5505. Vancouver's Island.
April 8. 1850.
My Lord,
I beg to inform you of my arrival at Victoria, the settlement of the Hudson bay company in Vancouvers Island, on the 10th March ult. in H.M.S.S. Driver, on the 11th I landed and read my commission in presence of Commander Johnson of H.M.S Driver and the Officers and servants of the Hudson
3Ansd 16 July /50 No 4.
Copy to Sir J Pelly for informn of H.B Compy 23 July /50
Bay Company; No lodging being ready for me I have been compelled to remain on board the Driver during her stay in the colony, and took the opportunity of visiting Fort Rupert, a new settlement which has been formed at Beaver Harbour for the purpose of working the coals with which the North Eastern part of the Island is said to abound; About six months ago the Hudson Bay company sent a party of Scotch miners to Beaver Harbour, but they have not yet been able to discover coal in any quantity; at the depth of seventy feet the largest seam they had struck was only eight inches in depth, and the surface coal which former reports describe as being three feet in depth and of excellent quality, nowhere as I am assured by the miners exceeds ten inches of which one half is slag. Should they persevere Manuscript imagethere is no doubt that a supply of coal may eventually be obtained which will greatly increase the value of this colony but the miners are unprovided with proper implements, discontented with their employers, and can scarcely be induced to work.
An application was made to me by Captain Hill commandant of the U.S. military post at Chelakom to allow a force to proceed to Vancouvers Island to apprehend two men, military deserters from the United States Army who had he stated been taken from Chelakom by a schooner belonging to the Hudson Bay company, incurring thereby a heavy penalty under the local laws of the state of Oregon. This I declined to allow, as I conceive that no reciprocal arrangement exists between Great Britain and the United States for the arrest of deserters for purely military offences.
The quantity of arable land, or land that can be made arable is so far as I can ascertain exceedingly limited throughout the Island, which consists almost entirely of broken ranges of rocky hills, intersected by ravines and vallies so narrow as to render them useless for cultivation _
A Mr MacNeil, Agent of the Hudson Bay company at Beaver Harbour, who is considered to be better acquainted with the Indian population than any other person, estimates their number at the very largest at ten thousand, and these he considers to be steadily decreasing, although the sale of spirituous liquors has been for a considerable time prohibited and the prohibition appears to be strictly enforced. As no settlers have at present arrived, I have considered that it is unnecessary as yet to Manuscript imagenominate a council as my instructions direct, for a council chosen at present must be composed entirely of the officers of the Hudson Bay Company few if any of whom possess the qualification of landed property which is required to vote for members of assembly, and they would moreover be completely under the controul of their superior officers, but as no immediate arrival of settlers is likely to take place, and my instructions direct me to form a council on my arrival I should wish for a farther direction on this point, before I proceed to its formation.
I am
Yr Lordships Obedient Servant
Richard Blanshard.

1The Rt Honble
Earl Grey.
Minutes by CO staff
Manuscript image
3 July
Capt. Blanshard gives no very favorable account of the natural capabilities of Vancouver Island, much less so indeed than other accounts of recent visitors would lead me to expect — He may be instructed that the nomi nomination of a council is not incumbent upon him until a sufficient number of settlers have arrived to afford a choice, although it is expedient not to delay it unnecessarily?
HM. Jy 6
G. 6
Other documents included in the file
Manuscript image
Draft reply, Grey to Blanshard, No. 4, 16 July 1850.
Minutes by CO staff
Returned to Dt by mistake in a bundle of other papers, & reforwarded the 15th instt.
A copy of this corresp: should be communicated to the Hud. Bay. C.
"2       G.
Other documents included in the file
Manuscript image
Draft, Colonial Office to Sir John Pelly, Hudson's Bay Company, 23 July 1850, forwarding copy of the despatch for information.
  1. This addressee information appears at the foot of the first page of the despatch.
  2. These quotes appear to indicate a ditto of Merivale's note above. See image scan.
  3. This text runs perpendicular to main body text; see image scan.
People in this document

Blackwood, Arthur Johnstone

Blanshard, Richard

Grey, Henry George

Hill, Bennett H.

Johnson, Charles Richardson

McNeill, William Henry

Merivale, Herman

Pelly, John Henry

Organizations in this document

Colonial Office

Hudson's Bay Company

Vessels in this document

HMS Driver, 1840-1861

Places in this document

Beaver Harbour

Fort Rupert, or T'sakis

Oregon Territory, or Columbia District


Vancouver Island