No. 73, Legislative
25 November 1861
I have the honour to transmit herewith, four Acts intitled as follows, vizt— 1. "The Alien Act 1861." 2. AnManuscript image 2. "An Act for the Confirmation of the Titles of Aliens to Real Estate 1861." 3. "An Act to Enable Aliens to hold Real Estate 1861." 4. "The Vancouver Island Civil Procedure Act 1861."
2. The provisions of the first three Acts defining the position of aliens in the Colony of Vancouver Island, are not materially differentfromManuscript image from the Alien Act approved by Her Majesty's Government and now in force in the Colony of British Columbia; they are also in accordance with the instructions received in Secretary Sir E. Lytton's Despatch No 20 of the 11th of February 1859; I therefore thought it incumbent upon me to give Her Majesty's Assent to them without delay, in order to quiet the public mind and to remove a mischievous feeling of distrustwhichManuscript image which had been rapidly gathering strength with respect to the rights of aliens in this Colony.
3. I enclose a report from the Attorney General on the character and object of these Acts; and I would also inform Your Grace that many reasons of sound policy render their immediate passage of vital importance to the Colony.
4. A great deal of capital has been invested by aliens in the purchaseofManuscript image of land in and about Victoria, and it was generally believed in consequence of an official announcement issued in 1858, declaring the legal position of aliens, that those persons were entitled to hold land for three years only, unless then declared to be British subjects; consequently most of them were preparing to sell their interest within the present year, and to withdraw from the Colony, though,otherwise,Manuscript image otherwise, if secured in their rights, they did not desire to sell their property.
5. I may also state that there is reason to believe that the attention of many Capitalists, especially among the British, French and German residents of San Francisco, is now being directed to this place; the present political troubles in the United States, a prospect of increased taxation,andManuscript image and the present high prices of Real Estate in San Francisco, all tending to direct enquiry towards this point, as a favourable one in which to make investments. The notification then, at this time, that all restrictions on aliens holding property in this Colony, are removed, will doubtless have a most beneficial effect.
6. I observe that the Government of Canada, influenced no doubt by thesameManuscript image same motives, have lately offered very liberal bounties of land and other inducements to those persons who are being driven across the borders by the troubles in the United States.
7. One very disastrous effect produced by uncertainty in regard to alien titles, is the check it gives to improvement. An alien may be willing to hold a piece of land with the prospect of its increasinginManuscript image in value soon, but he will not, with an uncertain tenure, invest capital in the erection of substantial buildings, or other permanent improvements. Another evil resulting from that uncertainty is that the alien does not identify himself with the interests of the country, nor actively contribute towards its sure and healthy development. He may perhaps aid in creating a speculative demand in order to sell his propertytoManuscript image to advantage, but he does not care to assist plans which require years to mature, when he may be called on any time to part with property which he holds only by sufferance.
8. There are many other points which I might allude to in connection with the subject, but most of them will doubtless occur to Your Grace.
9. As there still exists a feeling of distrust anduncertaintyManuscript image uncertainty as to whether these Acts will meet with Her Majesty's approval, I have to beg the favour of Your Grace's early reply to this Communication, in order that the question may be set at rest.
I have the honor to be
My Lord Duke,
Your Grace's most obedient
and humble Servant
James Douglas
Minutes by CO staff
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ABd 3 Febr
TFE 4 Feby
Duke of Newcastle
These laws are important. They provide that any alien may demand naturalization after 3 years residence, not having been convicted of a felony in any foreign country—that titles heretofore derived through aliens shall not be questioned on that account & that aliens may for the future hold Land—Naturalized persons are not to be members of the Lege or Exve Councils.
The most unusual provision is that wh enables aliens to hold land. If that is considered objectionable the Act No 40 shd be disallowed & 38 modifiedManuscript image so as merely to say the titles derived through aliens; leaving the aliens own title, at any rate if hereafter acquired, in its original invalidity.
But I am inclined to think that the circumstances of VanCouvers Island make it a wise policy to give every encouragement to the settlement of foreigners. They will enter this country & will be discontented instead of contented if they cannot acquire land without 3 years residence.
I should therefore be disposed to sanction all these Alien Acts.
There is no objection to the Common Law Procedure Act.
Sanction Nos 38, 39, 40, 41?
FR 4/2
It is almost certain that more ForeignersManuscript image than British subjects will for the present resort to Vancouvers Island for purposes of trade connected particularly with British Columbia. If we facilitate Naturalization and acquisiton of land I believe the larger part of them will become contented Subjects—if we refuse these advantages they will remain in the Island but be dissatisfied Aliens with no bond of attachment to the Colony and the ready instruments of intrigue in times of war or danger. I would therefore sanction these Acts.
N 5
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
Four Acts, as per despatch, not on microfilm.
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Attorney General George Hunter Cary to Colonial Secretary, 24 November 1861, reporting favourably on the four acts in question.
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Extract, official announcement declaring the legal position of aliens, "originally forwarded in British Columbia Despatch No 38 of the 29th November 1858."
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Newcastle to The Lord President, 19 February 1862, forwarding the four acts and asking that they be submitted to the Queen in Council and recommending them for approval.
Douglas, James to Pelham-Clinton, Henry Pelham Fiennes 25 November 1861, CO 305:17, no. 1167, 523. 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/V61073.html.

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