No 48, Separate
26th June 1866
1. I have the honor to transmit a Memorial from the Legislative Assembly of this Colony with reference to the union of Vancouver Island and British Columbia.
2. I have numbered the paragraphs of this Memorial for greater facility of reference.
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3. I would beg to refer you generally to my Despatches named in the margin
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Separate, 14th April 1864
Separate, 5th May "
No 40, 7th July "
No 45, 13th July "
No 16, 21st March 1865
No 27, 4th May "
No 36, 7th June "
No 57, 18th July "
No 73, 24th August "
No 78, 5th September "
No 81, 22nd " "
No 92, 1st December "
No 4, 23rd January 1866
No 7, 30th " "
No 9, 8th February "
No 10, 13th " "
No 14, 1st March "
No 24, 26th " "
which treat of many of the subjects touched upon in this Memorial.
4. A reference to my Despatch No 44 dated 22nd June 1866 by this Mail will show distinctly that the statement in paragraph 1 of the Memorial that I declined to transmit the Resolutions of the Assembly "unless approved by the LegislativeCouncil"Manuscript image Council" does not consist with fact. Whatever motive may have induced that statement, such a palpable inaccuracy at the outset of the Memorial will not I apprehend tend to give weight to subsequent statements the truthfulness or otherwise of which you may not possess equally distinct means of determining.
5. Paragraph 2. Three evils appear by the latter part of thisparagraphManuscript image paragraph to be treated of therein. The first is merely alluded to as something inevitable which will effect "their" own cure, and is not definitely described. The second evil is the continued separation of the Colonies resulting, as alleged, in legislation on the part of British Columbia "hostile alike to Imperial and Vancouver Island interests." I presume this has relation to the subject of my Despatches Nos 43 and 46 dated 16th and 26th Junerespectively.Manuscript image respectively. Of the third evil alleged to be "others flowing from the unnecessarily expensive and highly impracticable systems of Government of both Colonies," I can only speak as regards Vancouver Island. You will have gathered from previous Despatches that I have long been of opinion that the form of Government of this Colony is wholly unsuited to its population and circumstances,thatManuscript image that it is unworkable, and that a simpler form would be far better and possibly cheaper than the present. And it is an undoubted fact that the representative Assembly has been both directly and indirectly the cause of much unnecessary expenditure. The costly scheme referred to in my Despatch named in the margin
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No 4, 23rd January 1866, paragraph [cut off microfilm].
emanated from the Assembly. The "insupportable burthen" with which the people are oppressed isnotManuscript image not defined. If taxation be intended I have already in previous Despatches stated my opinions on that subject. What may be the nature of the "liberal and necessary laws" referred to by the Assembly I will leave you to infer when I state that the only measure passed for which any apparent popular clamour has been raised was a School Bill passed in 1865
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Vide No 7, 30th January 1866. Paragraph 11.
and which has already been the fruitful parent of expenditure and jobbery,andManuscript image and that the Land Proclamation (founded I believe chiefly on the land laws of the neighbouring American States) has given the greatest encouragement to land speculation and thereby retarded the settlement and consequently the development of the country.
6. Paragraph 3. I have already expressed my opinion in favour of the union of the Colonies and of an early settlement of the question. The cause of the separation of the colonies is of course well knownatManuscript image at the Colonial Office, but I believe I am right in denying it to have been the result of "Imperial expediency." The two Colonies are not only intimately connected with each other but to a very great extent mutually dependent.
7. Paragraph 4. The traders and land speculators have fixed themselves at Victoria, the port first established in either colony, and there some of the miners of British Columbia spend theirwintersManuscript image winters and their gold. Last winter a larger number of miners wintered at the Mines than theretofore.
8. Paragraph 5. The Indians of Vancouver Island do not contribute appreciably to the Revenue. They may be said to be wholly untaxed. This estimate of the population of the two colonies at 10,000 is much lower than the true numbers. I have already expressed my views upon the taxation and expenditure of Vancouver Island and whateverobjectionsManuscript image objections I may entertain to the present mode of raising taxes adopted in this Colony, the application of such terms as "unparalleled" and "ruinous" to the taxation of Vancouver Island where the bulk of the population may be said to be untaxed, is wholly without warrant. A form of Government in which the management of the affairs of the Colony instead of being left to an irresponsible body like the Assembly, should be entrusted, to a greater extent than at present at all events,toManuscript image to persons answerable for their conduct to the Crown would tend to the end desired in this paragraph, and would I believe meet the general approval of the respectable and soberminded British inhabitants of the Colony.
