Murdoch to Elliot (Assistant Under-Secretary)
8th March 1864
I have to acknowledge your letter of 2nd instant, with a letter from the Governor of the Hudsons Bay Co, on the subject of the claim of Mr Lowenberg to a Lot of Land forming part of the original Government Reserve at Victoria, Vancouvers Island.
2. The Government Reserve was a portion of the 1212 Acres at Fort Victoria claimed by the Hudsons Bay Company on the ground of occupation previous to 1849. By an Agreement concluded in Febry 1862 all sales ofManuscript image this Land made by the Company up to that date were confirmed, on condition that the unsold portion of the Land, with the exception of 50 Acres, should be surrendered to the Crown.
3. Previously to that date Mr Dallas, the Companys Agent, had sold to Mr Lowenberg the Lot now in question—Governor Douglas, however, refused to admit him into possession. The Governor alleged, but the Company denied, that the Lot still formed part of the Government Reserve—the Company asserting that it had been cut off from the Reserve by a ditch and proposed Street, Govr Douglas maintaining that the ditch was only a drain, and that the StreetManuscript image was outside the Boundary of this Lot. The Agreement of 1862 made no reference to this controversy.
4. Certain modifications of that Agreement were, however, found necessary in carrying it out—and Govr Douglas in April last proposed a compromize by which he considered that the rights of the Crown and the Company would be both maintained. One condition of that compromize was the surrender to the Crown of the Lot in question ("Lot Z"). The Hudsons Bay Company assented to the compromize, so far as they had power to do so consistently with the rights of individuals.
5. But Mr Lowenberg now calls on the Company to put him inManuscript image possession of the Land, which he says he bought from them in March 1861—and the Company apply to the Duke of Newcastle to give directions for that purpose. I do not see how this application can be refused. Nothing short of proof of fraud in the sale could invalidate Mr Lowenberg's title, supported as it is by the Agreement of February 1862. But although Govr Douglas in his despatch of 24th October 1861 described Mr Lowenberg as being "merely the Agent or instrument of the Company" in the sale and purchase of this Land—such a statement without further evidence would not justify the Government in resisting MrManuscript image Lowenberg's claim. As Govr Douglas in the subsequent correspondence adduced no additional evidence of the alleged collusion between the Company and Mr Lowenberg, and as the charge was inherently improbable, it seems hardly worth while to enquire into it further. Much, therefore, as it may be regretted that any portion of the Government Reserve should have been sold, I see no ground upon which the Crown could refuse to recognize the Sale.
I have the honor to be
Your obedient
Humble Servant
T.W.C. Murdoch
Minutes by CO staff
Manuscript image
ABd 9 March
Mr Fortescue
This Report speaks for itself. Adopt its Conclusions?
TFE 7/3
In draft accordingly.
CF 10