1 H B He
Feb 24 / 1848

My Dear Lord
I wish much before Sir Geoe Simpson goes into the Interior
4Ans"d 25 Feb / 48 / Private
from Canada (where he now is) to give him all the Information I can respecting the Intentions of Government as to the Territory No of Lat 49 in reply toManuscript image my Letters of Colonization. I am more anxious on this subject from an Interview I have had with Mr Fitzgerald & the Enclosed proposal to Form a Company for Working the Coal and Establishing a Colony in Vancouvers Island which I rec. two days ago— The Letters which I have written and rec. from your Lordship & Mr Hawes & to which on reference will bring the whole subject before you are as before. If your Lordship would wish me to wait on you I shall have muchManuscript image pleasure at any time & believe me to be My Lord,
Yours very truly
J.H. Pelly
      Letters refered to
1846 Sept 7 Sir JHP to Earl Grey
      Oct 3 B Hawes to Sir JHP
        24 Sir JHP to B Hawes
      Dec 14 B Hawes to Sir JHP
1847 Jan 22 Sir JHP to Earl Grey
      Feb 2 B Hawes to Sir JHP
      Mar 5 Sir JHP to Earl Grey
Documents enclosed with the main document (transcribed)
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VANCOUVER'S ISLAND, the possession of which was settled in Great Britain by the last treaty3 with the United States, lies on the west coast of North America, between north lat. 48°. and 51°. and west long. 123°. and 128°.; and is about 250 miles in length, and 50 in breadth.
The straits which separate it from the main land are little more than a mile wide at the north end of the Island, and about 25 miles at the south, where they are called the Straits of Juan de Fuca.
The general character of the country is hilly, in parts mountainous, and richly wooded; but there is fertile plain land in many places. The trees are of various descriptions, in great abundance, and of very large growth.
The temperature is nearly the same as that of England: the climate is mild and salubrious, and peculiarly adapted to European constitutions. British plants, fruits and vegetables of all descriptions thrive, as well as sheep and cattle.
The Island abounds with game, and the neighbouring waters with various kinds of fish.
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The Hudson's Bay Company occupy a small fort (Victoria) on the south side of the Island, where they have successfully brought a tract of land into cultivation.
The geographical situation of the Island renders it peculiarly suitable for a colony. It possesses on all sides a multitude of magnificent harbours; and there is no port of any description, southward of those in the Island, and those within the Straits of Juan de Fuca, nearer than San Francisco in California, more than 700 miles distant: it seems, then, to follow, that all the trade which shall ever pass into the north-west coast of America must fall into the hands of those who occupy the country adjacent to these Straits, of which Vancouver's Island forms the north shore. The south shore belongs to the United States, and abounds also with harbours; but it is likely that the people who first obtain will continue to enjoy the pre-eminence in commercial enterprize.
According to the best accounts, there are not more than 5000 native inhabitants of the whole Island, and their numbers are said to be rapidly decreasing. They have been for the most part on very good terms with the English with whom they have come in contact.
There is a great abundance of coal at the north end of the Island, and copper also is to be procured in the vicinity. Satisfactory evidence can be given that this coal is well adapted for burning in steam vessels.
It is, therefore, proposed to form a Company, for the purpose of working this coal, and at the same time of founding a general Colony in the Island.
The present moment is one which is more favorable than any other to the success of such an undertaking. The Government of the United States of America have entered into a contract with a commercial house inManuscript image 3 New York, by which the latter undertake to convey the mails between Panama, the Columbia river, and the intermediate ports, in steam vessels: this contract is to last for ten years.
There are three steamers now building at New York, of a thousand tons each, for this purpose, and they are to be ready at the end of the present year.
This Company have proposed to enter into a contract for the supply of coal from England, necessary to enable them to fulfil their contract with the American Government.
It is obvious that the requisite quantity could be supplied at the Columbia river, and at Panama, at a very much lower rate from Vancouver's Island than from England, even supposing the expense of procuring the coal to be the same in both places; but in Vancouver's Island the coal lies in large quantities on the surface, and is close to the sea, in a most convenient place for shipment.
Besides the above supply, which it is calculated would amount to from 15,000 to 20,000 tons annually, the Steam Pacific Navigation Company, whose vessels run from Valparaiso to Panama, are in want of a supply of coal at the latter port.
It is probable that if these coal mines were worked, there would be a demand before long for above 30,000 tons annually in the Pacific Ocean.
A communication has been made to the Colonial Office, with a view to ascertain the terms upon which Her Majesty's Government would grant the right of working the coal in Vancouver's Island; and it is hoped, that, in the event of a Company being formed capable of carrying its objects into effect, every assistance will be afforded both by the Government and by the Hudson's Bay Company.
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Since the working of the coal, on such an extensive scale as is here proposed, will involve the conveyance of a considerable number of persons to the Island, it is obvious that a sufficient population must also be provided, to secure the production of food for the whole community.
Hence it will be the object of the Company to obtain from Her Majesty, in the earliest stage of its operations, a charter of government.
It will also be the interest of the Company, that some sound scheme of general colonization should be adopted, by which labour may be continually supplied.
It is contemplated to call a meeting, in a short time, of all those who are likely to take an interest in the scheme, for the purpose of taking the preliminary steps for the formation of the Company, and the arrangement of the necessary details. At this meeting, of which due notice will be given, your presence and assistance is particularly requested. In the mean time all communications on the subject of this paper may be addressed to
23, Dean Street, Soho.
Other documents included in the file
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Copy, Grey to Pelly, Private, 25 February 1848, saying that he was "extremely anxious" for the colonization of Vancouver Island to go ahead and inviting him to submit another scheme "more limited and definite in its objects; and yet embrace a plan for the Colonization and Government of Vancouver's Island. . . ."
  1. This addressee information and date appear on the final page of the depatch.
  2. The following is a proposal to form a company to extract coal and form a colony on Vancouver Island, submitted by John Shillinglaw, no date.
  3. See Oregon Territory for more information.
  4. This text runs perpendicular to and over top of body text.
People in this document

FitzGerald, James Edward

Grey, George

Grey, Henry George

Hawes, Benjamin

Pelly, John Henry

Shillinglaw, John

Simpson, George

Organizations in this document

Colonial Office

Hudson's Bay Company

Places in this document

Columbia River

Juan de Fuca Strait

New York

Oregon Territory, or Columbia District


San Francisco


Vancouver Island