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Colonization of Vancouver's Island Hudson's Bay Company 1849

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1849. The University of British Columbia Library
Among* the various quarters to which the eye of the Intending"
Emigrant is now directed, Vancouver's Island holds a conspicuous
Forming' a part of the seaboard of N. W. America, and extending from 48 deg\ 17 min. to 50 deg. 55 min. north latitude, and
from 123 deg. 10 min. to 128 deg. 30 min. west longitude, it occupies a highly important position both with respect to the coasts
and islands of the Pacific. It is only a few days' sail from California, a country rapidly increasing in population, and in want of
its staple productions | and it is not much farther from the Sandwich Islands, with which it already carries on a thriving trade.'
"With these advantages of situation are combined others derived
from the natural capabilities and resources of the island, which are
of no ordinary kind* It possesses a variety of excellent harbours;
its rivers abound with salmon • and the seas around it with other
fish of various sorts, as cod, herrings, halibut, &c. Whales, also,
in vast numbers, frequent the neighbouring seas. Coal, of superior
quality, is found in the greatest abundance, and also limestone ;
and there is plenty of the finest timber of different kinds, oak,
ash, beech, pine, cedar, &c.
The climate resembles that of England, but is milder; and the
soil, as far as cultivation has hitherto extended, has been proved to
be well adapted to the production of wheat I nd other crops grown
in this country. The potato arrives at unusual perfection, and is
cultivated to a considerable extent by the natives, who, it may be
added, have been found very useful as labourers. Stock of all kinds
is easily reared, and thrives well. r
The Hudson's Bay Company having obtained from the Crown
a Grant of the Island, are ready to make Sub Grants of Land to
any emigrants from Great Britain or Ireland, or from any other
part of Her Majesty's dominions, who may be desirous of settling
on the said island, on the following conditions :—
1st,—That no grant of land shall contain less than twenty
2nd,—That purchasers of land shall pay to the Hudson's Bay
Company, at their House in London, the sum of One
Pound per acre for the land sold to them, to be held in
free and common soccage.
3rd,—That purchasers of land shall provide a passage to Vancouver's Island for themselves and their families, if they
have any; or be provided with a passage (if they prefer
it) on paying for the same at a reasonable rate.
4th,—That purchasers of larger quantities of land shall pay
the same price per acre, namely, One Pound, and shall
take out with them five single men, or three married
couples, for every hundred acres.
5th,—That all minerals, wherever found, shall belong to the
Company, who shall have the right of digging for the
same, compensation being made to the owner of the soil
for any injury done to the surface -, but that the said
owner shall have the privilege of working for his own
benefit any coal mine that may be on his land, on payment of a royalty of two shillings and sixpence per ton.
Gth,—That, the right of fishing proposed to be given to the
Hudson's Bay Company in the grant as printed in the
Parliamentary Papers relative to Vancouver's Island
having been relinquished, every freeholder shall enjoy
the right of fishing all sorts of fish in the seas, bays, and
inlets of, or surrounding, the said Island; and that all
the ports and harbours shall be open and free to them,
and to all nations, either trading or seeking shelter
As it is essential to the well-being of society that the means of
religious instruction should be within the reach of every member
of the community, provision will be made for the establishment, of places of public worship, and for the maintenance of ministers
of religion, according to a plan of which the following* is an
outline :—
1st,—The island is to be divided into districts of from five to
ten square miles where it is practicable.
2nd,—A portion of land, equal to one-eighth of the quantity
sold, to be set aside for the minister of religion. Thus,
in a district of ten square-miles containing 6,400 acres,
supposing 5,120 acres sold, the minister would be entitled to 640 acres, and the remaining 640 acres would be
available for roads, site for church and churchyard,
schools, or other public purposes* the land so reserved,
or its proceeds, to be appropriated for these purposes in
such manner as may appear advisable.
3rd,—With the view of enabling the ministers to bring their
lands into cultivation a free passage to be granted to
such a number of persons as a settler having an equal
quantity of land would be required to take out, the cost
to be paid out of the fund held in trust for the benefit of
the colony.
4th,—The several apportionments for purposes of religion to
be conveyed to, and to be held by, the Governor and.
Council, in trust for the parties appointed to perform the
clerical duties of the respective districts.
The most material provisions of the commission and instructions
to the Governor for the government of the colony are as follows :—
The Governor is appointed by the Crown, with a Council of
seven members, likewise so appointed.
The Governor is authorised to call Assemblies, to be elected by
the inhabitants holding twenty acres of freehold land.
For this purpose, it is left to the discretion of the Governor to
fix the number of representatives* and to divide the island into
electoral districts if he shall think such division necessary.
The Governor has the usual powers of proroguing, or dissolving
such Assembly.
Laws will be passed by the Governor, Council, and Assembly.
The Legislature, thus constituted, will have full power to impose
J !<#•
taxes and to regulate the affairs of the island, and to modify its
institutions, subject to the usual control of the Crown.
The Crown has already power, under the 1st and 2nd Geo. IV.,
c. 66P to appoint Courts of Justice and Justices of the Peace in the
Indian territories, of which Vancouver's Island forms a part • but
as the jurisdiction of such Courts was, by the 12th section of that
Act, limited in civil cases to causes not involving* more than £ 200
in value., and in criminal cases to such as are not capital or transportable (all of which were to be tried in Canada), an Act was
passed in the last Session of Parliament by which those restrictions
were entirely removed.
Richard Blanshard, Esq., has been appointed Governor.
