No. 4
9152. Vancouver's Island
July 10. 1850.
My Lord,
I beg to enclose a copy of a letter I addressed to J.S. Helmcken Esqre, Medical officer of the Hudsons Bay Company at Fort Rupert, appointing him to act as magistrate provisionally; this is the only appointment I have
2Ansd 20 Novr/50 No 6
Copy to Hudsons Bay Compy 6 20 Novr
yet made in the colony, for as there are no independent settlers, all cases that can occur requiring magisterial interference are disputes between the representatives of the Hudson's Bay company and their servants, to appoint the former, magistrates would be to make them judges in their own causes, and to arm them with additional power which few of them would exert discreetly. Mr Helmcken has only recently arrived in the colony, from England he is therefore a stranger to the petty brawls that have occurred and theManuscript image ill feelings they have occasioned between the Hudsons Bay Company and their servants, from this and from my knowledge of his character I have great confidence in his impartiality his situation too as surgeon renders him more free from the influence which might be exercised over another servant of that Company.
It is moreover highly desirable that there should be a resident magistrate at Fort Rupert as the miners and labourers there have shewn a disposition to riot which if not checked may lead to serious consequences. The Indian population being numerous savage and treacherous, and the distance from Victoria and total want of means of communication between the two places, increases the inconvenience.
I would strongly recommend a duty to be imposed on the importation and manufacture of ardent spirits as their introduction tends to demoralize the Indians to a most dangerous degree, but I conceive I have not the power to impose such duty, free trade having been declared here, without further instructions which I would request on this point at your Lordships earliest convenience.
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I may here mention that the accounts which have been published in
Probably England.3^
respecting the barbarous treatment of the Indian population by the Hudsons bay company, are, both from my own personal observation and from all I have been able to gather on the subject entirely without foundation. They are always treated with the greatest consideration, far greater than the white labourers and in many instances are allowed liberties and impunities in the Hudson's bay company's establishments that I regard as extremely unsafe. No liquor is given them by the Company on any pretense but it is impossible to prevent their obtaining it from the merchant vessels that visit the coast.
I remain
Your Lordships Obedient Servant
Richard Blanshard
Governor. &c

Minutes by CO staff
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Mr Merivale
I presume there is no alternative […] except the appointment of this gentleman to the Magistracy, if the Office is really necessary: but the objection to appointing the Servants of the H.B. Company holds good against this selection as much as it wd in any other case.
I imagine that it will not be thought proper to check the introduction &c of spirits by prohibitory duties: but whenever a Legislature is organized penalties might be legally imposed on persons supplying the Indians with spirits.
ABd 11/11.
Mr Hawes
I should certainly recommend confirming this appointment as the best which could be made under the circumstances? A Surgeon is likely to be more independent of the Company's influence than any less necessary officer.
2. I do not suppose the Govr has strictly speaking any power to impose such a duty (if it were desirable) without until he can get together a Legislature.
3. Shall this desp. be communicated to the Company? I know no reason against it in the present instance, but Mr Blanshard evidently writes as if he did not expect his Despatches to be under such supervision, & it is no doubt desirable he should do so. I believe however it will be best to communicate whenever no objection to doing so occurs?
HM N. 12.
N 12 BH.
Yes — With regard to duties they are clearly desirable when the necessary authority for their impositn can be obtained —
G. 13
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
Manuscript image
Copy, Blanshard to John Sebastian Helmcken, 22 June 1850, appointing him magistrate and justice of the peace "in and about Fort Rupert and in the adjoining district of Vancouvers Island."
Other documents included in the file
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Draft reply, Grey to Blanshard, No. 6, 20 November 1850.
Minutes by CO staff
This is of course in conformity with Ld Greys minute—but the Papers are not herewith.
Sent to Sir J Pelly to forward.
WH 20 Nov/50
Other documents included in the file
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Draft, Colonial Office to Pelly, Hudson's Bay Company, 20 November 1850, forwarding copy of despatch and advising that Grey would confirm Helmcken's appointment.
  1. This addressee information appears at the foot of the first page of the despatch.
  2. This text runs perpendicular to main body text; see image scan.
  3. This arrow indicates the end of the "Extract" portion noted in the minute on the previous page; see image scan.
People in this document

Blackwood, Arthur Johnstone

Blanshard, Richard

Grey, Henry George

Halksworth, William

Hawes, Benjamin

Helmcken, John S.

Merivale, Herman

Pelly, John Henry

Organizations in this document

Colonial Office

Hudson's Bay Company

Places in this document

Fort Rupert, or T'sakis

Vancouver Island