No. 127
30th November 1868
My Lord Duke,
I have the honor to forward copy of a letter addressed to me by the President of the Municipal Council of New WestminsterenclosingManuscript image enclosing a petition to Her Majesty, and copy of one which will be presented to the House of Lords and the House of Commons.
2. Both petitions, as Your Grace will have surmised, refer to the claims, already urged, to compensation on account of the Capital havingbeenManuscript image been removed from New Westminster to Victoria. Your Grace is well aware that the people of the former have, at least, their fair share of my solicitude.
3. Everything stated in the petitions is incontestable, with the exception perhaps of the subject of accounts between thelotManuscript image lot holders and the local Government. The question has been often argued and very complicated accounts brought forward. This however seems clear, that the whole of the money raised by the sale of town lots has not been Expended in New Westminster. But to me this appears to be a matter for local adjustment ratherthanManuscript image than for a reference to Her Majesty and the two Houses of Parliament.
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. Sandford
Governor Seymour sends home a Memorial from the Municipal Council of New Westminster addressed to the Queen & a copy of a Petition that will be presented to the Lords & the Commons.
They claim Imperial compensation for losses arising out of the change of Capital—that is the seat of the Govt of the United Colony being fixed at Victoria V.C. Island.
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They state that New Westminster was by Proclamation made the Capital of B. Columbia—that this fact was held out as inducement to purchasers of land there—& that it was promised that the proceeds should be laid out in the improvement of the roads & streets—that this promise was not kept the proceeds being absorbed in the General Revenue. That the Council bought property at an exorbitant price,Manuscript image on which they borrowed money for roads &c—which is now nearly worthless—& that the depreciation of property generally prevents their levying taxes to pay even the interest.
I would refer you to the minutes on 87/8562/67.
But even Public Officers could have no home compensation see 101/11063.
CC 30/1
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FRS 30 Jan 69
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1. When Vancouvers Island was founded Victoria was declared to be her capital & investments of course took place in the expectation that it wd remain so.
2. When B.C. was founded N. Westminster was declared to be the capital & investment of course equally took place on the expectation that it wd remain so.
3. When the two Colonies were united (under the title of B.C.) it became necessary to determine which set of expectations shd be disappointed. The population of Victoria was said to be almost 3000 to 4000, that of New Westminster about 1500 to 2000. The capital invested in each & wh wd suffer by loss of the advantages of capital was probably in proportion. It was for this & other reasons (as that Victoria was of more ready communication with the world—was the commercial entrepot &c) determined that the disadvantages wh had to be imposed onManuscript image one must be imposed on New Westminster.
New Westminster now, after a very common fashion of argument, urges that because the Act of Govt in proclaiming a capital raised certain natural expectations therefore Govt is bound to fulfil those expectations. I hold that neither private nor public affairs could be carried on if such a principle were admitted, i.e. if men are considered to guarantee the natural [several words cut off microfilm].
If these purchasers before buying their lots had distinctly asked the Govt "do you pledge yourselves never to change the site of the Capital?" there cannot be a moments doubt of the answer wh any honest Governor would have made. "Certainly not. The choice and removal of a Capital (Ottawa) are matters wh must always depend on a variety of considerations—political commercial, military, sanitaryManuscript image which it is impossible to foresee. You must judge for yourselves as to the likelihood of change. All I can say is that the Govt give you the start—I make it the capital, with no intention of changing it."
I do not believe that any one man who now urges that Govt has pledged itself not to remove the capital, would have really expected at the time any but a negative answer to a proposal that the Govt shd pledge itself.
I would answer this part of the Memorialists petition argumentatively in the above sense. Because it is an argument, which, till it is considered, is not without plausibility, and because the people who advance it, are represented as being a respectable & well conditionedManuscript image sort—deserving of considerate treatment.
And also—because it is a kind of argument wh is continually recurring—there is a constant tendency to build up a pledge against it out of expectations contracted by B.—and the publication of an exposure of a common fallacy is always a good deed.
With regard to the misapplication of the Land Fund, I would observe that no documents are referred to in support either of the allegation that the purchase money of Town Lots in N Westmr was to be devoted to improving streets & roads in the city or of the allegation that they had not been so devoted. But that on these points the first step of the Memorialists ought to [be to] bring their case before the Legve Council through those gentlemen by whom they are substantially represented in that body, and that itManuscript image is for the local Govr & Legre to consider at least in the first instance, by what mode of enquiry the truth shd be ascertained.
FR 1/2
WM 1/2
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Turin & Florence—I quite agree with Sir F.R.
G 4/2
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
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W.H. Holbrook, President, New Westminster Municipal Council, to Seymour, 21 November 1868, forwarding copies of the Council's memorial.
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Memorial, Municipal Council of New Westminster to the Queen and the British Parliament, no date, stating greivances and asking for redress as per despatch, 13 signatures (two handwritten copies and one printed copy).
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Proclamation of James Douglas, 20 July 1859, naming New Westminster as capital of British Columbia (two handwritten copies and one printed copy).
Other documents included in the file
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Draft reply, Granville to Seymour, No. 14, 16 February 1869 discussing the New Westminster’s memorialist’s concerns about the change of capital to Victoria and addressing the issues discussed around the use of New Westminster’s land funds.