Scarby to Newcastle
No 2, Crown Court
Threadneedle Street, E.C.
30 July 1863
My Lord Duke,
May it please Your Grace.
I have the honor to address Your Grace, on a subject in which, I am sure Your Grace, must be deeply interested; viz. Telegraphic communication throughout the Colonies of Vancouver Island and British Columbia; and, ultimately by the proposed new roads through the Red River Settlement to Canada; by the Aleutian Islands to China; and by the Indian Archipelago to Australia.
It is intended to establish "The British Columbia Telegraph Company, Limited," and at present, in order, to meet the immediate and pressing requirements of the Colonies, ofBritishManuscript image British Columbia and Vancouver Island, It is proposed to plan the Inland towns of the former, as far North, as, Alexandria or Richfield, in communication with New Westminster; and the towns of the latter, with Victoria; joining, the Two Colonies by submarine Cable, from Point Grey, B.C. to Nanaimo V.I. and, to place, the whole, in communication with San Francisco; the United States, and Canada; by a junction with the American lines at Whatcomb, in Washington Territory.
Already, has, this matter been laid before His Excellency Governor Douglas, and the scheme received his countenance and support. The different members of the Governments, and the Colonists at large, support the undertaking, knowing, as they do, the many advantages that would accrue therefrom to themselves.
The importance of such an undertaking in a Political point of view, I need not mention to Your Grace. On a commercial point of view, the advantages to the Colonists, and to all who are connected with the Settlements of Vancouver Island and British Columbia must be enormous.
ForManuscript image
For the due completion of this undertaking, it is necessary, that an "Act of Assembly" should be passed in Vancouver Island, and a "Proclamation" be issued in British Columbia, granting the necessary powers for passing over pre-empted, and other lands.
The Projectors have already had interviews with Mr Carey, who is the Attorney General for both Colonies, and, he has promised, on behalf of the Colonial Governments, to support such "Act," and to grant such "Proclamation" as the Company may require.
I have now the honor to ask Your Grace that Your Grace will take the matter into Your Grace's favourable consideration, and give it countenance and support,
Asks support of HMGt.
Firstly, That Your Grace will so recommend it to the notice of H.E. The Governor, that the Company may have no difficulty in obtaining the powers they require.
Secondly, That, as, the proposed capital of the Company at present, is £100,000, Your Grace will be pleased to recommend to the British Government to grant to the CompanyaManuscript image a subsidy.
Asks for a subsidy.
The projectors propose to grant to the Government the free use of their lines in both Colonies, for ever. In consideration whereof they respectfully ask the British Government to guarantee a dividend of Five per Centum, on the £100,000, to the Shareholders, for the first Three years the line is in operation, provided that trade of the Colonies is not sufficient to pay such dividend.
Asks for a guarantee of 5o on 100,000 for 3 years in case the scheme does not pay.
There is little doubt that the Government, would never be called upon for an farthing of the subsidy.
Thirdly, That Your Grace will recommend to the Colonial Government to grant in perpetuity to the Company such town lots, and Sections of land in the roads, as they may require, for the erection of Stations.
Want grants of Land on the Line.
Such sections &c to be chosen by the Engineer of the Company and an Officer appointed by Government.
Fourthly, That Your Grace will be pleased to recommend that all wire and all necessary materials for the construction of the lines be admitted, into, and through both Colonies, free of Customs,andManuscript image and other duties.
Materials to be free of duty.
Fifthly, That the Company should have what assistance, could be rendered by Her Majesty's Vessels stationed at Esquimalt, in laying the submarine Cable across the Gulf of Georgia from Point Grey, B.C. to Nanaimo, V.I. and across the Fraser River at New Westminster.
Use of H.M. ships in laying the Submarine Cable.
I have the honor to be,
My Lord Duke,
Your Grace's Most Obedient & Very Humble Servant
George Scarby
Minutes by CO staff
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Mr Elliot
This Office is already pledged to give any encouragement in its power to Mr Baring's scheme for establishing a passenger traffic and telegraphic communication across the continent of B.N.A. to our Colonies on the Pacific. Such a scheme comprizes part of the design described in this Letter & may, in time embrace telegraphic routes in the interior as well as across B. Columbia. For many years to come one telegraphic line will suffice for B.C. and though it may expose this Office to the imputation of supporting a monopoly the circes of the case wd justify it, in my opinion, in declining to encourage, at present, a second project of the same sort. Besides this scheme takes it rise in a United States line. A quarrel with the U.S. will at once stop the main operations of this line, & confine its utility solely to B.C. & V.C. Isld, where, it may easily be conceived, there will not be much demand for telegraphy for a long while. Then the demands of these projectors seem to me preposterous—they want a subsidy—and a dividend 5o per cent on £100,000 for 3 years, if the trade of the Colonies (a most vague expression) will not enable a dividend to be paid.
ABd 31 July
The object I suppose is to elicit such an answer from a Government office as will serve to run up their shares. Some of the specific requests appear to me very cool: such as that for the subsidy, and for the guarantee, for materials free of duty, and for the use of the Queen's Ships in laying their cable. As to the request for land on each side of the line, they might plead the precedent of the Company already approved by the Duke, and it is a well established encouragement to a good project. I do not know the name of the gentleman who signs the letter. Even if the enterprize were to be encouraged, it would be no more than right to know that the projected Company had some bonâ fide existence. It is easy enough to get a large sheet of paper and write at the top offices of such and such a Company, but persons entitled to attention ought to furnish a list of well known men who are willing to share in the undertaking. In this case I see no suchManuscript image list at all. The writer of the letter may be very respectable, but one must always feel anxious to have some assurances that an answer extracted from a Government Office should not be meant merely to promote a bubble project.
If therefore the scheme were to be entertained, I think that we should first of all demand some more information as to the names and quality of the persons by whom it is proposed. But on the other hand if nothing more is known of them than appears from this letter, it is possible, that for the reasons mentioned by Mr Blackwood, the Duke might think that there are grounds enough to say that for an enterprize of so much difficulty as a telegraphic communication across the Continent of North America, His Grace is not prepared to hold out the expectation of assistance from the Govt to two Companies at the same time?
It is, however, a question that requires care.
TFE 31 July
Duke of Newcastle
The answer might be that in any case it wd be necessary that you should be furnished with much more information respecting the promoters of this enterprize than is contained in the present communication before such an application as that of Mr Scarby's could be taken into consideration. But that he would learn from Papers laid before Parlmt that Y.G. has already promised such amountManuscript image of support as H.M. Govt would be justified in affording to other parties who had in contemplation the construction of a line of telegraph between Canada & B. Columbia.
CF 3 Augt
This answer will be safe & proper. I have little doubt that Mr "George Scarby" is the Company.
N 6
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
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Prospectus of the British Columbia Telegraph Company, Limited, proposing to form a joint stock company.
Other documents included in the file
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Elliot to Scarby, 12 August 1863, requesting more information on the proposed telegraphic line.
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
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Map of British Columbia and Washington State, showing the proposed route of the telegraph cable.
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W.A.G. Young, Colonial Secretary, to D. Huddell, 16 June 1863, advising that the colonial government would view with satisfaction any proposal for the establishment of telegraphic links between various points in the two colonies.