No. 23
1 May 1863
I enclose copies of a letter addressed to me by Mr. Watkin on the part of the Atlantic and the Pacific Transit and Telegraph Company in which he transmits the leads of a proposal made by that Company for establishing Telegraphic and Postal Communication between British Columbia and the head of Lake Superior.
I also enclose copies oftheManuscript image the answer which I caused to be returned to that letter and of a despatch which I have addressed to the Governor General of Canada on the subject.
This proposal I apprehend to be made in the confident expectation that the Canadian Government will provide similar means of communication up to the head of Lake Superior, and that means will be adopted for completing the communication by Railway from Halifax to Montreal, thus establishing a chain of telegraphic communication and facilitatingenormouslyManuscript image enormously the rapid transit of letters and passengers across British North America.
I need hardly insist on the advantages which such an enterprise if completed in all its parts will confer on the British Colonies on the Pacific. It is difficult to say whether they will be greater in war or peace.
In war the rapid communication of intelligence will relieve those Colonies from the constant apprehension of surprise by an enemy and will give to the Harbors of Vancouver Island as a station for Her Majesty'sNavyManuscript image Navy an importance immeasurably beyond what they can at present attain. In peace it can hardly fail to add a powerful and healthy stimulus to that immigration which is principally wanting to develop the resources of the Colonies.
I should hope that the Colonists, without whose concurrence I am by no means desirous of proceeding, will agree with me in thinking that the guarantee of twelve thousand five hundred pounds per annum to be paid (if necessary) by British Columbia and Vancouver Island in such proportions as the two Governments may agreeuponManuscript image upon, is no unreasonable price for advantages of so great magnitude.
I have had no hesitation in giving a conditional consent on the part of the Imperial Government to the grants of land contemplated in the first and third of the conditions set forth in the enclosed paper, and I shall transmit a copy of this despatch and of its enclosures to Canada recommending the project to the consideration of the Canadian Government.
I have to request thatyouManuscript image you will submit these papers to the Legislature of Vancouver Island, and will ascertain the sentiments of the inhabitants of British Columbia respecting the proposed undertaking, and I shall receive with great satisfaction the intelligence that laws are to be enacted which will enable you, if the Canadian government shall afford their cooperation in the matter, to conclude in detail an arrangement with the Company on the basis of the enclosed proposals.
I have the honor to be
Your Most Obedient humble servant
Other documents included in the file
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Copy, Watkin to Newcastle, 28 April 1863, on building a telegraph and postal service from Lake Superior to New Westminster.
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Copy, "Heads of Proposal for establishing Telegrapic and Postal Communication from Lake Superior to New Westminster."
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Copy, Newcastle to Monck, 1 May 1863, enclosing copies of Watkin's letters.
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Copy, Newcastle to Watkin, 1 May 1863, giving his answer concerning the telgraph and postal service.