No. 72
31st October 1866
My Lord,
I have the honor to forward the Blue Book returns for the year 1865.
2. The actual Colonial Revenue collected during the year amounted to £116,106, as against £104,099 in 1864, an increase of £12,007. Of thisamountManuscript image amount the sum of £10,557 is the result of a newly imposed tax of 1s/6d and 2s/- an ounce on Gold exported from the Colony. The Customs Returns also, show a considerable increase.
The decrease of £8,318 under the head of Road Toll receipts is attributable to an alteration in the law by which all Home grown produce is now exempt from payment of Tolls and may be taken as satisfactory evidence of the increasing amount of Agricultural Produce now raised by the Settlers in the interior.
TheManuscript image
The pre-emption Law under which the Crown Lands are acquired does not require the payment of the upset price, 4s/2d an acre, until the general Survey of the Colony reaches the land claimed by a Pre-emptor. No general Survey has been commenced, and the only receipts under the head of Land Sales were derived from the Sale of the few town and suburban lots offered for Public competition during 1865, this will explain the apparent falling off intheManuscript image the Land Sales receipts.
The actual expenditure for the year 1865 amounted to £141,762.
3. Military Expenditure. £10,700 appears as the Colonial expenditure under this Return for the year 1865, being a charge made by the Imperial Government for Barrack Buildings erected for the Detachment of Royal Engineers serving in the Colony from 1859 to 1863. There are no Military Posts or Works, and since the departure of theRoyalManuscript image Royal Engineers no further expenditure has been incurred. A sum of £230 was expended in the construction of a drill-shed for the use of the New Westminster Rifle Volunteers—a corps steadily increasing in numbers and efficiency.
4. Public Works. The discovery of extensive Gold Fields in the most distant portions of the Colony has necessitated an enormous expenditure in the construction of Public Roads when compared with the settled populationofManuscript image of the Colony. During the year 1865 £57,123 was expended in opening communication with the several Mining Districts and £16,915 on Public Works. I enclose a report prepared by the Chief Commissioner of Lands & Works giving a detailed account of the operations of his Department during the past year.
5. Legislation. The Legislative Council passed twenty eight Ordinances during the Session extending from January to April.
No. 1. The first Ordinance extendstheManuscript image the period for which exclusive privileges were granted to Messrs Janion Green and Trutch to enable the formation of a Company for the introduction of Traction Engines for the conveyance of supplies to the Mining Districts of the interior. Difficulty was experienced in obtaining the requisite capital, and the project is now abandoned.
No. 2. To amend the law of Evidence. Provides that any Court or Magistrate in the Colony may, in CriminalandManuscript image and Civil cases, receive the evidence of any Native destitute of the knowledge of God, or religion, or a future state, without administering an Oath, preliminary caution being given that false evidence will be punished as perjury. The necessity for this Law was strongly represented by Mr Justice Begbie after six years experience as Judge of the Supreme Court of this Colony, and it is found to work with much advantage.
No. 3. The principal oftheManuscript image the Customs Amendment Ordinance is taken from the Canadian Statutes. It provides that the Duties shall be collected on the Market price at the place of Shipment. Under the previous Law duties were collected on all Invoices from the neighbouring Colony of Vancouver Island at the value named in the Invoice, but on goods received from other Ports than those of Vancouver Island, an addition of 33 & 1/3 per Cent was added by the Customs Department to the value specified in theInvoicesManuscript image Invoices and Duties collected at the increased rates. The Council were of opinion that this system gave undue advantage to the Merchants of Vancouver Island and prevented the Establishment of Commercial Houses in this Colony.
Nos 5, 7, & 28. The Ordinances relating to Telegraphs were introduced under instruction from the Secretary of State.
No. 5. Gives power to an American Company to construct a line of Telegraph throughBritishManuscript image British Columbia and to erect Block houses for defence against Native Tribes along the line of Telegraph. It further allows all Telegraph Material and Supplies to be admitted free of Customs Duties for a period of three years while the line is in course of construction.
No. 28. Provides for the incorporation of the Company under the Joint Stock Ordinance and for the establishment of a permanent head Office at New Westminster. No. 7 repeals an Ordinance passed in 1864givingManuscript image giving exclusive privileges to the California State Telegraph Company.
No. 6. A private Bill authorizing the collection of Tolls on goods crossing a Bridge to be constructed over the Thompson River at Lytton. The conditions of the Charter granted under this Ordinance not having been fulfilled, the privileges have been forfeited.
No. 8. American Coinage is in universal circulation and Commercial transactions are conducted in Dollars andCentsManuscript image Cents. The Decimal Currency Ordinance was passed to enable the Public Account to be kept in the Decimal system. The tender of Silver Coin is limited to ten dollars. The Sovereign is taken at $4 85/100. The Shilling and Florin are valued as 1/4 and 1/2 dollars.
