Hudson's Bay House
1st December 1852
I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of Mr T.F. Elliot's letter of the 3rd Instant [ultimo], addressed to Mr Barclay, Secretary of the Hudson's Bay Company, enclosing an Extract of a letter from a gentleman residing at Vancouver's Island, relative to the condition and prospects of that Settlement, on which I have to make the following observations.
Before proceeding to notice what is stated in this Extract I must respectfully submit that when the conduct of the Governor and Committee of the Hudson's Bay Company is thus complained of it would have been more satisfactory if the name of the writer had been communicated.
There can be no doubt that the system represented to be followed by the Government of the United States in the disposal of land in the Oregon territory must retard the settlementManuscript image of Vancouver's Island, and with the attraction of the gold district of California, make it difficult to retain the service of labourers at almost any rate of wages, but it is evident that no course of conduct on the part of the Hudson's Bay Company could have prevented this result, and the remedy suggested by the writer of the letter would tend to enhance the rate of wages, and make it more difficult, or rather impossible, for persons of capital to cultivate the land or engage in any business that required the employment of labourers; for men are not disposed to become hired servants when they can cultivate their own land.
When the Hudson's Bay Company undertook to conduct the settlement of the Island, the principle of the measures to be taken for that purpose were fully discussed with the Secretary of State for the Colonies, and the price of the land to Settlers, and the condition of bringing a certain number of labourers into the Island were submitted to and approved of by him, the plan being considered the best that could beManuscript image devised to secure a bona fide cultivation of the land.
Mr Merivale .par Would it not be as well to ask the opinion of the Govr on this point. As we complain of the Company doing nothing, it might be desirable for us not to neglect the small opening they give us of promoting the interests of the Settlement. See P. 2 of Mr Staine's Letter.
ABd 9 Dec
The price of the land is 20s/- per acre, of this 1/10th belongs to the Hudson's Bay Company for their trouble in conducting the sales, and the 9/10ths is held in Trust for Colonial purposes.
With respect to the farms in progress of being established by the Puget Sound Company, this obligation of bringing in labourers has been more than fulfilled, and the cases in which it has been relaxed are those where the purchasers of land were already resident in the country, and, from their having been in the employment of the Company, it was expected they might influence the labourers, whose term of service expired, to take service with them for the cultivation of their lands. Under existing circumstances it may perhaps be expedient not to insist on the purchasers of land, to some limited extent say not exceeding 100 acres, bringing in labourers, and if you should be of this opinion, and shall signify the same, the Directors of the Hudson's Bay Company will adopt that rule for the future.
It is not true that theManuscript image Hudson's Bay Company exercise any monopoly in Vancouver Island. The fishing of the seas, inlets, and rivers is free to all the inhabitants, and the importation of goods is free to all the world, and in no case where parties have applied for room in the Company's ships has it been refused, except for Spirits. The Indians are numerous, and, unless the intercourse with them is carefully and prudently conducted, would be dangerous; for this reason, as well as for the sake of the Indians themselves, the use of Spirits has been prevented, or rather discouraged, as far as the power of the Company can be exercised. But the Company neither claims the right of, nor practically exercises any, exclusive dealings with the Indians of the Island.
The Island is in no respect given over "bound hand and foot" to the Hudson's Bay Company, except that it is only from them that a title can be obtained for the land, but the terms on which land can be obtained is published, and in no case has anManuscript image application for land been refused on those terms which are equally applied to all applicants.
The writer of the letter asserts "that persons have been driven off the Island by the illiberal policy of the Government, literally in one instance, which I am well acquainted with, by the jealousy of the Company's agents here, &c." I never heard of any thing that could justify this assertion, and I do not believe that Mr Douglas, who holds Her Majesty's Commission as Governor of the Island, would act upon any such motives. But if the case and circumstances are brought forward in a tangible shape by naming the party and the accuser, the strictest enquiry shall be made, and the result reported to you. Perhaps the better course would be for you to call officially upon the Governor, who is appointed by the Crown, for an explanation, if you think the bare assertion of the writer of the letter is worthy of enquiry.
A complaint is made that Governor Douglas was absent from the Island at Fort Langley; this place is at the mouthManuscript image of Fraser's River, and separated from the Island by a narrow channel, and his absence was only for a few days.
From all these circumstances the animus of the writer may be inferred.
It is true that no Church or Chapel has been built, but authority has been given to Governor Douglas to do so when he finds it expedient, and can accomplish it. The plan of a Church has been sent home, but no estimate of the expence, otherwise they would have been submitted for your consideration, as is required to be done before being carried into execution. In the meantime there are the means of having Divine Service in one of the buildings in Fort Victoria, and I believe our instructions, that there should be Divine Service regularly, are duly attended to.
In 1848 the Revd Robert J. Staines was engaged to conduct a school for boys, and his wife one for girls. The officers in the service of the Company subscribed £340 p[er] annum towards this establishment for the sake of educationManuscript image for their children. The Hudson's Bay Company granted £100 p[er] annum to Mr Staines to act as Chaplain to the Company at their establishment at Fort Victoria, and the Fur trade branch of the Company grant him another £100 p[er] annum as a contribution towards the Schools.
The Governor and Committee certainly have not assigned a place for a burying ground, conceiving that this would of course be done by the authorities on the Spot.
I have the honor to be Sir
Your obedient Humble St
A. Colvile

The Right Honble
Sir John Pakington
&. &. &c
Minutes by CO staff
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Mr Merivale
I do not see what use can be made of this letter. The Company seem annoyed, & perhaps with some reason, that the name of the Writer of a letter reflecting upon their Administration should be withheld. Mr Staines receives a portion of his emoluments from the Company and it is to be hoped that his interests will not be ultimately prejudiced should they discover that he is the Author?
VJ 3 Decr
Put by. The price of £1 put upon land in V.I. was certainly part of the original scheme, & thought at the time a wise measure (the Wakefield notions being then still popular). But it is not required by the Crown grant, which only directs a "reasonable price" to be put upon land by the Company.
HM D 6
D 6
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Mr Merivale
Please to look at a pencil note of mine at P. 3 of 11,004—before the Letter is put by as directed.
ABd 9 Decr
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Mr Blackwood has pointed out a passage at p. 3 which makes me think it desirable not to "put by" as I at first minuted, but to transmit this letter to the Ld & Emn Board, & ask their opinion of the suggestion contained in that passage.
HM D 9
D 9
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
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Draft, Colonial Office to Colvile, 14 February 1853, stating that Newcastle had no objection to relaxing the regulation requiring purchasers of less than 100 acres of land to bring in labourers.