9. Paragraph 6. This paragraph relates chiefly to British Columbia. If by "a more liberal and responsible form of Government" party Government on the model of Great Britain or her more advanced Colonies be meant, I have nohesitationManuscript image hesitation in saying that in Vancouver Island the elements of such a form of Government have never existed and are not likely in my opinion to be found for many years to come.
10. Paragraph 7. It is true that the Legislative Council have rejected measures passed by the Assembly or having modified them they have been rejected by the Assembly. The time of the Assembly with no representative of the Executive Government to assist in itsdeliberationsManuscript image deliberations has been chiefly occupied in useless discussions and in passing Bills which never could without much modification have received the Confirmation of Her Majesty.
The rejection of the Volunteer Bill and the recent rejection for the second time of the Postal Bill by the Assembly after passing the Legislative Council are instances in which the complaint of that Body against the Legislative Council might be directed with all the force of truth against itself.TheManuscript image The Members of the Legislative Council are directly responsible to the Crown but I am compelled to say that the Members of the Assembly so far as my experience of that Body has extended, have not evinced any sense of responsiblity to their constituents, to each other, or to their Sovereign. The instance or instances in which the Governor has refused "to grant necessary information" are not detailed and the assertion to that effect does not require comment beyondstatingManuscript image stating that so far as I am concerned I have always readily granted "necessary information to the Assembly on matters affecting the vital interests of the Colony" so far as it has been within my power to do so.
11. Paragraph 8. The control of the "manner and amount of the taxation and expenditure" has unfortunately been too much left to the Assembly and the result has been financial confusion and embarrassment. As regards thesalaryManuscript image salary of the Governor of this Colony I beg to refer you to my Despatch No 27 dated 4th May 1865. A Government House is now maintained here but not "at great expense" to the Colony—some of the expenses which should properly be charged to the public are now defrayed by the Governor. The words "each has a Private Secretary" appear from the context to be intended to convey the idea of a public charge, the fact being that the Assembly have refused to vote the salary of the Private Secretary of the GovernorofManuscript image of this Colony.
12. Paragraph 9. If it be not premature to discuss a civil list for the united Colonies I am prepared to show that the amounts proposed are very inadequate.
13. Paragraph 10. This is a matter of hypothesis which Her Majesty's Government will know how to deal with in a proper manner.
14. Paragraphs 11 and 12. The representative Institutions of Vancouver Island do not give much earnest of better things from similar institutions in the unitedColoniesManuscript image Colonies. "An economical Government" would doubtless be advantageous. The scheme of opening the communication across the Rocky Mountains may be of great advantage as the interior of British Columbia becomes settled and opened up.
15. Paragraphs 13 to 16. I have earnestly advocated the establishment of a British line of steamers between this Colony and Panama but the Assembly have hitherto interposed insurmountable obstacles in the waybyManuscript image by refusing to vote a sufficient subsidy, and by the rejection of a postal law besides the barrier which the uncertainty of the continuance or repetition of votes of subsidies has presented to any Company contemplating the establishment of such a line. The suggestion of the importance of establishing efficient and regular postal communication with the Mother Country has until the present time been treated with neglect and indifference by the Assembly.IManuscript image I have not been without hopes that a subsidy of such an amount as the two Colonies could have afforded would, with a due assurance of permanence, have led Her Majesty's Government to consider favourably a proposal to increase that subsidy to such an amount as would have induced a responsible company to undertake the service.
16. Paragraph 16. The large sums referred to in this paragraph as being now paid to keep up a connection with California cannotbeManuscript image be considered as part of a steady and determined scheme of communication with the Mother Country although in fact that connection involves a portion of the whole route. The "large sums" are being expensed for the purpose (proper and useful in itself) of attracting the traffic expected to arise this year to a new gold field on the Upper Columbia River, through Victoria and by way of the Fraser River rather than allowing it to pass through United States Territory.
