Walcott to Rogers (Permanent Under-Secretary)
Emigration Office
7th October 1865
I have to acknowledge your Letter of the 28th ultimo, with the copy of a Despatch from the Governor of Vancouvers Island relative to the operation of the Vancouver Island Land proclamation of 1862.
2. I am not aware whether this proclamation has ever previously been submitted to the Secretary of State.
No trace thereof.
ABd 11 Oct
It has never been sent to thisOfficeManuscript image Office for report. It recognizes two systems in the disposal of Crown Lands—(1) sale by auction at an upset price not exceeding 4s/2d an acre and after auction sale by private contract at the upset price and (2) "preemption," or the acquisition of land on credit. Under this latter system any person may acquire any unsold unoccupied and unreserved Crown lands not being the site of any existing or proposed Town, or auriferous land, or Indian reserve, by simply entering into possession of the land and recording his claim thereto in the SurveyorGeneral'sManuscript image General's Office. This right is limited however in the case of a single man to 100 acres, and in the case of a married man to 150 acres, with an additional 10 acres for each child under 18. Where the land is in a surveyed district the Preemptor after two years permanent occupation or after obtaining a "certificate of improvement" is entitled to purchase the land at the current rate not exceeding 4s/2d an acre. But if the land has not been surveyed the purchase money begins to accrue as soon as the Government Surveys reach it. The purchase money ispayableManuscript image payable by annual instalments of 1s/ an acre—the first instalment being payable within 12 months after the claim is recorded, or after the survey of the land, as the case may be. But in addition to the land thus "preempted" the occupier has the further right to hold any quantity of contiguous unoccupied land, upon payment down of 2s/1d per acre leaving the remaining instalment to be paid when the land is surveyed.
3. The "preemptor" is entitled to a "certificate of improvement" if he shows to the satisfaction of theSurveyorManuscript image Surveyor General that he has continued in permanent occupation of the land and has made permanent improvements thereon to the value of 10s/ an acre. Until he gets this certificate or completes his purchase he cannot sell, mortgage or lease the land.
4. The practical effects of the working of this Law the Governor describes to be—
I. That 118,506 acres of the cream of the public lands have been alienated for $13805 (about £2876) of which only 23,629 acres are in part occupied and of which alargeManuscript image large portion is unimproved and uncultivated.
II. That a preemptor of 100 acres can take up any further quantity of unoccupied land without any conditions whatever of occupation or improvement—(It must be borne in mind however that he has to pay down 2s/1d per acre for the additional quantity).
III. That bonâ fide settlement has been discouraged—and land speculation encouraged—the best lands being locked up in the hands of speculators who pay neither rent nor taxes for them.
MrManuscript image
5. Mr Kennedy also expresses his apprehension that "Improvement Certificates" have been loosely issued and upon wholly insufficient grounds, and he has no doubt that a large portion of the 118,506 acres which have been preempted has become forfeited without any steps being taken that he is aware of to enforce the forfeiture.
6. Other minor evils, he adds, are caused by the present system—but as the Local Legislature has declined to accept the management of the Crown Lands or to make any provision for "Land Recorders" or for an adequate surveying Staff, noassistanceManuscript image assistance in devising suitable remedies can be looked for in that quarter. In order however to prevent further speculation and monopoly in Crown Lands, Governor Kennedy issued, in July of last year, two proclamations to withdraw from the operation of the Proclamation of 1862 certain districts of the Island. But other measures he evidently considers [are] necessary for placing the Land question on a more satisfactory footing.
7. Under these circumstances it seems clear that the Governor should be authorized to prepare a fresh Land proclamation embodying what he may consider to be theappropriateManuscript image appropriate remedies for the evils he has pointed out, in order that Mr Cardwell, before coming to a decision, may have before him the advantage to be derived from Local experience.
8. In the meantime, & as it is advisable to preserve so far as practicable uniformity in the Land systems of Vancouver Island and British Columbia,
This should not be put too strongly.
I would suggest that a copy of the Land Ordinance of the latter Colony No 27 of 1865 (should Mr Cardwell have sanctioned it)
Mr Cardwell has sanctioned it.
be furnished to Governor Kennedy to assist him in framing his new measure. The British ColumbiaOrdinanceManuscript image Ordinance embodies the principle of preemption but modifies its action, by requiring the previous Licence of the Stipendiary Magistrate of the District before an applicant can take possession and record his claim to any land, and by providing that the preemptor's right to acquire, by an immediate payment of half the purchase money, additional contiguous land shall be limited to 480 acres, except with the express sanction in writing of the Governor; so that no one can obtain on credit more than one square mileofManuscript image of land, and for three fourths of this he must pay down half the purchase money.
9. I would also suggest that the Governor be instructed to enforce the resumption of all land forfeited by the non performance of conditions of the proclamation of 1862—and to enjoin on the Surveying Department the necessity of requiring satisfactory evidence of permanent improvements to the full value required by the 19th section of the Proclamation, before granting the prescribed "Certificate of Improvement."
I have the honor to be
Your obedient
Humble Servant
S. Walcott
Minutes by CO staff
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ABd 11 Oct
Write as proposed by Mr Walcott, adding that Mr Kennedy will have already seen by Mr C's dph of [blank] that the expences of managing the Crown Lands form a legitimate charge on the Crown Revenue.
FR 11/10
Other documents included in the file
Manuscript image
Draft reply, Cardwell to Kennedy, No. 60, 17 October 1865.