No. 39
8 August 1860
Referring to my Despatch No 34, of the 7th Ultimo, reporting for Your Grace's information various matters in connection with the Indian Tribes congregated at that time around Victoria, I have the honor to communicate to Your Grace that fresh arrivals have beenManuscript imagebeen constantly occurring, while but comparatively few departures have taken place, so that at the present moment there are nearly four thousand Indians in the outskirts of the Town of Victoria.
2. With one or two exceptions they have conducted themselves peaceably, but much apprehension is felt by the inhabitants at the close contiguity of a body of Savages double to them in number.
3. In these apprehensions I do not share, for the object of the Indians in visiting this place is not to make War upon the white man, but to benefit by his presence, by selling their FursManuscript imageFurs and other commodities; but I cannot be blind to the fact that in an emergency we are nearly wholly unprotected, and the most direful consequences might ensue were any sudden outburst to occur.
4. We have but a small Police Force at Victoria, and no regularly organized and armed Force, which alone could be depended on in case of emergency. Numerous Special Constables have been sworn in, and have given cheerful assistance upon one or two occasions of alarm; but this is an expedient not calculated to be of much avail against Savages in case of an attack, unless a disciplined force were in reserve.
5. As Your Grace is no doubt awareManuscript imageaware the Vessels of War do not lie in Victoria Harbour, but at Esquimalt three miles off, Fort Victoria not being capable of receiving Vessels of large draft of water, and therefore although we may have the most efficient assistance near at hand, yet in reality it is too remote to be instantly available in case of sudden need.
6. Admiral Baynes has at my request, and as mentioned in my Despatch of the 7th July, stationed a Boat with a Gun, and occasionally one of the Steam Gun Boats, at the entrance of Fort Victoria Harbour, to disarm the Indians upon their arrival. The Indians however manage to evade this surveillance in a great measure, forManuscript imagefor they land their Arms before entering the Harbor, in the custody of their friends, from whom they can afterwards obtain them: but the check exists nevertheless, and produces a certain moral restraint which is beneficial.
7. Much alarm is also manifested by the Settlers on the Coast, and at Admiral or Salt Spring Island, and Nanaimo, and they have addressed to me Petitions praying for protection to be afforded them. Copies of two of these Petitions I forward herewith. Although I confidently trust that the probability of disturbances arising between the white Settlers and the Indians may be far more remote than they seem to believe, yet I am well aware what smallManuscript image cause is calculated to arouse all the fiercer passions of the Savage, and, in a moment, to overturn all considerations of profit or interest, or even of consequences, although speedy retribution may be inevitable. It therefore would be highly culpable to relax in any precautionary measures; but in this case the number of white people is so disproportionate to that of the Indians, that we must in a great degree rely upon aid from without.
8. Under these circumstances I have felt it necessary to appeal to Admiral Baynes, the Naval Commander in Chief, and I have requested him to station a small guard of Marines at Victoria, during the period that the Indians may be assembled here inManuscript imagein such numbers, and to detach a Vessel from Esquimalt to be stationed for the present near to Cowitchen, so as to visit at frequent intervals the different white Settlements on the Coast.
9. I forward herewith Copies of the Correspondence which has passed between the Admiral and myself upon the subject.
I have etc.
Minutes by CO staff
Manuscript image
Mr Elliot
On this subject see the Governor's previous desph of the 7 July No 34—also the Admiralty Letter & enclosure of the 14 Sepr with which a draft is submitted according to minute.
We know, of course, that an affray with these savages may occur at any moment, & from very trifling causes—causes which too frequently originate with the white men, who are prone to apply to the Authorities for military protection, suppressing their own misdeeds & exaggerating the conduct of the natives. We are not however, the less bound to see to the protection of our Countrymen, & that protection I cannot but think they already sufficiently possess. If you turn to the Letter from Admiral Baynes of the 24 July, in the Admy Letter 9006, you will see that at that date there lay in Esquimalt Harbor—3 miles only from Victoria—the "Ganges, Satellite, Termagant, Topaze, Alert, and Plumper"—with the "Grappler & Forward" Gun-boats. From these vessels it can scarcely be questioned that a force of 200 marines & blue jackets could be speedily brought to the assistance of the Town of Victoria, if requisite. Add to the above force 4 or 500 constables out of a population of 3000, of which Fort Victoria at least consists, and you have abundant means of self protection against the natives, if by treachery, or surprize they do not attack the residents at a disadvantage. On the whole, therefore, the Local Authorities have, in my opinion at least, sufficient means of self defence. The two Gun boats may be made very useful.
ABd [date cut off file]
Manuscript image
Mr Fortescue
I do not see that anything more is necessary than to acknowledge the receipt of this despatch.
TFE 1 Octr
It is astonishing how English settlers—whether in New Zealand or V. Id—fix themselves in the midst of numerous & well armed Savages, without the knowledge, or even the possession, of firearms—just as if they were settling in an uninhabited country. I wd instruct the Govr to recommend that ablebodied settlers sh. obtain firearms—and form themselves into Volunteer corps for defence in case of emergency.
CF 3 Octbr
A formidable prospect.
FR 24 July 5/10
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
Manuscript image
Petition to Douglas from settlers on Salt Spring Island, no date, requesting protection against "the Northern Indians," signed by Robert Peel Dombrain, James Graham, "and fourteen others" (signatures not in file). Transcribed Below.
Manuscript image
Petition to Douglas from inhabitants of Nanaimo, no date, asking that a gun boat "or some other vessel of War" be stationed off Nanaimo to afford protection against "large numbers of Northern Indians," signed by A.D. McInnis, Edwin Gough, Chas. S. Nicol, James Farquhar," and above one Hundred others" (signatures not in file).
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Douglas to Rear Admiral Baynes, 3 August 1860, on the "better management of the Indians at Victoria." Transcribed below.
Manuscript image
Baynes to Douglas, 1 August 1860, expressing his concerns about the large number of Indigenous peoples gathered at Victoria, and remarking that "Their principal object in coming here, from what I can collect, is the fearfully demoralizing one of trading with the unchastity of their Squaws." Transcribed below.
Documents enclosed with the main document (transcribed)
Manuscript image
Copy

