No. 9
7 February 1861
It having been brought to my notice that the Hudson's Bay Company were about to dispose of at Sale by public auction the whole of the remaining available water frontage of the business portion of the City of Victoria, & which water frontage they claimunderManuscript image under a Title anterior to the Charter of Grant, I considered it my duty to address a request to the Board of Management to reserve such portions of water frontage as might be necessary to construct a Government Wharf and Harbour Masters Office, no such reservation having been previously made, and the government in consequence being compelled to pay an exorbitant rent for a small room upon a private wharf for use as a Harbour Masters Office.
2. From the reply of MrDallasManuscript image Dallas herewith enclosed Your Grace will perceive that the Company declined to make any such reservation as that requested, and I therefore caused a second letter to be addressed to Mr Dallas recapitulating the grounds upon which the requisition was made, and explaining its propriety. To this second letter I have not as yet received any reply, but I fear from the position assumed by Mr Dallas in his first letter that there is but little prospect of obtaining what is so obviously required.
3. Your Grace has informedmeManuscript image me that you do not recognize the claim set up by the Hudsons Bay Company to the land forming the town Site of Victoria and adjacent thereto, but that the question had been referred to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council for settlement, I therefore submit the present case to Your Grace in order that should the claim of the Company be admitted, the portion of land required, and as is shewn upon the annexed Tracing, may not be confirmed to them, for I think it clear, whether the claim be admitted ornotManuscript image not, that under all the circumstances of the case it is wholly inadmissable that the Company should be permitted to monopolize not only the entire Town Site, and thus deprive the Colony of the advantages resulting from its Sale, but also every available part of water frontage, and thus reduce the Government to the level of a private individual, and oblige it to go into the Market and buy at an enormous cost what is required for an evident and important public purpose.
4. A few days ago the Company sold at Auction a portion of the ground upon which formerly stood their first EstablishmentatManuscript image at Victoria (its position is marked upon the tracing enclosed). 51 Lots of an average size of 31 feet by 75 feet, were sold for the aggregate sum of One Hundred and Twenty five Thousand Dollars ($125,000). Some 60 Lots still remain unsold, but I understand the Company propose selling so soon as the market will yield a similarly good return. The Company also still hold some 300 Acres around Victoria (part of their claim of 3084 Acres) which they are disposing of from day to day at private sale at the rate of One Hundred pounds an Acre.
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5. I mention these circumstances merely to shew the large pecuniary benefit reaped by the Company through their tenure of Vancouver's Island, and owing to the accident of the discovery of Gold in British Columbia, and that therefore the Company cannot with any shew of reason complain that if the very insignificant portion of land now sought be withheld from them, it would be an act at all approaching to injustice, or as Mr Dallas would perhaps term it "aggression".
I have the honor to be
My Lord Duke
Your Grace's most obedient Servant
James Douglas
Minutes by CO staff
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Mr Elliot
Land Board.
ABd 6 Apl
Mr Blackwood
TFE 6/4
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
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Colonial Secretary W.A.G. Young to Board of Management of the Hudson's Bay Company, 15 January 1861, asking that they reserve a portion of land sufficient to construct a public wharf and harbour master's office before the sale of Victoria water frontage.
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A.G. Dallas to Young, advising that the Board did not feel itself authorized to make the requested grant of land, and offering instead the rent of a harbour masters office and free use of the company's wharf.
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Young to Dallas, 31 January 1861, further explaining the rights of the government to reserve the land in question (nine pages).
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"Tracing of plot of ground required by Government for public uses," as per despatch.