Murdoch to Rogers (Permanent Under-Secretary)
3rd February 1871
I have to acknowledge your letter of 27th ulto with a despatch from the Governor of B. Columbia enclosing a letter from the Attorney General of the Colony on the subject of the issue of grants to certain persons who purchased land in the District of Victoria, Vancouvers Island, prior to the retransfer of the Island to the Crown.
2. The purchasers in question had not completed their payments and therefore had not received title prior to the retransfer—butManuscript image have since paid the remaining instalments of the purchase money to the local Government. The Attorney General points out that in the Deed of reconveyance of the Island there are excepted "all lands situate in the Victoria District which may have been sold previous to the 1st day of January 1862," and expresses a belief that it was intended by these words to except only the Hudsons Bay Company's private property. But he says the words go beyond this and apply to all lands sold by the Company in the Victoria District—from which it follows that the legal estate in these cases still remains in the hands of theManuscript image Hudsons Bay Company.
3. We agree with the Attorney General that the legal estate of the lands in question is in the Hudsons Bay Co—but he is mistaken in supposing that this arises from any error or oversight in drawing the Deed of reconveyance of Vancouver's Island to the Crown. The Deed of 3rd January 1862 which validated the sales made by the Hudsons Bay Co of lands in the Victoria District held by them before Janry 1849, and recognized their right to the proceeds of such sales, was necessarily restricted to the Company's private property. But in the deed of 3rd April 1867, by which the Island was reconveyed to the Crown, this restriction was purposely omitted—the object being to relieve the Crown of the necessity of intervening betweenManuscript image the Company and any of those who had purchased from them. The whole of the lands therefore in the Victoria District which had been sold by the Company before 1st Janry 1862 were excepted from the reconveyance.
4. The Attorney General suggests that to provide for the issue of valid titles to the purchasers of these lands or those who hold through them the Hudsons Bay Co should be requested to transfer to the Crown the legal Estate in order that the Crown may issue titles. He considers that this would be much easier and more satisfactory than that title should be issued direct by the Hudsons Bay Co. We are we confess disposed to prefer the latter course, asManuscript image protecting the Crown from the possible responsibilities involved in the completion and confirmation of contracts made not with it but with the Company. If in completing these contracts the Company is likely to experience any difficulties (of the nature & extent of which we have no means of judging) a short special Ordinance might be passed to remove them, and to bring the transactions within the scope of Ordinance No 4 of 1870 to which the Attorney General alludes.
5. Should Lord Kimberley concur in these views it might perhaps be advisable in the first instance to refer the matter back to the Colonial Authorities with an explanation of the true object of the exception in the deed ofManuscript image reconveyance, and they might be requested to submit for Lord Kimberley's approval the draft of an Ordinance to facilitate the granting of titles to the lands in question by the Company.
6. But if on the other hand Lord Kimberley should not deem this course advisable then the matter might at once be referred to the Hudsons Bay Co in order to ascertain their views thereon.
I have the honor to be
Your Obedient
Humble Servant
T.W.C. Murdoch
Minutes by CO staff
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CC 4 Feb 71
Mr Holland
I agree, if you do, that the matter shd be referred back to the Colony & an ordinance drafted.
RGWH Feb 4/71
I agree that the matter should be referred back, & for the reasons assigned by Sir C Murdoch.
HTH 6/2/71
I think so.
EHKH 7/2/71
So proceed.
K Feb 7/71
Other documents included in the file
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Draft reply, Kimberley to Musgrave, No. 12, 10 February 1871.