No. 8
14 August 1858
I have to acknowledge the very important series of despatches of which the numbers and dates are specified in the Margin,
Nos. 24—10th June
" 25—15th "
" 26— " "
" 27—19 "
" 28—19th "
" 29—1st July
showing the manner in which you have continued to administer the Government of the Territory in which the recent discoveries of Gold have taken place, and detailing the extraordinary course of events in that quarter.
2. Her Majesty's Govenment feel that the difficulties of your position are such as courage, judgment, and familiarity with the resources of the Country and character of the people, can alone overcome; they feel also that minute directions conveyed from this distance, and founded on an imperfect knowledge, are very liableManuscript image to error and misunderstanding. On some points, however, you have yourself asked for approval and instructions; on others, it is absolutely necessary that the views of Her Majesty's Government should be made clear to you.
3. As to the steps you have already taken, I approve of the appointments which you have made, and reported, of Revenue Officers Mr Hicks and Mr Travaillot, of Mr Perrier as Justice of the Peace, and of Mr Young as Gold Commissioner. I approve also as a temporary measure, of the steps which you have taken in regard to the Surveying Department, but I have it in contemplation to send to the Colony a head of that Department from England.
4. I propose selecting in this Country some person for the Office of Collector of Customs, and IManuscript image shall send you also at the earliest moment an Officer authorised to act as Judge, and who, I trust, as the Colony increases in importance, may be found competent to fill with credit and weight, the situation of Chief Justice. I await your intimations as the the wants & means of the Colony, in this sudden rise of Social Institutions in a Country hitherto so wild, in order to select such Law Advisers as you may deem the conditions and progress of Immigration more immediately require. And it is my wish that all legal authorities connected with the Government should be sent from home, and thus freed from every suspicion of local partialities, prejudices and interests.
5. I highly approve of the steps which you have taken, as reported by yourself, with regardManuscript image to the Indians. It is in the execution on this very delicate and important portion of your duties that Her Majesty's Government especially rely on your knowledge and experience, obtained in your long Service under the Hudson's Bay Company. You may in turn rely on their support in the execution of such reasonable measures as you may devise for the protection of the Natives, the regulation of their intercourse with the whites, and, whenever such a work may be commenced, their civilization. In what way the fur Trade with the Indians may be henceforth carried on with the most safety, and with due care to save them from the demoralizing bribes of ardent spirits, I desire to know your views before you make any fixed regulations. No regulations giving the slightest preference to the Hudson's Bay Company will be inManuscript image future admissible, but possibly with the assent of the whole community licenses for Indian trade impartially given to all who would embark in it, might be a prudent and not unpopular precaution.
6. I approve also of the measures which you have taken for raising a revenue by Customs, and authorize their continuance.
7. I approve also of your continuing to levy license fees for Mining purposes requesting you however to adopt the scale of those fees to the general acquiescence of adventurers and leaving it to your judgment to change this mode of taxation (as for instance into an export duty) if it shall appear on experience to be unadvisable to continue it. But on this head I must give you certain cautions. In the first place, no distinctionManuscript image must be made between foreigners and British Subjects as to the amount per head of the license fee required (nor am I aware that you have proposed to do so). In the second place, it must be made perfectly clear to everyone that this license fee is levied, not in regard to any supposed rights of the Hudson's Bay Company, but simply in virtue of the prerogative of the Crown, (now confirmed by the Act of parliament transmitted to you, if this was necessary) to raise such revenue as it thinks proper in return for the permission to derive profits from the Minerals on Crown Lands.
8. Further, with regard to these supposed rights of the Hudson's Bay Company, I must refer you, in even stronger terms, to the cautions already conveyed to you by my former Despatches. The Hudson's Bay Company have hitherto had anManuscript image an exclusive right to trade with Indians in the Fraser's River Territory, but they have had no other right whatever. They have had no right to exclude strangers. They have had no rights of Government or occupation of the soil. They have had no right to prevent or interfere with any kind of trading except with Indians alone. To claim or exercise any further rights is, on their part, a mere usurpation, although I doubt not, often practised and submitted to in ignorance. But to render all misconceptions impossible, Her Majesty's Government have determined on revoking the Company's License (which would of itself have expired in next May) as regards British Columbia, being fully authorized to do so, by the terms of the License itself, whenever a new Colony is constituted.
