Head to Fortescue (Parliamentary Under-Secretary)
Hudson's Bay House
May 14/64
Sir-
It appears from recent papers received from Vancouver's Island that Legislation has been taking place there with a view to grant something in the nature of exclusive privileges to an American Telegraph Company, who are organizing a line from San Francisco.
It appears to be of the greatest importance that in the British Colonies on the Pacific no exclusive rights should be granted which might hereafter interfere with the Establishment of a line to beManuscript image carried eastward from the Rocky Mountains over British territory.
So far as I can understand [from] the newspaper reports referred to there seems to be a saving of some kind with reference to a future line through Canada; but the matter may hereafter have such an important bearing on British interests in North America, that I think it right to call the attention of the Rt. Honble the Secretary of State to the Subject.
The Legislation referred to took place in Vancouvers Island, and is, I presume,Manuscript image not binding on British Columbia. This latter colony, is of course the most important in some respects, but a communication with the Pacific ought to be carried to the port of Victoria. I have already expressed to you the readiness of this Company to take early steps for the erection of the telegraph across their own territory, and they will also be prepared to take effectual means for securing the completion of the line from the pass in the Rocky Mountains to New Westminster on terms analogous to those already contemplated by the Legislature of that Colony.
I have the honor to enclose the Victoria paper referred to.
Your obedt Servant
Edmund Head
Governor
Minutes by CO staff
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Mr Elliot
I have already noticed (in the local Newspapers) the proceedings of the Ho: of Assembly on this subject—but they have not yet reached the shape of an Act.
I need scarcely remind you that the policy of the Imperial Govt against granting exclusive privileges to Telegraph Cies on the continent of B.N.A. has been publicly & distinctly announced, on which point See P.P. Ho: Lords No 162, Sep/58. And H.M.Gt have very recently repeated the expression of this policy in the correspondence between Mr Collier and this office. See 7 Section of Col: Off Letter to Mr Collier of 14 Jan. last, which I annex. I wish, however, to observe that though it may be inferred that H.M.Got will not grant exclusive privileges to the H.B.Co in its design to establish a passenger and telegraphic route from Canada to the shores of the Pacific I fail to see any distinct intimation that such will be its course of action. In the territories of the H.B.Co we have at present no power to insist on such a policy; but in Canada, B. Columbia, & V.C. Island we can prevent exclusive privileges.
If you will take the trouble to look over the Correspondence laid before the Ho: C (which I annex) No 438, Sep. 1863 I think you will agree with me that the H.B.Co are not, in words at least, whatever may be the spirit of the correspondence, positively warned that H.M.G. will not sanction exclusive telegraphic privileges. But perhaps it was not necessary to be so precise. I only call attention to what seems to me to be the fact.
With regard to this particular measure to which Sir E. HeadManuscript image directs attention my belief is that the Bill will be found, when it comes home, to contain some clause saving the rights of the British Columbian & Canadian Line. But ought that Line to have any such saving right?
I have only to add that I have further noticed in the local Newspapers that the President of the California State Telegraph Co has visited V.C.Isld for the express purpose of carrying out this design of connecting Victoria & Washington Territory by the means of telegraphic wires—that if the Bill be passed in the V.C.I. Legre the line is to be commenced within 5 months, & completed within 13 months.
ABd 18 May/64
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I would write to the Govr enclosing the P.P. respecting exclusive Telegraph privileges in N. Scotia & N. Brunswick—and stating the policy of HMG is directly opposed to theManuscript image grant of any monopoly of Telegraphic communication—that any Law granting such a monopoly must not be assented to by the Govr without a suspending clause—and that Mr C thinks it most improbable that any such Law wd receive HM's approval or (if passed witht a suspg clause) be allowed to remain in operation.
Then send copy of the dph to the H.B.C.
Answer Sir E. Head that his suggestions will be fully considered & that the policy of the Govt has always been opposed to exclusive privileges.
EC 30
Other documents included in the file
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Draft reply, Cardwell to Kennedy, No. 8, 1 June 1864.
Minutes by CO staff
Mr Elliot
Perhaps you will pass these drafts to Sir F. Rogers, on whose minutes they are written, as he has under his consn a desph from B. Columbia sending home a Law similar to this which is believed to be passing, or to have passed the Legre of V.C. Island.
ABd 31 May
Draft to Sir E. Head. The ordce renders this dph and the accompy letter to Sir E. Head inappropriate—vide minute on 5063 B. Columbia.
Other documents included in the file
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Draft reply, Cardwell to Kennedy, No. 9, 1 June 1864.
Minutes by CO staff
This draft was seen & approved by Mr Cardwell with the other
despatches on the subject.
EBP 1 June/64
Other documents included in the file
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Elliot to Head, 4 June 1864, acknowledging receipt of his letter and advising the matter would receive the full consideration of the government in view of their long-standing opposition to the granting of such exclusive rights.
Head, Edmund Walker to Fortescue, Chichester 14 May 1864, CO 305:24, no. 4601, 187. 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/V645MI04.html.

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