted in all to 98,000 Acres, that of this 10 Acres were in the Town of Old Fort Langley, 6,400 Acres in its immediate vicinity and 640 Acres in the Town of Fort Hope, that the whole of the Land had "involved outlay" on the part of the Company and that upwards of 80,000 Acres had been brought into partial cultivation and were necessary for the maintenance of existing Stock. The Company further claimed £5,000 for making roads and for land between Fort Hope & ThompsonsManuscript image River improved by the sowing of Grass seed.
6. To these extensive claims Governor Douglas at the time gave an earnest support, urging the Title of the Company to liberal consideration and alleging the recognition of similar claims within the United States Territory by the Oregon Treaty of 1846. Upon this subject I would request a reference to the report from this Office of 29th Augt 1859. A great change it appears has since taken place in Governor Douglas' views on the subject, but there is no probability that a similar change hasManuscript image taken place in the Company's views. I should have no expectation, therefore, of any result from Governor Douglas' proposition, nor is it made in so definite a form as to admit of any conclusive action. At the same time it might be as well to communicate it to the Company for any observations they might desire to make, which might afford some information as to the light in which they themselves regard their claims.
I have etc.
T.W.C. Murdoch
Minutes by CO staff
Manuscript image
ABd 30 July
TFE 30 July
Communicate the substance of the Govrr's proposal to the H.B.Co. for any observations they may have to make—but not the despatch itself.
CF 31
N 1-8