No. 125
Victoria
30th November 1868
My Lord Duke,
I have the honor to lay before Your Grace a letter addressed to me by the principal leaders of a large and respectablePublicManuscript image Public meeting, or as these Gentlemen prefer to style it, a Convention held at Yale. I add a copy of my reply.
2. The principal questions upon which the convention agreed appears to have been:
1. Union or Confederation with the Dominion of Canada.
2. Representative Institutions and Responsible Government in the Colony.
3. Retrenchment in thePublicManuscript image Public expenditure, principally in the way of dismissing certain public officers and reducing the Salaries of others.
4. A reciprocal commercial treaty with the United States whereby the raw productions of the Colony might be introduced into the neighboring Republic duty free.
3. As regards the first point I do not suppose thatthereManuscript image there is an Englishman who would not desire to see one unbroken Dominion under his flag extending from the Atlantic to the Pacific. For all present facilities of intercourse we are as near to Japan as to Ottawa. But the matter does not rest with the so called Convention at Yale, but has already occupied Your Grace's attention and that of the Government of Canada.IManuscript image I must say that this Colony appears to possess so little interest for the people of England that perhaps any change which would call attention to its really wonderful resources would do good.
4. The second resolution is in favour of representative Institutions and responsible Government in the Colony. The Legislative Constitution of the Colony is a subjectwhichManuscript image which has occupied my attention much of late, but I have not been able to see a clear path before me. Local politics have their Head Quarters in Victoria. If one ascends the Fraser but a few miles one finds less excitement and better tempers at New Westminster and so it goes on in proceeding up Country till at Clinton the whole thing is ignored. The miners of Cariboo andKootenayManuscript image Kootenay are in the most profound state of indifference as regards what is passing at Head Quarters. I should be glad if we had some mode of allowing the people of Victoria through their representatives to relieve themselves of their burden of complaints and by simply stating what the "miserable misgovernment" (with which cry the streets echo) consists of, enable a respectfulexplanationManuscript image explanation to be furnished. I shall anxiously consider this subject and it is not unlikely that it will be brought up at the next Session of the Legislature.
5. The Convention then urges retrenchment. We have an enormous amount to pay for interest on Loans. Nearly a third of our Revenue. Were we free from debts, our finances would be in a most flourishing condition.IManuscript image I am not answerable for the debt. It was not incurred by me, yet it devolves upon me to pay and I believe that the doing so, is the principal cause of the outcry of "miserable misgovernment." Reductions in Salaries to the extent of upwards of $80,000 have been made during my tenure of Office. I have never appointed anyone higher than a Constable and have no hope of doing so during my incumbencyofManuscript image of Office. I think my own Salary a little high for the Colony to pay but certainly not so for the holder of the very important and expensive position I fill to receive. Sir James Douglas in October 1858 (when the revenue had not amounted to £22,900) reported to the Secretary of State that he could not live under £5,000 a year.
6. As regards a treaty of Commercial reciprocity I agree entirely with the Convention.OurManuscript image Our nearest markets for lumber now are Australia and France and at this moment when San Francisco has been half ruined by an Earthquake and it is proposed to rebuild the shaken houses of timber instead of Stone, the citizens will have to depend upon the Mills of Washington Territory for their supplies, instead of being able to make use of the magnificent timber of Burrard Inlet. A fewmilesManuscript image miles from the boundary but unfortunately for the mill owners on English soil.
7. It is but right that I should state that the proceedings of the Yale Meeting did not meet with universal approval. I enclose two notices, very respectably signed, protesting against the whole affair.
8. I may add that the more prominent advocates for Confederation weredefeatedManuscript image defeated at the last elections in Victoria for members to serve in the Legislative Council.
I have the honor to be,
My Lord Duke,
Your Grace's most obedient
humble Servant.
Frederick Seymour
Minutes by CO staff
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Sir F. Rogers
Governor Seymour sends home the result of a "Convention of Delegates" held at Yale in Sept. called together by the Confederation League to accelerate the admission of B. Columbia into the Dominion of Canada.
The 4 topics to which the Resolutions refer are:
1. Confederation
2. Responsible Govt
3. Retrenchment
4. Trade reciprocity with the U. States.
1. Confederation. It has already been the subject of correspondence, & I would refer you to your minuteonManuscript image on 10906/67 (with 538) "it seems to me quite impossible to think of this question till the H.B.Cos Territory is in possession of Canada—nor until the two Colonies B. Columbia & Canada have so extended themselves as to warrant Expenditure in roads &c." The originators of the Resolutions appear quite able to take care of themselves in these terms—see Resol: 3 page 4.
2. Responsible Govt. See your minute on 6951. One Chamber called the Legislative Assembly. Executive Council holding office while commanding confidence of Assembly—nominative Council unsuited—people no Constitutional power &c.
