No. 6
19 May 1864
My Lord Duke,
I have had the honor to receive your Grace's despatches No 68 of the 16th, and Separate of the 28th February announcing the appointment of Mr Joseph William Trutch to be Surveyor General of this colony. It appears from the second of these communications that yourGraceManuscript image Grace had been informed that Mr Trutch was engaged in some contracts for Public Works, and I am directed to report, in case there was any such contracts which remained unfulfilled, how far they were liable to conflict with his public duties, and whether any plan can be suggested for enabling Mr Trutch to divest himself, without undue sacrifice, of such of them as would bothcontinueManuscript image continue for a considerable time in execution, and would appear also to be incompatible with his official duties.
2. The gazette notice of Mr Trutch's appointment, copied into the colonial papers, reached him before I received your Grace's first despatch. He called on me in Victoria, and, in reply to my inquiries, stated that he proposed such interest in the Tolls on bridges in British Columbia thatheManuscript image he scarcely thought he could accept the appointment intended to be conferred on him.
3. There are two great routes from New Westminster to the gold mines of Cariboo. They run together up the Fraser to the mouth of Harrison's River. The "Douglas Lillooet" line here diverges and follows the last named river into Harrison's Lake. By "portages," Lillooet, Anderson's and Seton's Lakes are successively reached; then the line rejoins the Fraser which itcrossesManuscript image crosses and runs over land to Clinton where it forms a junction with the conflicting "Yale-Lytton" route. From this point there is but one established road to Cariboo. The alternative mode of proceeding from the mouth of Harrison's River to Clinton, is by navigating the Fraser as far as Yale, and then travelling by the great trunk road which crosses the main river at Spuzzum, and Thompson's River a little above Lytton. Both of the rival routesareManuscript image are kept up by tolls. Vested and conflicting interests have sprung up in each line. Newspaper puffs endeavour to attract the traffic, and the boilers of the several steamers are strained to their utmost to insure speed and obtain custom. The number of passengers and amount of freight annually going to the diggings being now ascertained with an approach to correctness everything that benefitstheManuscript image the Douglas-Lillooet road injures that by Hope-Yale & Lytton. Conversely if the traffic on the first named line be impaired, the profits on the Second increase.
4. Mr Trutch is the sole proprietor of the magnificent suspension bridge which spans the Fraser at Spuzzum. He levies certain tolls upon it for six years and a half under OrdinanceNoManuscript image No 10 of 1863—after which it becomes the property of the Government. The tolls upon this, the Alexandra bridge, are now worth about four thousand pounds (£4000) a year to Mr Trutch, but the colony is tolerably prosperous, the traffic is increasing and beginning to shew a decided preference for the Yale-Lytton line. In all probability thereforeMrManuscript image Mr Trutch's receipts from the Alexandra bridge will rise year by year. He likewise owns one half of the bridge about to be opened to traffic over Thomson's River above Lytton. The tolls on this bridge are likely to amount to four thousand (£4000) a year also. Thus Mr Trutch has at present an interesttoManuscript image to the extent of six-thousand (£6000) a year in one of the competing roads of the Colony.
5. It is difficult to imagine a case in which a man's interests were more clearly against the Strict performance of his public duties. Both lines of travel would be in his charge as Surveyor General.AsManuscript image As such he would receive a salary of eight hundred (£800) a year. But let him neglect the Douglas-Lillooet route. Let him allow one of the many portages between the lakes to become impassible, the whole traffic rushes over his own bridges and Mr Trutch's private income rises to ten or twelvethousandManuscript image thousand a year. But interests to the extent of two million of dollars exist between Douglas and Lillooet. They are owned by men of Singular energy. I enclose a hand-bill showing the competition which exists between the rival routes, and I suggest for your Grace's consideration that the framers of itwouldManuscript image would not tamely see their fortunes placed at the mercy of the proprietor of the Yale-Lytton bridges. That Mr Trutch cannot accept the office of Surveyor General and retain property in the Alexandra and Thompson's Bridges was his own conviction in Victoria. In NewWestminsterManuscript image Westminster he has applied to be installed in the office conferred on him by your Grace stating that in his conscience he feels he will do justice to both routes and knows how to disregard common clamour and newspaper abuse.
6. I considered the matter in Council.ItManuscript image It was without hesitation agreed that Mr Trutch could not hold the office and his bridges. I was pressed to appoint some one else. The spring had come back. There were about one hundred thousand pounds to be expended on Public Works and my predecessor had virtually shut up the Lands and Works Office. It wasindispensableManuscript image indispensable that an appointment should be made at once. There were but two men fit for the office in the colony, Mr Trutch and Captain Holmes of the Royal Artillery. It was unanimously urged upon me to nominate the latter gentleman without delay. To this course I said I wouldonlyManuscript image only resort as a last necessity. The two names had been before your Grace together and Mr Trutch had been preferred. I was bound therefore, if possible, to carry out your selection. Again Mr Trutch has much greater knowledge of the country than Captain Holmes, who accompanied me from England intheManuscript image the capacity of Private Secretary, can as yet possibly have. Besides Mr Trutch has shown in his roads and bridges great engineering skill. Without therefore asserting any superiority in Scientific or practical knowledge to be possessed by Mr Trutch I considered that he was the most fit man for the office as the matter stoodbeforeManuscript image before us. I therefore requested the Council to suggest some other means, if possible of meeting the difficulty. I was advised, since I would not employ Captain Holmes, to purchase Mr Trutch's interest in the bridges over Fraser and Thompson's River.
