No. 31
31 May 1862
I would desire to address Your Grace upon the subject of the Constitution of the Council established for Vancouver Island under Her Majesty's Commission and Instructions addressed to me as Governor of the Colony.
2. At the time thatCouncilManuscript image Council was constituted the circumstances of the Colony differed materially from those of the present day. Then there were no principal Executive Officers attached to the Government, and the Council was necessarily entirely composed of private individuals holding no office under the Government. Now however, I have around me certain principal officers of the Government who should, ex officio, form a distinct Executive Council. I havehoweverManuscript image however, no power to constitute them such, and were I to place them in the sole Council authorized by my Instructions, it would, the Chief Justice already being a Member of that Council, reduce the unofficial members to two, and the people would then have just cause of complaint that their interests were inadequately represented in the Upper Legislative Body by unofficial members.
3. I would therefore submit to Your Grace that the time has arrived when in thisColonyManuscript image Colony, two Councils should be formed, an Executive, and a Legislative. The Executive to consist of the undermentioned officers,
The Colonial Secretary,
The Attorney General,
The Treasurer,
The Surveyor General,

The Legislative to consist of seven members as at present, with not less than three unofficial members. The members of the Executive Council, if not in the House of Assembly as Representatives of the people,toManuscript image to be eligible for appointment to the Legislative Council. The official members of the Legislative Council to take precedency of the unofficial members, and the two classes amongst themselves to take precedency in the Council, the official according to the Colonial rank of their office, the unofficial according to seniority of appointment.
4. I believe what I here propose is strictly according to the practice followed in other ColoniessimilarlyManuscript image similarly circumstanced to Vancouver Island at the present time, and I therefore apprehend the propriety of the arrangement will be so patent to Your Grace, that it is unnecessary for me to dwell upon it at great length.
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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Mr Elliot
I am of opinion that it would conduce to the satisfaction of the public, and probably be convenient to Governor Douglas himself, if an Executive Council were created in V. Couver Island. When the 1st Govr of this Colony was appointed there existed no materials for such a Body. The elements for an Ex. Council are now ample.
ABd 25 July
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Duke of Newcastle
Although the machinery of government & legislation in V. Isd. is ludicrously complex for such a miniature community, I suppose the change proposed by Govr Douglas may as well be made.
CF 25
Mr Fortescue
I agree. Mr Gairdner would consider (if the Duke of Newcastle concurred as to the principle of constituting an Exe Council,) by what form of instrument this should be done; and wd suggest any alteration of detail wh mt be recommended by the analogy of other Colonies. I myself see (as at present advised) nothing to change in Gov. Douglas' suggestions.
FR 25/7
I shall be glad that the proposed reference to Mr Gairdner should be made, but I wish no further steps to be taken till I have fully considered the future Govts of V.Id & B. Columbia, which I propose to do as soon as this Session is over.
N 28
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Sir F. Rogers
The best form of Instrument which I can suggest, for establishing an Executive and Legislative Council at Vancouver Island instead of the one Council, is that which was used for a similar purpose in the Bahamas in the year 1841. I suppose that with some modification the general plan may be a[d]opted [marginal note: Yes. FR]. You will find them marked in the accompanying Volume. Perhaps you would lookManuscript image at them, and if you think that the plan would answer generally I will prepare the drafts and have them ready for consideration at the future period proposed in the Duke of Newcastle's Minute. I believe that new Letters Patent will be necessary, because the existing Letters Patent in Commission provide distinctly for one Council and it will be necessary to have an Instrument of equal force to create two Councils, asManuscript image proposed, instead of one.
2. You will perceive that in the Bahamas case two Additional Instructions were prepared at the same time, the one for creating the Executive Council and the other for creating the Legislative Body. I cannot perceive the use of this two fold machinery [marginal note: Nor I. FR], and should conceive that the two Instruments had better be run into one [marginal note: Yes. FR].
3. Governor Douglas's Commission and InstructionsManuscript image follow the plan of the Instruments prepared for his Predecessor in 1849 and are of an old form, but I suppose that it would be best to let them alone for the present [marginal note: Yes. FR] and simply to make the necessary provision for the constitution of the two Councils in the manner proposed.
GG 1/8/62
1;7 Aug to Sir F. Rogers
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I send you with this minute which you had already seen the drafts of additional Letters Patent & Instructions for creating an Executive & a Legislative Council in Vancouver Island: and I call your attention by Marginal Notes to any points which appear to me to require attention.
