Seymour to Cardwell
Rue de la Paix
Paris
17 February 1866
Sir,
As you did me the honor of consulting me respecting the resolutions of the Legislative Assembly of Vancouver Island, praying that that colony might be united to British Columbia, I would now venture to express in writing—I believe in accordance with your wish—my views upon the Subject.
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2. I think that the Assembly has faithfully represented the desire of the majority of the population. So great is the anxiety for union existing in Victoria, the political centre of the island, that the conditions are left entirely for you to determine. Nanaimo, the second town, I believe, faintly wishes for amalgamation of the two colonies, but the people are prosperous, contented, and the best feeling exists between them and the colonists of the main land.
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3. The question of the relations of the two colonies is one of great difficulty. They were, until recently, united, to the extent of having a Governor in common. But the dissatisfaction in British Columbia at the state of things which then existed, was such that your predecessor effected the separation now found so irritating to Victoria.
4. Under the system which the Duke of Newcastle abolished, the Government of British Columbia was carried on from the capital of another colony. TheManuscript image Governor and principal public officers drew full pay from the main land, and lived on the island. The people of Victoria profited by the expenditure of the proceeds of taxation levied on another community, & were at the same time, by the freedom of the port, relieved from the payment of the heavy import duties which fell on those who made of British Columbia their home. Whether it was wise to make two colonies of the territories lying West of the Rocky Mountains it is uselessManuscript image now to enquire; but colonists having been invited to settle on the continent on the faith that they were to form an independent community possessing their own Government and Capital, the old system was found to be manifestly unjust, and your predecessor, listening to the voice of the protesting colonists, effected the separation so joyously received in British Columbia.
5. I say confidently that that colony has not altered its views. It has had the one great wish gratified and dreads allManuscript image change. I have heard this denied by Victoria politicians and I have in vain asked them for any evidence to support their denial. If a desire for union has arisen in the colony, how does it show itself? The gentlemen who successfully appeal to the people for nomination to the Legislative Council pledge themselves to opposition to union. The Council, on this subject entirely unfettered by me, vote unanimously against it. The issue was fairly tried wherever there was a chance of success.Manuscript image Petitions were printed in Victoria recommending union and the abolition of unpopular taxation, & circulated in the mining districts, but they remained unsigned. Indignation meetings were called in Cariboo, but no one would attend. A newspaper was started in that district specially to advocate Union & oppose the local Government. The miners merely protested against the scurrility of their professed organ, and when extraneous assistance was withdrawn it died from want of their support. I am for many reasonsManuscript image anxious that the desire for union should exist in British Columbia. It does not.
6. The efforts of the Merchants of Victoria to create such a desire in the mining districts were, however, vigorous and well timed. Not very high principled, but shewing considerable political dexterity. It was felt that union, as a respectable question, could stand no chance of obtaining a hearing in Cariboo, but it might direct with some attention on the hustings coupled with an abrogationManuscript image of the export duty on gold, and a general reduction of taxation. Systematic agitation might possibly stir up the feeling against the gold tax to a sufficient strength to drag into light its self imposed associate, union. I do not deny the unpopularity of the export duty, but the miners are aware that it was imposed with the consent of their own Mining Board, and voted for by their elected Members of Council. They know the requirements of the Government, but above all they know that it requires no change in their political condition,Manuscript image no assistance from without, to relieve them from any burdens unanimously affirmed to be distasteful.
7. It would have been well if Victoria had earlier passed the resolutions in favour of unconditional union. It was not until the efforts to obstruct the Government of British Columbia, by shaking the confidence of the people in its practice had proved vain that the wise course was adopted. Though I shall presently shew that the larger colony has progressed greatly sinceManuscript image it attained a separate existence, yet it did not escape entirely uninjured from the self-damaging attacks of the Victoria politicians. The prosperity of both colonies depends principally on the powers of the gold mines of the main land to attract a considerable share of the large floating population which, centred in winter in California, seeks in the public prints & in every rumour, a guide to direct its steps to the most profitable field for summer labour. The Victoria papers & their Cariboo representatives,Manuscript image during its short existence, requested British Columbia to be over taxed and ungently governed. Many persons, undoubtedly, in San Francisco took the English reports on English mines and management as correct and turned their steps towards other gold fields which American speculators took care not to depreciate. The efforts of the Victoria agitators were thus partially successful. The great objects of intimidating the Government & exciting disaffection failed, but a feeling outside the colony was created against the thenManuscript image recent legislation. This success, once obtained, caused alarm in Victoria. Then came the outcry that the miners were leaving the country; Merchants from the island waited on the Governor on the subject & when the injury was done the Cariboo press was silenced.