17. ParagraphManuscript image
17. Paragraph 17. I believe the natural resources of these Colonies to be such as with sufficient development would secure lasting prosperity to both.
18. I cannot conclude without drawing your attention to the fact that this Memorial is the result of several secret sittings of the Assembly and that I am therefore in utter ignorance of the number of Members from whom it emanates and of the degree of unanimity with which itwasManuscript image was adopted and I think looking at the recent instances in which matters of importance have been discussed in a thin House and earned by a narrow majority it is a matter for regret that I am not able to afford you any information on this point.
I have the honor to be,
Your most obedient Servant
A.E. Kennedy
Minutes by CO staff
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Sir F. Rogers
I should say that there is no necessity now for doing anything more than instructing the Governor to inform the H. Assembly that the Petition has been laid before the Queen, and thanking the Governor for the comments which he has made upon that Petition.
This despatch is an abundant proof, had any more proof been necessary, of the urgent need of suppressing this mockery of representative Institutions.
ABd 8 Augt
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Mr Elliot
It seems to me doubtful which of these dphes (i.e. this and 7605)Manuscript image should be treated so summarily as Mr Blackwood proposes. But I am not sufficiently familiar with the politics of these colonies to judge & witht an examination wh it is too late for me to give I must therefore leave the papers for you with this observation.
I understand that the recent act has been passed on the understanding that V.C.I. was ready to give up its free institutions in consideration of being united with B.C. But now the Assembly has passed Resolutions virtually negativing this understanding—& have asked the Gov. to telegraph them in time to stop the Parliamentary action based on the previous understanding. This the Govr has refused to do (rightly enough I dare say) & the Resolutions reach us too late to stop the Act of Parlt—but not too late to stop the Proclamation of Union issuable under it.
It seems to me that this state of things calls for a somewhat careful dph in vindication of the policy of the Home Govt in proceeding to unite the Colonies under one Crown Legislature & (if so decided) appointing a Governor withManuscript image 5000£ a year.
FR 10/8
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Sir F. Rogers
By an accident which I greatly lament, these two Vancouver despatches were laid aside in the pressure of urgent matters during the last six weeks. The leading facts are as follows. In March, 1865, the Assembly begged for an Union with B. Columbia under any Constitution that H.Ms Govt would grant.
In Decr 1865 the Assembly adhered to the desire for Union, and did not retract its former Resolution, although it expressed a preference for Responsible Government and Representative Institutions.
Therefore the Bill for Union was brought into the Imperial Parliament.
In the mean while the Vancouver Assembly passed a Resolution in June 1866 (printed copy with 7605) repeating their desire for Union,Manuscript image under a Constitution giving representation to the people. The Governor refused to telegraph this, whereupon the Assembly itself telegraphed it. The telegram is annexed with Lord Carnarvon's minute for not acting on an irregular communication of this kind. Mr Blackwood tells me that the late House of Assembly has expired in the course of the summer by lapse of time.
It seems to me that the answer is that the Union having been repeatedly urged by the Assembly and agreed to by the Council (this is to be verified) and the Assembly never having retracted its original resolution under any constitution which H. M's Govt might grant, although it did at later dates express its own preference for representative institutions, the Imperial Government have passed through parliament that measure which appeared to it best adapted to the purpose.
TFE 28 Sep
FR 2/10
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Lord Carnarvon
You will remember all that made it seem, as it doubly proves absolutely necessary to unite at once these Cols & the entire impossibility of representative Govt for B.C. with its shifting population of Golddiggers.
Would you not therefore, in acknowledging this Memorial of the VCI Assembly only, say that their repeated application for immediate Union in accordance as it was with the views of all other branches of both Legislatures & with the views of the Gov at home—as urgently necessary for economy & concert had been acceded to by the Imp Parlt though the subsequently attached Condition of Representative Govt, had been found wholly impracticable for the two united?
CBA 3/10
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This will require careful consideration. I sd wish to see Sir F. Rogers on the point.
C 4 Oct
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
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Memorial, Legislative Assembly to the Queen, 22 June 1866, reiterating their desire for union of the two colonies, but qualifying this position with a number of conditions including the maintenance of representative institutions, signed by J.S. Helmcken, Speaker (ten pages).