Panning for Gold

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Thompson River First Nations

Letters Written and Received by Richard Hicks

compiled by F.W. Howay

(Source: The Early History of Fraser River Mines. compiled by F.W.Howay. Published by John Forsyth, British Columbia Provincial Archives, Victoria 1926. Accession no.: NW 971.3 5F H853 c.6)


GENTLEMEN,-I understand that you assembled yesterday on my arrival here, not only to welcome the Representative of our Most Gracious Lady the Queen, but also to learn from me the views of the Queen's Government about this country.(1)

It is not the custom with Governors of British Provinces to address the public, but as this is a particular occasion, and the circumstances are peculiar, and as you have expressed a wish to learn the truth, I will depart from the custom and explain to you in a few words what are the views of the Govermnent in relation to this country.

(1.)In the first place, I am commanded to say to all Her Majesty's native-born subjects that this is their country, and that their country opens wide her portals to receive them from whatever part of the world they come, and that they will enjoy here all the rights, privileges, and immunities of British subjects.

(2.)In the second place, I am commanded to say to the citizens of that great republic which,like mustard-seed, has grown up into a mighty tree, and gives shelter to the oppressed of all nations, that offshoot from England of which England is still proud--I am commanded to extend to you the right hand of fellowship and to give you a hearty welcome to our country.

And not less to you gallant Frenchmen, with whose country England is so closely allied, I am commanded to give a hearty welcome, as well as to the natives of other foreign countries I am commanded to offer friendship and protection.

Our Gracious Queen commands me to receive you with kindness, and to allow you to dig for gold in her dominions, and to offer you the protection of British laws, as long as you obey those laws and pay the Queen's dues like honest men.

Now for a word about the country. Colonies cannot be established without the consent of Parliament. Fraser's River is therefore not yet open for settlement, but we learn by last accounts from England that the subject was before Parliament, and, as public opinion is strongly in favour of colonizing the country, there is little doubt that the measure will pass. In the meantime what is to he done? Many of you, I know, wish to settle in the country, and wish to build and to make yourselves comfortable before winter sets in. I have therefore adopted a plan which will meet the prospective views of Government, and your wants at the same time, by giving you the necessary amount of protection.

I have decided, entirely on my own responsibility, to give you the only title that can be granted for land at present.

I have given orders to Mr. Hicks, the Commissioner for Crown Lands, to have a townsite surveyed here, and to dispose of building lots to any person wishing to hold them under lease, with a preemption right when the land is sold by the Crown. This will give confidence and security to every one.

In the same manner I have given Mr. Hicks instructions to lay out the farming lands near the town in convenient lots of 20 acres and to make grants of them under the same tenure.

I have also given him instructions to permit the building of sawmills, to establish ferries, to open roads, and generally to carry out the views of Government in the manner best calculated to give development to the resources of this glorious country.

I have now said all that relates to your individual interests, and have further to assure you that the laws will be administered with justice and impartiality; and I have to exhort you all to aid and support the civil officers in the discharge of their duties.

Every wise man and every good man knows the value of good laws, and every man who expects to receive their protection when he himself gets into trouble must he ready at all times to come out manfully in support of those laws.

Let all do so, and there will not he a better or more quiet community in any part of Her Majesty's dominions than will be found at Yale.

On our way up the river we stopped at nearly all the mining bars, and found the people healthy, happy, and prosperous, and I am proud to say what is much more to their honour, I found among the miners a degree of probity, of good order--aye, and intelligence, that I was not prepared to expect.

Gentlemen, I have now done and I have only further to wish you all well.


27th December, 1858.

DEAR MR. BLACKWOOD,--I have much pleasure in acknowledging your note of the 1st of November last, accompanying Sir Edward Lytton's Despatch No. 35 of the lst of November; which though unsigned will meet with all due attention and respect.

Col: Moody(2) and party arrived here on the 25th, not in time, I regret to say, to take part in our Christmas festivities, which would have been all the gayer for his presence. Our quarters are rather crowded at this moment, in consequence of so many official arrivals, and the want of official residences, but we have contrived through the kindness of friends to procure temporary house accommodation for the whole party.

The weather is at present fine, and the opposite hills still retain their hue of green; a single Castile rose, somewhat faded, was picked yesterday, and the humble Daisy-heart's Ease, and wall flower, growing exposed in my garden, have not yet entirely lost their bloom. Those few facts will perhaps give a clearer idea of the climate than any description.

With respect and best wishes
very faithfully


The Mail Steamer will leave in a very short tirne-and I will therefore probably have no time to address Sir Edward Lytton by the present mail in reply to his late Despatches.-J. DOUGLAS.

(1) We found a large assemblage of people at Fort Yale expecting our arrival with some anxiety in order to ascertain the views of Her Majesty's Government. According to their earnest request, I met them the following day at a public meeting and delivered a short address, in which I announced the instructions I had recieved from her Majesty's government, as contained in your dispatch of the 1st of July last, and the tidings were received with satisfaction" letter, Douglkas to Lytton, October 12, 1858, in the papers relating to British Columbia, partII., p.4.
(2) Colonel Richard Clement Moody, the commanding officer of the detachment of Royal Engineers which was sent out to aid in the maintenance of order and the development of the colony.

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