No. 79
6th June 1865
Sir,
I have had the honor to receive your Despatch No. 17 of the 11th April forwarding an extract from a despatch, addressed by Rear Admiral Denman to the Board of Admiralty, suggestingthatManuscript image that a Colonial Vessel should be employed for the protection of the Coasts of this Colony and Vancouver Island. You direct me to report upon the practicability of adopting Admiral Denman's suggestion and providing for the requisite expenditure out of Colonial Revenue.
2. Towards the close of last year I had some conversation on the subject referred to in your Despatch, with Admiral Denman.IManuscript image I regret that I did not follow his example and at once report its substance to the Head of my Department. I had been made aware through your despatches that the Colony had to depend almost exclusively for its protection upon its own resources and that the fostering care afforded during its earlier years was at an end. I suggested to the Naval Commander in Chief that the Lords of the Admiralty shouldbeManuscript image be recommended to hand over a gun boat or other steamer for the use of this Colony. That, once transferred, the whole charge for her support should fall upon the Local Revenue. That the Commander of the Vessel, while on Colonial Service, should be a Naval Officer approved, if not appointed, by the Lords of the Admiralty. He should receive pay not only for his service afloat, but likewise if a man of judgement and discretion,asManuscript image as a Stipendiary Magistrate of the Colony. The crew ordinarily maintained should be capable of handling the vessel efficiently, the Colony supplying additional force at any time when required. I proposed that the ship should be under the orders of the Governor, when paid by the Colony, but that the Senior Naval Officer be empowered to demand her transfer to the Imperial Service in the event of the Mother CountrybeingManuscript image being engaged in a war with any maritime power. I mentioned that in my opinion the one large gun would be inconvenient and unnecessary for the Colonial Service and suggested that smaller ones would be more efficient for operating against Indians or smugglers. It scarcely fell within my province to say that a heavier armament might at all times be ready for her use at Esquimalt. Finally I expressed my opinion to Admiral DenmanthatManuscript image that the sailing qualities of the vessel would be almost of equal importance to us as her efficiency under steam. The distances in this Colony are very large and it might be difficult for a Steamer of moderate dimensions to carry fuel enough for a voyage, for instance, to Queen Charlotte's Island & back. I should however mention that seams of anthracite coal are now being worked on that Island.
3. The project above detailedwouldManuscript image would, I think, if carried out, be very beneficial to the Colony and a saving to the Home Government. Large and valuable Ships of War would rarely, if ever, have to navigate the narrow and deep Inlets which indent this Coast, and are the scene of the greater number of outrages of which we have to complain. The vigilance of the Local Government would be extended over the waters as over the lands of the Colony, and thecivilizationManuscript image civilization of the Indians furthered on the Coast as it is now in the interior.
4. While the two Colonies are in their present condition of total separation, I am of opinion that no joint action in regard to a Colonial Vessel is practicable. British Columbia alone would find work enough for one ship.
5. As to the ability ofthisManuscript image this Colony to bear the expense, I would mention that the extreme lateness of the season prevents my sending any confident estimates of our probable Revenue for the year. We can apply but one test. The Customs receipts at New Westminster are sixteen per cent already in excess of those for the corresponding period of 1864, although the interior has been closed by ice for an unprecedented length of time. We have newGoldManuscript image Gold fields superior in extent, and approaching in wealth to those of Cariboo. The snow has prevented our yet receiving returns of Revenue from the Kootenay and the new Customs Stations on the American frontier. The new Gold export tax has scarcely come into operation yet and the regular mining season only commences on the first of June. I look with much confidence to our total receipts for 1865 being fifty percentManuscript image cent in excess of those of 1864.
6. Under these circumstances I entertain little doubt as to the ability of the Colony to keep in an efficient condition of service and repair a vessel entrusted to us by Her Majesty's Government.
7. I refer in support of my present recommendation to two despatches which will accompany this Communication. No. 77 reports the murder of Mr Ogilvy,theManuscript image the Customs Officer at Bella Coola. No. 78, the piratical attack on the "Nanaimo Packet" in one of the narrow Inlets off Milbank Sound. I may mention likewise that the absence of the means of conveyance will preclude my visiting this summer the Mission Station at Metlakahtla and Queen Charlotte's Island.
I have the honor to be,
Sir,
Your most obedient
humble Servant
Frederick Seymour
Minutes by CO staff
Manuscript image
Mr Elliot
I should not be in a hurry to act upon this despatch. The ample resources which this year is expected to bring forth have to be realized, & when realized, I think, they will be found to be wanted for roads & public works in the Colony. At any rate wait for the ansr expected from Govr Kennedy on this subject.
ABd 25 Augt
Mr Cardwell
I agree with Mr Blackwood.
TFE 25/8
Manuscript image
It will do no harm to wait for Governor Kennedy's Despatch: especially as Govr Seymour is believed to be on his way home.
But this is worthy of Encouragement.
EC 25
Put by now. Mr Seymour has returned to B.C. & will resume this subject if necessary under the altered circes of the 2 Colonies.
ABd 20 Sepr/66
Seymour, Frederick to Cardwell, Edward 6 June 1865, CO 60:22, no. 8241, 65. The Colonial Despatches of Vancouver Island and British Columbia 1846-1871, Edition 2.2, ed. James Hendrickson and the Colonial Despatches project. Victoria, B.C.: University of Victoria. https://bcgenesis.uvic.ca/B65079.html.

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