R. E. (R. Edward) Gosnell.

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words, it was estimated that as every individual paid three times in tariff
imposts what was paid in Canada, the population should be figured as 120,000
instead of 40,000. It is curious that the rate of revenue still maintains the
same ratio. Our population is now 200,000. According to that method of
figuring it should be 600,000 for the purpose of a subsidy.

Hon. Mr. Ring again spoke, advocating that the people should have an
opportunity of deciding upon the terms before it was discussed by the House.

Mr. Barnard was the most enthusiastic supporter of Confederation, and
he took up the subject, as he did anything in which he became interested,


with peculiar energy. Speaking- as a Canadian bom, he said : " I desire,
before going- further, to allude to a charge commonly laid against my coun-
tryrren — often offensively put, but yesterday put by the Hon. Mr. "Wood in
his usually gentlemanly way. It is that of Canadian ' proclivity.' As a
native-born Canadian, in common with others, T love the land of my birth.
We adm.ire her institutions and revere her laws; but we never forget the
land of our adoption, and we should no more consent to see her wronged by
Canada than would the tens of thousands of Englishmen who have made
Canada their home permit a wrong to be done her by England. * * *
As to that ' other issue ' (meaning annexation), I have no fears for Canada,
or this colony either. It used to be fashionable here in early days to asso-
ciate the name of Canada with rebellion. It was the result of prejudice and
ignorance and was a great mistake. * * * ^o sum up, sir, I say that
amongst the statesmen of Canada we may safely look for men fully compe-
tent to control the affairs of a young nation. They are men of as much am-
bition and grasp of thought as are the rulers in the adjoining states; and
depend upon it, nothing will be left undone to advance the prosperity and
well-being of every portion of their vast Dominion. We may safely repose
full confidence in them,"

Hon. Mr. Humphreys, for Lillooet, was somewhat fiery in his remarks,
and thcugh in favor of Confederation was much " agin " the Government.
He wanted to see responsible government made a sine qua non of Union.

Hon, Mr, Carrall, another enthusiastic Confederationist, followed in a
well-balanced speech, and coming from Cariboo, he had strong support in
his constituents. Speaking of Canada, he said : " After she was prevented
from going to the United States by that abrogation of the Reciprocity Treaty,
she tun;ed her attention to her own resources, and I believe she is now going
to be one of the most progressive nations upon the earth. Undoubtedly she
is determined to progress westward until she reaches British Columbia and


the Pacific, and with all her progressive tendencies she will not abate one jot
of her loyalty for which now. as ever, she is distinguished."

Hon. Mr. Alston, Registrar-General, a representative of the official ele-
ment in the House, supported the Government's resolution. Mr. Dewdney,
the present Lieutenant-Governor, member for Kootenay, was in rather gn
awkward position, for, as far as he could ascertain, his constituents were
opposed to Confederation, but, as he was unable to consult with them upon
the terms submitted, he took the responsibility of supporting the resolution
for Confederation. He said that " in the light that it now bears, that I do
believe that their opinions would be in unison with that of the country gen-
erally — in favor of Confederation in terms now proposed." The debate was
closed by brief remarks from Dr. Helrricken, defining his position, and the
Honorable Attorney-General, Hon. Mr. Drake, member for Victoria City,
withdrew his amendment, and the resolution was carried unanimously and
the House went into committee of the whole.

The discussion for the next ten days was on matters of detail and was
quite too long and irregular to endeavor to present in any concise form.
The terms as submitted by Governor Musgrave were agreed to, with a few
exceptions, the principal of which were that the annual grant of $35,000 to
be paid by the Dominion for the support of the local Government was raised
to $75,000, and the limit of population at which the amount of subsidy be-
came fixed was changed from 400,000 to 1,000,000, and a series of supple-
mentary resolutions added. Messrs. Helmcken, Trutch and Carrall were
chosen by the Executive to go to Ottawa to arrange the terms with the Do-
minion Government. The sum of $3,000 was voted to defray their ex-
penses, and they left on May 10, 1870, by way of San Francisco. On the
7th of July the special correspondent of the " Colonist " telegraphed as fol-
lows : " Terms agreed upon. The delegates are satisfied. Canada to Eng-
land. Carrall remains one month. Helmcken and your correspondent are
on their way home."


