Shepherd to Labouchere
Hudson's Bay House
8th May 1856
With reference to my letter of the 15th Ultimo, I have now the honor to enclose for your information, Extract of a letter received from Sir George Simpson, under date Lachine, 11th April 1856, relative to the proposed Reciprocity Treaty between Her Majesty's Government and that of the United States on the North West Coast of America.
From the long experience which Sir George Simpson has had in all matters connected with the native Tribes of America, and from his personal knowledge of the locality to which it is proposed to extend the Treaty, the Directors of the Hudson's Bay Company deem his opinion deserving of much consideration, and they have comeManuscript imagecome to the conclusion that, so far as the interests of the Hudson's Bay Company, and, I may add, of the native Tribes on the North West Coast, are concerned, it is not desirable that the provisions of the Treaty should be extended beyond the limits of the Colony of Vancouver's Island.
Should the counter proposition alluded to in Mr Cramptons Despatch of the 18th February be made by the Government of the United States, I respectfully beg, on the part of the Hudson's Bay Company, that the same be not allowed by Her Majesty's Government.
I have the honor to be Sir
Your most obedient Servant
John Shepherd

The Right Honble H. Labouchere
&c &c &c
Colonial office
Minutes by CO staff
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Mr Merivale
Forward copy to the F.O.
ABd 9 May
HM My 10
Mr Labouchere
I think it is for this departt to express an opinion & before I do so myself I think Mr Merivale would like to consider this more fully.
JB 10 May
Mr Merivale
I think we shd express an opinion. Pray let me speak to you about it.
HL 12 M
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Mr Labouchere
I think it very difficult to express any official opinion on this subject. Sir G. Simpson reports entirely against an extension of the Reciprocity Treaty to Vanc. Id. His reason as a servant of the HBC is a very obvious one—he wants to keep out American vessels from the coast as long as he can and as far as he can, lest they should interfere with the fur trade. He thinks "reciprocity" would be a pretext. This, alone, is no reason at all for H.M's. Government: who when they made Vanc. I. a colony, pledged themselves in my opinion to govern it without any reference to the special interests of that Company, & simply for the good of the inhabitants.
But on the other hand, we mustManuscript image remember the real difficulty in carrying on the government of the island at all against the resolutions of the H.B.C. & their servants, considering that they find all the expense, the Governor, & almost the whole population: and, further, the very critical position of the whole Indian frontier on the N. West at this moment. On the whole, unless there is strong pressure from the American side, I am inclined to believe this question best adjourned, for the sake of all parties, until the general revision of the Company's rights which must take place in 1859.
HM My 16
Mr Labouchere
It is true that some of Sir G. Simpson's arguments go to resist the extension of the Recipy Treaty to Vancouver's Island but as I understand the correspondence the point which has been considered doubtful & toManuscript image which Sir G. Simpson's observations directly apply is as to the answer which shd be given to Mr Crampton's despatch of 18 Feby last wherein the question is raised whether the Recipy Treaty should be extended not only to Vancouver's Island but also to the possessions on the mainland of [the] N.W. Coast of America & to Q. Charlotte's Island.
The Directors of the H.B. Compy in their letter to Ld Clarendon so lately as 13th March last wrote decidedly in favor of the extension of the Treaty to V. Island & I am not aware that they have ever expressed any other opinion.
On the whole I am much disposed to agree with Sir G. Simpson in his objections to giving the Americans a footing on the N.W. Coast chiefly because I think that there as well as elsewhere they wd get into collision with the Natives.
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On the whole I should be disposed to inform Ld Clarendon that you think that the objections stated by Sir G. Simpson to the extension of the Recy Treaty to the N.W. Coast possessions are entitled to much weight—and that with regard to the original proposition which was limited to Vancouver's Island, there seems to be no pressing need for any alteration in the relations between the Colony & the United St. & there may be reasons at the present moment for abstaining from any renewal of negotiations unless they shd be resumed by the American Govt.
JB 20 May
Very well.
HL 23
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
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Extract, Sir George Simpson to Shepherd, 11 April 1856, making a strong case against extending the Reciprocity Treaty to the Northwest Coast but making no specific reference to Vancouver Island.
Other documents included in the file
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Draft, Merivale to E. Hammond, Foreign Office, 31 May 1856, transmitting copies of the letter and enclosure and suggesting that negotiations on the subject of reciprocity be not renewed at present.
Minutes by CO staff
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It will be necessary to tell the Governor, who was very desirous of
the Extension of the Treaty to V.C.Isd, that the scheme is, for the present at least, abandoned.
Yes, it is singular however that Sir G. Simpson's objections, in
the interest of the Company, should not equally have struck Mr Douglas, who is their servant.