No. 1 Enclosure in Despatch No 39
29267/60


To
His Excellency
James Douglas C.B.
Governor &c &c

May it please your Excellency,
The petition of us the undersigned settlers of Salt Spring Island. Respectfully sheweth that owing to the isolated position which your Petitioners are in on the highway of the Northern Indians to and from Victoria and that from Manuscript imagefrom the recent occurences which have taken place in Admiralty Bay off this Island and in Victoria and that we as Pioneers having a knowledge of the Indian character for revenge do feel that our lives and property are in danger, require immediate protection from Your Excellency.
We therefore hope that your Excellency in your wisdom will take into consideration our present unprotected state and your Humble Petitioners Manuscript imagePetitioners as in duty bound will ever pray &c
(Signed)
Robt Peel Dombrain
Jos Graham.


and fourteen others
Documents enclosed with the main document (transcribed)
Manuscript image
No. 4. Enclosure in Despatch No. 39
29267/60
Governor Douglas to Admiral Baynes

Copy


Victoria Vancouvers Island
3rd August 1860

Sir
I have had the honor of receiving your letter of the 1st Instant containing certain suggestions which have occurred to you with regard to the better management of the Indians at Victoria.
2. — The difficulties in connection with them are becoming every day more complicated, in consequence of of continued fresh arrivals, which have now swelled their numbers to upwards of four thousand. — This large assemblage is unprecedented within my experience and materially lessons my power to control, without the continuedManuscript imagecontinued presence of an armed force.
More are expected, but I do not well see, although very desirable, how it will be practicable to prevent their further influx. — Any measures to that end practised here, would at once create in the ignorant mind of the savage the idea that we feared their presence, and as by the time they reach this place their stock of food is generally exhausted; to turn them back would only be to let them loose upon the scattered settlers on the coast, to commit ravages and depredations, which would almost inevitably be followed by sacrifice of life.
The only practicable means would be to station a Vessel of War in Johnston’s Straits so that she could command Manuscript imagethe passage of all Canoes: but I am not quite satisfied with the wisdom of the act.
3. — I ^observe that only fifty muskets and two pistols have been taken by the Gun boat, during the past month.
I am aware it is supposed the Indian land their arms in concealment before entering the Harbour, and I am also informed that many Canoes have succeeded in evading the vigilance of the Gun boat. — However I do not regard this as a matter of grave importance the Indians are aware that the check exists, and that fact alone is undoubtedly productive of an effect extremely beneficial. — It would of course be more desirable if we could succeed in taking possession of all their aims, but under present circumstances it is not practicable.Manuscript image
4. — With regard to preventing the sale of Fire-arms and ammunition to Indians, the measure however, simple it may at first sight appear is surrounded by so many difficulties that even were a law to that effect eacted I fear it would be found virtually imperative. — In respect to the sale of spirits to Indians, a law is already in existence prohibiting it; and large inducements are held out to informers, but never the less, I regret to say the Indians do obtain liquor in almost any quantity, and instances of conviction are infrequent.
5. — To remove the Indians from Victoria is another desideratum not easy of attainment, so that permanent good would result. Coercive measures would butManuscript image but be productive of greater evils in other parts of the British Possessions more exposed and less protected than Victoria.
