No. 19
30th October 1869
My Lord,
Before I received Your Lordship's Despatch No 84 of the 14th August, the question in agitation respecting the Union of this Colony with the Dominion of Canada had naturally engaged my attention; but a very short acquaintancewithManuscript image with the community made it apparent that its condition, and its relations to Canada as well as the United States, are very different from those of the Atlantic Provinces, and I have deferred any communication to Your Lordship until a little more time had been afforded me for acquiring further information.
2. I have now printed Your Lordship's DespatchinManuscript image in the local Gazette in accordance with your direction to give publicity to it. But I should have thought myself equally carrying out your instructions in their spirit, and perhaps better promoting the object in view, by waiting until the Legislative Council meets in December, and first as a matter of respect laying it before that body, if it were not that I have reason to believe that the substanceofManuscript image of that Despatch has already been communicated to unofficial persons here by others in Canada to whom it had become officially known. There is some little irritation at the manner in which, it is supposed, persons in official authority in Canada endeavour to work in favor of the project through private correspondence with individuals here who havenoManuscript image no official status and little social influence. And I have thought it best under these circumstances to remove at once any doubt as to Your Lordship's views—to show the position of the local Government under your instruction—and to take the conduct of the matter into my own hands from those of persons who are not likely to carry it to a successful issue. I believesuchManuscript image such an issue to be possible; but the difficulties in the way of its accomplishment are practically far greater than, and of quite a different character from any which have to be overcome in the Eastern Provinces.
3. I am aware that it is believed, in Canada, and I think it has been represented to Your Lordship, that there is a very general desire forUnionManuscript image Union, and that opposition is almost entirely confined to Official Members of the Council. The servants of Her Majesty's Government would not unnaturally look with anxiety to know how their positions would be affected by any such change; but they have not in fact declared any opposition, and if their opinions were entirely disregarded it is not by any means clear that themajorityManuscript image majority of the community are prepared for Union with the Dominion, except on terms which are not likely to be possible, or with a view to political arrangments for which this community is by no means ripe. With regard to the position of the present Official servants of the Crown, I think that any personal motive for opposition to the proposedUnionManuscript image Union may be removed by provision for their retirement on suitable Pensions, or at least that they should have the option of so retiring. Precedent for such an arrangement is to be found in what was done on the introduction of Responsible Government in the Eastern Provinces. And it would only be equitable, as undoubtedly much unwillingness willbeManuscript image be experienced to changing the present tenure of their Offices immediately from Her Majesty's Government to one under a party Government in Canada. But a stipulation on this point might reasonably be made part of any terms of agreement with the Dominion; and this difficulty could be so removed. But there will still remain some questionsnotManuscript image not so easy to be solved.
4. The more prominent of the Agitators for Confederation are a small knot of Canadians who hope that it may be possible to make fuller representative institutions and Responsible Government part of the new arrangements, and that they may so place themselves in positions of influence and emolument. To obtain support for their purposes they leadtheManuscript image the Mercantile portion of the Community to believe that a successful attempt may be made to secure in terms with Canada that Victoria should be made a Free Port. From this combination the movement derives its greatest force. The remainder of their following consists of persons who are favorable to Union partly from sentiment, partly from restless desire foranyManuscript image any change which they hope may improve their own prospects, without much thought of how this is to be effected, and without any consideration of the obstacles which may be in the way of satisfactory Union. When the leaders find that neither Responsible Government nor stipulation for a Free Port can reasonably be made part of the Programme, I am strongly of opinion thatthereManuscript image there will be much abatement of present enthusiasm.
