No. 47
12 September 1859
I yesterday had the honor of receiving your Graces Despatch No 1 of the 2nd July, upon the subject of my message to the House of Assembly, Vancouvers Island respecting the erection of certain Buildings required for the Public offices of the Colony.
2. As Your Grace appears somewhat to have misapprehended the circumstances in connection with the matter, I trust you will pardon meManuscript imageme, for trespassing upon your time in presenting you with a detail.
3. The Building heretofore in use as the Government Office, was extremely small and incommodious, and since the great increase of business in consequence of the causes which led to the establishment of the Colony of British Columbia, and to the rapid increase in the population of Vancouvers Island, it has been found absolutely impossible to carry on the Public business in that Building with the degree of method and regularity which is so essential to public interests; and which is so necesary for avoidingManuscript imageavoiding delay in the transaction of public matters. The situation of the Building too, was most inconvenient. Entirely isolated eight years ago when it was first erected, it had now become surrounded by other Buildings, in close proximity and two of the principal streets passed by its doors.
4. The necessity for providing other and better accommodation was imperative, and the progress and circumstances of the Colony required also, that Public offices should be erected for different Officers of the Colony, whose business had hitherto been transacted within the precincts of the stockade of the Hudsons Bay Company.
5. To institute measures for providing this necessary and Manuscript imagefitting accommodation, I conceived to be my particular province, and absolute duty.
6. The piece of Land upon which the small Building before alluded to, was situate, as well as a small portion contiguous to it, had from being in the very heart of the Town, become exceedingly valuable. This allotment had been reserved by the Hudsons Bay Company for Government purposes and I conceived that by selling the Land, sufficient funds could be obtained to erect the New Buildings required, and measures were actually instituted to that effect. But here a difficulty suddenly presentedManuscript imagepresented itself. The Colonial Government though in actual possession of the Land had no Deed of Transfer and consequently could not grant a Title. I consequently made arrangements with the Agent of the Hudson's Bay Co. to surrender the Land, on the condition of his placing at my disposal for the erection of New Buildings, the sum of Money obtained by the sale.
7. This has been done, the whole proceeds amounted to about Six thousand Five hundred pounds (£6,500).
8. The new Buildings have been erected upon a piece of groundManuscript imageground reserved for Government purposes. It is Ten acres in extent and most conveniently situated, being sufficiently near to the Town while removed from its noise and confusion. The Buildings consist of the Colonial Secretary's Office, the Treasury, Land Office, Court House, and House of Assembly, and the total cost will not much exceed the sum before mentioned. The excess will be defrayed from the proceeds of Two Lots still unsold, and your Grace may rest assured, that it was no part of my plan nor is it my intention, to ask Her Majesty's Government for funds to meet the expense of thisManuscript imagethis undertaking.
9. I trust that this explanation may serve to place the matter on its proper footing in the eyes of Your Grace and may be deemed satisfactory.
10. I did not conceive it necessary to obtain the sanction of the House of Assembly to the expenditure of the money, as it was produced by the Sale of Land, a portion of the Revenue of the Colony over which they at present have no control, and for the other reasons stated in my message. The proceeding was known and approved of by various members of the House, but it was questioned byManuscript imageby others, as is every Government measure, for reasons best known to themselves.
I have etc.
Minutes by CO staff
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Mr Elliot
It seems to me that this explanation is satisfactory: but it was impossible for us to imagine from his despatch of the 14 May the details the Governor now furnishes us with.
As this is a Land question possibly you will wish a refce to the Commissioners in the first instance.
ABd 1 Novr
As this did not go to the Land Board in the earlier stages, Manuscript imageit hardly need go to them now. Answer the Governor that his explanation is sufficient?
TFE 1 Nov
N 2
Mr Merivale will like to see this, when he returns to the Office.
ABd 3 Novr
Other documents included in the file
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Draft reply, Newcastle to Douglas, No. 24, 1 December 1859, transmitting documents on the HBC's tenure on the Island.
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Draft, Merivale to H.H. Berens, Hudson's Bay Company, 7 December 1859, requesting further clarification of the arrangements made between Douglas and Dallas, the company's agent.