8. Even in England persons connected with Victoria have had a meeting, where, in their eagerness for union, they have reported the two colonies to be languishing or retrograding in their present separation. Reports on the subject deficient either in candour or information had been provided to the leading London journals. I regretManuscript image that the matter of union should not have been allowed to rest where it was properly placed, in your hands. Who would emigrate from England to colonies, reported by their own respected representatives to have early in their career entered on their decline? Who would seek investments in the funds of a community alleged to be daily diminishing in wealth?
9. I am prepared to allow that Victoria is not flourishing. I maintain that British ColumbiaManuscript image is so. It may seem strange, but their progress is not parallel & I can believe that the cause has escaped the knowledge of some of the merchants of Victoria. The explanation is, however, simple.
10. The discoveries of gold on the Lower Fraser first attracted to British Territory a large portion of the unattached population of Western America. The immigrants came from Oregon or California by sea. Their detention at the first place of landing created Victoria. The bars on the Fraser were graduallyManuscript image worked out. Now they are abandoned to the labours of Chinamen. But year by year the summer immigrants pushed further into the interior, still by the valley of the great river. Finally Cariboo was discovered and its prodigious wealth attracted large numbers of miners who were fed and supplied from Victoria. Driven from their work by the severe climate in the winter, the "Caribooites" spent some time & much money in that town & added to the profitsManuscript image of the merchants who had monopolized their markets during the working season. There were no large settlements in British Columbia. It was only a colony in name. There was a gold mine at one end of a line of road. A seaport town (under a different government) at the opposite terminus.
11. Here was the real cause of the ill feeling between the two colonies. The settlers on the Fraser paid gold miners duties on all they consumed while the people of the island profited by the success of the diggings & paid no import duties.Manuscript image Everything was done to foster Victoria. Where public officers served both colonies, the island gave its own half pay; the full salary was drawn from the heavily taxed British Columbia, & the whole, then one salary and a half, was spent on the island. Imperial interests were assumed to be involved in the welfare of Victoria, & people affected to believe that great destinies were in store for the town they had early begun to name the "Green City of the Pacific". Meanwhile every man on the main land knewManuscript image that the town was kept alive by the British Columbian mines. They petitioned for separation, and they got it. Now, at all events, the proceeds of their taxation are spent among them. Trade is beginning to establish itself on the Fraser. On the other hand Victoria, descending to [illegible], seeks at the sacrifice of her free port, and constitution a close union into the colony whose wealth is her support.
12. Cariboo was the great customer for Victoria, butManuscript image Cariboo with its prodigious wealth has been found out to be "poor man's diggings." Not competent therefore to support a very large population. The mines are of limited extent. The gold is deep and is expensive to extract. The number of spring immigrants began early to fall off and in 1865 was smaller than usual. There was no dearth of labourers. Cariboo warned off fresh comers as every place was full. So it seemed, for with a diminished population, the yield of gold was in the proportion of 9 to 5Manuscript image as compared with the preceding year. Wages were steady at 40/s a day, and the necessaries of life far lower in price than they had ever been before. Victoria continued to do the principal business of these mines, but the population to feed was comparatively small and Victoria suffered.
