No. 9
1st June 1864
My Lord Duke,
On arriving in this Colony I found the Legislative Council, created under the authority of the Order in Council of 11th June 1860, in its first Session.
2. Beyond delivering an opening address, my Predecessor appears to have taken but little part in Legislative proceedings, and the Council, new to business, and guided only by their zeal, hadmadeManuscript image made a degree of progress in Legislative work, which would have detained a more experienced body much longer. In addition to making Laws with unusual rapidity, the Council wandered frequently into the province of the Executive Government, and passed many resolutions on subjects which did not perhaps properly come within their cognizance.
3. But I must state that most of the Bills passed by the Council appeared to me to have a beneficial object, and that the resolutions tendered—though somewhat irregularly—sound advice to the Government. The productions of three months, of theCouncil'sManuscript image Council's industry, lay before me to deal with as soon as I arrived. Each day raised some fresh topic of importance for discussion within the Council, or decision by me outside, so that I became convinced that were I to allow myself even to share in the responsibility of Legislation, I must check the exuberant activity of the Council. I therefore seized the very earliest moment when a Prorogation became possible, and went down to the Council, with the closing speech of which I have the honor to submit a copy.
4. Though I have in this Address noticed questions of the greatestmagnitudeManuscript image magnitude and pronounced an opinion on most of them, with a confidence which might appear, on the 12th day of my administration of this Government, rash, I would beg your Grace to notice, that I am but little pledged to carry out the resolutions of the Council. I have chosen to consider them as authority for spending the amount mentioned in each, in the manner specified therein, but I have reserved to myself perfect freedom of action in most cases. There are but three resolutions of importance in which I have formally concurred. But one that I have actually commencedtoManuscript image to carry out. The progress of the two others has not passed beyond negotiation. I am at work in making a good road from Quesnel Mouth into Cariboo. I am in correspondence respecting the Establishment of a Light Ship at the mouth of the Fraser and the securing Steam communication between New Westminster and San Francisco. In all these matters I shall shortly address your Grace further. Today I will only say, that I consider the making of a road into Cariboo, as the most important and beneficial work which could be undertaken in the Colony. The lastforty fiveManuscript image forty five miles to the gold mines are now accomplished in from two to five days, according to the weather. I trust before the winter sets in to see them travelled over in five hours.
5. The Ordinances assented to, or reserved, shall be separately reported on, and in another despatch I shall fully report upon a subject which engrosses much attention in this and the neighbouring Colony of Vancouver. The Legislature of that Island, have, I believe, sent home resolutions praying to be united to British Columbia under one Governor.
Yes. The Desp is in circulation with the Finance Papers.
The Council here protest againstunionManuscript image union upon any terms. I have noticed the resolution of my own Council in the 15th paragraph of my address. It is due to Your Grace to explain my meaning more plainly than I have done to the Council. The strong opinion I have to express is that it is simply impossible, in my opinion, to govern satisfactorily the district of Cariboo from Vancouver Island. Victoria cannot, in my opinion, ever again be the seat of Government for the vast territory of British Columbia.
6. I should mention that I presided at the first meeting of the Council held after my arrivalinManuscript image in the Colony. My presence however evidently operated as a check on the freedom of debate. I absented myself from subsequent meetings and thereby in my opinion made a considerable step towards the conferring liberal institutions in the Colony.
7. I shall in obedience to the XIth Section of the Royal Instructions of 11th January 1864, prepare standing Rules for the Government of the Council before its sitting in December. I shall, in them, have to determine clearly the amount of control over the general affairs of the Colony which shall be allowed to thisbranchManuscript image branch of the Legislature and prevent a repetition of the neglect of important constitutional principles, which was conspicuous in the Session it became my duty to close.
I have the honor to be
My Lord Duke
Your Grace's most obedient
humble Servant
Frederick Seymour
Minutes by CO staff
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An important despatch, so far as regards it's subject, but I see nothing requiring to be done except to acke—& perhaps to add (if Mr Cardwell approves) that he sees no reason to doubt the propriety of the course taken by the Governor for the present on the several topics noticed in this communication.
(For draft, for this evening's Mail.)
TFE 15 Augt
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
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Printed copy of Seymour's speech proroguing the Legislative Council of British Columbia.
Other documents included in the file
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Draft reply, Cardwell to Seymour, No. 31, 16 August 1864.