Colvile to Russell
Hudson's Bay House
9th June 1855
My Lord
On the 24th November 1852 I submitted to the Right Honble Sir John Pakington, then Secretary of State for the Colonies, a Report on the transactions of the Hudson's Bay Company in relation to Vancouver's Island, from the date of the Grant thereof until the 27th April 1852, and I have now the honor to submit to your Lordship the following Report on the further proceedings of the Company in reference to the colonization of that Island.
On comparing this Report with the former, I trust that it will appear to your Lordship that the efforts of the Company have been tolerably successful, considering the peculiar difficulties which they have had tocontendManuscript image contend with, such as the great distance of the Island from this country, and consequent length of the voyage, the high rate of wages given in the Gold districts of California, which unsettles the minds of the labouring population, the system of free grants of land that prevails on the opposite shore of the Straits of De Fuca, and the distance from any market, except those on American territory, where the Import duties are almost prohibitory.
I have much pleasure in stating that the appearances of Coal that were discovered by parties in the employment of the Hudsons Bay Company at Nanaimo, of which mention was made in my previous Report, were not fallacious. From the information received from the Island, I have little doubt that a valuable and extensive Coal field exists in that locality. The Company have caused pits to be sunk, and have sent out and erectedManuscript image Steam Engines and other machinery for working the Coal, and the amount expended in these operations, including the price of the land, now exceeds 25,000.
With reference to this important undertaking, your Lordship will observe in the accompanying Statement of the land disposed of that this Company appear as the purchasers of a tract containing about 6200 acres at the stipulated price of 1 per acre.
It has been considered very desirable to develop the mineral properties of the Island, particularly that of Coal, as an article of export which would meet with a steady and extensive market. But no Settler has yet appeared who was willing, or possessed of sufficient capital to engage in such an undertaking, and this has induced the Governor and Committee to purchase the above mentioned tract of land for the Hudson's Bay Company, and to establish the Coal works, which they trust will tend to encourage theManuscript image colonization of the Island, and at the same time be remunerative to the Company.
It is hoped that their example may operate as a stimulus to others to work the minerals on the lands acquired by them, and thus add materially to the general prosperity of the Colony. In connection with the workings undertaken by the Company, eighty miners, with their families, have already been sent from this country, of whom upwards of sixty are now fully employed.
The Pugets Sound Agricultural Company have purchased and paid for 2574 acres of land, & established four farms, on which the necessary buildings have been erected, and their outlay in these operations, and in bringing Cattle and Sheep from their farms in the Oregon territory, amounts to about 17,000.
The general result of the Company's operations stands as follows
1st Quantity of Land sold.
Since the date of theManuscript image last return there have been sold 11455 acres of land, at the fixed price of 20/- per acre.
2nd The number of Settlers.
A list is appended hereto of the purchasers of 20 acres of land, & upwards, the number of whom amounts to forty three, and a return is added of purchasers of Town and Suburban lots, the majority of whom have erected houses thereon, varying in value from 50 to 1000 each. Many of these Settlers have been Officers & Clerks in the service of the Hudson's Bay Company, and some of them are still in the employment of the Company.
3rd The number of Emigrants
In addition to the 435 Emigrants reported in my previous letter, the following have been sent out by the Hudson's Bay Company Males Females Children
in 1852 14 1 4
" 1853 87 41 87
" 1854 45 38 45
Total 146 80 136 making with those of previous years a total of 797.
Governor Douglas has been desired to transmit to England a CensusManuscript image of the Colony, and such other statistical information as may be interesting, and as soon as the Same are received I shall do myself the honor of submitting them to your Lordship.
4th Monies received for Sales of Land
The Amount received since 27th April 1852 up to 30th November 1853, the date at which the last accounts in the Country are made up, is
Of which there falls to the Hudson's
Bay Company 1/10th 477.1. 3
and the remainder 4293.11.5 is held in trust for Colonization purposes.