13. So did British Columbia to a certain extent. Road side houses on the Cariboo line became bankrupt as traffic decreased by diminished immigration and accelerated travelling. The general condition of the colony was howeverManuscript image prosperous. The customs receipts at New Westminster were, by the last account which has reached me, £15,000 in excess of the corresponding period of 1864. I learn that the British Columbian capital "is making great progress. Houses and wharves, clearing and fencing going on everywhere this autumn," and the most hopeful sign of all is beginning to shew itself; a disposition on the part of the miners to purchase land in New Westminster or itsManuscript image neighbourhood, and commence the systematic colonization of the Lower Fraser. These benefits in no way assist Victoria nor can it appreciate the improvement in the general condition of Cariboo which now induces many miners to winter there instead of squandering their money in Vancouver Island or San Francisco.
14. To the merchants of Victoria the depression they felt in 1865 appeared to extend over British Columbia, but he could only see the valley of the Fraser whileManuscript image a vaster view lay open before the eyes of the Government of New Westminster. The usual wave of immigration was seen to come to us in equal if not larger volume than in former years. Many miners were doubtless prevented by the Victorian outcry from coming direct to the English colonies, and the more United Americans secured the preference for their own gold fields of Boise or Coeur d'Helene. But disappointed hopes soon drove thousands in search of richer deposits. From the sea to the Rocky Mountains, on both sidesManuscript image of the boundary line the country swarmed with eager prospectors who rushed backwards and forwards as reports circulated that the gold which all knew to exist had at last been found.
15. Late in 1864 important discoveries had been made near the British Kootenay Pass of the Rocky Mountains in our territory. It was first through American newspapers that I became aware of a rich and prosperous mining town existing within our limits about 500 miles due East of New Westminster. AlthoughManuscript image the Kootenay mines could at first be only approached by passing through United States territory, we soon extended British institutions over the new diggings. Established Courts of Justice & collected taxes. On the dissipation of the mining camps of the Boise Country, Kootenay received a considerable accession of population, & in the season of 1865 the new diggings were paying to the Colonial Treasury in taxes upwards of a thousand pounds a week. Here was a tangible benefit to BritishManuscript image Columbia, which brought no immediate advantages to Victoria. On the contrary, the new miners which were fed from across the frontier took away many persons from Victoria's best customer, Cariboo.
16. The American prospectors continued to pour in by every opening in our rugged frontier, and the attraction of the Kootenay itself soon dimmed before the discoveries on the Big Bend of the Columbia. I had fortunately consented to license the running of steamers under theManuscript image American flag in the purely English waters of that river. Crowds arrived, freight poured in, and the advent of winter alone prevented the general rush which is confidently predicted for this year. I am credibly informed that these latest discovered gold mines have in some places yielded as much as eight hundred dollars a day, to the hand, without machinery. If such be the case we need fear no competition. Victoria has however in no way shared as yet in theManuscript image profits. The customs duties levied at Fort Shepherd on the Columbia belong to us British Columbians alone. In other parts of the Colony the prospectors have been successful. Near Lillooet, in a fine agricultural district, a stretch of nearly 70 miles of rich auriferous ground has been discovered and high hopes are entertained as regards the next mining season. I say again that British Columbia is flourishing and has still brighter prospects in view.
17. I may observe, inadvertently, that theManuscript image unsuccessful miners from Boise on the Coeur d'Helene are as valuable to us as an equal number of those who came by Victoria and the Fraser. The citizens of the United States are our boldest prospectors and not the least law-observing portion of our population. They came to us across the frontier prepared to accept our institutions, their heads undisturbed by political agitations. The carrying out of the last sentence of a Court of Lynch LawManuscript image sometimes diminishes their numbers as they approach the boundary line, but once it is passed, the revolver and bowie knife are laid aside, and perfect tranquillity prevails under our vigorous administration throughout the Colony. Crimes of violence are now almost unknown in British Columbia, and on the late circuit the Supreme Court did not find a single prisoner for trial at the Kootenay.