7. It would betakingManuscript image taking up too much of your Grace's time if I were to detail the most tedious, unsatisfactory and unpopular negotiations which passed between Mr Trutch and myself on this subject, and how I repeatedly sought the assistance of both Executive and Legislative Councils, and had the matterthrownManuscript image thrown back upon me for decision. I made most liberal offers. I would take this favorable Season as an average and receive on behalf of the Government the tolls of the Alexandra bridge this year, and pay him the same amount now and annually during the continuance of his rights. That is tosayManuscript image say, supposing the receipts this year to be four thousand pounds (£4000) Mr Trutch would receive payment at that rate for six years and a half. That is, omitting last years profits twenty six thousand pounds (£26,000) for a bridge which cost eight thousand. I offered him further a bonus of from tentoManuscript image to fifteen thousand pounds (£10,000/£15,000) at the end of his term of incumbency should the amount of goods leaving New Westminster for the interior increase in the ratio upon which Mr Trutch based his claims. He refused these extremely liberal terms, and the negotiations to the great satisfaction IbelieveManuscript image believe of the public, and certainly to my own relief, came to an end.
8. In the emergency I was about following the advice of the Council and requesting Captain Holmes to act as Surveyor General, and proceed at once to make the great roadintoManuscript image into Cariboo a work on which other Surveyors had failed, when Mr Trutch proposed an entirely new arrangement. This has, subject to certain modifications of my own, been accepted.
9. Mr Trutch has been appointed Surveyor General. He retains hispropertyManuscript image property in the bridges for the present. I will therefore only employ him in works above the Clinton Junction or below the mouth of Harrison's River. He will, with such assistance as I can afford, at once lay out the line of road into Cariboo. Time presses and Captain HolmeshasManuscript image has consented to take charge of a portion of the work, being paid as an Ordinary Surveyor. As soon as the Survey shall be completed Mr Trutch will go to England. He will report himself to your Grace and he will further endeavour to sell the rights he holds in the ColumbianbridgesManuscript image bridges. It seems irregular my granting him leave of absence so early, but the case is peculiar. He cannot touch either the Douglas-Lillooet or Yale-Lytton road as he is now circumstanced, yet both require attention. Mr Trutch will draw no salary when absent from the Colony. HewillManuscript image will have to satisfy me by the 1st March 1865 that he has parted with his interests in the bridges, or else resign.
10. I will make the only arrangement possible during Mr Trutch's absence and place Captain Holmes in charge of the Survey department.
11. I enclose acopyManuscript image copy of the letter written by my orders to accompany Mr Trutch's commission when handed to him.
I have the honor to be
My Lord Duke
Your Grace's most obedient
humble Servant
Frederick Seymour
[P.S.] I shall address your Grace further on this subject when Mr Trutch goes to England.
Minutes by CO staff
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Sir F. Rogers
It will be observed from 10453 that I was apprehensive that the private interests of Mr Trutch wd conflict with his appointment as Surveyor General.
It seems to me that Govr Seymour has done all that lay in his power to overcome the difficulties of the case, & that his proceedings to that end shd be appd.
Mr Trutch, who is coming home, will report to us the result of his negotiations for getting rid of his property.
ABd 27 July
Mr Fortescue
You will observe that Mr Seymour was desirous of getting the place of Surveyor for Capt. Holmes. And you will remember that Capt Holmes was nominated to the Coll Secretaryship of B Honduras, but that the Honduras people deprecated the appointment, alleging that he drank.
My own impression is that unless Mr Trutch is a very honest man indeed, his apptmt as Surveyor is to be deprecated. And that, if the B. Columbians are satisfied with Capt Holmes as to wh it may be difficult to ascertain the truth it mt be best to leave him where he is, & not inflict him on Honduras wh wd not (I suppose) be satisfied.
But the question must await Mr Trutch's arrival here.
State that Mr C. sees no reason to object to the course wh Mr S. has found himself obliged to take.
FR 27/7
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Mr Cardwell
Govr Seymour seems to have done the best thing that could be done under the circes. I suppose the matter may rest as it is for the present.
CF 28
EC 29
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
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Printed advertisement promoting the advantages of the Douglas-Lillooet route.
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Copy, A.N. Birch, Colonial Secretary, to Trutch, 12 May 1864, laying out the terms of his appointment.
Other documents included in the file
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Draft reply, Cardwell to Seymour, No. 28, 1 August 1864.