No. 16
6th June 1864
My Lord Duke,
I have the honor to transmit an Authenticated and two plain copies of an Ordinance of the late Session of the Legislative Council of this Colony, entitled:
No 16. An Ordinance to amend Customs Duties.
I add the Report of the Attorney General.
2. The three first clauses of this Act are not of a nature to raise any discussion. Public opinion in this and the Neighbouring Colony is notunanimouslyManuscript image unanimously in favor of the fourth.
3. Victoria, in Vancouver Island, is the largest commercial town in the two Colonies on the North West Coast of America. It is likewise a Free Port. The greater part of the traffic with the Indians along the Coast of British Columbia has been conducted from thence. Under these circumstances Sir James Douglas, as Governor of the two Colonies, on their Legislative separation, issued a Proclamation, 2nd June 1859, to authorize the clearance of vessels in Vancouver Island for any Port on the Main land North of the Fraser River, on payment of the Customs Duties of this Colony. This arrangement would probably have continued in force, notwithstandingtheManuscript image the objections to which it is subject, had not the Colonial Secretary of Vancouver Island, shortly after my arrival, declined to collect any more duties for British Columbia. The question, thus thrust forward for consideration, was brought before the Executive Council, and I was pressed to allow some such measure as that now transmitted.
4. The new Law creates some dissatisfaction in Victoria, and I have gone to the extent of promising, in reply to a petition, to consider the whole question further before I meet the Legislative Council again. I have given no pledge that I will allow any alteration of the present Law, but I have sent downaManuscript image a Customs Officer to clear, in Victoria, such vessels as may be ready to sail for this Coast. The favor will not be repeated, and in future, the Law, as it stands, shall be strictly carried out. Vessels going to engage in the very profitable traffic with the Northern Indians will have to clear at New Westminster.
5. The advocates of the Ordinance of last Session urge, 1stly The inconvenience of employing a Public Officer of this Colony at a Port where our Legislature has no jurisdiction and where the Local Law furnishes him with no authority to exercise the duties imposed upon him. 2ndly, It is said that British Columbia loses much of its Revenue from theSystemManuscript image System of smuggling, carried on from Victoria. A vessel, it is alleged, clears from that Port, for the fur trade, with a certain amount of cargo on board, and then fills up, in the smooth waters of the Gulf of Georgia, with well paying articles, such as whiskey and other spirits, which it is our policy to keep from the Indians.
6. These reasons in favor of the new Law appear to me forcible, and I have others to add from my own experience. I find it extremely inconvenient to have the centre of intelligence respecting the proceedings of our Coast Indians at a Port over which I have no control. For instance, the massacre of Mr Waddington's road party on the Bute Inlet Trail was known inVictoriaManuscript image Victoria nearly three days before it was communicated to me. Further, I consider now that our relations with the Northern Indians are somewhat strained, that the trade with them should be to a certain extent under the supervision of the Government of this Colony. It would probably be a great pecuniary benefit to Victoria, if we were to be engaged in hostilities with the Native tribes. To all of us, with the exception of a few general dealers in New Westminster, it would be an unmixed calamity. On the Mother Country such a war would throw enormous charges, and I need scarcely say, that the injuries it would inflict on the Native races are incalculable. Victoria, alone would gain, and Victoria, if I may judge from the Public Press and the speechesatManuscript image at Public Meetings, would not be indisposed to precipitate us into war.
7. I know the objections to which the present Act is liable, and I shall give them further consideration. But to preserve the peace of the Colony and to prevent the further demoralization of the Coast Indians by totally irresponsible persons, I beg that the present Ordinance may not be disallowed.
I have the honor to be
My Lord Duke
Your Graces most obedient
humble Servant
Frederick Seymour
Minutes by CO staff
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ABd 25 Augt
Reserved for Sir F. Rogers..
TFE 25 Augt
Mr Fortescue
This is a curious question being really not in any degree legal, but entering administration. It seems to me a matter in wh the Govr of B. Columbia should be allowed to act entirely with a view to its own protection. And Mr Seymour's arguments have the ring of truth about them.
The Ordce must go to the Try & B. of T. as a matter of course. But an opinion shd I think be expressed with 5th Clause.
I shd , I think propose to ansr the Govr that as it appeared possible from Govr Seymour's statement that Mr C. wd receive some representation from V.C.I., adverse to the 4th clause of this Act Mr C. did not think it proper to prejudge the question by expressing at present any opinion respectg it. Copy of this ansr to Try with Ordce.
FR 20/9
CF 23
EC 27
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
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Copy, H.P.P. Crease, Attorney General, to Colonial Secretary, 11 May 1864, reporting on the ordinance as per despatch.
Other documents included in the file
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Rogers to G.A. Hamilton, Treasury, and J. Booth, Board of Trade, 23 August 1864, forwarding copy of the despatch, ordinance, attorney general's report and reply to the governor for consideration.
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Draft reply, Cardwell to Seymour, No. 37, 7 October 1864.