No. 17
16 May 1859
I have the honor of transmitting herewith for the information of Her Majestys Government copies of my correspondence with the House of Assembly of Vancouver Island up to the 7th day of May inclusive.
2. By a resolution passed on the 4th instant the House expresses its disapproval of the erection of certain Buildings pressinglyManuscript imagepressingly required for the Public offices of the Colony because the Measure had "not been brought before the people for their consent". The reasons which induced me to undertake the erection of those buildings without consulting the House are given at some length in my message of the 7th instant and will I trust meet with your approval.
I have etc.
Minutes by CO staff
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Mr Merivale
This is a curious state of things: and our Governor, with a constituted Legislature, whose voice would make itself heard in such a matter as this in most other colonies with representative Institutions, put at least one Branch of it aside in the quietest way imaginable. Governor Douglas has so long been self reliant, that he excels in what so many other people fail in. He acts entirely from himself, leaning on nobody for help. As the Governor does not resort to the Assembly for money for this Manuscript imageservice it may have been unnecessary to consult that Body on the subject. But the transaction discloses, I think, a manner of proceeding in a Colony with representative Institutions which is, at least, unusual, and will scarcely suit the place when it grows into more importance.
2. You will notice that the Govr still calls the H.B.Co "the proprietors of V.C.Isd" & I suppose they are so until the resumption of the Island by the Crown is completely effected by the repurchase of the Company's property &c: but is there not more than meets the eye in this affair? All these public Offices are to be constructed at almost the last moment of the Company's tenure of the Island. The Co provides the money—the Govr has, between the outgoing & incoming tenants, little check over him—and the Crown has ultimately to defray the expense. Surely if the Crown has to pay for these new buildings the Governor should have reported to the S. of State the wants of the Colony in this respect, & asked for instructions.
3. According to the annexed P.P. Page 16/229-Sept. 2/57 I see that the Assembly, if applied to, by the Govr, would have had but small means of defraying the cost of the offices.
ABd 29 June
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
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Newspaper clippings, "Proceedings of the House of Assembly," 26 and 28 April, and 4 May 1859.
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Douglas to House of Assembly, 7 May 1859, explaining why he had proceeded with the erection of new government offices without consulting the House.
Minutes by CO staff
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Mr Merivale
We have not kept the Governor of VanCouver's Island apprized of our proceedings at home in respect to the payment to the H.B.C. of the sums &c laid out by them on the Island, because, as I conceive, we were not in a condition to tell him anything definite, inasmuch as the account has not yet been adjusted. But so long ago as Feby 1856 Mr Labouchere desired the Governor to send home, in Manuscript imageanticipation of a final settlement between the Company and the Crown, an account of what was due. The Governor having written back to say that he cd make out no such account we applied to the H.B.C. and with them only have we since had any correspondence on the subject.
ABd 5 July
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Mr Fortescue
This seems to me to require very serious & early attention.
In the grant of the soil of Vanc. I. to the H.B.C. Government reserved a power to repurchase Vanc. I. on making payment to the Co. 2 in consideration of sums expended by them and the value of their establishments—at the expiration of the Co's exclusive license.
That license expired in May last.
It has not been renewed, as you are aware.
It seems the Govr had intimation as long ago as Feb 1856 of the probable exercise of this power of repurchase.
But since that time we have been settling accounts with the Company, & they are not yet quite settled: & it does not seem that any positive instruction has been sent to the Governor to consider the Company's right to the soil as on the eve of extinction.
Manuscript image In this state of things—probably aware, one must suppose, of the real position of affairs between Govt & the Company—he seems, at the very end of the license, to have taken on himself to commence new buildings on a considerable scale at the expense of the Company. One cannot help supposing, he means us to repurchase them.
It seems to me that he ought to be written to by the next mail (15th) to hold his hand until further instructions.
And that the Company should be written to, sending copy of this projected despatch, & adding that Govt are anxious for immediate information as to what they may know of the Governor's proceedings, adding, that Government cannot consider themselves as in any way bound to make Manuscript imagecompensation for buildings begun at the Company's expense at a time when they, the Company, were & had long been aware that their possession of the soil is about to terminate, & only exists pending a settlement of accounts.
HM July 6
This seems to me the right course.
CF 7
This has an ugly look about it. I entirely approve of the suggestions of Mr Merivale.
N 8
Other documents included in the file
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Draft, Fortescue to H.H. Berens, Hudson's Bay Company, 12 July 1859, forwarding copy of the despatch and proposed draft reply, and advising the government did not consider themselves bound to repay the expense of the new buildings.
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Draft reply, Newcastle to Douglas, No. 1, 12 July 1859.