3. Retrenchment. Reduction of Salaries from the Govr downwards & amalgamation of Offices.
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4. Reciprocity. In 538 the Govr reports that the question will shortly come before the Legislative Council. The question has already been mooted by the H.B.Co & Mr Sproat & others—see papers with 538.
From Resolution 37 it appears there is to be an Address to the Queen, to the Govt of Canada & Petitions to the two Houses of Parliament.
The Govr also sends two notices "respectably signed" protesting agst the Resolutions.
It remains to be seen what line the new Council take.
A copy of the dispatch, not the printed Resolutions, should be sent I suppose to Sir John Young.
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Yes. And parag. 6 of the dph to F.O.
And it is matter for consideration whether Lord Granville is preparedManuscript image to give Govr Seymour any guide as to Responsible Govt or Representative Institutions—in regard to which Govr Seymour says he has "not yet been able to see a clear path before him."
The last Council consisted of 5 officials, 9 members nominated by the Govr & 9 appointed by the Govr on the "recommendation of the People".
CC 17/1
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I. It seems to me questionable whether V.C.I. can be conveniently governed from Ottawa. But if the parties concerned think it can, it is certainly not for the British Govt (I shd say) to stand in their way. Our policy, I should say, was to assist everything wh tends to make Union practicable, but to discourage that premature & impatient action wh defeats its own object so far as we can witht appearing to resist that wh (I presume) we really wish to see effected.
The present state of the negotiations with the HBC wh renders it for the moment absurd to talk of Union betn Canada & B.C. is both a real & a producible reason for not entertaining the question now. And I wd so use it.
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II. As to representative institutions & responsible Govt the objections are
1. that formally represve institutions did not answer very well in V.C. Island.
2. that they will almost certainly hasten the course of Anglo-Saxon violence ending in destruction of aborigines. For the purpose of keeping the peace in this respect the American character of the population renders the maintenance of an Executive responsible to an external authority peculiarly necessary.
3. There is great practical difficulty in either providing for the representation of aliens & miners (who form a large part of the population) or in leaving them unrepresented. A mining district is crowded one year & deserted the next.
4. There is practical representation already.Manuscript image Public meetings recommend to the Govr certain Members of the Council & the Govr thereupon nominates.
5. The establishment of Respe Govt (at any rate) will not tend towards Confederation.
6. And if Confederation is to be our end it is hardly worth while setting up fresh institutions to be merely transitional.
7. That the most extraordinary catastrophes may be expected if the Fenians of B.C. in their present state of disorder are handed over to such a Govt or succession of Govts as wd arise out of such a Legislature as wd first emerge on giving to B.C. such representativeManuscript image institutions as the present composition of its population renders possible.
In short I submit, that this Colony is not in a state to be relieved from a certain steadying external pressure—& I do not like to relieve it from the pressure of Downing Street till we can substitute the pressure of Ottawa. At any rate not till it has recovered its balance after the shock of Amalgamation—wh has been considerable.
III. The memorialists go into detail on the subject of financial Reform & this paper shd therefore be seen by Sir F. Sandford.
IV. On reciprocity the F.O. will be consulted.Manuscript image If these Gentlemen were of more unquestionable importance, it mt possibly be desirable to answer them by more or less of a manifesto.
Stating the disposition of HMG with regard to Confederation & Repe Instns (if not Responsible Govt) that disposition not being eventually hostile—but expectant.
Also some general language respecting financial reform & economy—also, (when we hear from the F.O.) notice of their desire for a Reciprocity Treaty.
But there is so much probability that the "Convention" is mere empty blast—that (the address being to the Governor not to the Queen)—I shd be rather inclined merely to acknowledge the dph "enclosing an address (describing it) from certain delegates and also enclosing what appear to be certain advertisements signed by persons in Victoria who declare that these delgates have not in any way received authority to represent their opinions or desires."
FR 19/1
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I agree.
G 23/1
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See subsequent 26/2638 March 4, 1869.
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
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Memorial, Robert Wallace, Amor De Cosmos and others to Seymour, 9 October 1868, submitting resolutions of the convention as per despatch.
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Seymour to Wallace, De Cosmos and others, 14 November 1868, advising the resolutions would be forwarded to the Secretary of State.
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Printed minutes and resolutions of the Yale Convention (seven pages).
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Newspaper clippings, Daily British Colonist, 22 and 23 September 1868, containing names of persons disapproving of the convention.
Other documents included in the file
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Sandford to Under-Secretary of State, Foreign Office, 4 February 1869, forwarding extract of the despatch relating to the reciprocity treaty for consideration.
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Draft reply, Granville to Seymour, No. 10, 4 February 1869.
Minutes by CO staff
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Sir F. Sandford to see with regard to Financial reform.
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Seen.
Other documents included in the file
*
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Draft reply, Granville to Young, Canada, No. 22, 1 February 1869.
Seymour, Frederick to Grenville, Richard 30 November 1868, CO 60:33, no. 539, 525. 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/B68125.html.

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