Murdoch to Rogers (Permanent Under-Secretary)
Emigration Office
30 March 1863
I have to acknowledge your letter of 20th instant with a further letter from the Governor of the Hudsons Bay Co on the subject of the surrender to the Crown of the unsold land in the Town of Victoria Vancouvers Island.
2. In a despatch dated 3rd Decr last Governor Douglas complained of delay on the part of the Agent of the Company in furnishing a statement of the Land ceded to the Crown under the Agreement of Febry 1862, andManuscript image intimated a suspicion that the Agent was dealing with the unappropriated land in a manner inconsistent with good faith and with the rights acquired by the Crown under that Agreement. As the only way of dealing with this despatch it was suggested in a report from this Board of 18th ultimo that it should be communicated to the Governor of the Company—that he should be requested to cooperate in expediting the completion of the arrangement between the Company and the Government and that it should be pointed out that no grants made by the Company after 1st Janry 1862 could beManuscript image recognized except under special circumstances—and that all money accruing from such grants would belong not to the Company but to the Crown.
3. To the principle there laid down the Governor entirely assents—and expresses the earnest desire of the Company to adhere strictly and in good faith to the Agreement of Febry 1862. He also expresses his surprize that Governor Douglas, by whom the Reserve at Victoria was originally made on behalf of the Company, should have in his possession no plan of it—and he encloses a plan of the Land to the South and West of James' Bay showing the portionManuscript image disposed of by the Company and the portion to revert to the Crown, which had been received by the last Mail from Mr McTavish. A copy of this plan was forwarded, it appears, by Mr McTavish to the Colonial Secretary on 7th Janry last. It was, therefore, in Governor Douglas' hands soon after he wrote the despatches which have given rise to this correspondence.
4. It is to be gathered from this plan and the correspondence which accompanies it that exclusive of the Reserves for a Park, School, Church & Cemetery and Government Buildings, the whole of the Land at Victoria has been disposed of exceptManuscript image about 110 1/2 Acres. Of this 110 1/2 Acres the Company are to be allowed by the Agreement of Febry 1862 to select 50 Acres leaving about 60 1/2 Acres to the Crown. These 60 1/2 Acres comprize 10 "Sections" containing 48.54 Acres and 78 Town Lots containing 12 Acres.
5. The quantity which thus reverts to the Crown is inconsiderable, and much less than from the Chart before us when the Agreement was entered into with Mr Dallas we had expected. Annexed to Mr Beren's letter is one from Mr Dallas repudiating the imputation of having taken advantage of our unavoidable ignorance for local matters, and appealing to usManuscript image to vouch for the frankness and good faith with which he acted in the discussions which preceeded that Agreement. We have no disposition to question Mr Dallas' good faith in the matter, and it is quite true that he stated at the time his inability to point out accurately how much of the Land remained unsold. But we certainly were under the impression, erroneously as now appears, that a large portion of the land to the South and West of James' Bay which was left blank in the Map was still unsold, and that the Crown would obtain on behalf of the public aManuscript image considerable and valuable property. The misapprehension whatever its origin cannot be remedied, and is not, I think, of any great importance. The object was not so much to acquire for the Crown the largest quantity of valuable land, as to put an end to the questionable tenure of the Company which was calculated to impede the progress of the Settlement and lead to further disputes. Had the former been the object the Duke of Newcastle would no doubt have required an exact statement of the Land to be surrendered before he sanctioned the completion of the Agreement. But for the latter object no such precisionManuscript image was required. It seems hardly necessary under these circumstances to pursue this portion of the subject further.
6. But another question has arisen upon the Agreement. It was provided that a Lot should be reserved for the office of the Harbor Master "at the foot of Fort Street," measuring about 50 feet in width. Mr Berens alleges that this was a mere verbal error on the part of Mr Dallas, and that the spot should have been described as at the foot of "Broughton Street" instead of Fort Street. Upon this we can form no opinion, Broughton Street not being marked in the Chart in ourManuscript image possession. But as it is alleged that the Land at the foot of Fort Street is covered with buildings there could be no objection to accepting in lieu of it land at the foot of Broughton Street, provided the latter is equally well situated for the office of the Harbour Master. This, however, is a point on which the Duke of Newcastle will probably not adopt any final decision without previously consulting Governor Douglas.
7. It may perhaps be expected that before any instructions from this side can reach Governor Douglas a report founded on Mr McTavish's letter to him of 7th Janry may be received at the Colonial Office. Manuscript image
Not arrived at this date.
ABd 31 March/63
Under these circumstances His Grace may think it best to postpone issuing any such instructions till that report has been considered. It does not appear to me that there ought to be any great difficulty in bringing the matter to a conclusion, if only it is steadily borne in mind tht the object is not solely or principally a pecuniary gain to the Crown, but a final & satisfactory settlement of all questions between the Crown and the Company. If there is a disposition to raise controversies there can of course be no want of opportunities in transactions extending over so manyManuscript image years and conducted with the natural laxity of a Company which considered that it was dealing with its own property only. But if both sides will be satisfied to conduct the matter with a single reference to the main object in view, there ought not to be any differences of opinion which should seriously interfere with its settlement. If any instructions are to be sent at once to Governor Douglas I would submit that they should impress upon him the importance of not raising unnecessary or unimportant controversies with the Company's Officers, but of conducting the correspondence in a liberal and conciliatory spirit. AndManuscript image he should I think be reminded of the expediency with a view to the progress of the Colony of bringing the question to an early settlement. The question in respect to the Harbour Masters Office should be dealt with in the same spirit—not of course sacrificing the interests of the public to the convenience of the Company—but not on the other hand taking advantage of what is said to have been an error on the part of Mr Dallas to expose the Company to unnecessary expense or embarrassment.
I have the honor to be
Your Obedient
Humble Servant
T.W.C. Murdoch
Minutes by CO staff
Manuscript image
See Mr Jadis's memo annexed, with Minute upon it.
TFE 15 April
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Mr Elliot
Mr Murdoch reports that it appears from the Plan and Papers attached to the Hudsons Bay Company's letter 2732, that, exclusive of certain Reserves, the whole of the land in the Town of Victoria has been disposed of, except about 110 1/2 Acres, of which the Company are entitled to select 50 acres, leaving about 60 for the Crown.
The L and E Commissrs: therefore have up to this time been under aManuscript image misapprehension in supposing that a considerable & valuable property would revert to the Crown. Such however being the fact, Mr Murdoch suggests 1st that Governor Douglas's report on Mr McTavish's letter (see enclosure in 2732) should be waited for—& 2nd (if instructions are at once to be sent out) that the importance of not raising unnecessary controversies with the Compy should be impressed upon the Govr. There is a further question as to the site reserved for a Harbor Masters Office which Mr Murdoch recommends should be treated in a similar spirit.
Manuscript image
The two despatches remaining unanswered are 1011 and 1012.
VJ 7 April
Wait until next Mail from Vancouver to see if it brings a Report from Govr Douglas on Mr McTavish's letter; but if it does not, answer the Governor's two despatches by instructing to the effect recommended by Mr Murdoch?
TFE 15 April
N 16