No. 150
21st November 1870
My Lord,
I have had the honor to receive Your Lordship's Despatch No 29 of the 20th October last, transmitting copy of a Letter which the Hudson's Bay Company had addressed to you complaining that the Colonial Government fail to give them any assistance in attempting to check the illegaltrafficManuscript image traffic in Spirituous Liquors on the Coast; and requiring me to report whether the Ordinance—No 28 of 1867 had been strictly enforced, or whether its provisions are not sufficiently stringent to effect the object for which it was passed.
2. No representations whatever have been made to me by the Representatives of the Hudson's Bay Company in this Colony on this subject; and it would have been reasonable to expect if their Agents regardedtheManuscript image the government as having the power to prevent the traffic of which they complain that they should have called my attention to the matter; and I am not informed that the Company itself makes any attempt to check the traffic; they certainly have furnished no information which would lead to the conviction of offenders. In fact they are as well aware as I am that the difficulty lies not in the insufficient stringency of the Law or the absence of willingness to enforce it, but intheManuscript image the circumstance that practically it is found, as stated by Mr Grahame, to be impossible to "prove any case in point," for want of proper evidence. Mr Grahame's remedy is that a "Gunboat should be employed to watch the Coast." But, even one Gunboat would be inadequate to exercise the necessary surveillance over several hundred miles of Coast; and I fear that without the constant employment of one or more Vessels as Cruisers for this purpose it will alwaysremainManuscript image remain difficult to prevent the traffic. It is represented as carried on in "Schooners that clear from Victoria and take on board liquor outside the Harbor." It is true that the liquor is not on board when these Coasting traders leave Victoria; but it is not in fact known where or when they take on board the liquor which it is believed that they trade to Indians in exchange for furs. The Gulf of Georgia abounds in Islands, Bays, and Inlets affording numerous places whereitManuscript image it is easy to have the liquor left to be taken, or put on board by concert with other persons for such a purpose; and, moreover, as the American Ports on Puget Sound are at no great distance from Victoria it is quite possible for their supplies to be obtained from thence. It is only by following these traders to the parts of the Coast far up to the North which they frequent for traffic that it is possible to prove against them any infraction of the Law. In cases where the offence has beenprovedManuscript image proved the penalty has been enforced. One such occurred during the visit of my Predecessor to the North Coast in the early part of last Year as mentioned in Mr Trutch's Report forwarded in Mr Hankin's Despatch No 22 of 26th June 1869. But, it is not within the means of this government to maintain an armed Vessel specially for this purpose, nor do I think that the Lords of the Admiralty would readily consent to the employment of Gunboats for this service. But without some such assistance it is found practicallyalmostManuscript image almost impossible to give effect to the provisions of the Law however stringent or salutary.
I have the honor to be,
My Lord,
Your most obedient
humble Servant
A. Musgrave
Minutes by CO staff
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Mr Herbert
According to Governor Musgrave it is impossible to stop the illegal traffic in spirituous liquors—unless it was by the constant employment of one or more cruisers along the Coast of many miles.
Send a copy to the Hudson's Bay Company?
CC 4 Jan 71
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RGWH Jan 4/71
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Yes. To H.B.C.
FR 5/1
K Jan 14/71
Other documents included in the file
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Herbert to Sir S. Northcote, Hudson's Bay Company, 17 January 1871, forwarding copy of the despatch for information.