[No. 4]
28 May 1852
Gold Queen Charlotte's Island July 1853.
To the Right Honble Earl Grey Her Majestys principal Secrety of State For the Colonial Department

My Lord,
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I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your Lordships communications, numbered 3 and 4, and dated respectively the 9th Jany and 4th February, and two warrants
4Ansd 20 Augt/52. 4.
under the Royal Sign Manual appointing Messrs John Tod and James Cooper, respectively, to seats in the Council of Vancouvers Island.
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I have signified Her Majestys will and pleasure in making these appointments, to Mr Tod who has been sworn and admitted as a member of Council. Mr James Cooper: who lately started on a trading voyage to California, will in like manner be notified of his appointment, as soon as he returns to Vancouvers Island.
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I observe with great satisfaction, that your Lordship approves and will confirm, by an early opportunity, the appointment of Mr Roderick Finlayson to the office of Councellor, and also that your Lordship has communicatedManuscript imagecommunicated with the Church Missionary Society respecting the moral instruction of the Native Tribes, with the view of ascertaining whether it may not be in the power of the Society to send out Missionaries.
I also observe that your Lordship for very important reasons, does not consider it expedient to prohibit the resort of foreign vessels to Queen Charlottes Island.
Since my last report of the 15th April, advices have been received that the Hudsons Bay Companys Brig "Recovery" had arrived safely at Queen Charlottes Island, and taken unmolested possession of the only surface Gold vein in Gold Harbour, with the consent and approbation of the Native Indians, who have lived on the most friendly terms with the party, ever since their arrival.
No foreign vessel was known at that time, to be, on the coast; but in the space of ten days afterwards, seven vessels had assembled in Gold Harbour, from the American Ports in Oregon and California, having each from 40 to 70 miners on board. Finding the vein pre-occupied by the Hudsons Bay Compys people the Americans sent out parties in all directions to explore the neighbouring coast; but their researches for gold were not successful, and four ofManuscript imageof the vessels after a few weeks stay abandoned the enterprise, not however without having landed a party of 15 men, who have thrown up a block house on Nutts Island, and mounted two small pieces of ordnance as a protection against the Natives.
That party, and one American vessel, were, by last advices of the 26th Inst. still in Gold Harbour. It was expected from the small quantitiy of Gold found, that the vessel would soon leave the coast, but the party on shore had it appears made up their minds to remain for a further time on the Island; from a persuasion that gold would be found in considerable quantities by mining, and they were expecting a re-inforcement of hands with supplies by a ship from California.
With our limited information respecting the auriferous deposits of the Island, it is difficult to predict with certainty what may be the issue of their adventure; but it is very certain that success will have the effect of attracting, a crowd of adventurers from the American settlements on this coast to Queen Charlottes Isld, and it will be no easy matter to eject them when firmly established.
I had indeed hopes derived fromManuscript imagefrom the signal failure of the five first American vessels which visited the Island, that the Mines would be left to the better directed and firmer enterprise, of Her Majestys subjects and that this Colony would become a Depôt and place of refuge to the British ships employed about the mines.
The Hudsons Bay Compys people were working the auriferous rock with great energy, but indifferent success, not having struck any decided vein of Gold; a fortunate Indian had however picked up, near the same spot, a beautiful specimen of pure gold, weighing about three pounds Troy, which he found among the mud on the beach, a little beyond low water mark.
It was evidently a travelled lump but whether thrown up by the waves, or carried down from the neighbouring mountains, could not be ascertained; though plausible arguments are adduced in favor of each of those opinions.
Detachments had been sent out to explore the interior of the Island, who discovered a large fresh water lake, and many extensive beds of quartz rock; but they saw very little surface gold.
It Manuscript image
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It affords me much pleasure, to inform your Lordship that the Native Tribes have been remarkably quiet since I had last the honor of addressing you.