18. While British Columbia is reported to be languishing, it may be interesting for me to mentionManuscript image—though I write without official documents—some of the principal public works which have been accomplished by us in 1865. I premise with the statement that every Surveyor and every Engineer in the Colony was in Government employ last year. Every discharged Sapper possessing anything like adequate knowledge was likewise induced to enter our service. A good trail for pack animals has been opened from the Fraser to the Kootenay. TheManuscript image Cascade Range, the Gold Range, the Selkirk Range have been successively surmounted. With what labour may be imagined when I state that at the end of May the cutting over the Cascade Mountains had, on each side, seven feet of snow. This trail was not only run through English territory to a gold mine, but it affords, by the British Kootenay Pass an easy access from the Pacific to the Hudson's Bay lands beyond the Rocky Mountains. Its principal value however to the Colonists is that it already enables theManuscript image Merchants of New Westminster to undersell those of Lewiston & Walla Walla at the new diggings. A sleigh road had been opened from the seat of Government to Yale running for upwards of a hundred miles through the dense forest of the lower Fraser. A bridge has for the first time been thrown over Thompson's River on the main road to the Northern mines. Upwards of twenty thousand pounds have been expended in the completion on the high road into CaribooManuscript image allowing machinery, at last, to be introduced into Williams Creek. A large sum is connecting by a long street the three mining towns in that locality. A good road now connects New Westminster with the sea at Burrard Inlet, and secures the inhabitants from inconvenience, should an unusually severe winter close the Fraser. A light ship, public libraries, new school buildings testify to the energy of the Government. If I add, that in the year just passed, steamersManuscript image have for the first time navigated the Upper Columbia and that New Westminster has been brought into connection with the whole telegraphic system of the United States, Canada, Newfoundland & with Cariboo I point out an amount of work accomplished in a single summer, I should think entirely unprecedented in so young a colony. For the telegraphic communication & the new line of steamers the Government can only claim the credit of the earnest efforts it has made to secondManuscript image the enterprise of our republican neighbours.
19. I have endeavoured at considerable length to prove; first, that union with Vancouver Island, or the annexation of that Colony is not desired in British Columbia. Secondly, that the larger Colony is not in a depressed condition. Possibly external agitation in connexion with the Gold Export duty may have to a certain extent impeded her progress. If, in the violent competition on the Pacific to make the mines in the Colony or the States superior to eachManuscript image other in attraction, it be found that the British export on gold acts unfavourably to us, I can only say that the tax will be at once repealed. Our great public works are done, and if the export duty, though just, is impolitic, we will not suffer our miners to be over weighted by it, in the great struggle.
20. In the face of the reluctance of the colony over which I preside, to be drawn into any union with Vancouver Island, some explanationManuscript image is necessary of the motives which induce me to entertain the question at all, instead of confining myself to backing the prayer of my Legislative Council that the existing separation may continue unimpaired. I consider however my duty to require of me that I should not confine my attention exclusively to the internal affairs of the tract of country under my Government, but that I should likewise see to the strengthening of British authority, British influence and British power on theManuscript image Pacific, and I at once admit that the existing division weakens all three. The dissensions between the two colonies are looked upon in the neighbouring States as rather a scandalous, but novel and amusing feature in English colonization. I am practically aware that it is extremely inconvenient for the Commander in Chief of the Pacific Squadron to be in communication with two Governors of nominally equal position, close to each other, butManuscript image many thousands of miles from Head Quarters. I see that the Indian population of our North West coast, wherever the schooner or canoe of the Victoria smuggler can reach, are withering and disappearing under the disastrous effects of the whisky traffic. I must remember that both British Columbia and Vancouver Island have occasionally questions to discuss with their American and Russian neighbours, and that, as things now are, there is nothing to secure uniformity of action orManuscript image expression in the English representatives. The one may be on the most friendly terms with adjacent powers. The other, in a state of reserve, pending a reference to Europe. I find myself, under these circumstances, compelled to state that, in my opinion, England ought to be represented by one civil authority only beyond the Rocky Mountains. Her Majesty's prerogative could of course effect this, without the aid of Parliament, but if a Lieutenant Governor be appointed to the smaller & poorerManuscript image Colony the change, though an undoubted improvement, would still have Vancouver Island with a staff of public offices beyond her present ability to support. I fear that the bickering would not cease, nor Victoria refrain from interference with the affairs of the neighbouring Colony.
