No. 9
4th February 1865
A Notice of Action given to Lieutenant Verney, Commanding Her Majesty's Ship "Grappler," for the alleged illegal seizure of a vessel suspected of smuggling, raised the question as to the limits of the respective Colonies of British Columbia and VancouverIslandManuscript image Island in the Gulf of Georgia. As the one Government is supported mainly by heavy Customs duties, and the other by direct taxation, the matter is of considerable importance.
2. My Commission gives me authority over Queen Charlotte's Island and "all other Islands adjacent to" this "territory, except Vancouver Island and the Islands Adjacent thereto." My Attorney-General is of opinion that the exceptionmustManuscript image must be construed in the narrowest manner and that all the Islands in the Gulf of Georgia, with the exception of those immediately contiguous to Vancouver Island must be considered as within the Government of British Columbia. I observe too that Governor Kennedy's Commission specially withdraws from his jurisdiction any of the Islands South of the forty-ninth degree of North Latitude.
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3. It would be a great assistance to the Government if you would inform me which of the Islands adjoining this Coast are within its jurisdiction and are consequently subject to the operation of our Customs Laws.
I have the honor to be,
Your most obedient
humble Servant
Frederick Seymour
Minutes by CO staff
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ABd 17 May
A provoking kind of question. In 1849 V.C. Island (witht appurtenances) was granted to the HBC.
In the same year Govr Blanshard was by his commission declared Govr of "V.C.I. and the islands adjacent." This was repeated in Govr Douglas' commission 1851. 21 & 22 Victoria, c. 99 1858 defined B. Columbia declaring that no part of the "Colony of V.C.I." shd be comprised therein and 26 & 27 Vict. c. 83 (1863) defined B. Columbia to comprise such & such Territories "except V.C.I. and the Islands adjacent thereto."
I should be disposed to include in VCI 1. All those island (being in HM's dominion) wh are south of the 49th Parallel. 2. Those wh are on the Vancouver side ofManuscript image the main channel between that Island & the mainland.
The word "adjacent"—being used in an Act of Parlt cannot be conclusively interpreted by the Executive—but I shd think the question mt be practically settled by asking the Admiralty to advise us as to a line, and directing the two Governors to adopt it.
FR 18/5
The "main channel" should probably be taken to be the channel adopted by the F.O. in their negociations with the U.S. Govt as far as it goes.
CF 19
Let F.O. see Despatch before it goes: if it can fairly have the bearing wh F. suggests.
EC 23
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The department have brt to my notice an Act of Parlt (12 & 13 Vict. c. 48) of the existence of wh I was unaware when I wrote my minute upon 4583 B. Columbia, & also when I drafted the B. Columbia Act 26 & 27 Vict. c. 83.
The result is, that the boundary question is more perplexed than I thought.
The Act 12 & 13 Vict. c. 48. SS 4 defines V.C.I. to contain "all such Islands adjacent to V.C.I. or to the western coast of N. America & forming part of the Dominion of H.M. as and to the southward of the 52nd degree of N. Lat."
The Act 21 & 22 Vict. c 99. SS 6 declared that "no part of the Colony of V.C.I. as at present established shall be comprised within B. Columbia" leaving all the above Islands to V.C.I.
But the Act 26 & 27 Vict. c. 83. SS 3Manuscript image repealed the 1st section of the Act 21 & 22 Vict.—continued the remaining Sections including of course SS 6.1 till 31 Dec 1863 (SS 2) and then enacted (SS 3) that B. Columbia should comprise "Queen Charlottes Island & all other Islands adjacent to the said Territories" (viz the mainland of B. Columbia) "except Vancouvers Island & the Islands adjacent thereto" omitting to except & therefore, it may be argued, including in B Columbia the islands in the Gulf of Georgia &c which are adjacent to the "W. Coast of North America" than to V.C.I.
The Governors Commission (by wh I was guided when drafting the Act of 26 & 27 Vict) defines the Colony as including V.C.I. & theManuscript image Islands adjacent thereto, witht mention of the W. Coast of N.A.
I believe it will be safest to ask the L.O. whether under these Acts the Islands adjacent to the W.C. of N America belong to B. Columbia or to V.C.I.
If they all continue to belong to V.C. Island it will simplify the question, & also I suppose will much facilitate smuggling into B.C. But it will not be a natural division.
FR 26/5
CF 27
EC 31
Other documents included in the file
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Rogers to Attorney General and Solicitor General, 7 June 1865, referring the question of the territorial division between the colonies for their opinion.