9281. Vancouver's Island.

Hudson's Bay House
November 7th 1851
I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of Mr Under Secretary Hawes' letter of the 3rd Instant
2
F
transmitting, for any observations which the Directors of the Hudson's Bay Company may have to offer, the copy of a letter from Rear Admiral Moresby to the Board of Admiralty containing a Report connected with Vancouver's Island.
Respecting the price of provisions supplied or to be supplied to Her Majesty's Ships I have nothing to remark, until I receive a reply to a letter which I have written to the Board of Admiralty requesting to be informed of the prices complained of as being overcharged by the Company's Agent at Vancouver's Island. I may however observe that there is a market price there as everywhere else, and that Admiral Moresby's remark "that the interest of a Company with exclusive rights of Trade is incompatible with the free and liberal reception of anManuscript imagean emigrant Community" is not applicable to the Hudson's Bay Company inasmuch as that Company neither possesses, nor exercises, any exclusive right of trade in Vancouver's Island.
On the subject of the Hudson's Bay Company's
3† This Letter has not been returned to the Dt. I do not know with whom it is resting.
Reserve of land Around Fort Victoria, I beg to refer your Lordship to my letter of the 10th September from which it will be seen that the quantity of land reserved for the purposes of the Fur Trade, instead of being 20 square miles, is not likely to exceed six; and that this land was in the Companys possession before the division of the Country by the Boundary Treaty with the United States. Should any addition to that quantity be required the Company will pay for it as other Settlers do.
The Puget Sound Agricultural Company, which I beg to observe is quite distinct from the Hudson's Bay Company, require a considerable tract of land for the pasturage of their large flocks and herds, and as they are by the terms of the boundary treaty liable to be dispossessed at any time of their lands at Puget Sound, they have, in order to provide against this contingency, judged it expedient to secure lands in Vancouver's Island.
This measure Your Lordship willManuscript imagewill readily percieve is not only essentially necessary for the preservation of the Sheep and Cattle, but is also of the first importance to the Colony, as it is from that source alone that Settlers can be supplied with Stock for their farms, At the same time I would observe that it is the intention of the Puget Sound Company to relinquish (Should it be required) such parts of their reserve as may be considered peculiarly adapted to the wants of Settlers.
I have further to observe in reference to Admiral Moresby's recommendation that a Naval Station should be formed at Esquimault Harbour, that if any portion of the land there be required for public purposes, it can according to the Grant be resumed by the Government at any time; but it is highly desirable that the Company should have early notice of the intentions of Government, as otherwise difficulties may occur from previous appropriations.
Admiral Moresby's statement in regard to the Miner's clearlyManuscript imageclearly shews that his information on that subject has not been drawn from an impartial source. He seems not to have been aware that those Miners were not Settlers, but the Servants of the Company engaged under Contracts in this Country. From the moment of the arrival of these men on the Island they shewed that they had other views than those they professed. Not finding Coal so soon as they expected they demanded 2/6 pr day each in addition to their Contract Wages.
In order that the Mining operation might not be stopped this demand was conceded, but this did not satisfy them, and they first struck work, excited insubordination among the Company's Servants, and then deserted in a body (with the exception of the Superintendent). They went to the Gold diggings in California, were not successful, and notwithstanding the ill usage they complain of, returned to Vancouver's Island and demanded paymentManuscript imagepayment of their Wages for the time they had been away. In the meantime the Company had to send out other Miners in their place at great expence.
Admiral Moresby states that 320 Acres of Land are offered by the American Authorities to every married Couple willing to settle on the American side of the Strait, and that such offers must greatly impede the Colonization of Vancouver's Island.
On this Subject there can be but one opinion, but I do not agree with him when he infers that the Settlers in Vancouver's Island are dependent on the Hudson's Bay Company, as purchasers of Land there are perfectly independent.
I was not aware that Coal had been found in the locality mentioned by the Admiral. The Hudsons Bay Company have had the Country near the mouth of Frasers River about 75 miles north of the river Sinahomis examined by a practical miner, but though the Strata are of the carboniferous order no coal was found.
I have the honor to be
My Lord,
Your Lordships mo: obedt
humble Servant
JH Pelly
1The Right Honble
The Earl Grey
Minutes by CO staff
Manuscript image
ABd 10/Nov/51.
Mr Peel
1 It seems from this that Sir J. Pelly is already in communication with the Admiralty as to the price of provisions at Vancouver's Island, being the only point which immediately interests the latter office: apparently therefore there is no occasion for further correspondence with the Admiralty.
2. The reservation of Port Esquimault by Government for a naval station is a question for Lord Grey's consideration. Sir J. Pelly only observes that it is desirable the Company should have early notice before any Government reserve is formed.
3. The rest of the letter relates to subjects already often considered. There can be no doubt of the power of the Company to impede & discourage the settlement of the island, if they are determined to do so. Whether their servants do in fact discourage it, or whether the want of progress there is owing to the natural deficiencies of the island as compared with more favoured regions, to the attractions of California, or (as here suggested) in part to the efforts making by the Amn Government to attract colonists to Oregon — are questions of fact which I fear we have no means of satisfactorily solving.
HM N. 10.
The truth is that without incurring a large expence for wh neither the Govt nor the Hudson's bay Company are prepared it is impossible effectually to colonize this distant Island. Put by.
G. 11
Footnotes
  1. This addressee information appears at the foot of the first page of the despatch.
  2. The following marginilia appears to reference an underlined section of text; see image scan.
  3. The following marginilia appears to reference, with a dagger symbol, an underlined and curly-braced section of text; see image scan.
People in this document

Blackwood, Arthur Johnstone

Grey, George

Grey, Henry George

Hawes, Benjamin

Merivale, Herman

Moresby, Fairfax

Peel, Frederick

Pelly, John Henry

Organizations in this document

Hudson's Bay Company

Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty

Puget Sound Agricultural Company

Places in this document

Esquimalt Harbour

Fort Rupert, or T'sakis

Fraser River

Juan de Fuca Strait

Oregon Territory, or Columbia District

Puget Sound

Snohomish River

Vancouver Island

Victoria

Pelly, John Henry to Grey, George 7 November 1851, CO 305:3, no. 9281, 405. The Colonial Despatches of Vancouver Island and British Columbia 1846-1871, Edition 2.2, ed. James Hendrickson and the Colonial Despatches project. Victoria, B.C.: University of Victoria. https://bcgenesis.uvic.ca/V515HB13.html.

Last modified: 2020-12-02 13:40:34 -0800 (Wed, 02 Dec 2020) (SVN revision: 5008)