21. Without any specific recommendation, I proceed to consider the terms upon which union could be carried out with moderate satisfaction to the one Colony & the least distaste to the other. TheManuscript image Imperial Acts 21 & 22 Vict: C: 99 (which has been repealed) provided that, on the petition of the two legislative houses of Vancouver Island, Her Majesty might declare that island to be an integral part of the Colony of British Columbia. This appears to me to be the principle upon which union should be carried out. But British Columbia has since then been favoured with a Legislative Constitution, by an Order in Council, & I am of opinion that no union should take place withoutManuscript image the consent of the Legislative body created under it. This, I think might be obtained should Her Majesty's Government desire it & equitable terms be proposed. But I would here venture to state that if a return to the old state of things be sought to be imposed on British Columbia the outcry to which the Duke of Newcastle yielded but two years ago, will be renewed with increased volume.
22. An Act of Parliament somewhat similar to that above referred to having been obtained, the consent of the Legislature of British [Columbia]Manuscript image formally recorded, the Governor's proclamation of incorporation issued, the laws of the main land would at once be extended over the island. An early revision of these laws would however be required. This could hardly be effected, with a due regard to the interests of the newly acquired territory by the present Legislative Council of British Columbia. That body should be dissolved, and a new legislature, with representatives from Vancouver Island, called into existence.Manuscript image Here arises the important question, What shall be the Legislative constitution of the one great English Colony on the North Pacific?
23. The Legislature of Vancouver Island of which the extinct provision of the Act already quoted contemplated the disappearance, consists of a Governor, a nominated Council and an elected Assembly. Theoretically, perhaps, the best form of Government. It is not for me to inquire how it has worked in Vancouver Island. I content myself with saying that BritishManuscript image Columbia is not ripe for such institutions. I formed my opinion upon the following grounds. First, an account of the vast number of aliens resident in the Colony, who would, I presume, be excluded from the suffrage were a symetrical constitution to be established. Secondly, because there are but few persons who could devote their time and attention to the public service. We should soon be reduced to pay our legislators, or fall intoManuscript image the hands of the professional politicians of whom the neighbouring States furnish to us the model. Thirdly, because the uncertain nature of gold mining allows of a "rush" here and a "rush" there as rich leads are discovered, or old claims "cave in." Away goes the population from the "played out" town. Magistrate and constables follow, and the Surveyor and his road gang have to bring the new diggings into connection with the markets of the colony. The Governor must act at once onManuscript image his own responsibility and be able to rely with confidence on the passing of a Supplementary Appropriation Act to give legal sanction to the unforeseen expenditures. Fourthly, because our population of Indiansis in a proportion of about 10 to one of ourselves. They will now obey the Great White Chief. They understand no division of authority. Lastly, because every one in British Columbia, Americans even more than English, sees the necessity of & wishes for a strong Government. AllManuscript image like the power to be mainly vested in one man, responsible to public opinion, and are adverse to the professional politician. For the colonies, if united, I would recommend an adherence to the principles of the Legislative constitution of British Columbia rather than to those of that conferred on Vancouver Island. I would however have a much larger proportionate infusion of the popular elements than we at present possess.
24. Her Majesty has, by Order in Council, createdManuscript image a body authorized to make laws for British Columbia. It consists of fifteen Members exclusive of the Governor with whom it is optional to take his seat as a Member of the Board, or to keep aloof, & by so doing constitute himself an entirely separate branch of the Legislature. One third of the Council is composed of the undermentioned public officers, who are, by a separate instrument, constituted likewise the Governor's Executive Council:
1. The Colonial Secretary
2. The Attorney General
Manuscript image 3. The Treasurer
4. The Surveyor General
5. The Collector of Customs The remaining two thirds are selected by the Governor, but, I believe, that a despatch from the Duke of Newcastle directs that five of the ten shall be chosen from the Magistracy of the Colony, and that in the appointment of the other five the Governor shall endeavour to be guided by the wishes of the people as signified in five distinct districts. Under this constitution the Government can command a majority of votes, but the power has beenManuscript image rarely exercised by me, save in cases where demands were made upon the Colony by the Imperial Treasury which the Legislature, if not coerced, would have rejected.
