Vancouvers Island

HES29th January 1852
1Copy to […] / […]
[…] with Pelly 3779
Copy to Foreign Office
⎯—wth […] Hudsons Bay Compy } 18 May / 52
Ansd 27 Sept / 52 _ 5.
[…] with […] 3778
"See Queen Charolotte's Island" July 18/53.
To the Right Honble Earl Grey.
Her Majestys principal Secretary of State.
For the Colonial Department.

My Lord
In my communication of the 16th December of which I herewith transmit a duplicate,           I informed your Lordship, that several vessels had sailed, and that others were reported to be fitting out in the American Ports of Oregon and California, for the coast of Queen Charlottes Island.⎯
These vessels are chartered by large bodies of American Adventurers, who are proceeding thither for the purpose of digging Gold, and if they succeed in that object, it is said to be their intention to colonize the Island, and establish an independant Government until by force or fraud they become annexed to the United States.       They look forward and are prepared to encounter much opposition from Her Majesty's Government, but they speak very confidently as to their numbers, which can be recruited to almost any desirable extent from the floating population in California; and the ultimate success of their enterprise is considered by them, as a matter admitting scarcely of a doubt.⎯     This report is believed and the chances of success are openly discussed in theManuscript image best informed circles in Oregon; and the history of the last twenty years would serve to prove that projects of that nature, having ultimately in view, the extension of the Territories of the United States, are not discountenanced at Washington.
One of the Hudson's Bay Company's vessels (the "Una") which made a voyage to Mitchels Harbour, on the west side of Queen Charlotte's Island, in November last, discovered a rich vein of gold, averaging 6 1/2 inches in width, bedded in quartz rock, running 80 feet parallel with the coast and from thence apparently taking a direction towards the interior of the Island, but it could not be traced beyond the point where it diverges from the line of coast, on account of the surface earth, which conceals it from view.⎯           The vein was worked for several days by blasting, and rich specimens were procured some of which yielded 25pcent of pure gold, and there was every prospect of making a profitable voyage when the Natives, attracted to the spot, in great numbers by the presence of the vessel, became so exceedingly troublesome to the parties on shore, by pilfering their tools, and by rushing tumultuously upon the mine, from time to time, as the explosions took place to seize the gold, which had been so hardly earned, that they could no longer carry on their operations without being in danger of their lives.⎯      The officer in command, influenced by the entreaties of the Indian Chiefs Manuscript image who with much apparent good feeling, begged him to keep his men on board, and not permit them to land, as they found it impossible amidst so many temptations to restrain their people from committing those violent acts; his men at the same time having refused to work on shore unless they were allowed to fire upon the Indians if they again attempted to maltreat or plunder them; left the coast, a decision made from the best of motives, but which has unfortunately left the field open to the American Adventurers, who arrived there shortly after his departure, and as the "Una" was wrecked at Cape Flattery, on her return to this place and the Hudson's Bay Company, had no other disposable vessel at hand to send there, the Americans still remain in possession of the Gold region.⎯
I have since learned that the first American Ship, which arrived in Mitchels harbour, remained only a few days; as the adventurers on board, were intimidated by the hostile appearance of the Natives, and would not venture on shore. Another smaller vessel was wrecked on the east coast of the Island, ‸and I have ascertained, through a letter from the Master received by Indian conveyance, that the whole, ‸party he had on board consisting of 30 persons had reached the shore in safety, and were living in a most wretched condition among the Indians.
A vessel was lately dispatched to their relief, by the United States AuthoritiesManuscript image at Nesqually with what success I have not yet heard.⎯ I have not been able to ascertain how many other American vessels have gone there, but I will inform your Lordship as soon as I receive information regarding that matter.
While on the subject of Queen Charlottes' Island, I will further take the liberty of remarking to your Lordship, that, apart from political considerations, and as a mere question affecting the prosperity of this colony, it would be highly important to exclude the vessels of foreign powers from that field of enterprise leaving it open to national vessels alone, as in that case, a flourishing trade would soon flow into this colony, which would then necessarily become a general place of refuge for the shipping employed on Queen Charlottes Island, and find a market for all its farm and agricultural produce in supplying the Miners with food; on the other hand if American vessels be admitted, they will draw their supplies, and carry the produce of the Mines into their own ports in Oregon and California to the manifest injury of Her Majestys possessions in those quarters.
I have addressed a communication to Rear Admiral Moresby, informing him of the important discoveries made in Queen Charlottes Island, and requesting him to take such measures as he may deem proper and advisable in the circumstances for the protection of British interests, and national rights.⎯
and )
Manuscript image
