5948 Vancouvers Island

No. 12.
April 28 1851.
My Lord,
I have received a communication from the Governor & Directors of the Hudsons bay Company
2Copy to Hudson's Bay Compy for considr 3 Sept/51
stating, that they and the Puget Sound Company are about to occupy some land in this Island and that the sum of Four thousand pounds is to be expended on public buildings, under my direction, subject to the approval, and sanction of their Agent, and further indicating the neighbourhood of their own posts as the place where such buildings are to be erected.
Unless the colony is intended to be merely an enlarged depot of the Hudsons bay company which I do not conceive was the intention of Her Majesty's Government in making the grant of the Island, it will be a waste of public money to expend it in the way they indicate, as the public buildings will then be surrounded by their Reserves whichManuscript imagewhich they are neither prepared to use or sell.
The Large tract of land called their Reserves, of about thirty square miles in extent includes the only part of the Island, in the Straights of Fuca, in the any way adapted for the first settlement, there are other large tracts on the Canal de Arro, and the gulf of Georgia but they are at present so inaccessible that their settlement and occupation must be gradual. The quantity of land at Soke is too small to make it of any importance and the rest of the coast is one mass of rock without harbours. The Hudson's bay company does not profess to require all these Reserves, either for its own purposes or those of the Puget Sound Company, but say they cannot tell what portions of them they may require till surveys have been sent to them in England. These surveys they have taken no steps at all to obtain, they have never even engaged a surveyor. A Mr Grant, who had studied for a short time at the Military College at Sandhurst, commenced a survey of part of the Companys land last summer, but it was discontinued and has never been resumed. The Agent here tells me that he expects a surveyor from Canada in the autumn if one can be engaged, supposing that he does come, the winter rains will prevent any operations till the following spring, which will bring itManuscript imagebring it far into the fourth year of the Hudson's bay Company's possession of the Island. In the meantime these Reserves effectually prevent any bona fide colonists from settling.
No site for a Town has ever been mentioned, and indeed till the question of the Reserves is settled it would be useless to select one, for by refusing to sell the land around it, taking it as their own and setting an extravagant price on it, as they have already done near Victoria they will completely isolate and prevent the occupation of any such town. When a Town site shall be selected, that will be the place for the public buildings not in the vicinity of the Companys posts where there is no probability of a population ever gathering beyond a few of their own servants. Until such site be selected and the adjoining land brought into the market fairly, I do not think it will be expedient or even just to the future prospects of the colony to expend the produce of the land sales on buildings,
I have the honor to be
Your Lordships Most Obedient Servant
Richard Blanshard Governor
1The Rt Honble
Earl Grey
Minutes by CO staff
Manuscript image
Mr Merivale
I apprehend that the Govt has no power to prevent the Hudson's Bay Co spending it's own money in the erection of buildings on the Lands granted to it by the Crown, which expenditure, it may allege, is conducive to the settlement of the Island. But the inconvenience of an ill judged expenditure will probably be felt when the Govt resumes, if it shall ever do so, possession of the Island, & has to pay the Co the value of it's property.
ABd 21/7.
Mr Hawes
I have detained this some time in the expectation of farther accounts. It seems to me that inasmuch as Government is bound to repay the Company (in a certain event) the value of its improvements, Government has an implied right to inspect & control the buildings &c which are undertaken: nor do I see anything in the grant to contradict this. The difficulty is that as the Governor does not forward copies of the "communications" he receives from the Company, we cannot judge whether they are accurately represented. Forward this for explanation to the Company, at the same time observing as above? Although the new Governor is a servant of the Company, still the fact of its being a duty imposed on him by Government to control this kind of expenditure will be some check on him.
HM Augt 13
A 14 This requires some consideration. Has the Cy ansd the last enquiry as to their proceedings in fulfilment of the conditions of the Charter?
Proceed as suggested by Mr. Merivale.
G. 22
Other documents included in the file
Manuscript image
Draft, Colonial Office to Pelly, 3 September 1851, forwarding copy of the despatch and stating that government has the implied right to "exercise some controul and inspection over the Public Works to be undertaken."
  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.
People in this document

Blackwood, Arthur Johnstone

Blanshard, Richard

Grant, Walter Colquhoun

Grey, Henry George

Hawes, Benjamin

Merivale, Herman

Pelly, John Henry

Organizations in this document

Colonial Office

Hudson's Bay Company

Puget Sound Agricultural Company

Places in this document

Haro Strait

Juan de Fuca Strait


Strait of Georgia

Vancouver Island