No. 39
8 August 1860
Referring to my Despatch No 34, of the 7th Ultimo, reporting for Your Grace's information various matters in connection with the Indian Tribes congregated at that time around Victoria, I have the honor to communicate to Your Grace that fresh arrivals have
been constantly occurring, while but comparatively few departures have taken place, so that at the present moment there are nearly four thousand Indians in the outskirts of the Town of Victoria.  
2. With one or two exceptions they have conducted themselves peaceably, but much apprehension is felt by the inhabitants at the close contiguity of a body of Savages double to them in number.  
3. In these apprehensions I do not share, for the object of the Indians in visiting this place is not to make War upon the white man, but to benefit by his presence, by selling their
Furs and other commodities; but I cannot be blind to the fact that in an emergency we are nearly wholly unprotected, and the most direful consequences might ensue were any sudden outburst to occur.  
4. We have but a small Police Force at Victoria, and no regularly organized and armed Force, which alone could be depended on in case of emergency. Numerous Special Constables have been sworn in, and have given cheerful assistance upon one or two occasions of alarm; but this is an expedient not calculated to be of much avail against Savages in case of an attack, unless a disciplined force were in reserve.  
5. As Your Grace is no doubt
aware the Vessels of War do not lie in Victoria Harbour, but at Esquimalt three miles off, Fort Victoria not being capable of receiving Vessels of large draft of water, and therefore although we may have the most efficient assistance near at hand, yet in reality it is too remote to be instantly available in case of sudden need.  
6. Admiral Baynes has at my request, and as mentioned in my Despatch of the 7th July, stationed a Boat with a Gun, and occasionally one of the Steam Gun Boats, at the entrance of Fort Victoria Harbour, to disarm the Indians upon their arrival. The Indians however manage to evade this surveillance in a great measure,
for they land their Arms before entering the Harbor, in the custody of their friends, from whom they can afterwards obtain them: but the check exists nevertheless, and produces a certain moral restraint which is beneficial.  
7. Much alarm is also manifested by the Settlers on the Coast, and at Admiral or Salt Spring Island, and Nanaimo, and they have addressed to me Petitions praying for protection to be afforded them. Copies of two of these Petitions I forward herewith. Although I confidently trust that the probability of disturbances arising between the white Settlers and the Indians may be far more remote than they seem to believe, yet I am well aware what small cause is calculated to arouse all the fiercer passions of the Savage, and, in a moment, to overturn all considerations of profit or interest, or even of consequences, although speedy retribution may be inevitable. It therefore would be highly culpable to relax in any precautionary measures; but in this case the number of white people is so disproportionate to that of the Indians, that we must in a great degree rely upon aid from without.  
8. Under these circumstances I have felt it necessary to appeal to Admiral Baynes, the Naval Commander in Chief, and I have requested him to station a small guard of Marines at Victoria, during the period that the Indians may be assembled here
in such numbers, and to detach a Vessel from Esquimalt to be stationed for the present near to Cowitchen, so as to visit at frequent intervals the different white Settlements on the Coast.  
9. I forward herewith Copies of the Correspondence which has passed between the Admiral and myself upon the subject.  
I have etc.
Minutes by CO staff
Mr Elliot
On this subject see the Governor's previous desph of the 7 July No 34—also the Admiralty Letter & enclosure of the 14 Sepr with which a draft is submitted according to minute.  
We know, of course, that an affray with these savages may occur at any moment, & from very trifling causes—causes which too frequently originate with the white men, who are prone to apply to the Authorities for military protection, suppressing their own misdeeds & exaggerating the conduct of the natives. We are not however, the less bound to see to the protection of our Countrymen, & that protection I cannot but think they already sufficiently possess. If you turn to the Letter from Admiral Baynes of the 24 July, in the Admy Letter 9006, you will see that at that date there lay in Esquimalt Harbor—3 miles only from Victoria—the "Ganges, Satellite, Termagant, Topaze, Alert, and Plumper"—with the "Grappler & Forward" Gun-boats. From these vessels it can scarcely be questioned that a force of 200 marines & blue jackets could be speedily brought to the assistance of the Town of Victoria, if requisite. Add to the above force 4 or 500 constables out of a population of 3000, of which Fort Victoria at least consists, and you have abundant means of self protection against the natives, if by treachery, or surprize they do not attack the residents at a disadvantage. On the whole, therefore, the Local Authorities have, in my opinion at least, sufficient means of self defence. The two Gun boats may be made very useful.  
[date cut off file]
Mr Fortescue
I do not see that anything more is necessary than to acknowledge the receipt of this despatch.  
1 Octr
It is astonishing how English settlers—whether in New Zealand or V. Id—fix themselves in the midst of numerous & well armed Savages, without the knowledge, or even the possession, of firearms—just as if they were settling in an uninhabited country. I wd instruct the Govr to recommend that ablebodied settlers sh. obtain firearms—and form themselves into Volunteer corps for defence in case of emergency.  
3 Octbr
A formidable prospect.  
24 July
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
  • Petition to Douglas from settlers on Salt Spring Island, no date, requesting protection against "the Northern Indians," signed by Robert Peel Dombrain, James Graham, "and fourteen others" (signatures not in file).  
  • Petition to Douglas from inhabitants of Nanaimo, no date, asking that a gun boat "or some other vessel of War" be stationed off Nanaimo to afford protection against "large numbers of Northern Indians," signed by A.D. McInnis, Edwin Gough, Chas. S. Nicol, James Farquhar," and above one Hundred others" (signatures not in file).  
  • Douglas to Rear Admiral Baynes, 3 August 1860, on the "better management of the Indians at Victoria."  
  • Baynes to Douglas, 1 August 1860, expressing his concerns about the large number of Indigenous peoples gathered at Victoria, and remarking that "Their principal object in coming here, from what I can collect, is the fearfully demoralizing one of trading with the unchastity of their Squaws."  
Despatch to London:
Douglas to Newcastle, 8 August 1860, National Archives of the UK, 9267, CO 305/14. The Colonial Despatches of Vancouver Island and British Columbia 1846-1871. Ed. James Hendrickson and the Colonial Despatches project. Victoria: University of Victoria. Accessed 21 November 2018. 

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