6. — I have given much anxious though to the subject and am of opinion that the only really effective means of permanently remedying the evil, is to improve the social condition of the Indian: at the same time maintaining every proof of physical superiority; an impression which it is of the utmost consequence the savage should have already allotted a portion of ground, and with the cheerful assistance rendered by Mr. Duncan we are laying it out in streets running in straight lines. — The different Tribes will be located separately and each Tribe will Manuscript imagewill have native Constables. — The Indians themselves have cordially entered into the arrangement, and have promised to pay a small sum monthly towards the maintenance of the police &c. —
Mr. Duncan will take up his residence amongst them, and I confidently hope we may by degrees overcome many of their barbarous and demoralizing habits.
7 However this is a matter of time. — The present moment requires prompt action; for the number of savages in, and around Victoria nearly doubles that of the white population, and keeps the latter in a constant state of apprehension. I therefore propose as one most effective means of precaution and Manuscript imageprotection that a small guard of Marines should be stationed at Victoria, and one of the Steam Gun Boats kept at the entrance of the Harbour, so long as the present large concourse of Indians is in the immediate neighbourhood.
8 I would also take this opportunity of bringing to your notice two Petitions I have received from the settlers at Nanaimo and at Admiral Island representing their defenceless position, and begging protection. — To meet this I would request, if not incompatible with other equally pressing requirements of the Force under your command, that a vessel of War should for the present be stationed between Cowitchen and Nanaimo, with orders to visit frequently the different settlements from Saanich toManuscript imageto Nanaimo, and not to allow too great intervals to elapse between visits nor to remain too short a time at one place.
9 The necessity of affording substantial protection of this character, is I doubt not, so obvious to you, that there is no occasion for me to dwell upon it.
I have &c
Signed) James Douglas
Documents enclosed with the main document (transcribed)
Manuscript image
29267/60
No. 3. Enclosure in Despatch No 39.
Admiral Baynes to Governor Douglas
Copy
H.M.S Ganges Esquimalt
Harbour
. 1st August 1860
Sir,
On referring to the reports made to me I find that the number of Muskets takes out of Canoes belonging to Northern Indians during the last month does not exceed 50, and 2 Pistols.
As they can purchase arms and ammunition immediately they land to any amount, without a question being asked, and as Your Excellency appears to be very apprehensive, and to have less power of controlling them than formerly without the continual presence of an armed force, I would suggest that arms and ammunition should be Manuscript imageas well as spirituous liquors forbidden to be sold to the Indians under a penalty.
I am also of opinion that measures should be taken to prevent the further influx of Northern Indians, and means adopted for sending away by degrees those who are now located in Victoria, occasioning by their presence frequent cause of alarm to the inhabitants, and rendering it necessary to establish a system of blockade of the Harbour by the boats of the Squadron, which the cunning of the Indians can without much difficulty evade.
The disarming all the Indians might be attended with a bad effect, but I should not be surprised if Your Excellency was obliged to have recourseManuscript imagerecourse to it in the neighbourhood of Victoria.
Their principal object in coming here, from what I can collect is the fearfully demoralizing one of trading with the unchastity of the Squaws.
I have &c
Signed) R Lambt Baynes
Rear Admiral and
Commander-in-Chief
Douglas, James to Pelham-Clinton, Henry Pelham Fiennes 8 August 1860, CO 305:14, no. 9267, 365. The Colonial Despatches of Vancouver Island and British Columbia 1846-1871, Edition 2.2, ed. James Hendrickson and the Colonial Despatches project. Victoria, B.C.: University of Victoria. https://bcgenesis.uvic.ca/V60039.html.

Last modified: 2020-12-02 13:40:34 -0800 (Wed, 02 Dec 2020) (SVN revision: 5008)