No. 43
11 October 1858
1. I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your Despatch No 6 of the 31st of July last, 1 communicating the views which you entertain upon various topics of importance bearing upon the present situation of affairs and the establishment of a regular government in British Columbia. 2
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2. Though I regret that the pressure of public business, the want of efficient aid, and irregular mail facilities have prevented me from communicating so fully with you as the position of affairs required, it is very gratifying to my feelings, to discover from the communication of those views in your despatch, that the measures which have been adopted with the view of raising a revenue for defraying the expenses of Government in that Country, co-incide so closely as they do with those recommended in your Despatch.
3. In consequence oftheManuscript image the unexpected force of the immigration from the United States, and the pressure of the masses, we were compelled in the emergency, by a stern necessity, either to take the initiative, and to give a direction to the masses, or to submit to their dictation, as to the measures which the government had to pursue.
4. For that reason, I had to act in many cases without delay, and without distinct legal authority, except that discretionary power derived from my Commission as Governor of Vancouver's Island, which I believe applies to all cases affecting the public interestsnotManuscript image not provided for in Her Majesty's instructions.
5. In asserting the dominion of the Crown over the gold region, and the rights of the Crown over the precious metals, I felt that I was acting clearly according to constitutional law and usage, but I did not feel equally certain about the expediency, or the power of enforcing those rights by levying the Licence duty on miners, in a remote and almost inaccessible country.
6. Being in urgent want of money to meet the unavoidable increasing expenditure of Government, consequentonManuscript image on the influx of people, I conceived it would be only proper to make them bear the cost of that expenditure, and that circumstance suggested the idea of levying a month's licence in advance, on every person entering Fraser's River, with the condition, however, that the certificate of such payment would be received in compensation of the first month's mining, on the claim assigned to the party holding it in Fraser's River; a measure which was immediately carried into effect, with the satisfactory results of creating a fund to meet our immediate expenses, and securing the support of a large bodyofManuscript image of miners, who having paid the Crown dues, insisted that any such person as had evaded that payment, should either comply with the Government regulation, or relinquish their mining claims, thus lending a prodigious moral power to the Government, while enforcing the mining duty.
7. I have, however, from the first doubted the expediency of levying the duty on mining licences, which will always be an unpopular tax, besides being arduous and expensive to levy in a country so extensive and difficult of access as Fraser's River, I therefore much prefer to thattaxManuscript image tax, the adoption of the views entertained in your despatch, as a means of raising a revenue; that is, levying moderate duties in Beer, Wine and Spirits, and other articles subject to taxation, this being in fact continuing the import duty of 10 per cent ad valorem, at present levied on all goods imported into British Columbia.
8. The disposal of public lands and also of Town lots as suggested in your despatch, will I think prove a prolific source of revenue; besides having the effect of opening the country for permanent settlement. In my late excursion to Fraser's River, of which I will soon forward anaccountManuscript image account, the most urgent appeals were made to me by intending settlers, on the prospect of approaching winter, for the purchase of Town lots at Fort Yale and Fort Hope, but having no legal authority to make sales of land, or to grant sufficient titles, I could only meet their wishes by giving leases of the desired lots, at a monthly rent, of 41 shillings, to be continued, with a pre-emption right to the holder, until the land is finally sold.
9. Since the arrival of your despatch, I have sent Mr Pemberton, the Surveyor General to lay out three several town sites on Fraser's River, namely atOldManuscript image
Old Fort Langley
Fort Hope
Fort Yale 3 there being a demand at each of those places for Town lots, in consequence of their position at important trading points of the River, which gives them a peculiar value in the estimation of the public.
10. The Surveyor has advertized a public sale, 4 at this place, of Town lots 64 x 120 feet, in extent at old Fort Langley, for the 20th of this month, October, the upset price to be 100 dollars for each lot of that size, and not to be sold for less than the upset price. Though this is not a propitious time for the disposalofManuscript image of Town lots; it is expected that the Government will realize a considerable sum from that sale.
11. We also look forward to raising a considerable sum through the duty on licenced Ale and Beer houses, and also on trading Licences, should it be considered judicious to continue such taxes.
12. I am anxious to save the present Mail and will therefore leave the subject of revenue, until I can prepare a digested report on the subject, and have an opportunity of ascertaining, as you again have suggested, thesenseManuscript image sense of the immigrants upon so important a matter.