Now know ye, that We, being moved by the reasons before-
mentioned, do by these presents for us, our heirs, and successors,
give, grant, and j confirm unto the said Governor and Company of
Adventurers of England trading* into Hudson's Bay, and their successors, all that the said island called Vancouver's Island, together
with all royalties of the seas upon the coasts within the limits aforesaid, and all mines royal thereto belonging:
And further we do, by these presents, for us, our heirs, and
successors, make, create, and constitute, the said Governor and
Company for the time being, and their successors, the true and
absolute lords and proprietors of the same territories, limits, and
places, and of all other the premises (saving* always the faith,
allegiance, and sovereign dominion due to us, our heirs ami successors for the same), to have, hold, and possess and enjoy the said
territory, limits, and places, and all and singular other the premises
hereby granted as aforesaid, with their and every of their rights,
members, royalties,jand appurtenances whatsoever, to them, the said
Governor and Company, and their successors for ever^ to be holden
of us, our heirs, and successors, in free and common soccage, at the
yearly rent of ?s., payable to us and our successors for ever, on the
1st day of January in every year :
Provided always, and we declare, That this present g*rant is
made to the intent that the said Governor and Company shall
establish upon the said island a settlement or settlements of resident colonists, emigrants from our United Kingdom of Great Britain and
Ireland, or from other our dominions, and shall dispose of the land
there as may be necessary for the purposes of colonization, and to
the intent that the said Company shall, with a view to the aforesaid purposes, dispose of all lands hereby granted to them at a
reasonable price, except so much thereof as may be required for
public purposes: and that all monies which shall be received by
the said Company for the purchase of such land, and also from all
payments which may be made to them for or in respect of the coal
or other minerals to be obtained in the said island, or the right of
searching* for and getting the same shall (after deduction of such
sums by way of profit as shall not exceed a deduction of ten per
cent, from the gross amount received by the said Company from
the sale of such land, and in respect of such coal or other minerals
as aforesaid) be applied towards the colonization and improvement
of the island: and that the Company shall reserve for the use of
us, our heirs, and successors, all such land as may be required for
the formation of naval establishments, we, our heirs, and successors
paying a reasonable price for the same, and that the said Company
shall, once in every two years at the least, certify under the seal of
the said Governor and Company, to one of our Principal Secretaries
of State, what colonists shall have been from time to time settled
in the said island, and what land"shall be disposed of as aforesaid:
And we further declare, that this present grant is made upon
this condition, that if the said Governor and Company shall not,
within the term of five years from the date of these presents, have
established upon the said island a settlement of resident colonists,
emigrants from the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland,
or from other our dominions, and it shall, at anytime, after the
expiration of such term of five years, be certified to us, our heirs, or
successors, by any person who shall be appointed by us, our heirs,
or successors, to inquire into the condition of such island, that such
settlement has not been established according to the intent of thifc
our grant, or that the provisions hereinbefore mentioned respecting
the disposal of land, and the price of lands and minerals have not
been respectively fulfilled, it shall be lawful for us, our heirs, and
successors, to revoke this present grant, and to enter upon and
resume the said island and premises hereby granted, without prejudice, nevertheless, to such dispositions as may have been made
in the mean time by the said Governor and Company of any land 8
in the said island for the actual purpose of colonization and settlement, and as shall have been certified as aforesaid to one of our
principal Secretaries of State:
And we hereby declare that this present grant is and shall be
deemed and taken to be made upon this further condition, that We,
our heirs and successors, shall have, and we accordingly reserve unto
us and them, full power, at the expiration of the said Governor and
Company's grant or license of dr for the exclusive privilege of
trading with the Indians, to re-purchase and take of and from the
said Governor and Company the said Vancouver's Island and premises hereby granted, in consideration of payment being made by
us, our heirs, and successors, to the said Governor and Company of
the sum or sums of money theretofore laid out and expended by
them in and upon the said island and premises, and of the value of
their establishments, property, and effects then being thereon.
. In witness whereof we have caused these our letters to be made
patent. Witness Ourselves, at Westminster, the thirteenth day of
January, 1849, in the Twelfth year of our reign.
Applications for Land, or for further information, may be addressed to A. Barclay, Esq., Secretary to the Hudson's Bay
Company, 4, Fenchurch Street, London.
ft." *
With the view of supplying persons intending to emigrate with
information respecting* Vancouver's Island, the following extracts
are collected from Papers laid before Parliament, Speeches in the
Houses of Lords and Commons, Public Journals, &c.:—
From the Settler's New Home, by Sidney Smith.
" From Texas to Oregon the emigrant would find a fall analog'ous
to that of | out of the frying-pan into the fire." The climate and
soil are unobjectionable, but everything else is. Vancouver's
Island, under the protection and dominion of the Hudson's Bay
Company, seems to offer greater advantages to the adventurous***
The government of the Hudson's Bay Company enforces good order
and good faith, affords encouragement, assistance, and protection
to all settlers, and manages its commerce so judiciously as to surround settlers with many of the advantages of civilisation."
*l 9
From the Parliamentary Papers.
a At Camosack there is a pleasant and convenient site for the
establishment, within fifty yards of the anchorage, on the border of
a lar^e tract of clear land which extends eastward to Point Gonzalo
at the south-east extremity of the island, and about six miles
interiorly* being the most picturesque and decidedly the most
valuable part of the island that we had the g*ood fortune to discover.
| The accompanying ground plan shows pretty correctly the distribution of wood, water, and prairie upon the surface, and to it I
beg to refer you for information upon such points.
I More than two-thirds of this section consist of prairie land, and
may be converted either to purposes of tillage or pasture, for
which I have seen no part of the Indian country better adapted •
the rest of it, with the exceptions of the ponds of water, is covered
with valuable oak and pine timber.
II observed, generally speaking, but two marked varieties of soil
, on these prairies, that of the best land is a dark vegetable mould,
varying* from nine to fourteen inches in depth, overlaying a
substrate of greyish clayey loam, which produces the rankest
growth of native plants that I have seen in America. The other
variety is of inferior value, and to judge from the less vigorous
appearance of the vegetation upon it, naturally more unproductive.
| Both kinds, however, produce abundance of grass, and several
varieties of red clover grow on the rich moist bottoms. In two
places particularly we saw several acres of clover growing with a
luxuriance and compactness more resembling the close sward of a
well-managed lea than the produce of an uncultivated waste.