5. But the advocates of Confederation do not include the whole community, though they have put themselves prominently forward, while their opponents have been comparatively silent. The total white population in both sections of the United Colony doesnotManuscript image not amount to ten thousand. Of these much more than half are resident in Vancouver Island principally at Victoria. A very large proportion both here and on the Mainland, are not British subjects, and not unnaturally would lean rather towards annexation to the United States, if there is to be a change, though they live contentedly enough underwhatManuscript image what they admit to be an equitable government, in which the laws are fairly administered. Among those who are British subjects and have emigrated from Great Britain the feeling in favor of Confederation is not strong, though they are not so much professional "politicians" as many of their Colonial neighbours and do not take the same pains to publish theirviewsManuscript image views. Withal, it would not be right to omit to mention that for some cause or other the members of the Community who have emigrated from Canada, with some notable and admitted exceptions, have not contrived to impress their fellow colonists with a prejudice in their favor; and this fact has tended to produce a disinclination with many to transfer the control of their affairstoManuscript image to Canadian authority as they imagine would be the case in the event of Union.
6. Some fear too exists on the part of the Agriculturists that even a Canadian Tariff would be too low in its rates on Agricultural produce to afford them the protection they believe themselves to require. And they are still less in favor of any desire for a Free Port.
7.Manuscript image
7. I have said enough to show Your Lordship that there is great diversity in the views entertained upon this important question. But though the difficulties in respect of it are complicated I do not regard them as insuperable. It will be necessary to clear some incidental questions from the ground of discussion. I have already touched upon thatofManuscript image of provision for such of the existing incumbents of Public Offices as Your Lordship shall think should so be provided for. But another question which is certain to assume prominence is that of the introduction of "Responsible Government" in the local administration after Union. I must at once state my opinion that it would be entirelyinapplicableManuscript image inapplicable to a Community so small and so constituted as this—a sparse population scattered over a vast area of country. There is scarcely material even for the imperfect representative Legislative Chamber now existing; and any effective "responsibility" would be out of the question, except of Officials to the Lieutenant GovernorandManuscript image and of him to his Official superiors. A third point of importance is the possibility of making Victoria a Free Port. Great stress is laid upon this by many of the present advocates of Union. But I must admit my belief that no benefit would thus be conferred upon the Colony at large, and that any advantage would only be derived by unscrupuloustradersManuscript image traders who would have facilities afforded to them for illicit traffic with the neighbouring American territories. Victoria has never had, has not now, and is not likely to have for years to come, any Export trade to other places which could render it a substantial good to the Colony to establish a Free Port. It is admitted with almost unblushing readiness thatabolitionManuscript image abolition of all duties and port charges is desired for the facility which was formerly afforded for smuggling into the United States. I need not insist to Your Lordship upon the impropriety of such a policy, but it would be quite as well understood by our neighbours as by ourselves, and in the end would defeat its own object, while exciting stillfurhterManuscript image further irritation and jealousy as regards the commerce of this place, of which indeed we already feel the effects.
8. In my opinion therefore neither the sacrifice of present Public Officers, the introduction of Responsible Government, nor the establishment of a Free Port need or ought to form part of the Scheme of Union; but if they do not I thinkitManuscript image it will be found that there will be a great change in the views of those who now clamor most loudly for it. On the other hand a great deal of opposition would be removed on the part of many who do not wish to injure the Public servants, who entirely object to Responsible Government in the circumstances of this Colony, who regard a Free Port as very injurious totheManuscript image the local producers in a young and struggling community, and who fear Confederation lest these evils should flow from it.
9. Apart from the conflict upon these questions and assuming them to find satisfactory solution, there yet remain some of practical difficulty as regards the financial aspect of the matter. The liabilities of this Colony are very heavy,andManuscript image and the population is very small, so that there cannot be any contribution payable to her on the score of the difference of amount of indebtedness per head as in the case of the Eastern Provinces. The machinery of government is unavoidably expensive from the great cost of living, which is at least twice as much as in Canada, and the great area over which the actionofManuscript image of government must be maintained for a small number of residents. The Tariff and Excise duties being given up to the Dominion would not leave other existing sources of Revenue sufficient for local requirements; and the grant in aid under the British North America Act 1867 to the other Provinces, of 80 cents per head to the population, would amountonlyManuscript image only to an insignificant sum in our case.
