3967_ Vancouver's Island

May 1. 1849
I am directed by Viscount Palmerston to transmit to you,
2Copy to hand Bd 14 May/49
for the information of Earl Grey,
Dec 9/48
extracts of Despatches from
Dec 30
Her Majesty's Consul General at Woahoo1, containing information respecting Vancouvers Island.
I am
Your most obedient,
humble servant.
H.U. Addington
Minutes by CO staff
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Perhaps the best way of disseminating the information respecting P Queen Charlotte's Island will be by sending it to the Land Board in whose general report, or annual Circular it may perhaps be noticed. I know of no other use for this communication.
ABd 3/5.
HM May 3
M. 3. BH.
Yes — This is important as it will be an answer to any complaints as to the grant of Van Couver's island to say that the other remains open for private settlement. —
G. 4
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
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Extract, Miller to Foreign Office, 9 December 1848, promoting the advantages of settlement of the Queen Charlotte Islands as well as Vancouver Island.
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Extract, Miller to Foreign Office, 20 December 1848, again promoting the suitability of the Queen Charlotte Islands for settlement, with an enclosure from Chief Factor James Douglas.
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Extract, Douglas to, it is assumed, Miller, 5 December 1848, reporting on events in the colony, including the discovery of gold in California.
Documents enclosed with the main document (transcribed)
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In 3967/49 Copy 235
Extract of a despatch from Con: Gen: Miller
Marked no. 25 dated Woahoo Dec 9 1848

“I venture to observe that it might be of much alternate advantage to Great Britain in a commercial point of view & in other respects, if public attention & adventure could be directed not only to Vancouvers Island, but also to the perhaps no less important Queen Charlotte’s Island. Indeed the few hundred miles length of the North West Coast, with its extensive straits, & numerous inlets still lying within our boundary, seen hitherto to have remainedManuscript imageremained too little known, & too seldom visited by British vessels, owning to the want of free competition in traffick in those parts. Queen Charlotte’s Island upwards of 200 miles in length has several great good Harbours, one of which is scarcely inferior to that of Rio Janeiro, which it’s soil represented to be exceedingly rich, & its temperature milder than that of the neighbouring continent, or that of England; still it contains no white Inhabitants.”
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In 3967/44 Copy 234
Extract of a despatch from Con: Gen: Miller dated
Woahoo Dec 20 1848

“I inclose herewith extract of a letter from Chief Factor Douglas dated at Fort Victoria, the 5th of December 1848-
From what I learn here it appears that Queen Charlotte’s Island is scarcely less important altho it is smaller than Vancouver’s Island. The first has the advantage of being the most distant of the two from the entering Gold Region whilst it produces plentifully the best quality of Irish potatoes. Both Islands contain abundance of good timber, the best adapted in the world it is said for mastsManuscript imagemasts and shars, for every description of ship, & which can be conveniently procured at the distance of pistol shot from good anchorages: also inexhaustible coal mines, as well it is supposed as copper, & probably other minerals.
Although mountainous, the Island are I am informed by Captains of the Hudsons Bay Company’s vessels, badly off far water, but of the interior of either little is known, it never having been traversed by white men. The Indian population however is said to be numerous & somewhat warlike. They furnish large quantities of fur to the companyManuscript imagecompany. They also easily catch all the year round, as much as they wish of Hallibut, an excellent Fish which abounds all along the N. W. Coast.
The numerous inlets and straits stretching along the coast of the Continent for some degrees in that vicinity, are described to be admirable for steam navigation a route but by no means a good one from the sea shore to the interior of the British North American populations, has been discovered and travelled over, & search, I am told, is now making for a better route.
Mr Snow, an intelligent American, a partner in the firm of Messr Williams & co of thisManuscript imagethis place, and who spent several years as chief officer, & subsequently as master of a trading vessel on the N. W. Coast, assures me that be considers the country within the British Boundary to the North of 49°, infinitely more valuable especially on account of the timber & coals on the Islands before mentioned, than all Oregon including the Columbia River
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In 3467/49 Copy 241


“Fortunately every thing is going on quietly in this Country, since the Gold manaia commenced it has relieved the settlement of many unquiet spirits who will not probably return again to Oregon.
The harvest was abundant; I never indeed saw so much grain in the country before. I fear it will be less so next year, as there is little doing in the farming way. The general feeling among the people is in favor of a move towards California as soon as spring comes in hopes ofManuscript imageof reaping a rich harvest of the previous metals.”
  1. "Woahoo" is, presumably, an obselete spelling for present-day "O'ahu," of the Hawai'ian Islands.
  2. This text runs perpendicular to main body text; see image scan.
People in this document

Addington, Henry Unwin

Blackwood, Arthur Johnstone

Douglas, James

Grey, Henry George

Hawes, Benjamin

Merivale, Herman

Miller, William

Miller, William


Temple, Henry John

Organizations in this document

Foreign Office

Hudson's Bay Company

Places in this document


Columbia River

Haida Gwaii

Hawaiʻian Islands

Oregon Territory, or Columbia District

Rio de Janeiro

Vancouver Island