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Mr Engleheart
As I understand that the Duke of Newcastle has at present under consideration the question of the form of Government of Vancouver Island & B Columbia it will probably be desirable that his Grace should consider with them the Governor's Dispatch No 31 of the 31st May 1862 7227 and the Minutes and drafts connected with it relative to the Creation of an Executive and a Legislative Council, instead of one body as at present existing. I should atManuscript image the same time point out that in the Minute on that Dispatch his Grace desired that the question should be considered if adopting the Governor's suggestion for the establishment of the two distinct Councils, but proposed that nothing final should be done until he had fully considered the future Governments of Vancouver Island & B. Columbia which he proposed to do as soon as the Session of Parlt was over. The drafts of a supplementary Commission & Instructions were accordingly prepared with a good deal of [ease?] & approved by Sir F. Rogers & Mr Fortescue, but unfortunately they were rather prematurely advanced, but theManuscript image Patent is not (as I am informed) completed. If any alteration should be required it could still be made, but probably that will not be the case. In the mean time it would appear desirable that his Grace should have the drafts of the Instruments before him in considering the general question which I understand is now before him.
GG 12 Octr/62
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Sir F. Rogers
I wish to call your attention to a supplementary Commission and Instructions which were issued bearing date the 8 Octr last for altering the Constitution of the Council at Vancouver Island.
The Council, as originally constituted and as it at present stands, is of the form of the old West India Council, a form often adopted in new Colonies, consisting of one body which have power of passing Laws, but when summoned, meet as the Governor's advising Council. Govr Douglas suggestedManuscript image that the principle should be altered, and that the Body should be broken into two Councils, an Executive and a Legislative. The recommendation was approved and the Duke of Newcastle's Minutes directed that the Instruments should be prepared, but not completed until he should have finally considered the alterations which were contemplated in the whole constitution of these two Settlements. Unfortunately when the drafts of the Instruments had been settled, the direction for theManuscript image suspension of their further progress was forgotten, and was not adverted to until it was too late. The Commission & Instrucitons passed the Council office, and the former Instrument received the Great Seal.
I called attention to the circumstance in a Minute when all the papers on the subject of the Constitution were forwarded to his Grace: but I also now bring it under your notice. I am not aware that any practicalManuscript image difficulty would result from keeping back these Instruments. The Council goes on in the mean time with very much the same powers which are conveyed by the new Instruments to the two separate Bodies, except that the duties of the Executive Council in particular are now more distinctly defined; at the same time it would of course be more regular to give them their natural action: and I suppose that the establishment of these two Councils would not interfere with any further movementManuscript image as it is all in the way of progress. If I correctly read the meaning of the Act 9 & 10 Vic Cap 91. for defining the date at which new Commissions shall come into effect in distant Countries this supplementary Commission can be brought into effect if exhibited in Vancouver Island at any time within 9 months from its date [marginal note: 8 Octr 1862], and if not so exhibited within that period it would cease to have effect.
This is not I think exactly the effect of the Act. But no doubt this document shd reach the colony before the 8th of July.
GG 27/1/63
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Duke of Newcastle
I shd be inclined to send out the Instruments. They are calculated to effect a convenience as far as they go & will not interfere with any thing else.
Duke of Newcastle
These papers have come to me with the B Columbia Constitution papersManuscript image with wh they have a certain amount of connection. But looking to the nature of GG's minute, it appears to me that these may take their course without waiting for the decision of the larger question.
Keeping this instrument back may cause inconvenience, wh sending it can hardly do.
FR 8/4
Let it proceed.
N 10
Other documents included in the file
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Newcastle to The Lord President of the Council, 26 August 1862, transmitting drafts of a supplementary commission and additional instructions for the approval of the Queen in Council.
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Newcastle to "Mr Attorney General or Mr Solicitor General," 17 September 1862, transmitting a draft of the supplementary commission for the preparation of a warrant for letters patent.
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Draft reply, Newcastle to Douglas, Separate, 14 April 1863, informing Douglas that his request has been approved.
Minutes by CO staff
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Sir F. Rogers
I have prepared this short covering dispatch for the transmission of the supplementary Commission and Instructions creating two distinct Councils at Vancouvers Island. You will perhaps consider whether the draft is properly framed; [and?] when the Instruments have been dispatched, I suppose that the papers should be returned to the Duke of Newcastle for the consideration of the more general question involved.
Douglas, James to Pelham-Clinton, Henry Pelham Fiennes 31 May 1862, CO 305:19, no. 7227, 182. 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/V62031.html.

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