[No. 5]
25th June 1852 To the Right Honble Earl Grey Her Majesty's principal Secretary of State For the Colonial Department

My Lord
I had the honor of receiving on the 21st Inst your Lordship's communication of the 11th February, with copy of your Lordship's correspondence with the Governor of the Hudson's Bay Company, on the subject of certain land in Vancouver's Island, which the Company had intimated an intention of appropriating with the view of extending its Fur Trade, and you have directed me to furnish you with any information, in my power, as to the extent and description of the land in question.
In compliance with your Lordship's instructions, I hasten to afford you the desired information.
The first of the Hudsons Bay Company's Settlements on Vancouver's Island, was formed in the year 1843, as stated in Sir John Henry Pelly's letter to your Lordship, on the site of the present Fort Victoria. The sovereignty of the Country as is known to yourManuscript image Lordship was then in obeyance, and the Treaty of joint occupation in force, which left the whole of the district west of the Rocky Mountains situated between the 42nd and 54 40/60th parallel of north latitude open equally to the trade and enterprise of the Subjects of Great Britain, and Citizens of the United States. In the absence of law and the controuling influence of an established Government it became the custom of all parties forming settlements within the limits of the disputed Territory, to mark the extent of their land claims by certain fixed metes and boundaries.
The lands within those limits were held as their exclusive property, and those rights were made good against all intruders, by the sole act, and at the expense of the parties in possession.
The Hudson's Bay Company in common with other Companies and individuals established in the country west of the Rocky Mountains, accurately fixed the boundaries of their different settlements, and expended large sums of money in bringing the land into cultivation, and improving the tracts of country which they occupied. They also imported all kinds of usefulManuscript image plants and seeds, and introduced Sheep and Neat Cattle, which soon became so numerous as to occupy at some of the trading posts extensive tracts of country. Thus at Fort Vancouver on the Columbia River the Company's Farms and Stock occupied a tract of country 40 square miles in extent, and about 140 square miles is the extent of the area occupied by the Puget's Sound Company's tillage Farms and Stock range at Nesqually on Pugets Sound.
The posts above mentioned are both within the division of the Territory assigned by the Boundary Treaty of 1846, to the United States of America; but notwithstanding, the rights of the Hudson's Bay Company to the lands they occupied before the Treaty, are respected by the Officers of that Government.
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On founding the post of Fort Victoria, the usual custom was observed of marking out the site of the establishment and the extent of land required for tillage, and a sufficient cattle range, as a protection from the intrusion of American citizens, who were daily expected on Vancouver's Island, it being theManuscript image year following the arrival of the United States Exploring Expedition, under the command of Captain Wilks, who devoted much attention to the survey, and examination of that part of the coast.
The District then marked out as the Company's land, includes an area of about 25 square miles on the south east corner of Vancouver's Island, commencing at Victoria Harbour, the line follows the salt water Inlet to near Knocken Hill, from thence it runs by Lake Hill, and Mount Douglas to Cordova Bay, on the Canal de Arro, from whence it follows the coast by Gordon Head and Point Gonzales, to the point of commencement at Victoria Harbour. The accompanying sketch1 of the south east corner of Vancouver's Island, which has been prepared for the purpose, will enable your Lordship to trace the description of that District herein given with ease and facility, and shows the exact extent of the lands improved and occupied by the Hudson's Bay Company, previous to the Boundary Treaty of 1846, and of which possession was maintained by the servants of the Company until it became a possession of theManuscript image British Crown.
Having thus endeavoured to give your Lordship an idea of the extent of land possessed by the Hudson's Bay Company on Vancouver's Island, previous to the Boundary Treaty of 1846, I would further remark that it does not appear to be the intention of the Company to appropriate the whole extent of the District, traced upon the sketch, and occupied by them previous to the Boundary Treaty; a great part of it having been sold as, and with other public land.
The Company I believe propose to retain out of its former possessions, only three of their Farms containing in the aggregate about 4000 acres. One of these Farms is at Victoria, and the two others are situated at the distance of three & four miles respectively east and north of that place. A number of Servants, and large herds of cattle are kept at those farms, and they are not only indispensable to ‸the Company, but of service to the Colony at large, as it is from these farms that the Settlers procure seed and cattle to Stock their land, at the moderate cost of £5 per head for horses, and Milch cows, respectively; and there is otherwise no resources of that kind within the reach ofManuscript image limited means. With the exception of the 2Farm at Fort Victoria, which is advantageously situated on Victoria harbour, and will become valuable as the Colony improves, The Company's Farms possess no exclusive advantage in point of soil or position. Such advantages were in fact less considered in choosing the sites occupied, than the object of placing a restraint, on the wandering Tribes of Indians, who committed depredations on the cattle for which purpose they are admirably adapted. They contain Prairie and Wood land in convenient proportions, with some extent of rock, and other unimprovable country, and are in no manner superior as cultivable land, to numerous other places, in the same District.
I have further to inform your Lordship that the Colony continues in a state of perfect tranquility, and that the Native Tribes are quiet and orderly.
I have the honor to be
Your Lordships Most obt humble Servt
James Douglas

Minutes by CO staff
Manuscript image
See 9080. 34 Oct/52.
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
Manuscript image
Map sketch of the south east corner of Vancouver Island, no date.4
  1. View this sketch map in our map gallery.
  2. Sections of this text have been underlined, likely by someone other than the original author.
  3. This minute appears in the left margin. See image scan.
  4. View this map in our map gallery.
  5. This number appears in the left margin of the page. See image scan.
People in this document

Blackwood, Arthur Johnstone

Douglas, James

Grey, Henry George

Pelly, John Henry

Wilkes, Charles

Organizations in this document

Hudson's Bay Company

Places in this document

Columbia River

Cordova Bay

Fort Vancouver

Gonzales Point

Gordon Head

Haro Strait

Knockan Hill

Lake Hill

Mount Douglas

Nisqually, or Fort Nisqually

Oregon Territory, or Columbia District

Puget Sound

The Rocky Mountains

Vancouver Island