No. 15
Victoria Vancouver's Island
22th July 1856
Sir
I have the honor of enclosing herewith Minutes of the proceedings in the Council of Vancouver's Island on the 4th and 9th of June last. I stated in my communication of the 7th of June the subjects which had been laid before the Council on the 4th of that month. The propositions in respect to the convening and
constitution
constitution of the Assembly were approved and passed without alteration, at the meeting of the 9th of June.  
In order to suit the circumstances of the Colony, the property qualification of Members was limited to the ownership of 300, of freehold estate or upwards. *
*
How can this be legal.  
[HM]
To have fixed upon a higher standard of qualification, would have disqualified all the present representatives, leaving no disposable persons to replace them, and it appeared to me impolitic, as well as unconstitutional, to dispense altogether with the property qualification.  
You will observe by the said Minutes that absentee Proprietors of Freehold estates are allowed to vote through their resident Agents or Attorneys, after the example of British Guiana.  
The division of the settlements into four electoral Districts, admits of a
more
more equal representation, and has given more general satisfaction to the Colonists, than a single Poll opened in any one District.  
The electors are so few in number that the returns were mere nominations in all the Districts, with the exception of Victoria, where the contest was stoutly maintained by no fewer than five rival candidates.  
The elections are now over, and the Assembly is convened for the 12th day of August next.  
Since I had last the honor of addressing you, my time and attention have been seriously occupied in providing for the peace and security of the settlements, in consequence of the great numbers of northern savages, who have been, this season, crowding into the Colony. **
**
Anxiety on the score of the Indians.  
[ABd]
The presence of those people has excited a well grounded apprehension of danger in the minds of the Colonists; but I am thankful
that
that they have hitherto been kept under proper restraint. Our situation may however be compared to a smouldering volcano, which at any moment may burst into fatal activity.  
None of Her Majesty's Ships have yet arrived here, as we expected from Admiral Bruce's last communication. ***
***
The Admy have said that vessels of war shall be sent to the Colony. The "Alarm" was to be there [by?] July—& the Admiral himself shortly after.  
[ABd]
 
It may probably interest Her Majesty's Government to learn that some very fine specimens of scale Gold have been lately discovered in one of the Tributary Streams of Fraser's River, at a considerable distance from the sea coast. ****
****
Gold. On the continent.  
 
The persons who made the discovery propose to continue the search for gold, as soon as the river which, was then in a swollen state, falls to its lowest level, and I will do myself the honor of informing you of the result of their explorations. The search for Gold has not been continued with activity on Vancouver's Island, neither does it appear that the Gold
District
District in the Upper Columbia, referred to in my letter of the 16th April last, has been found productive, as the ascertained export of Gold from that quarter for the last five months is only about 220 ounces.  
The high state of the auriferous mountain streams, usual in the early months of summer, may probably have hindered the miners from working with their customary activity, but whether that or the limited extent of the gold District, be the real cause of their want of success, is a matter of conjecture, as I have received no reliable information on the subject.  
I have the honor to be Sir
Your most obedient humble Servant
James Douglas
Governor

The Right Honble Henry Labouchere
&c &c &c
Colonial Office
Minutes by CO staff
Mr Merivale
Copy to the Hudson's Bay Co of so much as relates to the convening of the Assembly & the Gold finding.  
2. Governor Douglas has been requested not to blend different subjects in the same despatch.  
3. The Admiral on the Station was expected to be at VanCouver the end of July.  
ABd
15 Octr
Copy to HBC and acknowledge.
 
I doubt the legality of fixing a property qualification for the members—but it is scarcely desirable to interfere?  
HM
O 15
HL
17
Other documents included in the file
  • Draft, Elliot to John Shepherd, Hudson's Bay Company, 23 October 1856, forwarding copy of the despatch and enclosures.  
  • Draft reply, Labouchere to Douglas, No. 18, 21 October 1856.  
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
  • Proclamation issued by Douglas, 16 June 1856, convening of General Assembly.  
  • Minutes of Council, 4 June and 9 June 1856, as per despatch.  
 
Despatch to London:
Douglas to Labouchere, 22 July 1856, National Archives of the UK, 9300, CO 305/7. The Colonial Despatches of Vancouver Island and British Columbia 1846-1871. Ed. James Hendrickson and the Colonial Despatches project. Victoria: University of Victoria. http://bcgenesis.uvic.ca/getDoc.htm?id=V56015.scx. Accessed 17 November 2018. 

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