13. I will not fail to keep steadily in view the fact, that the Imperial Parliament will expect that British Columbia shall be self supporting as soon as possible and that it is the desire of the Mother Country that representative institutions and self-government should prevail in that Colony, as soon as the material for those InstitutionsareManuscript image are shewn to exist, and to that object, we shall as you recommend, aim and shape all our policy.
14. I observe also your intention of despatching a party of Royal Engineers for British Columbia and the particular objects for which that force is to be despatched;theManuscript image the manner in which it is the wish of Her Majesty's Government that Force should be employed, and the Government of British Columbia be carried on, are important subjects to which I will give all the consideration which their vast importance requires.
15. I also observe your intention of sending out an experienced Inspector of Police to assist in the formation of a police force, and I am convinced that he will be of great service to the government though we have already organized a force of that description, and also sworn in a number of Special police, consisting of the inhabitants of Fort Yale, to be employed on emergenciesinManuscript image in keeping the peace.
16. I shall not fail to give the fullest scope to your humane considerations for the improvement of the native Indian Tribes and shall take care that all their civil and agrarian rights be protected. I have in fact already taken measures as far as possible to prevent collisions between those tribes and the whites, and have impressed upon the miners the great fact that the law will protect the Indian equally with the white man, and regard him in all respects as a fellow subject. That principle being admitted will go fartowardsManuscript image towards the well being of the Indian tribes and securing the peace of the country.
17. I shall also by every means in my power endeavour to secure the confidence of the inhabitants of British Columbia, and to attach them by the ties of interest to the existing Government.
18. I regret that time does not permit me to report to you more fully on this occasion, as the mail steamer 5 has just arrived from Puget's Sound and will leave at an early hour tomorrow; but Her Majesty's Government may rest assured that the instructions I have received will be fully carried intoeffectManuscript image effect, and that all our measures will be framed upon those instructions.
I have etc.
James Douglas
Minutes by CO staff
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Mr Elliot
I presume this Despatch should be printed—with 12179. 6
VJ 29 N
I think that this is a very satisfactory report from the Govr. He promises fuller communication on many points but generally he appears to have done very well. It will be observed that he has organized a police force & sworn in Special Constables. This desp. will probably be printed for Parlt but I hardly think it need be circulated for the Cabinet?
C Nov 30
Print these for the Cabinet immediately—of course for Parlt. 7 I do not see among these papers a confl despatch or letter in wh the Govr accepts the Commission & asks 5000£ a year. Where is it. Look it up. Copies of these & other papers to the Queen.
EBL Dec 7
Approve answers to these Despatches to be drafted. Perhaps Mr Blackwood will do so.
Other documents included in the file
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Draft reply, Lytton to Douglas, No. 6, 31 July 1858. 8
Minutes by CO staff
Sir Edward
I think it worth your serious consideration whether this desp. sd not be a confidential one. Treating as it does of many branches of this question, & throwing out hints for Govt rather than laying down fixed rules, it seems to me to be of the character of a private communication. It is always to be borne in mind that in printing for parliament it is extremely difficult to withold a public desp. but that nothingManuscript image is simpler under circumstances such as these to publish a confidential letter wh treats the question generally.
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[The following draft by Lytton also relates to this despatch.]
British Columbia, by next mail. Dft to the Govr.
He will have ample instructions on receiving [report?] of his apptment it is hoped by the next mail.
Meanwhile, his answer is expected whether he will serve as Govr on the condition of renouncing entirely all connexion with the H.B.C directly or indirectly, & it must be added, with the Puget Sound Company. That he will consider if that answer to him for an appointment under the Crown wh is necessarily only held with discretion.
Already explained in conf. desph of 16 July. Put it, if necessary, in another private Ltr. [ABd.]
That he will bear in mind that any suspicion that his bias is to favour the H.B.C. interests rather than the imperial wd be fatal to the authority which must owe so much of its force to popular consideration & confidence.Manuscript image That if on reflexion it does not [occur?] to him thus, at all events for the present to exchange his present position & emoluments &c . . . he would be retained for the present at Vancouver & a separate Govr be sent to B Columbia & that the ability he has hitherto shewn would be remembered should he desire, next year at the expiration of the H.B. licence to enter bona fide into the Imperial Colonial Service.
Already explained in confid. desph.. [ABd.]