No. 11. This Ordinance authorizes the Governor on the Petition of, in his opinion, a sufficient proportion of the residents of any Town or place in the Colony, praying for Municipal Institutions to grant the same by Charter under certain restrictions expresslylaidManuscript image laid down in the several clauses. The enactment may be considered as a tentative measure to supply the place of a general Municipal Law which the crude state of The Colony does not at present admit.
No. 13. Imposes a Tax of 2s/- an ounce on unassayed and 1s/6d on Assayed Gold. The inability of the Revenue of 1864 to meet the heavy charges for the construction of Roads necessitated further taxation and it was considered that no more just tax could be imposed thanoneManuscript image one which would chiefly be felt by the successful Miner, the entire Public Debt having been incurred in the construction of Roads to facilitate communication with the distant Mining Districts, and thus cheapen the price of living in the Mines. The working of the Ordinance has however proved the mode of taxation to be unsuited to a Colony so peculiarly situated as British Columbia. The Miners were enabled to draw unsatisfactory comparisons between the TaxationinManuscript image in British Columbia and the neighbouring Gold Fields of Nevada and Idaho, where no such Tax exists, and thus a feeling of hostility to the tax and a desire to evade the payment of duty was shown which made it difficult to collect the Revenue on our extensive Southern Frontier, and was a great incentive for the commencement of a system of smuggling. Under these circumstances the Legislative Council have during the present year 1866 repealed thisOrdinanceManuscript image Ordinance.
No. 14. Consolidates the several Proclamations, Rules, Regulations and Ordinances which have from time to time been passed respecting Gold Mining in British Columbia.
No. 16. Increases the penalty formerly attached to the sale or gift of intoxicating liquor to Indians. Under this Ordinance any person selling bartering or giving liquor to Indians is liable to a penalty of £100 and on a second conviction for the like offence can be committedtoManuscript image to prison for a term of twelve months, with hard labor without the option of a fine. This stringent measure has proved very beneficial in checking the sale of liquor to the Indian Tribes of the interior.
No. 17. Prohibits the sale during the breeding season of Deer, Elk, and the species of Grouse which abound throughout the Colony; while the Indians could obtain purchasers for Game the destruction in the breeding season was immenseandManuscript image and Game of all kinds gradually decreased in the neighbourhood of Towns.
No. 18. The Ordinance to exempt Home grown Produce from Road Tolls was framed on a Resolution of the Council with a view to encourage the development of the Agricultural resources of the Colony. This Ordinance also exempts all Stores and materials used in the construction of the International Telegraph from the payment of Road Tolls.
No. 19. To prevent the violationofManuscript image of Indian Graves; it was found necessary to attach a heavy penalty to the offence. It is customary with Native Tribes to decorate the Graves of their dead with the articles most cherished by the deceased. Guns, Canoes blankets, and many other valuable articles will be found deposited in an Indian Grave Yard as well as quaintly carved images. Great respect is shown by the Indians to these Grave-Yards and the destruction of the property by White Men eitherforManuscript image for curiousity or gain, was found likely to lead to a breach of the peace between the two races. The Ordinance attaches a penalty of £100 with or without imprisonment for six months for rifling Indian Graves, and renders a second offence liable to 12 Months imprisonment.
No. 20. The Bankruptcy Ordinance is an adoption, with occasional modification, of the Bankrupt Law Consolidation Act 1849 with provisions enabling the District Magistrate in theabsenceManuscript image absence of the Supreme Court Judge to deal with uncontested Bankruptcy cases within their own Districts.
No. 23. Imprisonment Exemption Ordinance 1865 abolishes imprisonment for debt under a Capias ad satisfaciendum on a Judgment except where fraud, intention to abscond, or improper conduct in the Debtor is shewn. It also established Gaol limits as in Canada. The law relating to Capias ad respondendum for the arrest of abscondingdebtorsManuscript image debtors remains unaltered by this Statute.
No. 27. Is a consolidation of previous Land Acts with some amendments for the promotion of actual Settlement, the avoidance of litigation and speedy and cheap adjustment of disputes. It also contains provisions for the grant of Leases for pastoral and timber cutting purposes and a Clause enabling the Governor, with the consent of the Home Government, and publication in the Government GazettetoManuscript image to make free or partially free Grants of land for the purposes of Immigration.
6. Pensions. The present is the first appearance of any expenditure from the local Revenue under this head. The recipients are the Widows of Officers killed in the Public Service. Mrs McLean's husband was shot during the Chilicoten insurrection. Mrs Ogilvy is the Widow of a Revenue Officer killed by a white man againstwhomManuscript image whom he was about to bring the charge of selling liquor to Indians. In each instance the Legislative Council voted a Pension of £100 per annum for a period of 5 years.