This is exclusive of the purchase money of the Coal field by the Hudson's Bay Company, amounting to 6193, which, after deducting 10 per cent, was credited to the Colonial Trust Fund on the 7th Ultimo, the extinguishment of the Indian title having only been effected on the 23rd December last, and announced by the Mail of 30th March.
5th Monies received in respect of Coal and other Minerals.
There have been sold and exported by the Hudson's Bay CompanyManuscript image since 27th April 1852 up to 30th Novemr 1853, 4062 9/10 Tons of Coal, the Royalty on which, at 2/6 p ton, amounts to
Of which there falls to the Hudsons
Bay Company 1/10th 50.15.7
and the remainder 457. 1.- is held in trust for Colonization purposes.
6th Monies received in respect of Timber
There have been cut upon the public lands of the Colony, and exported, 1075 loads of Timber, the Royalty on which, at 10 per load amounts to 44.15.10
Of which there falls to the Hudson's
Bay Company 1/10th 4. 9. 7
and the remainder 40. 6. 3 is held in trust for Colonization purposes.
7th Spirit Licences
The proceeds of the Spirit Licences received up to the 30th November 1853, are 220 which have also been carried to the credit of the Trust Fund.
8th Expences incurred for Colonization and Improvements.
Amount expended in the Colony from 27th April 1852 to 30thManuscript image November 1853, and in London from 27th April 1852 up to 1st May 1855, 5614.9.-
9th Surveys
Two hundred square miles of land have been surveyed, and laid out into Districts by the Surveyor and his Assistants. To connect these a high road of the proposed length of thirty miles is in progress of construction, and several bridges have been built, one of which, across the Portage Inlet, connecting the harbours of Victoria and Esquimalt, is 200 yards in length, and was erected at an expence of upwards of 1000.
10th Churches and Schools
A church capable of containing 500 persons has been erected at Victoria, and the Reverend Edward Cridge, a clergyman of the Church of England, who was sent out by the Hudsons BayCompanyManuscript image Company in September, to replace the Revd Mr Staines, deceased, has been appointed thereto.
There are three Schools for boys and girls on the Island, conducted by Schoolmasters and their wives, who, I believe, give satisfaction to the inhabitants.
The Hudson's Bay Company have erected about 50 substantial houses at Nanaimo for the Colliers employed at the Coal Mines, and their families; and it is proposed to send out, in the course of this year, a clergyman to attend to the spiritual wants of these people. In the meantime a School is successfully conducted there by Mr Bayley, who was selected and sent out, as specially qualified for the duty, by the Hudsons Bay Company.
Two Flour Mills and five Saw Mills are in operation, and it is to be hoped that, with the help of the Puget Sound Agricultural Company's farms, the Colony, at no distant time, may be self-supporting: at present it has been found necessary to import a considerable quantity of the Flour andotherManuscript image other provisions consumed on the Island.
The important subject of giving encouragement to respectable and well conducted persons to settle permanently on the Island, has from time to time engaged the anxious consideration of the Governor and Committee of this Company, and, with a view of furthering this object, it has been agreed to give to every agricultural labourer employed by the Hudson's Bay and Puget Sound Companies the privilege of receiving a free grant of from 25 to 50 acres of land after five years service, these grants to be made from the land acquired by the Puget Sound Agricultural Company and the Fur Trade reserve, and not from the public lands of the Colony. This arrangement will no doubt operate beneficially by inducing steady and industrious habits on the part of this description of people, and ultimately ensure a succession of valuable and well conducted Settlers on the Island.
The Governor & Committee are of opinion, however, that with respecttoManuscript image to such of those parties as may be desirous of increasing the extent of their holdings, and to others whose eligibility can be satisfactorily established, it would be desirable to modify the existing regulations regarding the payment of the purchase money of land, by empowering the Governor of the Island, under certain restrictions, to receive such payment by four annual instalments of 5s/- each. This arrangement would enable an industrious agricultural labourer to make progress with a very small Capital, but which would be yearly increased by the profits of his labour.