I Being pretty well assured of the capabilities of the soil, as
respects the purposes of agriculture, the climate being also mild and
pleasant, we ought to be able to grow every kind of grain raised in
England. On this point, however, we cannot speak confidently
until we have tried the experiment and tested the climate, as there
may exist local influences destructive of the husbandman's hopes,
which cannot be discovered by other means. As, for instance, it is
well-known that the damp fogs which daily spread over the shores
of Upper California blight the crops and greatly deteriorate the
wheat grown near the sea-coast in that country.
i I am not aware that any such effect is ever felt in the temperate
climate of Britain nearly corresponding in its insular situation and
^ p*
geographical position with Vancouver's Island* and I hope the
latter will also enjoy an exemption from an evil at once disastrous and irremediable. We are certain that potatoes thrive and
grow to a large size, as the Indians have many small fields in
cultivation, which appear to repay the labour bestowed upon them,
and I hope that other crops will do as well.
H The canal of Camosack is nearly six miles long, and its banks
are well wooded throughout its whole length •. so that it will supply
the establishment with wood for many years to come, which can
be conveyed in large rafts, with very little trouble, from one extreme of the canal to the other."—Extract from Mr. Douglas!s
Report, July 12, 1842.     J | | J
(Parliamentary Papers, 10 August, 1848.^)
" About three miles distant, and nearly connected by a small inlet,
is the Squimal Harbour, which is very commodious, and accessible
at all times, offering a much better position, and having also the
advantage of a supply of water in the vicinity.
" This is the best built of the Company's forts • it requires loop-
holing, and a platform or gallery, to enable men to fire over the
pickets * a ditch might be cut around it • but the rock appears on
the surface in many places.
p There is plenty of timber of every description on Vancouver's
Island • as also limestone, which could be transported to Mignally,
or other places in the territory where it may be hereafter deemed
necessary to form permanent works, barracks," &c.—Lieutenant
Vavasour to Colonel Solloway, 1st March, 1846.
(Parliamentary Papers, 7 th March, 1849.J
Copy of a Despatch from Commander Gordon to Captain
J. A. Duntze.
Her Majesty's Steam Sloop, " Cormorant,"
NisquaUy, 7th October, 1846.
With reference to that part of your letter of the 15th September last, wherein you direct me to ascertain whether the coals,
which are said to abound on the northern part of Vancouver's 11
Island, can be collected in sufficient quantity to afford a supply for
steam fuel) I have the honor to inform you that, having arrived
at McNeil's harbour for that purpose, I made known to the
natives, through Mr. Sangster, my wish to obtain a supply; and
the next day several canoes came laden with coal, and they continued to increase in number until our departure.
At the advice of Mr. Sangster, I slung a' tub, holding about six
cwt., from the fore-yard which was lowered into a canoe, and quickly
filled • in this manner we received 62 tons from the 24th to the
26th paying for each tub as it came up, by articles of trifling
value, which I procured, at your suggestion, from the officer in
charge of Fort Victoria. The whole of the expenses incurred, including a few presents necessarily made to the chiefs, will make
the coals average not more than 4s. per ton.
During our stay, I proceeded on shore, accompanied by Mr.
Sangster and the first and second engineers. I found the northwest part of M-Neil's Harbour to be a peninsula, and, in honour
of the first Lord of the Admiralty, I called it Ellenborough.
We found a seam of coal just below high-water-mark, which
appeared to descend at an angle of about 30° towards the land •
we then ascended the hill, and very near the top, at about 60 feet
above the level of the sea, in the bed of a stream, we found a layer
of freestone at about five feet six inches below a surface of peat,
and below that a seam of coal, much resembling in appearance
the English Newcastle coal • this seam was 10 inches thick, with
freestone below • having bored through, and blasted this, we came
to another seam 18 inches in thickness, both seams appearing to
run parallel to each other, descending at an angle of 20° in a northwest direction.
Being confident from these two trials that the seams thicken
lower down, I did not make any further experiments here, but
proceeded the next day to a small sheltered bay, about eight miles
farther down the coast to the north west, which we called Baillie
Hamilton Bay, after Captain Baillie Hamilton, Secretary of the
Admiralty • here we observed another rich seam, extending along
the beach below high-water mark, and which we traced a quarter
of a mile in an inland direction. The seams we found were similar
in appearance and thickness to those on Ellenborough Peninsula,
which confirms me in an opinion I had formed that they were
connected. 12
On trial, we found the coal of good quality; they flare much in"
the furnaces, and do not appear to have any of the injurious effects
on either the fire-bars or furnaces that Welsh coal has. The proportionate expense for four hours, as compared with Scotch and
Welsh, is as follows ; viz.:—
Tons. Cwt.
- Welsh.     2   18
Scotch    "2   14
Ellenborough and Hamilton     2    18
This difference may appear considerable in proportion, but the
coal, having been procured from the surface, where it has been
exposed to the action of the atmosphere, and much of it to the
injurious effects of salt water, will weigh considerably in favor of
the Ellenborough and Hamilton coal* had it been procured at
several feet from the surface, I have no hesitation in saying that
the result would be at least equal to the best Scotch coal. We:
have also tried it at the forge, and welded several bars of 1J and
1$ inch, and the heats were as clean as if taken with the best
English coal. It is my belief that the field does not extend further
to the westward than the eastern shore of Beaver Harbour, and
to the eastward than the Minkish river, marked in the accompanying plan by a dotted line ; indeed, the feature of the country,
from Beaver Harbour to Shucharte is quite different, being covered,
with hard blue whin rock, without any appearance of freestone
whatever. It is impossible to form any opinion of the extent of the
field in an inland direction* but, from the appearance of the
country, I am of opinion that it is very considerable.
On first going on shore, the natives appeared tenacious of our
examining the coals, and accused us of coming to steal them;
but having made a few presents to some of the chiefs, they entered
into our views, and became very active, and I am only surprised
that, with the rude implements they have for dig*ging, -viz.,
hatchets and wooden wedges, they were able to procure so large
a quantity in so shoit a time; and I am pursuaded that, with the
means we have, assisted by the natives, we could fill our coal
bunkers in from ten to fourteen days.