7. Population. It has been found impossible to take any correct census of the Population, and the return under this heading is collected from the reports of the several district Magistrates and must only be considered as approximate. Miners as a class have no fixed abode.DuringManuscript image During the Mining season they are to be found scattered over an area of 400 Miles throughout the Gold bearing range of Mountains. As Winter sets in many of those who have made sufficient money to leave the Colony do so by the many routes open to them and spend their money in Portland or San Francisco. The settled White population during 1865 did not in my opinion exceed 6,000. The Chinese may be estimated at 3000, the IndiansatManuscript image at 35,000. To this may be added a migratory population during summer months of an additional 3000 Miners. The rate of Wages both in the Mining and Agricultural Districts averaging from $50 to $150 per Mensem should form a sufficient inducement to emigrants as there is an abundant field for all classes, but while our system of communication with the Mother Country is so defective and the rates for Passages so exorbitant it is useless to expect an immigrationofManuscript image of a desirable class of Settlers and the Colony must still depend upon the neighbouring Territories to supply the labour Market. The subject of adopting some scheme of assisted immigration has been under the consideration of the Legislative Council on two occasions but without I regret to say any satisfactory results.
8. Education. No general system of Public Education exists at present. At New Westminster,YaleManuscript image Yale, and Douglas public schools are established and conducted under the supervision of a Committee selected by the inhabitants. The Government contribute to the support of these Schools and a payment of $1.00 a month is required from the Parents or Guardians for each Child attending School.
The education of the Indian Children has been undertaken with most satisfactory results by Mr Duncan at Metlakahtla on the North West Coast, and also at the Roman CatholicMissionManuscript image Mission at St. Mary's on the Fraser, and at the Okanagan Lake in the interior. More School houses for the education of the Native race are about to be established. The expenditure by the Government on account of education during 1865 amounted to £900.
9. Imports and Exports. The returns under this head require to be taken in conjunction with those of the neighbouring Colony of Vancouver Island to form any correct idea of the Countries from which the importsareManuscript image are received and to which the exports of this Colony are transmitted [as] hitherto the Colony of Vancouver Island has acted as a Toll gate to British Columbia. The free Port system of Vancouver Island has enabled the Merchants to live more cheaply in Victoria than on the Mainland and Victoria has thus become the depot where goods destined for the British Columbia Market have been detained, only to be reshipped in small quantities as occasion required. ThesameManuscript image same remarks will apply to the shipping return. The total value of Imports into British Columbia during the year was £497,734. The total value of Exports during the same period is estimated at £612,266, including Gold which is stated in the return to have been exported to the extent of £578,790. This return must necessarily be incorrect, as it is only from the more important Gold Fields of Cariboo and Kootenay that any approximate returncanManuscript image can be obtained. Miners are distributed more or less over the Gold bearing range of Mountains from the 49th to the 54th Parallel North Latitude and the many outlets from the Colony by way of the Southern Boundary leave it a matter of impossibility in the present early stage of the Colony to obtain any correct return of the annual produce of Gold.
It is difficult also to give a correct return of the Furs collected during the year,manyManuscript image many Vessels employed in the Fur trade on the North West Coast return direct to Victoria with their Cargo of Furs, and thus the return given in the Blue Book merely represents the quantity brought from the interior by way of Fraser River.
10. Ecclesiastical. But few established places of Worship exist in the Colony more particularly in those upper portions where the Miners congregate during the summer Months. In 1865 New Westminster was the only Town where aProtestantManuscript image Protestant Clergyman permanently resided, but Clergymen of all denominations occasionally visited the Towns and Mining Districts of the Upper Country.
11. Agriculture. A very erroneous opinion of the capabilities of British Columbia as an Agricultural and Stock raising Country has been formed and the year 1865 may be said to be the first in which practical experience has refuted the general opinion as to the sterility of the soil. The largeandManuscript image and fertile tracts of land bordering the lower Fraser are gradually being brought under cultivation; the expense of clearing the heavy Forest timber prevents the Settler from more rapidly extending his agricultural operations in this lower portion of the Colony. It is however beyond the Cascade range of Mountains commencing at Lytton a distance of 160 Miles from New Westminster that the Settlements are more extensive; there the Country opens out and the vastandManuscript image and almost impenetrable Forest of Pine disappears. Large benches of table-land covered with a luxuriant growth of bunch-Grass border the Banks of Fraser and Thompson River and extend back to the dividing ranges.