Reference has already been made to the system of free grants which prevails in the American territory, and the Governor and Committee apprehend that while that system continues in the immediate vicinity of Vancouver's Island, some liberal arrangement, such as that now suggested, will be necessary to induce emigrants to adopt the Island as their home.
I am requested to state that it will be satisfactory to the Committee ifyourManuscript image your Lordship should concur in these views, in which case they will transmit the necessary instructions to Governor Douglas for carrying them into operation without delay.
Referring to the copy of the account forwarded herewith, which your Lordship will at once perceive merely contains a statement of the payments made on account of the Vancouver's Island Trust Fund, and has no reference to the large expenditure by the Hudson's Bay Company in and upon the Island.
I have the honor to be, My Lord
Your Lordship's obedient humble Servant
A. Colvile

The Right Honble Lord John Russell
&c &c &c
Minutes by CO staff
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Mr Merivale
This will, I presume, be ackd but with any particular observation?
I perceive that a previous similar report to this was laid before the Ho: of Commons in pursuance of an Address. Might it not be advisable to follow the same course with this report, for in the Ho: of Commons & elsewhere the want of information as to the proceedings of this Co over this Dependy hasManuscript image a prejudicial effect and is complained of.
ABd 11 June
Mr Ball
Parlt. And Copy also to the Land Board for information.
If this report be an accurate one, & I know no reason to doubt, the Company's operations though not eminently successful have not been nugatory, & they can hardly be said not to have fulfilled the condition of their grant, viz, "to establish a settlement according to the intent of the Grant." If they have performed this condition, then Government cannot resume the grant, if it wished to do so, before 1859, and then only "on payment to the Company of sums theretofore laid out by them" &c, whatever that clause may be held to mean. It should seem however that the expenses of the settlement have hitherto been pretty nearly defrayed out of the "Trust Fund," being chiefly money invested by the Company itself in the purchase of land.
I think the relaxation asked for inManuscript image the terms of the sale of land may be at once accorded: indeed I do not know that government have to interfere in the matter: the grant only requires sale at a "reasonable price."
The question of the future government of Vanc. Id—by Assembly or otherwise—still remains open.
HM June 25
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Sir William Molesworth
In the pressure of business during the Session it was not possible to obtain time for a full consideration of the important and somewhat difficult questions which await decision.
On the 13th Jany 1854 the period of 5 years from the date of the Grant expired & it is within the power of the Crown, on the Report of such person as may be appointed to inquire into the condition of the Island to the effect that a settlement has not been established according to the intention of the Grant or that provisions as to sale of land have not been fulfilled to revoke the grant &Manuscript image resume possession.
If the resumption be postponed till 1859 the Hudson's Bay Cy will be entitled to claim repayment of all their outlay—indeed, according to literal construction, both for the outlay & the value of establishments created thereby e.g. 500 for Governor's House & the value of the House at the time of resumption. But it may be presumed that such a construction could not be seriously maintained. If resumed before that date the Crown wd not be bound to make any repayment but of course this wd be a matter for equitable adjustment. I dare say that a large sum wd be claimed. My impression [is] that littleManuscript image would be properly payable to the Cy.
The two letters of the Company 3578 & 5599 raise questions for your decision which are closely connected with the consideration of the general policy to be pursued in regard to this Island. To treat the forty three persons holding 20 acres of land & upwards as a constituency competent to elect a General Assembly would irrespective of other Consequences amount to a waiver of all legal right to revoke the grant. For where there is a General Assembly there clearly must be a settlement.
I confess that I thinkManuscript image the establishment of [a] representative System under the circumstances of the Island wd be little better than a parody, especially if it be true as sometimes asserted that very nearly the whole of the occupiers are Servants of the Cy living on its pay, in addition to a few in the service of the Puget Sound Company.