The natives are a fine race of men, and appear industrious and
friendly, but much addicted to thieving.
In conclusion, I beg* leave to remark that the coal district is, in
my opinion, admirably situated, possessing* as it does excellent 13
anchorage in its neighbourhood, and being so far north that vessels
of almost any burthen can approach it by way of Cape Scott, thus
avoiding the difficult and dangerous navigation of Sir George
Seymour's Narrows and Johnston's Straits.
I have, &c,
(Signed)       G.J.GORDON,
John A. Duntze, Esq.,
Captain of H. M. Ship, I Fisgard,"
and Senior Officer.
(Parliamentary Papers, 7th March, 1849.^)
From the Times.
We will not insist upon any of those vague rumours of extraordinary richness and fertility which are reported of all unexplored
lands, but will confine ourselves to points about which no doubt
is entertained. If there is any locality in the whole world which
would appear in the eyes of a philosophical speculator destined for
mighty purposes in future years, it is the west coast of the North
American continent. Hitherto it has been unknown and unoccupied; but it is now secured by one of the most enterprising
nations upon earth, at a price and by exertions which clearly show
their appreciation of its value. California is now the territory of
the United States, and the President's messag'e indicates that it
will not lie long useless in the hands of its new possessors. All
the conclusions of probability suggest that the commerce of the
Pacific and of the opposite Asiatic Continent will find its way to
this coast, with which, too, in all likelihood, will be commenced the
first intercourse of Japan. Now, along the whole length of this
coast there are but two or three practicable ports for shipping, and
the struggle which even the passive Mexicans made for San Fran-
eisco proves how preciously such resorts are valued by those best
acquainted with their use. Vancouver's Island, from its situation
and its harbours, is unquestionably the site which will command
the commerce of the coast; and if ever the North Pacific is indeed
to become a Mediterranean, here will be its Tyre.    As if to qualify
c wmmmmmmmmmm
it for its part, its chief ascertained production is precisely that
which will be most needed; and this island, eighteen days' steaming
only from the ports of China, is full of admirable coal."—Times,
August 21st, 1848. ,    . ;
1 In noticing yesterday the terms offered by the Hudson's Bay
Company in relation to the settlement of Vancouver's Island, we
mentioned that very little topographical or other knowledge is
possessed regarding that country. Sufficient, however, has been
ascertained to warrant an expectation that it may eventually attract
a considerable number of settlers, and present a prosperous field
not only for mining, but for agricultural, commercial, and maritime
enterprise. The principal details at present available are contained
in some dispatches from Mr. Douglas, chief factor of the Hudson's
Bay Company, written between 1842 and 1846; and these, in so
far as they bear upon the eligibility of the island for colonization,
are decidedly favorable. His survey, however, extended only
over the southern portion of the coast, and was undertaken simply
with the view of finding a desirable dep6t for the Company, in the
event of it becoming expedient for them to remove their station
from the Columbia river. The point he fixed upon, and which has
since been adopted, was a port called Camosack; and it is to this
place, therefore, that emigration, at all events, in the first instance,
would be likely to be exclusively conducted. As a harbour it
is equally safe and accessible, and is calculated to become a desirable
port of refuge and refreshment for any vessels frequenting* those
seas. It has abundance of valuable oak and pine timber; and there
is a canal six miles long, through which the tide rushes out and in
with a degree of force capable of driving the most powerful machinery. Unlike other parts of the coast, there is a range of plains
nearly six miles square, containing* a great extent of valuable tillage and pasture land, equally well adapted for the ploug-h, or for
feeding stock. The soil of the best land is a dark vegetable mould
about twelve inches in depth, overlaying a substrate of greyish
clayey loam, producing abundance of grass and several luxuriant
varieties of red clover.
i The climate is mild, pleasant, and salubrious, and apparently
such as to favor the growth of every kind of grain raised in England, the results of the farming at the Hudson's Bay Company's 15
station, Fort Victoria, having* hitherto realized the most sanguine
expectations. In Upper California the fogs blight and deteriorate
the crops near the sea coast, but at Vancouver's Island no destructive
local influences have yet been ascertained. Potatoes flourish and
grow to a large size, and the Indians have many fields in cultivation. Fish (especially salmon and sturgeon) and venison abound,
and domestic cattle also thrive. The natives are peaceable and
well disposed.
| The Port of Camosack is much nearer the fishing grounds than
either California or the Sandwich Islands, and it is therefore calculated that an advantageous business might be carried on by supplying whale ships with clothing, stores, and refreshments. I Nothing,' it is observed by Commodore Wilkes, i can exceed the beauty
of these waters and their safety. Not a shoal exists that can in
any way interrupt their navigation by a 74 gun ship.'
i All the other parts of the south coast of the island appeared to
Mr. Douglas inferior to Camosack, the shores being generally high,
steep, and rocky, and. covered with wood. The entire length of
the island is 290 miles, with an average width of fifty-five miles.
The coal district extends over all the north-eastern part, and the
experiments as to its quality show it to be at least equal to the best
Scotch coal. It can be obtained from the surface with the greatest
ease, and is readily supplied by the natives, the steam sloop Cormorant having on one occasion obtained sixty-two tons in less than
three days, at an expense of not more than 4s. per ton. Specimens
of very fine lead have been found in the mountains on the coast;
and there is also a supply of limestone.
$ Under these circumstances, it will be seen that the island can
scarcely fail to grow into importance. During the present impulsive
rush to California, of course its settlement will be attended with
great difficulties; but it is out of this very excitement that its prosperity seems destined most rapidly to arise; the Californian immigration having already insured the success and permanency of
steam navigation on the northern coasts of the Pacific. This
immigration, moreover, is sure to continue, until at length, however
vast may be the ultimate yield of gold, it will be more profitable
to settle in other places, with a view to trading with the population
thus created.
