Walcott to Elliot (Assistant Under-Secretary)
Emigration Office
23rd September 1865
I have to acknowledge your Letter of the 18th instant, with a copy of a Despatch from the Governor of British Columbia enclosing an Ordinance No 27 entitled An Ordinance for regulating the acquisition of Land in British Columbia.
2. This Ordinance is accompanied by a Report from Mr Crease the Attorney General whichcontainsManuscript image contains so clear and concise a summary of the Ordinance and the changes introduced by it in the previous Law, that it would be superfluous to reproduce them in detail. It may be sufficient to observe generally that a difference is made in the mode of dealing with surveyed and unsurveyed Country Lands. The former can only be acquired by purchase at auction or, if not sold at auction, by private contract at the upset price fixed in the Ordinance namely 4s/2d an acre. The latter may be acquired by what is termed pre-emption. Under this system any person may takepossessionManuscript image possession of any unsurveyed, unoccupied and unreserved Country Land not exceeding 160 acres, and not being the site or proposed site of a Town, or auriferous land or an Indian reserve, provided he first obtains a Licence for the purpose from the Magistrate of the District. Within 7 days afterwards, and on payment of a fee of 8s/4d, the Magistrate records the claim, and grants a "record certificate" which is a bar to all previous claims to the same land. When the Government Survey extends to the land thus "pre-empted" the claimant, his heirs, or deviseesorManuscript image or (if he shall have obtained from the Stipendiary Magistrate of the District a certificate that he has made permanent improvements thereon to the value of 10s/ an acre) his assigns, becomes entitled, if there has been a continuous occupation of the land, to purchase it at 4s/2d per acre. A preemptor may also preempt an additional tract, not exceeding 480 acres, of contiguous land upon payment of 2s/1d an acre leaving the remaining 2s/1d to be paid when the land is surveyed. Provision is made for the case of disputed claims, and the right to preempt is confinedtoManuscript image to British Subjects and to those Aliens who may have taken the Oath of Allegiance. Aliens who have not taken that Oath can purchase but cannot preempt lands.
3. The new Ordinance is in the main substantially the same as the former Law—"the preemption consolidation Act 1861," which it repeals. But new provisions are introduced for regulating the mode in which the right to appropriate water for irrigation and other purposes is acquired, and for enabling the Governor in his discretion to grant pastoral Leases to bonâ fide pre-emptors or purchasers, and to issue TimbercuttingManuscript image cutting Licences. The Ordinance fixes no limit to the term of the pastoral leases that may be granted, but it makes them subject, without compensation, to the right of reserve and of preemption and purchase by any person during the term, and to the condition of being properly stocked within 6 months as the Stipendiary Magistrate may direct.
4. As the granting of Pastoral Leases is entirely in the discretion of the Governor, Mr Cardwell may think it advisable to instruct him not to grant them for a period exceeding 7 years, and to becarefulManuscript image careful not to insert in them any right of renewal.
5. The 55th section of the Ordinance is also new. It authorizes the Governor on receiving and publishing the assent of Her Majesty's Government thereto to make free or partially free grants of land for the encouragement of Immigration subject to such provisions, restrictions and privileges as he may think advisable.
6. The principle of making free grants, except under very special circumstances, has long ceased to form part of the system of disposingofManuscript image of public lands over which this Government exercises a control. Mr Cardwell may probably therefore deem it expedient to instruct the Governor not to make any free grants without having first submitted for the consideration of the Secretary of State a full detail of any plan he may wish to suggest with the reasons on which it may be founded.
7. Subject to these remarks I see no reason why this Ordinance should not be left to its operation.
I have the honor to be,
Your obedient
Humble Servant
S. Walcott
Minutes by CO staff
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ABd 25 Sep
Give the Instructions proposed by Mr Walcott—the objection to free grants shd be strongly expressed. The Law gives Aliens the power of holding land.
FR 15/9
EC 27
Other documents included in the file
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Draft reply, Cardwell to Seymour, No. 78, 7 October 1865.
Minutes by CO staff
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Sir F. Rogers
I have concluded that it is intended to sanction the Ordinance at once, but it does not seem to be clear whether the objections to the Ordinance should be removed by further enactment or whether they should be merely pointed out to the Govr in a despatch. These two drafts dispose of it in the latter supposition.
EBP 4/9/65
Right. The effect of the Orde may be controlled by Instructions—therefore I think it may be alld. Another draft to Govr.
FR 6/10
Other documents included in the file
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Draft reply, Cardwell to Seymour, No. 79, 7 October 1865.
Minutes by CO staff
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Send copy of this despatch to Land Bd for infn. L[ithographed] F[orm].
ABd 9 Oct