The first report of the proceedings of the H.B.Cy is dated 24 Novr 1852. It is seen by reference to the annexed account that though the Compy claim to have expended 1986-4-9 no part of that sum had been expended in the Island except about 750 for salaries, while they admit having receivedManuscript image 1642-17-6 for Land Sales & Royalties on Coal of which as entitled to do they retained 1/10th as profit.
The last Report 5599 deserves your closer attention. It is stated that over 11000 acres of land have been sold but of this quantity 6200 acres includes the Coal district which the Hudson's Bay Company have purchased (from themselves) at the upset price of 1 an acre. I cannot think that such a purchase is within the true meaning & intent of the Grant but it seems to me pretty clear thatManuscript image the Company has thought it expedient to secure itself against any possible loss.
The annexed account shows an outlay of 5614 for Colonisation purposes but a paragraph in the despatch says that this "has no reference to the large expenditure of the Hudson's B. Cy in & upon the Island" which I presume to refer to expendre for their trade in Furs & Coal.
The substantial questions now arising for decision are however independent of the precise proceedings of the Compy. We have to consider whether it is onManuscript image the whole for the benefit of this country & for that of H.Ms subjects on the N.W. Coast of America that this territory shd continue in the hands of the Company or be treated as a Colonial dependency of the Crown.
Under the first alternative the responsibility of the Home Govt is diminished, the prospect of Collision with the Indians is perhaps less [and] the development of the resources of the Island will probably be retarded.
It is difficult to say whether the more serious risk of collision with the American population of Oregon is greater or less than it wd be if the Island were resumed from the Cy. Recent despatches show that there are inflammableManuscript image Materials on both sides especially the American. In my opinion the only real strength for such a community is to be sought in increasing population & if the Island were resumed I shd think it wise to give small lots—of 5 or 10 acres to a reasonable number of actual occupants at a mere nominal price—resumable if not brought fully into cultivation. Maintaining the present price for all larger sales.
If on full consideration you Should think it desirable to prepare for the revocation of the grant the next question wd be whether you would arrange the matter by negotiation here or in the first place send some competent & independent inquirer to report on the state of affairs in the Island.
JB 3 Aug
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I think that Sir W. Molesworth had not considered the circumstance
that a sort of overture for the cession of the Island has recently been made by an influential member of the H.B. Compy & that it may be more easy to come to terms now than hereafter.
I had some conversationManuscript image with him on the subject after he had commenced this unfinished minute.
JB 26 Oct
[Molesworth's Minute, unfinished]
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1. Would an enquiry enable the Crown to revoke the grant of
Vancouver's island to the Hudson's bay Company? I think not. I agree with Mr Merivale that if this report be an accurate one, and I see no reason to doubt its accuracy, that it would be difficult to certify "that a settlement had not been established according to the intent of the grant &c."
2. I think that there ought to be some legislative authority in Vancouver's Island. The question is whether we ought to apply to Parliament to create such an authority, or whether the powers which exist for that purpose should be employed and a legislative assembly at once summoned. If the former alternative be adopted, what form of legislation ought we to ask for, and what form would Parliament grant? I should be unwilling to ask for and I think Parliament would be unwilling to establish a purely nominated council. A council half nominated & half elected might be obtained, but to such a council the objections on the score of the smallness of the electoral body, if valid, would apply with almost as much force as to a completely elective council.
See Minutes on Gov 8991/55.
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
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1. "List of Persons holding 20 acres of Land and upwards in Vancouver Island" (43 names).
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2. "List of Persons holding Town lots, having houses built upon them of value 50 and upwards, at Victoria, not included in the foregoing List" (23 names).
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3. "Statement of payments applied to the Colonization and improvement of Vancouver's Island from 31st October 1852 (the date of Statement last rendered) to the 30th November 1853 at Vancouver's Island, and in London to the 1st May 1855," dated May 1855, signed by Edward Roberts, Accountant, Hudson's Bay House, London.