" Hence at intervals the various points of the coast will become
peopled, and not only will the local importance of coal and timber \L
be increased, but the period will be accelerated when their value
will be incalculably raised by the consummation of the western
route (with the Sandwich Islands as a dep6t) to India, China, and
Japan."—Times, January 30£A, 1849.
"We understand it to be the intention of the Hudson's Bay
Company to despatch a vessel with stores and emigrants to Vancouver's Island some time about the month of June, before which
period the Company expect to be in possession of further particulars
regarding the Colony, and probably also of partial surveys. The
contract recently completed with the American Pacific Mail Steam
Packet Company furnishes a strong indication of the profits which
may ultimately accrue from the coal mines. The quantity purchased was 1,000 tons for one year's consumption,\ to be delivered
at a safe and secure anchorag*e near the mines;' but to be shipped
by the American Company at their own expense—300 tons by the
1st May, 1849, and the remainder before the 1st May, 1850.
The coal being on the surface, and the trouble and risk of shipment
being avoided, the contract could scarcely fail to yield a profit even
at a low price; but the rate fixed is not less than 50s. per ton.
Two years back the steam sloop, Cormorant, obtained 62 tons in
two days, at a cost of only 4s. per ton, the Indians, who are
numerous and active, being by no means averse to the labour. It
will be remembered that in the terms issued by the Hudson's Bay
Company the privilege of working these mines is accorded to any
settlers by whom the land may be purchased, on payment of a
royalty of half-a-crown per ton. The price charged in the present
instance to the American steamers may be attributed simply to
their not being able to supply themselves at a less price at any
intermediate point, coupled with the circumstance of the arrangement being made by the Hudson's Bay Company out of their
regular course for the convenience of these parties, instead of, as
would be the case with regular settlers, as a matter of ordinary
" On the 30th January we gave a summary of all that was known
regarding the climate, productions, and general character of the
island, and these details were so limited, although fully establishing
on the whole a very favorable impression, that further accounts
will be looked for with interest.    Meanwhile some particulars have 1?:
been sent in letters from an officer in Her Majesty's ship, Constant,
dated July and September last, from which the following graphic
extracts may be presented:—
"July 30th. — Esquimault Harbour, Vancouver's Island.—
Moored in a beautiful little basin. Since the 18th we have had
fine weather and smooth water. We made Cape Flattery on the
23rd. Lots of canoes came off with fish, which the natives bartered
for iron, fish-hooks, tobacco, shirts, Sec. Ran up the Straits next'
day at the rate of from ten to eleven knots. Nothing but forests
of tall pine. At one part ten miles of them were on fire. On the
south side there was a range of high hills, the tops covered with
snow. We rounded the S.E. part of the island about 5 p.m. and
came to anchor close in shore of Esquimault Bay, between 6 and 7.
The captain and master went to sound the harbour, as the
Moderate and Herald are the only two ships that have been in here.
We ran in with a light air the next morning*, and moored a little
more than our own length from the shore on each side. The harbour, which is completely land-locked, extends a mile or two each
way; the wood close down touching the water, which is as smooth
as a mill pond, and, where we are, about nine fathoms deep. No
such thing as rain seen or heard of during three months; the thermometer standing at 61. The sun seems as though you were
looking* at it through a dark red glass, for the forest is on fire, but
whereabouts we do not know; the air full of smoke, and lots of
wood ashes falling on the deck. The Hudson's Bay Company's
factory, Fort Victoria, is about four miles off. The officer in charge
of it seems a very sensible, proper person. The only people we see
here are native fishermen, and, therefore, not good specimens of the
race. They have muskets in every canoe. Some of the canoe3
contain whole families, about twelve in each. Cats in numbers,,
mats, skins, salmon, children, slaves, and dirt, and all well mixed
up together. They paint their faces black, with red stripes, and
abundance of ear-rings. In bartering they have no idea of our
good faith, for they never let go their goods until they have hold of
yours; and it is necessary to be just as careful with them, else they
will shove off and pull away with whatever they can. The price
of a canoe and paddles is between one and two blankets. For a
shirt we ought to get eight salmon at this season, and about fifteen
in a month's time. We also get bows and arrows, and bear, otter,
and deer skins, &c.    A little round looking-glass will buy a great
deal, and a small axe is invaluable. A sea otter's skin is worth
eight blankets here, and sells for about £30 in England. The bear
and beaver skins have hardly any value now. The Company, however, buy everything* that the Indians bring.
| August 16th.—Still lying in Esquimault Bay. Fine weather
and everything smooth. The Pandora, a surveying brigantine,
arrived a few days ago. She is going on with a survey of these
Straits until the Herald comes down ag'ain from Behrin^s Straits.
They have had hard work in the boats surveying on the Coast of
Panama. There are also two of the Hudson's Bay Company's
vessels at Fort Victoria, where we are too large to get in. The
fort is an oblong stockade, sunk four feet in the ground, and eighteen
feet above it, with a blockhouse at the opposite corners, with a few
guns in each. There is a house for the head man, one for the two
next in rank, three for the men; three storehouses, all large and
well-built with wood. They have cleared a quantity of ground and
have some acres of wheat, besides vegetables. There are also some
exterior storehouses and two wharfs, the leading one of which has
eighteen feet water alongside—on the whole, a pretty fair amount
of work to have been executed by thirty men. The people are now
kept up late, as it is harvest time, and they dare not carry the
I wheat away in the day, it being so dry that all the grain falls out,
so they wait till a little dew has fallen and then go on working
until past 12 at night.
| September.—We are having a regular refit, yards and masts all
down, holds cleared out, and a better place could hardly be found
for it. The sportsmen as yet have met with little to shoot at—a
few ducks and partridges early in the morning. They say that at
this dry season all the game move inland. We have amused ourselves building a hut and have covered the floor with a fine dry
moss, which makes a most comfortable bed. A few days back a
party of us went to Cedar Hill, the highest eminence near. The
view was very fine; the Straits full of islands; and the mountains
covered with snow on the mainland, one of which, Baker's mountain, was extremely striking—a huge white dome standing up high,
above the rest. Below us we saw little clear ground, most of it
being covered with fir, yew, cedar, and laurel. The oaks are upon
the open spaces. Wherever these grew it was clear from underwood, and we had grass and fern to gallop along. On our way we
saw a few cranes, humming-birds, and squirrels.    Miles of the 19
ground were burnt and smoking, and miles were still burning. The
Indians burn the country in order to find more easily the roots
which they eat. The fire runs along the grass at a great pace, and
it is the custom here if you are caught to gallop right through it;
the grass being short, the flame is very little, and you are through
in a second. All the horses and cattle feeding know it well, and
.make straight for the fire immediately.