The loss of the Hudson's Bay Company's trading vessel "Una" which was driven on shore through stress of weather in Neah Bay near Cape Flattery, the head land forming the south point of entrance into the Straits of Juan De Fuca, during the night of the 24th Decr, was cursorily mentioned in a former part of this communication. I did not however state to your Lordship, that the Natives who inhabit Neah Bay, and the neighbouring Coast gathered about the wreck in vast numbers, and behaved with great barbarity, towards such of the "Una's" crew as were landed from the wreck. They broke open and rifled the seamen's chests; stript them of their clothes, and maltreated those who attempted, unarmed as they were, to defend their property.⎯ The timely arrival of the American Schooner "Susan Sturges", the Master of which humanely received the "Una's" crew, and part of her cargo on board probably prevented the the commission of greater atrocities.⎯ Happily no lives were lost, but had the Indians displayed less avidity to gain possession of the property and more humanity towards the crew of the unfortunate "Una," the greater part of her stores, sails, and rigging, might have been saved for the benifits of the owners and underwriters.⎯
In consequence of those events it became the duty of this government to bring the Cape Flattery Indians to a serious account for their barbarous conduct, on that occasion in order to repress the mischievous consequences likely to arise from their evil example, and deterManuscript image other savage nations from committing wanton outrages on the persons and property of Her Majestys Subjects.
With that object in view the Hudson's Bay Companys Schooner "Cadboro" was despatched last week to Neah Bay with a well appointed force to demand restitution and compensation from the Cape Flattery Chiefs; and with the blessing of Providence I have no doubt their exertions will be attended with complete success, more particularly as the principal chiefs alarmed at the consequences of their folly have lately sent messengers to this place with apologies for their conduct and offers of accommodation founded on a restitution of property.⎯
I would also inform your Lordship that in taking those measures, I did not overlook the circumstance of Neah Bay being situated within the Territory of the United States, and gave positive instructions to the Officer, in command not to resort to hostile measures, unless in self defence, but I have no doubt the mere demonstration will produce the desired effect, without a resort to extreme measures.⎯
The discovery of Gold on Queen Charlottes Island, has naturally led to much excitement among the labouring classes in this colony, and I fear that many of them will in consequence leave their present employments to become Gold hunters, a circumstance which will for a time retard the progress of the settlements,Manuscript image though I expect an accession of wealth ultimately from the proximity of the Gold region to this Colony.
The winter continues remarkably mild and favourable for field work, and nothing has occurred since my last advices to disturb our peaceful relations with the native Tribes of Vancouver's Island, or to affect the internal peace of the Colony.⎯
I have the honor to be
Your Lordships
most obt humble Servant
James Douglas
Governor Vancouvers Island
Minutes by CO staff
Manuscript image
Mr Merivale~. I presume the Governor should be informed that H.M. Govt cannot sanction the exclusion of foreign vessels from Queen's Charlotte Island howsoever advantageous such a proceeding might prove for a time to the interests of VanCouver's Island.
2 The Admiralty have not ansd the reference made to them on the 24 March on the subject of stationing a Ship of War off Queen Charlotte's Island, but I observe the Governor has addressed the Admiral in reference to the unprotected condition of the Island.
3. Should the Governor's proceeding for avenging the 3treatment experienced by the Crew of the "Una" be communicated to the Hudson's Bay Company?
ABd 3 May.
The whole desp. might I think be properly communicated officially to the HBC. as it relates to the treatment experienced by one of their vessels. On the subject of Q. Charlotte's Island, I forwarded yesterday some papers of importance.
HM May 3.
Communicate to Foreign Office?
D. May 4
Communicate to H.B.C. and to Foreign Office and to Admlty in confirmation of former intimation
JSP. 4
Other documents included in the file
Manuscript image
Draft, Colonial Office to Addington, Foreign Office, 18 May 1852, forwarding copy of the despatch, for information.
Minutes by CO staff
29 Jany 52,
11 Feby 52
Other documents included in the file
Manuscript image
Draft, Colonial Office to Pelly, Hudson's Bay Company, 18 May 1852, forwarding copy of the despatch and enclosed letter from Douglas to Moresby.
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
Douglas to Moresby, 29 January 1852, not in file.
  1. This text is located in the left margin and runs perpendicular to the main body text. See image scan.
  2. Text is at top right of page, between address and addressee. "PRINTED FOR PARLIAMENT" and "18" are stamped on page; the rest of the content is hand-written. See image scan.
  3. This text runs diagonally to right of the preceding text. See image scan.
People in this document

Addington, Henry Unwin

Blackwood, Arthur Johnstone

Cuffe, John Otway O'Conner

Douglas, James

Grey, Henry George

Merivale, Herman

Moresby, Fairfax

Pakington, John Somerset

Pelly, John Henry

Organizations in this document

Colonial Office

Foreign Office

Hudson's Bay Company

Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty

Vessels in this document

Cadboro, 1824-1860

Susan Sturges

SS Una, 1849-1851

Places in this document

Cape Flattery

Haida Gwaii

Juan de Fuca Strait

Mitchell Inlet

Neah Bay

Nisqually, or Fort Nisqually

Oregon Territory, or Columbia District

Vancouver Island


Washington Territory