7742 Vancouvers Island

Hudson's Bay House
September 10th, 1851
My Lord
I have received two letters from Mr Merivale enclosing Despatches from the Governor of Vancouver's Island, dated the 28th April and 12th May 1851, and stating your Lordship's wish that I would afford you an explanation of such parts thereof as relate to an
2Ansd 20 Dec/51
Draft with Admity Letter 10075.
intended expenditure on public buildings, and to the payment of Salaries from the proceeds of taxes on Imports.
At the time the communication alluded to by Mr Blanshard was made to that gentleman it was thought that the Fur Trade branch of the Company would require a considerable quantity of land in addition to that which they possessed before the conclusion of the Boundary Treaty in 1846. The Puget Sound Agricultural Company had also intimated their intention to become purchasers of a tract of land near the Fur Trade Reserve. The quantity inManuscript imagein both cases was uncertain, no accurate survey having been made, but in order that the Governor might not be in want of Funds for such public works as might be considered most necessary, Mr Douglas was directed to advance from time to time (as it might be required) the sum of £4000. When however it was found that the land occupied by the Fur Trade at Victoria previously to the year 1846 was considered by Mr Douglas to be sufficient for their purposes, the amount to be advanced to the Governor was reduced to £2000, as your Lordship will perceive by the enclosed extracts from a Dispatch to Mr Douglas dated July 16th 1851, in which also a mistake which had been made respecting the house for the Revd Mr Staines was rectified.
As Mr Blanshard has not transmitted to Your Lordship a copy of the letter in which the Governor and Committee of the Hudson's Bay Company stated to him their views with regard to the expenditure onManuscript imageon public buildings and other Colonial objects, I beg leave to hand you a copy of that communication, from which you will see how far he is borne out in the observations contained in his Dispatch, and what were the Company's real objects in directing £4000 to be expended in public works. It was in fact left almost entirely to the Governor and his Council to select both the sites and the works to be erected on them.
On the subject of Captn Grant's efficiency as a Surveyor I can only say that he was recommended to me as peculiarly qualified for the work he had to perform. But when it was found that he neglected his duties another Surveyor of proved ability was sent out, and is at present I have reason to believe employed in Surveying the Victoria District.
An Assistant Surveyor has also been engaged, and is now on his way to the Colony.
With regard to the exorbitant price stated by Mr Blanshard to be demanded by the Company for land, I am Manuscript imagenot aware, nor do I believe that a farthing more than the original price fixed upon, namely one pound per acre, has ever been demanded by the Company's Agent for any land either without or within the Reserve.
With respect to the payment of the Salaries of the Civil Officers of the Colony out of the proceeds of taxation, I beg to say that I always understood that your Lordship meant the Colony to be established on a self supporting principle, and I know no better mode of procuring the means of defraying such expences than by levying a moderate duty — Say 5 per Cent — on Imports. ⎯ Such a duty, I may observe, would, at present at least, be paid in a great measure by the Hudson's Bay Company; and if calculated on the value of last year's importation would amount to £1400.
I have the honour to be
My Lord
Your obedient
humble Servant
JH Pelly
The R Honble Earl Grey
&c &c &c
Minutes by CO staff
Manuscript image
Mr Elliot
As Mr Blanshard is no longer Governor it would appear to answer no useful purpose to communicate this letter to him? But the last paragraph refers to a question which calls perhaps for some decision whether the Company have or have not the power to raise a Revenue by means of the imposition of duties?
11 Sepr/51
Mr Jadis.
Would you prepare a statement, showing what points are, and what the information addressed.
T.FE. 16 Sep
Vide grant terms.
T.FE. 20/9.
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
Manuscript image
Barclay to, it is thought, Blanshard, 1 January 1851, advising that £4000 was to be spent on construction of public buildings, and recommending how it should be spent.
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Extract, Barclay to Douglas, 16 July 1851, advising that the outlay for buildings should be only £2000.
Minutes by CO staff
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Gov. Blanshard 6267}

