No. 7
5th March 1858
1. I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of Mr Merivale's letter of the 24th December last, 1
I was obliged to write privately & in haste, to catch a mail. HM.
informing me that the letter from the War Department, respecting the despatch of the party for exploring the line on the 49th parallel of latitude, between the British and AmericanpossessionsManuscript image possessions 2 was written from unavoidable circumstances, too late for communication to the Colonial Office, in the ordinary manner, and that it should be regarded as addressed to me, with your concurrence.
2. Your instructions in respect to the objects contemplated in that letter shall be implicitly attended to, and I will take measures at an early day, to provide accommodations for the party on Vancouver's Island, as suggested by Lord Panmure, and otherwise to advise the Chief Commissioner regarding the best method of carrying out the instructions of Her Majesty's Government, so farasManuscript image as respects the means of transport for his provisions and stores, and the obtaining of local labor.
3. There being a great scarcity of laborers in this country at present, and wages consequently running very high; Mechanics refusing employment at any thing under 12/6, and common laborers 5/- a day, besides their food; it being moreover not improbable that the demand for so many additional hands, as will be required in exploring the Boundary Line may have the effect of raising the present rate of labor; I would therefore suggest for your consideration whether it would not be advisable in those circumstancestoManuscript image to send out a greater number of men from England, than the 30 non-Commissioned Officers and men, mentioned in Mr Hawes' letter.
4. By pursuing that course there would not be so great a drain of labor from this Colony; wages would be kept within reasonable bounds, and what is of far more importance to the public service, the Chief Commissioner would be in a measure independent of local labor, and enabled to carry out the views of Her Majesty's Government in respect to the Boundary Line with such aid, chiefly native Indians, as can at all times be procured in this Colony.
5. I would not advise the exclusive employment of Indian labor in tracing the boundary line;butManuscript image but I think with a body of 60 white men as a nucleus, and for the purpose of maintaining a proper supervision and control, we could under any probable circumstances, by the employment of Indian labourers, even in the event of the not unlikely contingency of the whole floating white population of Vancouver's Island, leaving the Colony for the gold mines, make up a party of the requisite force to complete the boundary Survey.
I have the honor to be Sir
Your most obuedient humble Servant
James Douglas
The RightHonble Henry Labouchere
Her Majesty's principal Secretary of State
For the Colonial Department.
Minutes by CO staff
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War Dt L[ithographed] F[orm] and the F.O.—I think.
ABd 12/May.
I think with a letter recommending the Governor's cries to attention.
HM May 12
C. May 13
S. 13.
Other documents included in the file
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Draft, Colonial Office to E. Hammond, Foreign Office, 22 May 1858, transmitting copy of the despatch for information.
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Draft, Colonial Office to Under-Secretary at War, 22 May 1858, transmitting copy of the despatch for information.
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Draft reply, Stanley to Douglas, No. 1, 10 June 1858.
  1. Merivale (Permanent Under-Secretary) to Douglas, 24 December 1857, NAC, RG7, G8C/1, p. 545.
  2. = Merivale to Douglas, REs The letter from the War Department (Benjamin Hawes to Douglas, 24 December 1857) is in Hawes to Merivale (Permanent Under-Secretary), 30 December 1857, 11734, CO 305/8, p. 358, informing Douglas that a detachment of thirty Royal Engineers are being sent to survey the Oregon boundary. The boundary east of the continental divide had been established by a convention signed in 1818, which agreed to allow the territory west of the Rockies to be occupied jointly by nationals of both countries for a period of ten years, without prejudice as to the eventual ownership of this area. This agreement was renewed on an indefinite basis in 1827, and by a treaty signed at Washington on 15 June 1846, both countries agreed to fix the boundary at the forty-ninth parallel from the continental divide to the main channel leading to the Straits of Juan de Fuca and the Pacific Ocean. The need to survey this boundary led to the establishment of a joint boundary commission, headed by Archibald Campbell of the United States and Capt. John Summerfield Hawkins, R.E. of Great Britain. Hawkins left England with his detachment on 2 April and arrived at Esquimalt on 12 July 1858, by which time the discovery of gold on the Fraser and Thompson rivers made the clear demarcation of the boundary even more urgent. See Labouchere to Douglas, 23 January 1858, No. 3, CO 410/1, p. 119; George F.G. Stanley, ed., Mapping the Frontier: Charles Wilson's Diary of the Survey of the 49th Parallel, 1858-1862, While Secretary of the British Boundary Commission (Toronto: Macmillan, 1970). Cf Douglas to Labouchere, 6 April 1858, No. 15, 5180, CO 305/9, p. 61 for Satellite. Swan notes original treaty is preserved in PRO: SP 108.
People in this document

Blackwood, Arthur Johnstone

Campbell, Archibald

Carnarvon, Earl

Douglas, James

Hammond, Edmund

Hawes, Benjamin

Hawkins, John Summerfield

Labouchere, Henry

Maule, Fox

Merivale, Herman

Stanley, Edward Henry

Organizations in this document

Colonial Office

Foreign Office

Vessels in this document

HMS Satellite, 1855-1879

Places in this document


Fraser River

Juan de Fuca Strait

Oregon Territory, or Columbia District

The Rocky Mountains

Thompson River

Vancouver Island