It has been proved by the experience of 1865 that by a system of irrigation (rendered necessary by the Small amount of rain that falls) this land will produce extraordinary crops of all descriptions. The root crops are not to be surpassedinManuscript image in any part of the world, and the Cereals, both as regards the quantity and quality of the Crops can compete with any that are grown in the Mother Country. Prior to 1865 little attention had been paid to the raising of Wheat in consequence of the want of Grist Mills throughout the upper portions of the Country but during the past year four were erected inducing the Settler to enter more extensively into this branch of Agriculture, andtheManuscript image the Upper Country now produces most of the Flour consumed by the Inhabitants. Should the Mining population not increase beyond the present ratio I have no hesitation in saying that after another harvest sufficient grain can be raised to support the population. The portions of the Country adapted for pasture are extensive and the grass known as Bunch-Grass most luxuriant and nutritive. In the early days of the Colony bands ofCattleManuscript image Cattle driven in from the neighbouring American territories supplied the Market, but the settler has found by experience that British Columbia as a Stock raising Country is unrivalled and a large importation of Cattle during 1864 and 1865, has consequently ensued. This branch of farming has proved very lucrative, and large herds of Cattle now roam over the high Table lands of the interior during the summer Months, and pass the longandManuscript image and occasionally severe winters in the Valleys with but little loss to their Owners.
12. Manufactures Mines & Fisheries. The extensive Pine Forests bordering the Coast are capable of producing an almost inexhaustable supply of the finest lumber and Spars.
Three Steam Saw Mills have been erected at New Westminster and Burrard Inlet and are capable of turning out 180,000 feet of lumber per diem; a greatdrawbackManuscript image drawback to the development of this trade is caused by the heavy tax imposed on the importation of Foreign lumber at the American Ports on the Pacific thus closing our nearest Market and obliging the Shipper to consign his cargo to the Markets of Mexico, South America, the Sandwich Islands and Australia.
Apart from the extensive Gold Fields gradually being developed; during 1865 some rich Silver lodes were discoveredinManuscript image in the Shuswap District; the land has been reserved to the discoverers for one year to enable them to obtain Capital to develop the Mine.
Anthracite Coal was discovered on Queen Charlotte Island, and a Company has been formed to work the Seams.
The Fisheries of the Coast remain undeveloped. The Indians chiefly supply the local demand. Extensive Cod banks are known to existonManuscript image on the Northern Coast. Salmon abound in every river in the Colony; some 1500 barrels were exported to the Sandwich Islands in 1865.
13. I can refer with much satisfaction to the Police and Gaol returns as evidencing the small amount of crime among the heterogeneous community by which this Colony is peopled.
The Circuit of the Supreme Court for 1865 extended to every Town and Gold FieldthroughoutManuscript image throughout the Colony; during the entire Circuit only two Criminal cases were brought before the Court. The large Indian population are peaceable orderly and contented and among all classes poverty can scarcely be said to exist.
I have the honor to be
My Lord,
Your most obedient
humble Servant
Arthur N. Birch
Minutes by CO staff
Manuscript image
Mr Elliot
Send copy to Land Board. Blue Book to Library. Print this report with other reports for Parlt. Ack: rect.
This is one of the most satisfactory reports we have recd from B.C., & is devoid of the inflated coloring the Reports were tinged with in the time of Sir J. Douglas. The discovery of the agricultural capabilities of the valleys of the Frazer & the Thomson Rivers is of inestimable value. Since /65 more silver mines have been found the richness of which exceeds those, as I am told, of Mexico.
The printed report of the Bd of Works seems to me a very excellent performance for a Colony 8 years old.
ABd 26 Feby
TFE 25 Feby
CBA 27/2
C 28/2
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Mr Joseph
How long hence do you suppose that this Blue Book Report will be in type.
TFE 7 March
Mr Elliot
If you think it wd be more convenient to send a printed copy of the Blue Book Report to the Emigration Commrs I can have it put in type in a few days; but in the natural course of things it wd not go to the printers for the next month or six weeks. Is the Report of the Lands and Works Department to be printed?
SJ 7 March
No. I think that the despatch had better be put in type & sent to the Commissioners in that shape.
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Memm
Sent to Printers 8th March with a request that they wd send me 1/2 a dozen copies as soon as possible.
SJ 8 March
Mr Fuller
Printed copy of Report for Land Board herewith.
SJ 14 March
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
Chief commissioners report not on microfilm.
Other documents included in the file
Manuscript image
Elliot to Emigration Commissioners, 16 March 1867, forwarding copy of the despatch for information.
Minutes by CO staff
Manuscript image
Mr Wedgewood
Send the Report to Mr Joseph to be put in type—and defer sending it to the Emigration Commissioners until printed.
TFE 7 March
Birch, Arthur Nonus to Carnarvon, Earl 31 October 1866, CO 60:25, no. 1978, 224. 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/B66072.html.

Last modified: 2020-12-02 13:40:34 -0800 (Wed, 02 Dec 2020) (SVN revision: 5008)