Sir Jno: Pelly 7742} Van Couvers Island
Mr Elliot/
In these Despatches Governor Blanshard raises objections to the proceedings of the Company on two points—1st the locality of the Public Buildings, on which they had ordered a Sum of £4000 to be expended, and 2dly the payment of Salaries by means of Taxes on "Imports or otherwise" instead of from the proceeds of Land Sales.
On the first point the GovernorManuscript image argues that to erect Public Buildings at the Company's Trading Posts, surrounded by their own Reserves, before a
This is objectionable especially as regards the possible future surrender of the charter.
Site for a Town is even fixed upon, would be to defeat in a great degree the object of the Grant, namely the Colonization & Settlement of the Island
Sir John Pelly explains that the Sum so to be expended has been reduced to £2000⎯ that the Buildings are to consist of a Moderate sizedManuscript image Govt House, a Building for a Church, with Houses for a Chaplain & Schoolmaster. These Buildings are to be maintained & the Salaries paid by "Taxes on Imports or otherwise."
Besides the promotion of the Colonization & Settlement of the Island, the Imperial Govt have a further interest in these Buildings, in so far that they have covenanted to reimburse the Company the value of them, should the Crown resume possession of the Island. It would therefore appear to be only proper that theManuscript image Secretary of State should have the opportunity of exercising some control (both as to the locality and quality) over the construction of any Buildings of any extent which the Company may contemplate ⎯
On the 2d point, the payment of Salaries, the Governor contends that by directing all Salaries to be paid by means of Taxes the Company repudiate the Clause in their Grant which binds them to provide at their own expense allManuscript imageall necessary Civil & Military Establishments.
Sir John Pelly dismisses this part of the subject with the remark, that he had "always understood that Lord Grey meant that the Colony should be established on a Self Supporting principle, and that he knows of no better mode of procuring the means of defraying the Salaries than by levying a moderate duty on Imports ⎯"
The Clause referred to by Mr Manuscript imageBlanshard certainly makes it a condition of the Grant that the entire Civil & Military expenditure required for the protection & Government of any Settlement or Settlements to be formed on the Island should be defrayed by the Company; and a further Clause provides that all monies received for the purchase of Lands & all payments in respect of Coal & Minerals should be applied to the Colonization & Improvement of the Island. Mr Merivale in his MinuteManuscript image on 6824. expresses a doubt whether the Words "Colonization & Improvement of the Island" would include the expense of Civil Govt, but whatever may be the legal construction which may be put upon the terms of the Grant, there is I apprehend no authority at present existing under which Taxes can be levied, seeing that its there is no Legislature of any description in the Settlement, and no materials for framing one ⎯
18 Sepr/51 V.J
Mr Hawes
I am so little familiar with the arrangements atManuscript image Vancouver's Island, that I feel a difficulty in expressing any positive opinion. It appears to me that unless it has been determined immediately to survey and lay out a Town, there could be no very grave objection to placing these buildings at the Company's post which, I suppose, is the only place at all inhabited? ⎯ As to the question of Taxes, I should think that Sir J. Pelly is right, and that the intention was only to have a self-supporting Colony. Surely it could not be meant that the Company was to pay the Govt at Vancouvers out of their profits on the Fur Trade in Canada? ⎯ As to the want of a power of legislative action, I do not know how the facts stand or what were the views of Govt
T.FE. 20 Sept
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7748. Vancouvers Island.
I think Mr Merviale should see these Papers.
1. As to the buildings being placed in the midst of the Companys reserves I think it objectionable, unless very clear provision be made for a free access to them in the event of the surrender of the charter.
2. I think, before any such outlay is made very full information should be given & a distinct sanction obtained together with the consent of the Treasury, considering that they may have to be purchased by the Crown under the Charter.
Manuscript image
3. I should reject the revenue being raised by taxes on imports. If the fund from Land sales, or rent, or minerals are insufficient to pay the Civil Expenditure, it may perhaps be the only present resource. But it should be limited in point of time & amount. But before this is conceded I think some further information is wanted. What prospect is there of any Land fund, or any revenue from Coals or Minerals? What is the proposed cost of the Civil Govt?
4. In reference to Mr BarclaysManuscript image Letter — I think there is as much reason for submitting the plans & Estimates involving the outlay of 2000 £ (now proposed) as there was for the outlay of the 4000£, to the Govr & Comee. — And further that these plans & Estimates should before any expense is incurred be submitted to the Secy of State & the Treasury.
5. I do not now clearly understand how the 2000£ is to be appropriated. It is not to be laid out on land not purchased — I suppose therefore the proposed outlay is wholly in the Company's Land — which I think objectionable.
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6. Every step in this transaction requires great care & some impartial authority is much wanted. The Company has an interest of its own — opposed to the Public Interest. The Govr is on bad terms with the Company & it is very difficult under present circs to come to any satisfactory conclusion.
7. Sir J. Pelly passes rather lightly over that part of the Letter of Sep 30th which insists upon some control over & inspection of the Public Buildings to be erected, on the part of H.M. Govt. It is now important to make this clear.
There is nothing pressing in this & the subject may stand over till both Mr Merivale & myself are in London. ⎯
G. 29/
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7748 Vancouver's Island
Mr Peel
As farther complaints have just reached us of the administration of Vancouver's Island (see 10,075) I forward these papers again, which had been reserved for Ld Grey's consideration. I have but little to add to what has been already said.
1. I think with Mr Hawes that public works of any magnitude on the island ought to be erected under the superintendcy of the Govr in Council, & the consent of the Treasury also obtained to them, for the reason state stated in the last letter on the subject to Sir J. Pelly (annexed) If (as may be hoped notwithstanding present appearances) the Company can repay themselves this expenditure out of the sale of land, then the Treasury has no further interest in the matter, but if it should become necessary at the end of the past trading license to resume the Island while theManuscript image Company's expenditure is not repaid, Govt will have to make it good, & therefore must have this control.