10. Besides these matters for consideration, it must be remembered that many advantages of important kind and degree will be derived by the Atlantic Provinces from Union with Canada, which must from geographical position be wanting to this Colony. In Newfoundland for instance almost all hersuppliesManuscript image supplies both of raw material and manufactured goods, excepting products not grown in a Northern Climate, may in future be drawn from Canada duty free; and while Canadian trade is augmented the taxation of the Newfoundland consumer will be lightened. In our case the Rocky Mountains are a more formidable barrier than the Gulf of St. Lawrence.FreeManuscript image Free commercial intercourse would be easier with Australia than with Canada; and the administration of Official departments could practically be conducted with equally great facility in London as at Ottawa.
11. For these reasons the establishment of a line of communication at least by a Waggon Road if not by a RailwayasManuscript image as a condition of Union will probably be brought forward in discussion; and in a Colony which by its own unaided energy and resources has constructed the astonishing Road from Yale through the Canons of the Fraser River to Lytton and thence by the Thomson River to Cariboo, over which I have recently travelled for five hundred miles, it does not seem by any means an extravagantthingManuscript image thing to expect that the Government of the Dominion should undertake to complete a line of communication; of which this little community has already accomplished a considerable part of at least equal difficulty with any remaining to be constructed, and produced a work of which they may well be proud. Your Lordship will see that the details and terms oftheManuscript image the proposed Union are by no means easy to be arranged; but now that the general views of Her Majesty's Government have been communicated to me I shall give my anxious attention to devise the best means of carrying them into effect.
12. The whole subject will be brought forward at your instance during the next Session oftheManuscript image the Legislature. I shall prepare with the aid of my Council some plan of Union as a tentative proposition which will at least evoke discussion; and after the matter has been more fully and more fairly argued I shall be better able to report to your Lordship the special bearing upon our case of questions and difficulties of which I feel that as yet I can only present to youaManuscript image a superficial view.
13. I will transmit to Sir John Young a Copy of this Despatch as the best mode of acquainting him with my present impressions respecting the question which has naturally so great an interest for his government.
I have the honor to be,
My Lord,
Your most obedient
humble Servant
A. Musgrave
Minutes by CO staff
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Sir F. Rogers
Nothing but to wait & see what is the upshot of the question of Union with Canada. I think Governor Musgrave was right, under the circumstances, to publish Lord Granvilles despatch of the 14th Aug—it will shew the People that the Home Govt take at least some interest in the[ir] well being.
CC 14/12
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Approve Mr Musgrave's having published the dph of 14 Aug.
Inform that he is to use his own judgment respecting the mode & time of bringing the question before his Council—and not to suppose himself bound to bring forward any formal proposition, unless he thinks that by so doing he will promote further the acceptance of the Union.
And qu send a copy of this confidentially to Sir J. Young, telling Mr Musgrave that this has been done.
The transfer of Mr M. from Newfd to B.C. was at the desire of the Canadian authies who thought themselves secure of Nfld, & wished to push on witht delay (vide 13617 Nfld). I am disposed to think that they were precipitate.
FR 15/12
WM 18/12
G 24/12
Other documents included in the file
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Musgrave to Cox, 22 January 1870, private letter requesting that certain passages be cut from his despatch No. 19 in the event of its publication.
Minutes by CO staff
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Sir F. Rogers
Attach to 13573 for future reference.
CC 23/3
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At once. Yes.
FR 23/3
Other documents included in the file
*
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Draft reply, Granville to Musgrave, No. 113, 31 December 1869.
Minutes by CO staff
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Mr Dealtry
See also to Sir J. Young. Pray pass them on.
Other documents included in the file
*
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Draft reply, Granville to Young, Canada, No. 21, 3 January 1870.
Musgrave, Anthony to Leveson-Gower, Granville George 30 October 1869, CO 60:36, no. 13573, 429. 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/B69219.html.

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