I September 8th.—We sailed from Esquimault on the 4th at daylight. Had a light and foul wind, and passed rather a rainy night
in the Straits. There is barely an anchorage to be found, so we
remained under way. Worked out well clear of Cape Flattery by
sunset the next day, and expect to be at San Francisco in a week."—
Times, May 4dh, 1849.
From the Morning Chronicle.
I The fact is that, considering the trade already existing* and rapidly increasing between North-Western America and North-Eastern
Asia, and the probability of an entirely new and most important
line of communication being opened forthwith between the Atlantic
and the Pacific, Vancouver's Island has advantages, which not one
of the countries we have alluded to. had when first colonized.
Far from being in an inferior position as regards export trade, it is
absolutely the only one which begins with an export trade ready-
made—we allude to that of coal, which it alone is known to possess
in the whole region of the Pacific, and which, as we have before
stated, is now procured in England for the steam service lately
established by the Americans between Panama and Oregon. Besides this, there is sufficient reason for believing that copper is to be
found in the island (large quantities being found in the possession
of the natives), it is needless to point out the peculiar advantage
derivable from the co-existence of that mineral in the same locality
with the coal required for smelting it. In short, we have no doubt
that the same steps which created an export trade in wool from
Sydney, in cotton from Charleston, and in copper from Adelaide,
will, if taken in earnest, lead to similar results in a country of, at
least, equal promise."—Morning Chronicle, September 21,1848. f
1  2°
" Abounding in excellent coal, and timber fitted for naval purposes, Vancouver's Island presents now, almost for the first time, a
cheerful prospect to the free emigrant. Settlements are so rapidly
increasing about the Columbia river, as to induce the American
government to establish a line of first class steamers between that
river and Panama, which, it is believed, have already begun to ply,
and a 'considerable trade will doubtless spring up in those regions.
From the excellence of its harbours and its geographical position,
aided by the dangerous character of the bar at the mouth of the
Columbia, Vancouver's Island could form the key of the whole
coast, and become a ready depdt for refitting and supplying ships
.employed in the whale fisheries; whilst the important fisheries in
and about the island itself, its mines and other produce, hold out a
promise of considerable export, not only to the nearer coasts, but
also to the Sandwich Islands and other more distant countries."—
Morning Chronicle, October 30,1848.
u Not only must the course which events are taking in the Pacific
render inevitable the early formation of a ship canal across the
Isthmus of Panama—which will abridge, by nearly two months}
the passage to the mouth of the Columbia—but the immediate
vicinity of a large mining and commercial population in California
will give an incalculable stimulus to production of all kinds in
Vancouver's Island.
§ Nobody can now doubt that the western coast of North America
is about to become the theatre of vast commercial and political
transactions; and it is impossible to estimate adequately the value
which may soon accrue to every harbour, coal mine, forest, and
plain, in that quarter of the world."—Morning Chronicle, February
15^,1849. I    |
From the Sun.
% Let it be remembered that Vancouver's Island is situated, as
it were, within sight of the golden vallies of the Sacramento—that
it constitutes one of the most felicitously placed coaling stations in
the western hemisphere—that it immediatelv confronts the western
shores of North America, being partially imbedded in a scoop of I
that continent—and that it occupies^ in regard to the Pacific ocean,
the position occupied by England in regard to the Atlantic ocean*
Let it be remembered also, that it commands the whole of that
magnificent Archipelago, which is teeming with the most precious
productions of nature and art, spices and carved ivory, crape and
indigo, china and japan,—that the decoying influence of the mineral
wealth of California will attract, and is now attracting to that
hitherto neglected quarter of the globe, a swarm of colonists, the
number of which it is calculated will amount, before twelve months
have expired, to upwards of 100,000 human beings,—that projects
are already on foot for the purpose of cutting through the Isthmus
of Panama (a distance of only twenty-three miles), and of thus
shortening* by a period of two months the voyage to the Columbia
river by means of a ship canal between the Pacific and Atlantic
oceans."—Sun, February 15th, 1849.
From the Daily News.
Vancouver's Island, and the harbours around it, will in time be
one of the most important possessions of the globe.—Daily News,
August 21st, 1848.
From the Edinburgh Weekly Register.
" Under the present circumstances of this country, when so
many young men of the professional and mercantile classes are
unable to push their way at home, it may not be amiss to direct
their attention to Vancouver's Island. Most people are aware from
the discussions in Parliament that it is situated on the west coast
of North America, and has been granted by charter to the Hudson's Bay Company for the purposes of colonisation. But there
may be many totally in the dark in respect to the prospects it holds
out to emigrants.
"The exact position of the island is between 48 deg*. 17 min.,
and 50 deg. 55 min. north latitude, and 120 deg. 10 min., and
128 deg. 30 min. west longitude. It is 299 miles long*, and on
the average 55 broad.   It possesses the germs of an illimitable 22
commerce in its many harbours, and its position. By the waters
of the Pacific, which wash its coast, it can trade with Sitka and
the Russian settlements, Oregon, California distant only three days'
sail, the Sandwich Islands about the same distance, China, and the
entire west coast of America. Let any one take up a good map,
and glance over the vast sweep of continent north of the 49th
parallel of latitude. Over the whole dreary extent of the Hudson
Bay Company's dominions, more than three millions of miles square,
he will observe numberless dots. These are trading forts, cast down
amid swamps, rocks, and marshes, unable to grow even a single
potato to feed their inmates. The provisions necessary for their
very existence must come from the direction of Vancouver's Island.