3(Probably are really reserved for the Puget's Sound Company—which is said to be the H.B.C. under another name)
2. I do not know distinctly what is meant by the H.B.C's "reserves." They have a right to reserve land for public purposes. If they reserve lands for the establishment of their own farms in order to sell produce at a profit, they ought to pay a "reasonable" price for the same, that is, debit themselves to the Colony to that amount: & if they do not do so, it is ground of foreiture in 1854.
3. The locality of the buildings is matter of natural observation: nevertheless if the HBC are to be the managers of the island, it seems more convenient that they should be in the middle of their "reserves" than anywhere else. It is common in these cases to object to the separate consequences of a plan when the real objection is to the principles of the plan itself, which mustManuscript image be judged by their general merits.
4. The question of the import duty is not free from difficulty. I do not think the meaning of the grant was to bind the Co. to be at the expense of colonizing the island without any regular means of remuneration & simply as a trading speculation. And it is not clear on the words of the Commission & Instructions whether such a power is not given to the Govr & Council provisorily, until the Assembly can be constituted. But the general idea of the establishment certainly was, that it was to be a free colony. Doubts would be entertained (especially after the discussion of last session) whether after the general grant of a Constitution the Crown itself could authorize the imposition of taxes by a Governor. And I think that inasmuch as there is a fund — the land sales & minerals — devoted to the "Colonization & improvement" of the island, this is theManuscript image source from which preliminary expenses, such as that of governing the colony until a legislature with power of taxation can be established, were really meant to come: if the necessary expenses exceed this, the Company have bound themselves to furnish them in the first instance.
At all events I should certainly not advise acceding to this scheme of Sir J. Pelly's without the advice of the A. & Sol. Genl. (The H.B.C. might levy port dues, &, for the use of their wharfs & landing places: but, in their own right, clearly nothing more.)
5. I will just mention that (with reference to something said in 10,075) the Co. have no monopoly of the sale of articles of supply to ships & or to their own settlers in the island legally, though practically it is probable enough they possess one.
HM. D. 8./51
See separate sheets within. ⎯
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7742 & 10,075 Van Couver's Island
The last of these letters must be transmitted to the Hudson's Bay Company at the same time observing with reference to the former that I am by no means satisfied with respect to the manner in wh the island has been managed by the Company. ⎯ I hope that with a view both to the interest of the Company itself & for that of the settlers more efficient measures may be taken for its colonizatn & for improving the conditn of the inhabitants. ⎯ The chief points which call for observatn are the following. ⎯
1st As to public works. ⎯ I think it is quite necessaryManuscript image that the government shd have some control over what is done in this way for the reasons noticed in the former minutes, but on the other hand having regard to the very irregular means of communicatn with the island & the great delay which wd arise from the requiring the previous sanctn of the Treasury before buildings are undertaken I think it will be enough to say that the Govr must send a full report upon all works that he contemplates & must furnish to this departt accounts of the expenditure incurred. ⎯
2d With regard to the reserve of land for the Company, I agree with Mr Merivale that if the Compy reserve land for any but strictly public purposes they are bound to credit the colony with a price forManuscript image the land equal to what they wd charge private individuals, & to spend this money in the necessary expenses of the settlement & expense either in sending out emigrants (who clearly shd be married men) or in openg roads & making more land accessible. ⎯ It is obvious that no private individuals can be expected to buy land […] if all the land most valuable from its positn is reserved by the Company for their own use witht applying the price which wd have been charged for it if sold for the benefit of the Colony. ⎯
3d With regard to import duties — I considered it to have been clearly understood at the time the arrangement with the Company was made, that no such duties cd be imposed until the number of inhabitants had increased enough to admit of the callingManuscript image together of an Assbly, I apprehend that there clearly is no authority but that of Parlt or of a representative Assbly by which taxes can be levied in the island, this shd be pointed out. ⎯
4 On the subject of the alleged monopoly of the Co their special attentn must be called to the statements which have been made, remindg them that they are not legally entitled to such a monopoly & expressing my hope that they have not indirectly endeavoured to establish one by refusing to traders who might be inclined to compete with them, […] ground in suitable situatns for buildg stores & shops, or by denying them any other facilities for carrying on trade which it may be in the power of the Company to with-hold. ⎯ Any such proceeding I shd regard as a great abuse & a departure from the spirit Manuscript imageif not from the words of the agreement entered into with the Govt call which wd call for its interventn. ⎯ It may be added that I have reason to believe that owg to the advantageous market for coals & also for Agricultural produce created by California I have reason to believe that there wd be […] a considerable influx of settlers into V.C. Island if the Hudson's bay Co wd give them the encouragement which it is both their duty & their obvious policy to afford. ⎯
G. 10/12/51
  1. This is thought to be in reference to Jadis' statement.
  2. This text runs perpendicular to main body text; see image scan.
  3. This marginal note is by Merivale, and is in reference to this paragraph, number 2; see image scan.
People in this document

Barclay, Archibaldus

Blanshard, Richard

Douglas, James

Elliot, Thomas Frederick

Grant, Walter Colquhoun

Grey, George

Grey, Henry George

Hawes, Benjamin

Jadis, Vane

Merivale, Herman

Peel, Frederick

Pelly, John Henry

Staines, Robert John

Organizations in this document

Hudson's Bay Company

Puget Sound Agricultural Company


Places in this document


Vancouver Island