No. 28
19 June 1858
My Lord
1. I fear the frequent and desultory nature of my Despatches will give you much trouble, but the pressure of business compels me to address you in this form.
2. Reports are continually arriving here confirmatory of the extent and value of the Fraser's River Gold region, and Captain Stuart of the Hudson's Bay Company's servicehasManuscript image has just reported the discovery of Gold in the Cowetchin valley Vancouver's Island, on the authority of Indian testimony.
3. Another report has just been made officially by Mr Brotchie, that he saw and examined the contents of a purse containing about £20 worth of gold dust, which an Indian had collected in Howe's Sound or Burrard's Canal situated in the Gulf of Georgia, a little north of Fraser's River, a fact which adds force to the opinion expressed in the 18th paragraph of my despatch No 24 of the 10th of June 1858, respecting the impression I entertained of the auriferous character of the country to the eastward of the Gulf of Georgia, as far north as Johnstone's Straits.
4. Your Lordshipwill notManuscript image will not be surprised to learn, that under these circumstances, the gold excitement throughout this Colony, California and Oregon continues unabated.
5. Crowds of people are coming in from all quarters. The American Steamer "Commodore" arrived on the 13th of Instant from San Francisco with 450 passengers and the Steamer "Panama"1 came in yesterday from the same Port with 750 passengers, and other vessels are reported to be on the way.
6. Two River Steamers the "Surprise"2 and "Sea Bird,"3 both owned by American citizens, ply with passengers between this Port and Fraser's River, the former having made her way up that stream as far as Fort Hope, one hundred and ten miles fromtheManuscript image the sea. The Miners by that means reach their destination with safety and despatch.
7. The quantity of gold collected by the Hudson's Bay Company up to the present time, rather exceeds £10,000 in value, and I saw during my recent excursion, a large quantity of gold among the miners.
8. I herewith forward for your information a copy of the Terms, on which it is proposed to allow Steam vessels to ply upon Fraser's River, enforcing at once the Revenue Laws of the Empire, and respecting the Trading rights of the Hudson's Bay Company. Those terms are not exclusive, but open to acceptance by any parties undertaking the performance of the proposed conditions. The object of all those measuresisManuscript image is to give facilities to miners, and to secure the trade of the gold region for our own country, as it will otherwise take the direction of the Columbia River, into American Oregon.
10. We have commenced levying the duty on mining licences; all parties entering the River by the licenced Steam vessels, being required to pay one month's Licence in advance. We have collected about £420, a revenue that I will hold subject to your instructions.
11. When Fraser's River now greatly swollen, subsides and the miners get fairly to work, I propose to appoint a Commissioner and Local Collectors for those dues, as soon as fit and proper persons to fill those offices can be found.
12. Mr William A.G. Young at present in Her Majesty's serviceasManuscript image as Secretary for the Boundary Commission is highly qualified, in every respect, for the office of Gold Commissioner, and I should be glad to obtain your permission to secure the services of that Gentleman.
13. I have no doubt that your Lordship will send out a body of Troops for the service of this Colony, and the Fraser's River District.
14. The miners have applied to me for protection against the natives, and when that is accorded, will have no hesitation, in paying the Licence duty, otherwise it will be paid with reluctance.
15. They have also applied to me for negotiable orders, in payment of gold delivered to Government Agents in the Mines, and for the organization of a Postal system for thetransmissionManuscript image transmission of Letters.
16. Will you kindly give me instructions on those subjects herein referred to.
I have etc.
James Douglas
Minutes by CO staff
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See 7828.4
HM Augt 10
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
Manuscript image
Proposed terms under which the agents of the Hudsons Bay Company agree to license steamers on the Fraser River, 18 June 1858.
