Sproat to Granville
Farncombe, Godalming, Surrey
June 18 1869 The Right Honourable The Secretary of State for the Colonies

My Lord,
I respectfully beg leave to place my name before your Lordship, and under the circumstances hereafter stated, to make application for the appointment of Governor of British Columbia, which office has been vacated by the lamented death of Governor Seymour.
1. My direct services under the Crown are having for four years, been sole magistrate, also Collector of Customs and Superintendent of Indian affairs on the West Coast of Vancouver Island.
2. Under a commission from Sir Jas Douglas, I organised the first local military force in that Colony. I was also nominated a Member of Council.
3. In the performance of my magisterial duties I was, on one occasion, severely wounded.
4. Having visited the colony on special business, I was unable to take any greater part in colonial affairs.
5. I have independent means, and should not desire to remain in the Colonial Service.
6. I am deeply sensible that the above servicesManuscript image are not highly important, and that under ordinary circumstances I could not venture to urge a consideration of this application beside that of other gentlemen of superior official and personal claims.
7. British Columbia is however, at present in a peculiar condition, and many persons think that a special appointment would be suitable to its circumstances. I enclose, marked A, a short Memorandum, to illustrate this peculiar condition of the Colony.
8. The following are the special grounds on which I make the present application
(1) My appointment is desired by the principal persons in this country connected with British Columbia. In proof of this I refer in London to the Bank of British Columbia; Messrs Anderson, Thomson & C[o], Billiter Court; Messrs [Copistake?], Moore & Co, Cheapside; Messrs Findlay & Durham, Great St Helens, and the other leading merchants and property holders connected with the Colony.
In Liverpool, to Mr Graves, M.P. In Edinburgh, to Mr McLaren, M.P.
(2) It is believed my appointment would be acceptable to the colonists. On this point, I enclose Testimonials, marked B, from men of different classes and professions and of position and reputation, well acquainted with British Columbia and the Colonists.
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(3) Circumstances have given me special knowledge of the native population, as appears in the above Testimonials, and also in the Press Notices, herewith sent, marked C, of a book which I published last year about the Indians.
(4) I am well known in Canada and acquainted with its institutions. I have been recommended by influential Canadians to the Privy Council of Canada for the Lieut Governorship of the North West Territory, and my application for that office is now before the Privy Council. I feel, however, that I could aid the consolidation of the Dominion more effectually in British Columbia.
9. Public opinion in British Columbia is far from ripe as regards Confederation. A knowledge of the various sectional interests in British Columbia, and a knowledge of Canada itself, would probably assist a Governor in guiding British Columbian opinion in the desired direction, without risking a reproduction of the Nova Scotian difficulty on the Pacific side of the Continent.
10. In the enclosed paper marked D, I have stated some additional particulars of my education and history. I refer thereupon to Mr Maclaurin of Lock & Maclaurin, Great George St.
I have the honour to be
Your Lordship's Obedient Servant
Gilbert Malcolm Sproat
Minutes by CO staff
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Sir F. Sandford
He may be told a Successor to Mr Seymour has already been appointed.
But see enclosure A.
CC 19/6
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Ask Mr Birch's comments thereon.
FRS 24/6
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Sir F. Sandford
I knew Mr Sproat during his residence in Vancouver Island. As a Merchant he was extremely unfortunate & brought the Company for which he was interested to something like bankruptcy. He had the name of being a clever longheaded man but I had no means of judging. He refused a seat in the Assembly & my only experience of him was in his Commercial capacity & of that he had no reason to be proud.
The services "under the Crown" to which he refers were merely nominal, he had a Log cutting Establishment on the West Coast of the Island & was invested with powers to prevent disturbances between his employees & the Indians who are the only occupants of the densely wooded W. Coast.
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I agree in much that Mr Sproat writes in regard to the Condition of the Colony.
I think that the expenses of the Govt might still be largely reduced & I agree with him that the Governor's salary should not for the present at least exceed £2,500.
The present Constitution of the Colony works well and a very large majority are in favour of retaining it—especially as the Governor has already the power to appoint unofficial members to the Ex Council.
I think everything should be done to foster confederation with Canada. The distance from the Navigable waters of the Fraser to the head waters of the Saskatchewan is about 650 miles of this some 180Manuscript image miles of the Upper Fraser are navigable for Steamboats and 150 miles of road have already been constructed. The remaining portion has been Estimated to cost 700,000$—say £150,000. The Highway from Canada once completed I am confident there would [be] a large increase to the population of B. Columbia. Mr Sproat is mistaken in saying that B.C. is not an agricultural Country. It is true that when he left the Colony there was little agriculture, Mining being the only thing thought of, & all flour & grain was imported from Oregon or California. I understand from recent letters that this years produce will entirely suffice for the wants of the Colony without importation & as it may be said that the Settlers have only turned there [their] attention to farming in the last 4 years the prospect of B. Columbia becoming a large grain producing CountryManuscript image is not improbable.
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See 7136 withdrawing his application, & expressing satisfaction at Mr Musgraves appointment.
G 5/7
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
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Memorandum on British Columbia by Sproat, 18 June 1869, written under the headings "Condition of the Colony," "British Columbia Politics," "Representative Constitution," and "Alleged Americanism of British Columbia."
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Press notices on Sproat's book Scenes and Studies of Savage Life (1868) (six printed pages).
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Resume of Sproat's education and personal history, including testimonial by John Wade, his private tutor; critical notices of his translations of the Odes of Horace; and an extract from a speech he delivered at a banquet in honor of Malcolm Cameron in 1862.
Sproat, Gilbert Malcolm to Leveson-Gower, Granville George 18 June 1869, CO 60:37, no. 6858, 579. 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/B696S02.html.

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