25. I would wish to make some observations upon the three divisions of the present Council. The five Executive Members are in such close communication with the Governor that it is but rarely that one of them has an opportunity of asserting his independence by a vote against a measureManuscript image introduced by the Government. Hence, however useful as men of business, in the House, they do not, with the public, possess the same character for independence as the other two classes. I would recommend that in the new Legislature for the united colonies the strictly official elements be not increased.
26. Probably in British Columbia the section of the Legislature which possesses most the confidence of the people is that of the Magistrates. It is the right of the Governor to change the stations of theManuscript image paid Justices of the Peace whenever he shall see occasion for doing so, therefore the best men are always selected for the most important trusts. As the winter closes most of the miner's operations several of the Magistrates can be spared to attend the meetings of the Legislative Council in New Westminster. The undermentioned districts are represented in this manner; 1. New Westminster 2. The Kootenay Gold Mines in the Rocky Mountains 3. The Gold Mines ofManuscript image Cariboo, nearly 500 miles North East of New Westminster 4. The agricultural and now mining district of Lillooet 5. The pastoral and mining country intersected by the Columbia, bounded on the South by the American frontier.
27. The country Magistrates, whose salaries are not sufficient to enable them to enjoy any of the luxuries of life in the expensive districts in which they are stationed, live in the manly state of freedom of intercourse with all classesManuscript image characteristic of British Columbia Board of Trade. The Magistrates at the mines, hundreds of miles from Head quarters, are necessarily invested with duties of great variety and importance. The representative of the Government, the sole referee or Judge in mining disputes, Gold Commissioner, Bankruptcy Commissioner, County Court Judge, the Magistrate is constantly before the public. The smallness of the police force which we can allow to carry out his decisions & to preserve tranquillityManuscript image compels him to rely much upon his personal influence. It gives me great satisfaction to say that under these circumstances a body of Public Officers has been termed equally respected by the people and the Government. The miner looks upon the departure of the Magistrate for his legislative duties with fully as much of happy confidence as he does on that of the man he has assisted in returning to the House.
28. I would propose in the new constitution toManuscript image increase the number of these valuable legislators from five to nine. I would submit that the present discretionary power resident in the Governor of making his selection from the centres of population, for the time being, be not interfered with, nor would withdraw the liberty granted to him by the Duke of Newcastle to appoint, should he see fit, unpaid in the places of paid Magistrates. I venture to submit a plan for a distribution in the first instance of the nine seats
1. Victoria, V.I.
Manuscript image 2. New Westminster, B.C.
3. Cariboo, B.C.
4. Kootenay or Columbia, B.C.
5. Douglas & Lillooet, B.C.
6. Osoyoos & Southern Frontier, B.C.
7. Nanaimo, V.I.
8. Yale & Lytton, B.C.
9. Comox or Cowichan, V.I. It will be said that this is not a fair distribution. Six Magistrates for British Columbia, three for Vancouver Island. I reply that the former colony now supports nine paid Justices of the Peace. The latter only two. My plan would entail the exclusion of three Columbian Magistrates & the creation of one, forManuscript image Legislative purposes, upon the island.
29. The Duke of Newcastle directed the Governor to consult the wishes of the people in the appointment of one third of the Legislative Councillors. My predecessor divided the Colony into 5 electoral districts:
1. New Westminster
2. Cariboo East
3. Cariboo West
4. Yale & Lytton
5. Douglas & Lillooet The mode of ascertaining the popular desire is as follows;Manuscript image A letter is written by command of the Governor to the paid Magistrate of the district directing him to call a meeting of the inhabitants to select a person for a Seat in the Council. One notice of the meeting is given in the gazette and, locally, by the Magistrate. Seats in the Legislative Council are eagerly contended for. Electioneering addresses issue from the rival candidates and sometimes very considerable expense is incurred. Great discretion is left with the Magistrate and people of theManuscript image district as to the votes which shall be accepted and reported to the Governor. In New Westminster, I believe, in consequence of a feeling to that effect, aliens have abstained from voting. But in Cariboo, and I think other inland districts, every man who comes forward may record a vote, unless he be an Indian or a Chinaman. Indeed I believe there are cities where some Chinese have been allowed to vote. It meets with my approval that so long as a strong English Government existsManuscript image in New Westminster no disqualification on account of nationality should exist at the gold mines. I hold it as extremely desirable that we should know the real interests & feelings of our many alien immigrants. That we should attach them to our institutions, and that, as we govern by moral force alone, not costing the Mother Country a soldier or a shilling, we should have among our legislators men responsible to alien as well as English constituents. I like to hear any grievance which the American miner may imagine heManuscript image suffers from in Cariboo disposed of as now by the remark, "Wait for the next election." In the agricultural districts likewise I wish the aliens to take part in the elections. Lytton, probably, does not contain a dozen English unofficial inhabitants. The farmers on the Thompson and Upper Fraser are many of them French. The hôtel keepers throughout the colony mostly belong to that nation or to the Italians. The time has not yet arrived for me to considerManuscript image whether the Chinaman or Indian should be allowed to vote at the elections. I should be disposed to exclude both. Possibly an exception might be made in favour of those who took out their "free miner's certificates."