Manuscript image
The Company's private property will be protected in common with that of all Her Majesty's subjects; but they have no claim whatever for compensation for the loss of their exclusive trade, which they only possessed subject to this right of revocation. The instrument formally revoking the License will shortly be forwarded to you.
9. With regard to the revenue received from Licenses and Customs, you will hold it for the present to be expended on the necessary expenses of the Colony.
10. The immense resources which the information that reaches England every day, and is confirmed with such authority by your last Despatch assure me the Colony possesses, and the facility for immediate use of those resources for the purposes of revenue, willManuscript image at once free the Mother Country from those expenses which are adverse to the policy of all healthful colonization; and I shall confidently rely upon you to see that the proceeds from the Colonial revenue defray every charge except that of your own salary as Governor, which from obvious motives of policy, while the population is yet precarious and unsettled, I think should be dependent upon Great Britain alone. You will bear the principle I have thus laid down perpetually in mind, so as to apportion the expenditure to the revenue, and not to allow the former to exceed the latter.
11. The most important objects to which the local revenue can be applied would seem to be police, public works to facilitate landing and travelling, payment of the absolutely necessary Officers, and above allManuscript image surveying. But your own local judgment must mainly decide. You will render accurate accounts to me both of receipts and expenditure, and you will probably find it necessary shortly to appoint a Treasury which will be a provisional appointment. You are authorized, if you think proper to give, for the present, Government receipts in lieu of deposits of Gold. As to this point I wish to have a more definite account of the nature of your proposal.
12. You are fully authorized to take such measures as you can for the transmission of letters and levying postage.
13. It appears by your Despatch that the Staff of Surveyors you have engaged, are at present employed on Vancouver's Island, the soil of which is as yet held under the expiring License of the Hudson's Bay Company. But itManuscript image is British Columbia which now demands and indeed may almost absorb the immediate cares of its Governor, and your Surveyor may at once prepare the way for the arrival of the Surveyor General appointed from hence and of the Sappers and Miners who will be under his orders.
14. I now come to the important subject of future Government. It is possible (although on this point I am singularly without information) that the operations of the Gold diggers will be, to a considerable extent suspended during the winter, and that you will, therefore, have some amount of leisure to consider the permanent prospects of the Colony, and the best mode of administering its affairs. You will be empowered both to govern, and to legislate, of your own authority. But you will distinctly understand that this is as a temporary measureManuscript image only. It is the anxious wish of Her Majesty's Government, that popular Institutions without which they are convinced peace and order cannot long prevail, should be established with as little delay as practicable. And until an Assembly can be organised (which may be whenever a permanent population however small, is established on the soil). I think, as I have already stated in a former Despatch, that your best course will probably be to form some kind of temporary Council, calling in this manner to your aid such persons as the Miners themselves may place confidence in.
15. You will receive additional directions along with your Commission, when forwarded to you. And I have embodied in a Separate Despatch those regarding the very important question of the disposal of Land.
Manuscript image
16. Aware of the immediate demands on your time and thoughts connected with the pressing question of the Immigration to the Gold Mines, I do not wish to add unnecessary to the burthen of duties so onerous; but as yet our Department has been left singularly in ignorance of much that should enter into consideration of general policy, and on which non-official opinions are constantly volunteered. Probably amongst the persons you are now employing and in whose knowledge and exactitude you can confide, you might find some one capable of assisting under your superintendence in furnishing me, as early as possible, with a Report of the general capacities of the harbour of Vancouver—their advantages and defects—of the mouth of the Fraser's River, as the site of the Entry into British Columbia apart from the Island—ofManuscript image the probabilities of a Coal superior for steam purposes to that of the Island, which may be found in the Main Land of British Columbia, and such other information as may guide the British Government to the best and readiest means of developing the various and the differing resources both of the Island and the mainland—resources which have so strangely been concealed for ages, which are now so suddenly brought to light, and which may be destined to effect at no very distant period a marked and permanent change in the commerce and Navigation of the known world. The Officers now engaged in the Maritime Survey will probably render great assistance to yourself and to Her Majesty's Government in this particular.
17. I will only conclude withManuscript image the general cuation that inasmuch as your legal powers are as yet incomplete, it will be well that you should therein confine yourself as much as possible to the mere issue of regulations absolutely required, and not seek to carry into effect the Crown's general power of Legislation until fully authorized thereto.
I have etc.