" Its waters all round and round will float a 74-gun ship. The
climate is like that of England, but milder. The soil is excellent.
It has been amply tested at Fort Victoria at the Port of Camosack.
There is in that locality a wide sweep of land, six miles square, two-
thirds of which is rich tillage and pasture land, with abundance of
timber, and plenty of water power. The best soil is a dark vegetable mould, from nine to fourteen inches deep, lying over greyish
clay loam, and covered with the rankest and most luxuriant vegetation. Both on this and the inferior varietv of soil, clover mav be
seen springing spontaneously 'like the close sward of a well
managed lea.'   This is a specimen of the island.
I Coal appears to extend over the whole north-east. At McNeill's
Harbour, the washing of the waves have laid bare a seam, three
feet thick, for nearly a mile. In a short space of time, the natives
with their paltry hatchets and wooden tools can dig* out many
tons. The seam thickens lower down. Commander Gordon of
the steam-sloop Cormorant, states that if taken a few feet from
the surface, it will equal the best Scotch. He tried it at the
forge, welding several bars of 1J and 1J inch, and the heats were
as clean as if taken with the best English coal, f? This mineral may
be worked by the settlers on payment of a small royalty.
■ Lieutenants Farre and Vavasour, of the Royal Engineers complete the picture, in a Report dated in October, 1845. "The specimens of lead found in the mountains on the coast are apparently
very fine. The fisheries, salmon and sturgeon, are inexhaustible
and game of all descriptions is said to abound.
■ a The timber is extremely luxuriant and increases in value as you
reach a more northern latitude, that in 50 deg*. to 54 dee*, beino* 23
considered the best. Pine, spruce, red and white oak, ash, cedar,
arbutus, poplar, maple, willow, and yew, grow in this section of
country, north of the Columbia river. The cedar and pine become
of an immense size."
"It is an additional advantage that an organised and powerful
association have already occupied the spot. For centuries they
have hunted the adjoining continent. Every inch is to their able
functionaries and hardy servants familiar ground, and their com-
pact and iron organization is a ready engine of protection and
defence. They have so ordered their arrangements that every district will have its schools, churches, roads, and public institutions,
all supported from reserved lands, and the edifice will be crowned
by a legislative assembly, chosen by the suffrage of the whole freeholders.
" We are the more particular in noting these advantages that the
most audacious attempts have been made to damage the company.
They are charged with having prevented colonisation before, from
which it is argued they cannot cordially promote it now. There
are some minds formed to criticise, and the doers of this world are
sorely beset by the mere critics. It is easy to sit in the easy chair
at home and review the policy of this association, ruling the most
lawless hands in existence, and pushing commerce through the
region of tomahawks. Fortunately we have the most trustworthy
evidence to refute these charges. The Bishop of Montreal, the
Church and Weslevan Missionaries, Commodore Wilkes of the Ame-
rican Navy, no very prejudiced witness, Mr. Robert Greenliow,
translator and librarian of the United States' Government, and
others, all worthy of credence, and some hostile to the Company,
give personal testimony to their energetic and upright policy in the
midst of the most trying1 difficulties.
" Indeed, in the part of the continent over which they had territorial right, colonisation to any extent was impossible. The whole
looks, it is said, " like the fag end of the world," swamps, rocks,
treeless wastes, lakes, and ponds mixed up in pite^ninable confusion. At York Factory the ice does notpbreak up till July, and the
soil is never thawed more than six inches down. The hottest fire
does not prevent the room being coated with ice three inches thick;
the wind raises the cheek into blisters • and long icicles depend
from the eyelashes. But at Red River, near the southern boundary,
the company long ago founded a settlement, with streets, churches, r
missionaries, and every requisite of civilisation. In 1843 there were
5,143 inhabitants* 2,267 cows; 1,976 pigs* 3,569 sheep* with multitudes of calves and other stock. The soil is good, and every
encouragement is held out to immigrants, yet even here success is
doubtful, and the crops once failed three seasons in succession.
"Again, in the mild regions to the west, such as Vancouver's
Island and vicinity, the Company never had territorial rights till
now, and consequently could not colonise.
"But wherever they found it convenient, they formed farms, and
settled down in comfort their retired servants and clerks. Fort
Vancouver is one of these, on the Columbia. Their farm is nine
miles square. They have two dairies and milk upwards of 100
cows. They have also two other dairies in the neighbourhood,
where, from the milk of 150 cows, they make butter and cheese for
the Russian settlements. The stock consists of 3,000 head of
cattle • 2,500 sheep * and about 300 brood mares. There are
grist and saw mills, shops, offices, and establishments of every
" One undoubted fact is that the Company have absolutely prohibited the sale of spirits to the Indians. The reports of the
Wesleyan Missionary Society evince their zeal in introducing religion and a sense of duty among the natives, and the Episcopal
clergy speak of them in the highest terms.
" An excellent summary of the existing information on the Hudson's Bay Company will be found in a little volume by Mr. R. M.
Martin. A perusal of it will show with what reckless audacity
calumnious charges can be made against any body whose doings
are at a distance, and to the great majority comparatively obscure.
" For our part, we can safely advise any active young man,
married or unmarried, possessed of a small capital, and some
acquaintance with agriculture, to pick up four or five labourers,
even if he should have to go to Solas for them, and carry them out
with him to till his freehold in Vancouver's Island. If he knows
his business, he cannot fail, even at the worst, to revel in rustic
abundance."—Edinburgh Weekly Register, September 5, 1849.
From Speeches in Parliament.