30. The elections over, the Magistrate reports to the Governor the number of votes each candidate has received. It is by no means incumbent on the Governor to appoint to the Council the elect of the people, but it would require very special circumstances, such asManuscript image have not yet presented themselves, to justify his rejection of the man placed at the head of the poll. The Councillor must take the oath of allegiance before his seat. A purely English Legislature is then secured.
31. Even if union is not to take place I should wish to see the popular element increased in our Legislative Council. It is by gradual concessions, freely made by the Government, that the desire for institutions practically unsuited to British Columbia will be bestManuscript image kept under. It is in the gold mines that I should specially desire to see the representation increased. If the union of the Colonies should take place I would suggest that about twelve Members of the new Legislature should be appointed by the Governor on the recommendation of the people. If the Colonies remain separate, I will address you at a future time respecting British Columbia. I must repeat the recommendation I ventured to make, when treating of the Magisterial element, that theManuscript image discretionary power of the Governor as to the districts to be represented should remain unimpaired. I however submit a rough suggestion as to the first apportionment of seats
Victoria V.I. 2 members
New Westminster B.C. 1
Nanaimo V.I. 1
Comox V.I. 1
Cariboo East B.C. 1
Cariboo West B.C. 1
Kootenay B.C. 1
Yale & Lytton B.C. 1
Douglas & Lillooet B.C. 1
Williams Lake B.C. 1
Osoyoos & Columbia 1
Manuscript image As regards the electoral franchise in the first instance I would propose to leave the question as it now rests in the several districts. It might be dealt with hereafter by the Council. A property qualification and English nationality would I believe be required in the electors of Vancouver Island.
32. I think it would be desirable that the Governor should have the power of appointing two unofficial Members of the Legislative Council to the ExecutiveManuscript image Council.
33. Should union take place in the manner contemplated by the Act of the 21 & 22d Vict, two important changes would take place in the condition of Vancouver Island. Its present legislative constitution would be abolished. Its partial exemption from import duties would cease. The loss of the House of Assembly would not, I think, be much regretted. The freedom of the port of Victoria hasManuscript image already been much impaired, duties being now levied on many articles of consumption. There is a certain charm in the idea of a free English port on the Pacific destined to compete with San Francisco & perhaps ultimately to establish a commercial preeminence for Great Britain on the Western Coast of North America. But in reality few of the advantages expected from the free ports system have been secured, & the people of Victoria, having the issue fairly placed before them at the last elections, have, by a large majority, determinedManuscript image that the system shall cease and a Tariff take its place. Victoria does not lie on any of the great highways of commerce, & I do not suppose that a vessel ever entered the port which was not specially bound for it in the commencement of the voyage. Besides, if the freedom of the port had realized the expectations of the people of Victoria would they now be in so gloomy a state, or ready to make any sacrifice to secure union with British Columbia? The last statistical returns shew that of the importsManuscript image to Vancouver Island only one twelfth is exported to countries other than the neighbouring British Colony. It may be said that smuggling is carried on to a great extent. Possibly so, but I doubt whether this advantage, of somewhat questionable propriety, counterbalances the inconvenience of the restrictions placed on British commerce in the Western States of America. The compulsion on every vessel to or from Puget's Sound to enter or clear at Port AngelosManuscript image 40 (?) miles to Windward is I know found a serious evil in British Columbia. The ships entering the Columbia or Golden Gate from Victoria are examined I believe with a minuteness & suspicion not excercised on other traders. The Collector of Customs of California informed me that the commercial transactions of the British and American territories on the Pacific will never be conducted on an entirely satisfactory condition, so long as we look to the evasion of the United States' laws as one of our regular sourcesManuscript image of profit. Reciprocity such as that existing between the Eastern Colonies & States would be most valuable to us, but we cannot hope to obtain it, under a system which contemplates the flooding, if possible, of the neighbouring territories with smuggled goods. Finally, British Columbia cannot receive into herself a community which declines to share equally in her taxation. Victoria might retain nearly all her advantages as a distributing port by the establishment of Bonded Warehouses, and the allowingManuscript image of a drawback on all merchandise, over a certain value, passing out of the Colony.