We were however lately alarmed by a reported outrage committed by a party of Cowegins, on the person of Mr Lemprît, a very zealous and energetic Roman Catholic Priest, who commenced a Mission last year in the Cowegin Country, without a single white assistant, and without any pecuniary means to defray the expense of an establishment, as he trusted entirely to his Indian converts, for support; a plan which could hardly be expected to succeed with ignorant savages.
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Having previously ascertained that there was a great want of cordiality between the pastor and his flock, and considering that it was necessary for his own safety, that he should abandon the Mission and retire within the limits of the settlements; where he could be protected from danger, I immediately dispatched an officer, and a small force, with orders to bring Mr Lemprît to this place, and in the event of any of his property having, as reported, been taken byManuscript imageby the Indians to require its immediate restitution; a service which was satisfactorily accomplished without any difficulty.
I would also to observe to your Lordship, that it is the intention of this government to discourage the formation of Missionary stations, among the Indians of this colony, except within the limits of the settlements; where they can be protected and supported when necessary; in conformity with the views expressed
There is no Desp. of this date. May it not be a Military one?
in your Lordship's Dispatch, of the 25 March 1851. That measure has been adopted, with a view of placing a prudent restraint on the hasty zeal of the Roman Catholic Missionaries, whose intention it was to found Missions, with inadequate ‸means, among the barbarous Savages inhabitating the east coast of Vancouvers Island; without reflecting that their minds have not been prepared, by previous intercourse with the whites, to appreciate the value of, a profit by their instructions.
It would be a mere waste of energy to send Missionaries to that part of the Island, as without powerful support, there is not the remotest chance, that the cause of religion would be promoted by their presence; while their office would be deridedManuscript imagederided their persons insulted, and their lives exposed to continual danger.
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I hope your Lordship will approve of that measure, more especially, when it is considered that the Colony, must in all cases of Indian difficulties, be practically drawn into the contest: by whomsoever it may be occasioned, and I trust it will appear that, in the instance related, we have followed the only safe course, by taking every possible precaution, to prevent the occurrence of difficulties.
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Her Majestys ship "Thetis" under the command of Captn Kupar arrived at the neighbouring port of Esquimalt on the 24th of May and sailed on the 5th Inst for Queen Charlottes Island, and Fort Rupert, the Northern settlement of Vancouvers Island.
I communicated to Captn Kupar the substance of the information respecting Queen Charlottes Island and the projects of the American Adventurers, which is stated in this, and my previous letters to your Lordship, and also procured one of the Hudsons Bay Compy's officers, who is well acquainted with the navigation of the coast to accompany him in that voyage.
I have the honor to be
Your Lordships
most obt humble Servt
James Douglas
Governor Vancouvers Island
Minutes by CO staff
Manuscript image
Mr Elliot
I presume this Despatch should be acknowledged & the Governor's proceedings with respect to the Roman Catholic Priest approved? As we have already been in communication with the Hudsons Bay Coy & the Church Missionary ‸Socy on the subject of sending out Missionaries, an Extract from the Despatch with reference to confining the Stations within the limits of the Settlements should perhaps be sent to both?
9 Augt […]
TFE 13 Augt
Acknowledge & approve Govrs judicious proceedings about the R.C. Priest & future missions.
This is altogether a satisfactory Report. Send it to Lord Derby.
JSP 14
A Duplicate of this Despatch has been sent to Lord Derby.
Other documents included in the file
Manuscript image
Draft reply, Pakington to Douglas, No. 4, 20 August 1852.
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People in this document

Blackwood, Arthur Johnstone

Cooper, James

Douglas, James

Elliot, Thomas Frederick

Finlayson, Roderick

Grey, Henry George

Jadis, Vane

Kuper, Augustus L.

Lempfrit, Honoré Timothée

Pakington, John Somerset

Stanley, Edward George Geoffrey Smith

Tod, John

Organizations in this document

Church Missionary Society

Hudson's Bay Company

Vessels in this document


HMS Thetis, 1846-55

Places in this document

Cowichan Region


Fort Rupert, or T'sakis

Gold Harbour

Haida Gwaii

Nutts Island

Oregon Territory, or Columbia District

Vancouver Island