" Those of their Lordships' who had taken an interest in the negotiations between this country and the United States of America
L 25
previous to the completion of what was called the Oregon treaty ^
must be familiar with the localities as well as the importance of
Vancouver's Island. Between Russia on the north, and the United
States on the south, was this portion of Her Majesty's dominions,
at this moment a place of great importance, and which might become of enormous importance hereafter. The climate of the island
was fine * the soil fertile | its harbours were excellent • and the place
was in all respects most favorable for emigration and colonisation *
and it contained moreover extensive mines of coal, invaluable to us
in the future improvement of steam navigation. From the possessions of Russia to Panama there was no other place near the coast
with which he was acquainted capable of supplying coal. When
a communication should be made, either by railroad or by a canal
across the Isthmus of Panama, that would become the hig'hwav of
maritime nations to China and other parts of the eastern world,
and then the possession of Vancouver's Island would become a
matter of vast importance. With respect to the value attached to
this island by foreigners, he need only refer to the high authority
of Malte Brun, who stated that, in the hands of an intelligent
nation, it might become a place of the highest importance."—Lord
Monteaglis speech in the House of Loro\ August 24:th, 1848.
" From the first discovery of the island—from the accounts of
Vancouver himself, and all impartial observers since—it has been
established that the island is extremely fertile* that it is rich in
mines of coal and other minerals; that its timber is fine * that its
ports are good * and that its climate is, in many respects, superior
to that of England, and singularly suited to the constitution of
those who go out from this country. These great facts, I think,
have been made out • and, so far as the official reports now before
us go, they corroborate all these statements. I have in my hand,
also, a copy of a portion of a letter from a gentleman in Her
Majesty's service, who visited that island, giving an account of its
physical and political importance:—
I Vancouver, from its climate, soil, timber, harbours, fisheries,
game, and, above all, its position, is one of the most valuable
islands belonging to Britain • and it is only necessary to glance
your eye over the map of the north-west coast of America to be
convinced that it is so. r
" In a military point of view, it is to Oregon and California what
Bermuda is to the eastern seaboard of the United States, its splendid
harbours and fine timber affording shelter and supplies for fifty
fleets • while, in a commercial point of view, it ought to be the
great dep6t for supplying Oregon and California with British
manufactures; not to mention the Russian settlements, from
which it is only ten days' sail, and China and Japan, from which
it is not more than eighteen or twenty days."
" I believe, if there is a spot in the world which, so far as we can
read its future destinies, is intended for mighty purposes, that spot
is the western coast of America. Everything* that has been going
on there for some time past indicates that it will be an enormous
civilised portion of the world—the southern part of this coast
being' secured to the United States; the northern to us. From
the mouth of the Columbia river down to California the whole
countrv belong*s to the United States; and I think it of the greatest
importance, looking to the circumstances which are likely to arise,
that a free and independent colony should be established in Vancouver's Island. I think it no vain dream to anticipate that the
-day wiH come when not only the whole commerce of the Pacific,
but of the coast of Asia, will, in all probability, flow into the ports
of that island. South of Vancouver's Island, till you come to San
Francisco, there is not a single available spot where a ship can
take shelter. Under these circumstances, I must say it is no answer
to tell us of the distance of Vancouver's Island from Great Britain.
The efforts which are now making for the colonisation of neighbouring* districts make it certain that some means of overland
communication will before long be discovered."—Lord Lincoln's
Speech, House of Commons, 19th June, 1849.
" Probably there was no spot on the face of the globe more
advantageous for the promotion of commerce and trade than this
island. The natives, with their wooden implements alone, could
now produce coals at 4s. per ton; and, therefore, there could be
no doubt that, with the necessary improvements, coals could be
obtained for 2s. a ton."—Mr. Humis Speech, House of Commons,
19th June, 1849. W 27
" He had always considered the island as one of the greatest
importance, and one well worthy of the special attention of the
Government. He had more reason than most of their lordships
for being of that opinion, for during the whole period of his official
life it had occasioned him greater uneasiness than any other subject
with respect to the peace of the country.
"The Government of the United States had always contended
that the boundary line within the 49th deg. had not stopped on
the continent, but extended through Vancouver's- Island to the
ocean, by which the most valuable portion of the island would be
lost to this country; and the Government of this country had,
therefore, contended that the boundary line did not extend to the
island, but stopped with the continent. The negotiations, as their
lordships knew, were carried on under the most alarming circumstances, and it was thought of the greatest importance to secure
the whole of the island. Upon a careful consideration of the
subject, he was satisfied with the manner in which the noble Earl
had conducted the transfer."—Earl of Aberdeen's Speech in House
of Lords, 30th June, 1849.
" In the present case, the land was confided to the Hudson's Bay
Company merely as trustees for the sale of it to individuals who
wished to settle. They were compelled to sell the land to any
one who chose to pay the established price, and comply with the
regulations. And with only a very small deduction to repay their
outlay and costs of establishments, the Company were to lay out
the entire proceeds in aid of the colonisation, and for the benefit of
the colonists in the island. He believed his noble friend was
mistaken in thinking* that colonists would be tempted to go to
other places where land was to be had for nothing. He believed
that colonists would find it very much cheaper to pay 20s. per
acre for land in a colony where they were sure the price would be
expended upon the land, than to go where they could get land for
nothing, and be obliged to get on as they best could without any
assistance. In Western Australia the experiment was tried. The
people got the land for nothing, and it was a ruinous bargain. In
South Australia they had to pay £> 1 an acre, and they were well
pleased with their bargain. He thought it would be the same with
Vancouver's Island, unless, indeed, as his noble friend suggested,
<"•■ e
the gold mines of California might for a time prevent colonists
from going further north. The Hudson's Bay Company, some
time ago, sent out a company of coal miners to the island; they
would shortly send out another similar expedition; but, whatever
might be the consequence, he thought the public were deeply
indepted to the Hudson's Bay Company for taking upon themselves the whole risk and charge of settling the island, which,
if they had not undertaken, would have remained a mere waste."—
Earl Grey's Speech in House of Lords, July 29th, 1849.
E. Couchman, Printer, 10, Throgmorttm Street, London.   


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