Downing Street
15 June 1863
I have long had under my consideration the various questions which have arisen respecting the form of government which should be adopted in British Columbia and Vancouver Island. And I have now to communicate to you the decision at which I have arrived.
2. I should have much desired, if it had been possible, that these two Colonies should have formed one government. I feel confident that economy and efficiency would be promoted—that commerce would be facilitated, that political capacity would be developed, that the strength of the Colonies would be consolidated, and generally that their well being would be greatly advanced by such an union, and I hope that moderate and far seeing men in bothcommunitiesManuscript image communities will be convinced of this, and will bear in mind the expediency of avoiding or removing all that is likely to impede, and favoring all that is likely to facilitate such a result. But I am aware that the prevailing feeling is at present strongly adverse to such a measure and in deference to that feeling I am prepared to take steps placing them under different Governors so soon as proper financial arrangements are made for the permanent support of the Government.
3. With regard to Vancouver Island I think that a permanent Act of the Legislature should be passed securing to the principal Officers of the Government Salaries at the Following rates, which the importance of the Colony, and the prospects of its Revenues appear to rendernoManuscript image no more than fitting:
Governor £3,000
Chief Justice 800 (to be £1,200 when a Lawyer is appointed)
Colonial Secretary 600
Attorney General 300 with practice
Treasurer 600
Surveyor General 500
4. The initiation of all money votes should also, be secured to the Government.
5. When this is done I am prepared to hold the Crown Revenue of Vancouver Island at the disposal of the Legislature of that Colony retaining only such temporary power over the Land as will enable Her Majesty's Government to close its transactions with the Hudson's Bay Company. When this is effected I shall be ready to transfer the management of the Revenue to the Colonial Legislature.
6. With regard to BritishBritishManuscript image Columbia, adverting to the magnitude of the Colonial interests, and to the steady progression of the local Revenue, I should wish you at once to proclaim a permanent Law enabling Her Majesty to allot Salaries to the Government Officers of British Columbia at the following rates
Governor, with a suitable residence 3,000
Chief Justice 1,200
Colonial Secretary 800
Attorney General 500 with practice
Treasurer 750
Commissioner of Lands and Surveyor General 8
Collector of Customs 650
Chief Inspector of Police 500
Registrar of Deeds 500
7. It will then follow to give effect to the enclosed Order in Council which Her Majesty has been pleased to issue in order to prepare the way for giving the inhabitants of the Colony a due influence in its Government.IManuscript image I should have wished to establish there the same representative Institutions which already exist in Vancouver Island; and it is not without reluctance that I have come to the conclusion that this is at present impossible.
8. It is however plain that the fixed population of British Columbia is not yet large enough to form a sufficient and sound basis of Representation, while the migratory element far exceeds the fixed, and the Indian far out numbers both together.
9. Gold is the only produce of the Colony, extracted in a great measure by an annual influx of Foreigners—Of Landed proprietors there are next to none—Of tradesmen not very many, and these are occupied in their own pursuits at a distance from the centre of GovernmentandManuscript image and from each other. Under these circumstances I see no mode of establishing a purely representative Legislature which would not be open to one of two objections. Either it must place the Government of the Colony under the exclusive control of a small circle of persons naturally occupied with their own local, personal or class interests, or it must confide a large amount of political power to immigrant, or rather transient Foreigners, who have no permanent interest in the prosperity of the Colony.
10. For these reasons I think it necessary that the government should retain for the present a preponderating influence in the Legislature. From the best information I can obtain I am disposed to think it most advisable that about one third of the CouncilshouldManuscript image should consist of the Colonial Secretary and other Officers who generally compose the Executive Council—about one third of Magistrates from different parts of the Colony, and about one third of persons elected by the residents of different Electoral Districts. But here I am met by the difficulty that these residents are not only few and scattered, but (like the foreign gold diggers) migratory and unsettled, and that any definition of Electoral districts now made might in the lapse of a few months become wholly inapplicable to the state of the Colony. It would therefore be trifling to attempt such a definition, nor am I disposed to rely on any untried contrivances which might be suggested for supplying its place—contrivances which depend for their success on a variety of circumstances, which, with my presentinformationManuscript image information, I cannot safely assume to exist.
11. I have therefore thought it most advisable to have recourse in British Columbia to the tried machinery of a Legislative Council, with the intention however that the appointments to that Council, which by the enclosed Order you are authorised to make, shall be made if not in exact accordance with the outline which I have traced, yet at any rate with the object of securing that at least one third of the Councillors shall be persons recognized by the residents in the Colony, as representing their feelings and interests. By what exact process this quasi-representation shall be accomplished, whether by ascertaining informally the sense of the residents in each locality, or by bringing the question beforePublicManuscript image Public Meetings, or (as is done in Ceylon) by accepting the nominee of any Corporate Body or Society, I leave you to determine. I also leave it you to determine the period for which (subject to Her Majesty's pleasure, which involves a practical power of dissolution) the Councillors should be appointed. What I desire is this; that a system of virtual though imperfect representation shall be at once introduced which shall enable Her Majesty's Government to ascertain with some certainty, the character, wants, and disposition of the community with a view to the more formal and complete Establishment of a Representative System as circumstances shall admit of it.
I shall hold the proceeds of the Crown Lands at the disposal of the Legislative Council, who will also be at liberty to pass laws for the regulation and management of thatsourceManuscript image source of Revenue subject of course to disallowance in this Country and subject also to the qualification which I have mentioned as indispensable in Vancouver Island, viz. that the Crown must retain such legal powers over the Lands as are necessary for disposing of all questions (if any) which remain to be settled with the Hudson's Bay Company—questions which without such uncontrolled power might still be productive of embarrassment.
With these explanations I have to instruct you first to proclaim a law securing to Her Majesty the right to allot the above Salaries to the Officials of British Columbia, and, having done so, to give publicity to the enclosed Order in Council and to convene as soon as possible the proposed Legislature.
I have etc.

Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
Manuscript image
Order in Council, 11 June 1863
People in this document

Douglas, James

Pelham-Clinton, Henry Pelham Fiennes

Organizations in this document

Hudson's Bay Company

Places in this document

British Columbia

Vancouver Island