That his immediate course will be to raise a revenue by a Custom House. That he will lay moderate duties on beer wine spirits &c. That a large revenue is expected. That it is the intention of the Govt to make the Colony support all its expenses as soon as possible. That this will be his paramount object. That he will proceedManuscript image to survey immediately the site of a city it is presumed by the mouth of Fraser river for the sale of land. That a Surveyor General with some sappers & miners which will also serve as a force will be sent immediately to assist him. That it is expected to raise a large amount by city land sales. That he will devote himself to [cultivating?] the confidence and good will of the emigrants & shew no jealousy whatever of Americans or other foreigners. That the Colony is intended for free institutions at the earliest moment, that he will meanwhile ascertain what Americans resorting to the diggings have the most influence, or popularity amongst the diggers, thatManuscript image he will get into frank & friendly communication with them, as to the best means for preserving order, & securing the interests & peace of the Colony. That he will consider whether amongst them, there be not such as he could immediately take into a Council, such men as if an elective Council were [selected?] the diggers themselves wd be likely to elect. That what he must carefully avoid is the appearance as if himself & an armed force were standing agst the Population. That he must on the Contrary consider that his real strength is the conviction of the popn that their interests are identical with those of the Govt & the Force as little obtrusive as possible.Manuscript image That he will consider well the best & most humane means of dealing with the Native Indians. That the desirable thing would be to remove them, by [argument?], agreement, & reasonable terms from the Diggings most thronged to by the whites. That this is left to his experience & knowledge of them. That possibly an arrangement might be made between the whites & Natives by which the Indians might have a digging of their own at a distance, unmolested & supplied with mining tools for their own benefit. That no doubt there are auriferous deposits not yet discovered wh might be thus provided. 11 That the miners & sappers must be considered merely as a temporary assistance at theManuscript image Expence of the M[other] Cy. That if continued it would be at the Expense of the Colony. That to support itself, by free & representative institutions, is the object for the Colony at which he must aim & shape all his policy from the commencement.
That his opinion is asked as to sales of land in London there being a great [disposition?] to purchase here. That the price of the land shd include the expense of survey & title. So that each purchaser has his land surveyed without cost to the M. Country in that survey.
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Finally to repeat he will consider his first course to be to raise Revenue by Customs—& land sale. As to digging licenses he will consider well whether they are advisable, & sufficiently popular. That in this it would be well to ascertain the general sense of the immigrants.
That probably he will have no difficulty in [gaining?] boats from the river as required. That there wd be difficulty & delay in sending him gun boats but that you desired his views & wishes thereon &c.
Minutes by CO staff
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Memo for Blackwood on despatch.
Add it is under consideration whether to send out an experienced Inspector of police to assist in the formation of a police body, in the meanwhile the organization of a police will necessarily be the care of the Governor in such a mode as may be most popular & conformable with the general feelings of the immigrants on a subject so essential to their common security. They should understand at once how well it is to rely on themselves & not on military force for preservation fromManuscript image internal disturbances.
Correct in despatch the too strong expression that it may not be possible to remove the Indians into the query—would it be possible.
Other documents included in the file
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Draft reply, Lytton to Douglas, No. 54, 15 December 1858.
  1. Lytton to Douglas, 31 July 1858, No. 6, CO 410/1, p. 147.
  2. See footnote in Douglas to Lytton, 30 September 1858, No. 42, 12179, CO 60/1, p. 169.
  3. According to the Gazette, Pemberton arrived in Yale about 14 October and immediately commenced a survey of the town, which will be finished in a few days. Fort Hope was laid out by Oswald Travaillot, assisted by Corp. Fisher, R.E. See Douglas to Lytton, 12 October 1858, No. 3, 12721, CO 60/1, p. 213. For Fort Langley see footnote below. Letter of instructions, Col Sec Corr, PABC.??
  4. = at Fort Langley. Gazette, 1 October 1858: Notice is hereby given that the Land in the vicinity of, and including the site of 'Old Fort Langley,' is to be surveyed for a Town Site. Corner posts of the blocks will be put in, the blocks numbered, and Town Lots sold without reservations, unless for the use of Government, at Victoria, on or about the 20th inst. The upset price to be one hundred dollars per single lot of 64 x 120 feet. By Order of the Governor. Joseph D. Pemberton, Colonial Surveyor. The sale was deferred and did not take place until 25 November, after the formal establishment of colony. See notice dated 10 November, Gazette, 11 November 1858, and Douglas to Lytton, 29 November 1858, No. 38, 1054/59, CO 60/1, p. 457.
  5. Identify, from Gazette ??
  6. I.e, Douglas to Lytton, 30 September 1858, No. 42, 12179, CO 60/1, p. 169.
  7. = Parliamentary Papers. The printing of Parliamentary Papers was a tradition of long standing as a means of providing members with background information to issues of public moment, in this instance the gold rush and subsequent establishment of the colony of British Columbia. Thus selected despatches from Douglas were printed for Parliament under the title Papers Relative to the Affairs of British Columbia. Copies of Despatches from the Governor of British Columbia to the Secretary of State for the Colonies, and from the Secretary of State to the Governor, relative to the Government of the Colony, Parts I and II (London: George Edward Eyre and William Spottiswoode, 1859, 1860). Add note about printing for cabinet, from Pugh??
  8. = misdated signature. The date indicates that this draft reply (and the minutes that follow) were generated before the minutes on the despatch in this file (12180). This material was apparently misfiled by CO staff and should be read in connection with Douglas to Stanley, 19 May 1858, No. 23, 6667, CO 305/9, p. 87.
  9. See Lytton to Douglas, 31 July 1858, CO 410/1, p. 145. The labels "Private" and "Confidential" were often used interchangeably by CO staff at this time.
  10. I.e., Lytton to Douglas, 31 July 1858, CO 410/1, p. 145.
  11. Indigenous peoples policy. This suggestion is omitted in the final draft of this despatch, which was forwarded to Douglas.
People in this document

Blackwood, Arthur Johnstone

Carnarvon, Earl

Douglas, James

Elliot, Thomas Frederick

Fisher, R. E.

Jadis, Vane

Lytton, Edward George Earle Bulwer

Pemberton, Joseph Despard

Travaillot, Oswald Justice

Victoria, Alexandrina

Organizations in this document

Puget Sound Agricultural Company

Places in this document

British Columbia

Fraser River




Old Fort Langley

Puget Sound

Vancouver Island