Documents enclosed with the main document (transcribed)
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The agents of the Hudsons Bay Company agree to license one or more Steamers to ply from Victoria to and on Frasers River on the following terms. 1st To receive and transport no goods to, on, or from Frasers River, except the goods of the Hudsons Bay Company, or such as they may permit to be shipped, and that for the transport of such goods, that the freight do not exceed the following rates viz
Victoria to Langley $10 per ton of 2,000 lbs
Langley to Fort Hope $10 or 40 feet
Fort Hope to Fort Yale $10 Measurement
return rates to be on the same scale. 2nd To carry no passengers to or on Frasers River who have not taken out a mining license and permit from the Government of Vancouvers Island, and paid one months advance thereon. 3rd To pay head money to the Hudsons Bay Company, at the rate of two dollars for such passenger proceeding into Frasers River or taking passage from Fort Langley upwards. A settlement to be made at the end of each trip, and[d] an Officer of the Hudsons Bay Company to be received on board without chargeManuscript image to attend to such business if required by the Hudsons Bay Company. 4th That all vessels plying to, or on, the River, be commanded and owned by British subjects. 5th That permits on said terms will be continued till expiry of the Companys License of trade in the month of May 1859. 18 June 1858
  1. The Panama, Capt. W.L. Dall, was one of the first steamers built for the Pacific Mail Steamship Company for the Pacific coastal trade. Built at a cost of $211,000 by William H. Webb in New York, and launched on 29 July 1848, it measured 200' by 34' by 20', with 888 tons displacement. It arrived at San Francisco on 4 June 1849 and served the San Francisco to Panama run until 1853. It made only one voyage in 1854 and in 1856-57 served as a spare steamer in Panama. From 1858 to 1861 the ship ran between San Francisco and Puget Sound; in February 1861 she was sold to Holladay and Flint. Holladay and Brenham ?? gave the ship to Mexico in 1868 as part of a mail contract agreement; the Mexican government renamed her the Juarez and used her as a revenue and transport steamer on the Mexican coast. Heyl, Early American Steamers, pp. 339-40; see also J.H. Kemble, Panama Route, 1848-1849 (Berkeley, California: University of California Press, 1943), p. 242.
  2. The Surprise, 456 tons and 181 feet long, was built by Lawrence & Foulkes in Williamsburg, New York, in 1854. Brought to San Francisco in 1856, when the California Steam Navigation Company obtained it for service between San Francisco and San Diego. Capt. Thomas Huntington .us !brought the !Surprise! to Victoria on 31 May 1858 and used it to convey passengers and supplies between Fort Victoria and Hope, returning to San Francisco in August 1858. The Surprise was replaced on the Fraser by the Wilson G. Hunt and in 1860 was sold in China. See Norman R. Hacking, 'Steamboat Round the Bend,' American Steamers on the Fraser River in 1858, BCHQ 8, no. 4 (October 1944): 255-80. See also Wright, ed., Lewis & Dryden's Marine History, p. 72; and Narrative of a Trip up the Fraser River on the First Trip of the Steamer Surprise, Daily Alta California, 20 and 27 June 1858.
  3. The steamer Sea Bird, 225' long and 450 tons, was brought from New York to San Francisco in 1850-51. It was owned by Capt. J.T. Wright & Sons and brought to the Fraser River in 1858 by Capt. Francis Connor to transport miners to the gold fields. On 7 September 1858, the vessel caught fire near Victoria and burned to the water line. The wreck was sold as salvage for $1,200. Hacking, 'Steamboat Round the Bend'; Wright, Lewis & Dryden's Marine History, p. 72; and the Victoria Gazette, 8 September and 15 October 1858.
  4. Douglas to Stanley, 10 June 1858, No. 24, 7828, CO 60/1, p. 29.
People in this document

Brotchie, William

Douglas, James

Huntington, Thomas

Merivale, Herman

Stanley, Edward Henry

Stuart, Charles Edward

Young, William Alexander George

Organizations in this document

Hudson's Bay Company

Vessels in this document

Brother Jonathan, 1851-1865


Sea Bird


Wilson G. Hunt, 1849-1890

Places in this document

Burrard Inlet

Columbia River

Cowichan Region

Fraser River


Howe Sound

Johnstone Strait


New York

Oregon Territory, or Columbia District


Puget Sound

San Francisco

Strait of Georgia

Vancouver Island