34. In the event of union taking place, a question which will locally excite some interest is as to the seat of Government. Victoria is the largest town of the two Colonies & is, in many respects, the most agreeable place of residence. I think, however, that in seeking union with British Columbia, VancouverManuscript image Island relinquishes all claim to the possession within her limits of the seat of Government. New Westminster has been chosen as the capital of British Columbia, & it would not be fair to the reluctant colony to deprive her of the Governor and staff of Officers. Both these towns are inconveniently situated on an angle of the vast British Territory, but New Westminster, on the main land, has the advantage over the island town. It is already the centre of the telegraphic systemManuscript image and is in constant communication with the Upper country, whereas the steamers to Victoria only run twice a week. The seat of Government should be on the main land, whether it might not with advantage be brought hereafter nearer to the gold mines, is a question for the future.
35. Unmixed advantage would accrue from the amalgamation of the Supreme Courts of the two Colonies. There would be abundance of work for the Judges now presidingManuscript image in each colony.
36. It is premature for me to address you respecting the disposal of the public officers who might be thrown out of employment on the union of the two colonies.
37. I have now endeavoured to lay before you a scheme for the consolidation of British power & interests on the Pacific and for the suppression of the lamentable antagonism existing between some of our fellow subjects on that ocean. I am well aware that there are conflicting interests which I cannot hopeManuscript image to reconcile. The way of pleasing all parties has not been discovered. The old system of union under a common Governor resident in Victoria broke down. The new one of entire separation seems intolerable to the politicians of Vancouver's Island. Whether the arrangements I now suggest would be acceptable to the Colonists, I am much inclined to doubt. Victoria would probably expect better terms and British ColumbiaManuscript image only wishes to be left alone.
38. In a consideration of any suggestions I now venture to lay before you, I beg for the indulgence which a letter written abroad, without access to official papers, may fairly claim.
I have the honor to be,
Sir,
Your most obedient
humble Servant
Frederick Seymour

Minutes by CO staff
Manuscript image
This is the report expected from Governor Seymour, and written with his usual ability, on a plan for the Union of British Columbia and Vancouver Island.
The worst of it is that since the time when the projects on the subject were maturing, the Vancouver Assembly has said that "although this House has already shown it's willingness to accept whatever Constitution HM's Government may be pleased to grant," it must express it's conviction that no Constitution would be suitable which did not embrace a Representative Government, and also "make the Official HeadsofManuscript image of Departments responsible to the people of the United Colony."
The Resolution, it will be seen, does not actually withdraw the previous reference of the matter to the discretion of HM's Govt, but rather seems to express an opinion on the manner in which that discretion should be exercised. If so, it must be determined whether or not HM's Govt must hold itself bound, in case it acts, by the advice tendered in this afterthought.
I may mention that Mr Blackwood has in readiness a selection of papers to put into type as soon as theManuscript image present report should arrive.
TFE 27 Feb
Seymour, Frederick to Cardwell, Edward 17 February 1866, CO 60:26, no. 1914, 331. 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/B666S02.html.

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