Petition to Queen Victoria
 

May it please Your Majesty
We the Municipal Council of the City of New Westminster in Your Majesty's Colony of British Columbia and the only representative body on the mainland of the colony desire humbly and respectfully to approach your Majesty and as British subjects crave for justice and redress.
We would humbly represent That in the year 1858 His Excellency Sir James Douglas the then Governor of British Columbia was instructed by Your Majesty's Government to select and lay out a suitable site of the Capital of British Columbia. This important task was assigned to Colonel Moody an officer of great experience and judgment who commanded the detachment of Royal Engineers then stationed in the colony and also filled the position of Lieutenant Governor and Chief Commissioner of Lands and Works. Colonel Moody after careful surveys and mature consideration selected the present site of New Westminster as the most suitable for that of the capital of British Columbia and his Views were endorsed and recommendedtoManuscript image to the most favorable Consideration of your Majesty in a dispatch from His Excellency Sir James Douglas dated the 4th February 1859.
Your Petitioners would represent that in consequence of these recommendations from Colonel Moody and His Excellency Sir James Douglas the Capital of British Columbia was decided to be upon the present site of New Westminster and the enclosed Royal Proclamation declaring the same was duly made public through the Government Gazette and by other means throughout the whole colony your Majesty graciously condescending to name the then embryo city New Westminster.
Your Petitioners would further represent that simultaneously with the Royal Proclamation there appeared a notice in the Government Gazette advertising the sale by Government of town lots in the established capital of British Columbia and that previous to the time of sale the fact of New Westminster having been established by Royal Proclamation as the Capital of the Colony was set forth as an inducement to those who wished to make a permanent home in the Colony to purchase property.
That a distinct promise was made by the Government agent at the time of the sale of lots that the entire proceeds of such sale should be devoted to the making and improving of streets and roads in the City.
Trusting implicitly in the distinct pledges given by Royal Proclamation havingaManuscript image a stedfast faith in the honor and integrity of the Government and appreciating the warm interest in our future welfare which your Majesty condescended to show by bestowing a name upon the Young city a large number of colonists attended the sale and the lots then sold brought most exorbitant prices when compared with the then market value of real estate and still more so from the fact that most of such purchasers were men who with but limited means invested in lots in the future capital with a view to making that city their permanent home and not for speculative purposes.
Your Petitioners need hardly state with what perseverance and energy they have overcome the wild obstructions of nature, how they have after an immense expenditure of time and money and in many instances by the investment of their all made this city worthy of the name of the Capital of British Columbia as they feel confident that your Majesty has been made cognisant of these facts by higher authorities as also of the unswerving loyalty at all times manifested by its inhabitants towards your Majesty's most gracious person.
Your Petitioners would further represent that in accordance with the prayer of certain petitions signed by parties interested in real estate upon Vancouvers Island and also by the Vote of a Legislative Council not investedwithManuscript image with full representative powers the seat of Government has been removed from this city to an outlying Island contrary to the wish and voice of the Majority of the Mainland. The result of this removal has been ruin and disaster to many a home. The labor and persevering energy of the inhabitants of this city during the past few years has by this unjust removal been rendered comparatively worthless at a time when they were beginning to look forward to reaping the benefits likely to accrue from the location of the seat of Government.
Your Memorialists would humbly represent that the fact of New Westminster having been established by Royal Proclamation and law the Capital of British Columbia formed the sole basis of their investments that solely upon those representations made upon the part of the Government they were induced to pay high prices for the town lots at the Government sale and using the language of His Excellency Frederick Seymour Governor of the Colony in his message to the Legislative Council 27th March 1867, they considered "public faith and honor" so purely pledged as to justify the immense subsequent outlay of time and money which has been expended within the city limits. The pledge given upon the part of the Government at the time of sale that the proceeds should be appropriated for improving the town was never fulfilledbutManuscript image but the whole amount of Ninety thousand dollars was absorbed in the general revenue of the colony and the citizens were compelled to carry out these important works through the Medium of a municipality and general taxation.
Your Memorialists would further represent that to carry out the construction of roads streets and bridges within the city they were upon the faith of the permanent location of the Capital induced to borrow the sum of Fifteen thousand dollars the interest of which was paid by a municipal tax upon the real estate in the city and that in consequence of the unexpected removal of the Capital from New Westminster real estate has become nearly worthless as taxation even to pay the interest upon this amount is rendered impossible and the Municipality unjustly deprived of the Means to fulfil its pledges to their fellow colonists.
Your Petitioners would humbly represent that the improvements made in this city upon the faith of its being the capital of the colony amount to over a million dollars and that all benefits likely to be derived therefrom they consider they have been unjustly deprived of by the removal of the seat of Government.
Your Petitioners therefore humbly approach the throne of your Majesty asking for compensation in full forthe ViolationManuscript image the Violation of those pledges so distinctly given by Royal Proclamation and further ask that the inducements held out to intending purchasers by the Government be honorably fulfilled.
Should your Majesty be pleased to consider that the justice of our claim be not fully established your Petitioners feeling fully confident that a large and loyal community are suffering under a gross wrong would humbly and earnestly ask that a commission of inquiry be appointed to thoroughly investigate the matter and in their hands your Petitioners are fully prepared to leave the decision. And Your Petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
Minutes by CO staff
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Sir F. Sandford
This Petition was placed in Lord Granville's hands by Mr Fisher. See 7878.
The original or another copy was properly sent home thro' the Governor—you will find it in Mr Seymour's despatch of 30 Nov. last—& it was fully answd by Lord Granville in hisManuscript image despatch of the 16th Feby.
CC 28 July 69
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This Petition having been already answered—through the Governor—See Minute on 799—Lord Granville will probably think it unnecessary to say anything further to Mr Fisher, whom he recently saw.
FRS 28/7
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I think I would send him a copy.
G 28/7
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
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Proclamation signed by James Douglas, 20 July 1859, announcing that "Her Majesty the Queen has been graciously pleased to decide that the Capital of British Columbia shall be styled the City of New Westminster."
Other documents included in the file
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Sandford to W. Fisher, Delegate for Municipal Council of New Westminster, 4 August 1869, forwarding copy of the despatch sent to Seymour after submission of his copy of the memorial.
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Draft reply, Granville to Musgrave, No. 80, 7 August 1869.
[Sender not known.] to Victoria, Alexandrina 1869, CO 60:37, no. 8391, 340. 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/B695MI13.html.

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