The terms agreed upon have already been given in substance, and were
confirmed by the Legislature upon its first meeting thereafter.

The Terms of Union.

In connection with the terms of Confederation submitted by Governor
Musgrave and adopted in substance by the Legislative Council, supplementary
resolutions, as has already been stated, were passed, stating: i. That
duties levied upon maltsters and brewers, under the Excise Law of Canada,
would be detrimental to British Columbia, and requesting that no export
duty should be charged on spars exported from British Columbia. 2. That
the application of the Canadian tariff, while reducing the aggregate burden
of taxation, would injuriously afifect the agricultural and commercial interests
of the community, and requesting that special rates of customs duties and
regulations should be arranged for the colony. 3. That a geographical
survey of British Columbia be made, such survey to be commenced one year
after Confederation. 4. And that all public works and property as properly
belonged to the Dominion under the British North America Act, should belong
to British Columbia, and all roads to be free of toll of every kind whatsoever.

The terms of union agreed upon between the delegates from British
Columbia and the Government of Canada differed from those adopted by
the Legislative Council in the following respects : That the population
should be estimated at 60,000 instead of 120,000; that British Columbia should
be entitled to six members in the House of Commons and three in the Senate,
instead of eight members in the House of Commons and four in the Senate.

The proposition for the construction of a wagon road from the main
trunk road of British Columbia to Fort Garry was dropped, and the Do-
minion undertook to secure the commencement simultaneously, within two
years of the date of the union, of the construction of a railway from the
Pacific to the Rocky Mountains, and from a selected place east of the Rocky
Mountains to the Pacific, to connect the seaboard of British Columbia with


the railway system of Canada and to secure the completion of the railway
within ten years from the date of union. For the construction of such rail-
way the Government of British Columbia agreed to convey to the Dominion
Government a land grant similar in extent through the entire length of
British Columbia, not to exceed twenty miles on each side of the line, to that
appropriated for the same purpose by the Dominion Government from lands
in the Northwest Territory and the Province of Manitoba, with this provision,
however, that the land held under a pre-emption right or Crown grant within
the forty-mile belt should be made good to the Dominion from contiguous
public lands. In consideration of the lands to be thus conveyed to the rail-
way to the Dominion Government agreed to pay to British Columbia from
the date of union the sum of $100,000 per annum in half-yearly payments in
advance. The charge of the Indians and the trusteeship and management
of lands reserved for their use and benefit, were assumed by the Dominion
Government. The constitution of the executive authority of the Legislature
of British Columbia was to continue as existing at the time of union until
altered under authority of the British North America Act, but it was under-
stood that the Dominion Government would readily consent to the introduc-
tion of responsible government when desired by British Columbia, and it
was agreed by the Government of British Columbia tO' amend the constitu-
tion so as to provide that the majority of the Legislative Council should be

An election was held in November of 1870, in which it is unnecessary
to state that the terms of Confederation were the main issue. The new
Council met January 5, 1871. Dr. Helmcken was nominated as Speaker, but
declined. The terms of Confederation, as agreed upon, were passed unani-
mously, and an address was presented to His Excellency the Governor, pray-
ing that Her Majesty would be graciously pleased to admit British Columbia,
under the provision of the British North America Act, into the Dominion
of Canada.


Responsible government, for which the colony was fully prepared, was
a natural consequence of Confederation, and a bill was introduced in the
Council on the 31st of January, 1871, to give power to alter the constitution
of British Columbia. The bill was considered in committee of the whole
and reported complete, and was formally adopted on February 6. The first
election under the new constitution took place in October, 1871. Hon.
Joseph Trutch, conspicuous in bringing about Confederation, had been ap-
pointed Lieutenant-Governor of the new province. Hon. J. F. (Justice)
McCreight was called upon to form the first administration. There were
twenty-five men elected to the first Legislature, as follows: George A.
Walkem, Joseph Hunter, Cornelius Booth, John Ash, M. D., William Smithe,
John P. Booth, A. Rocke Robertson, Henry Cogan, John A. Mara, Charles
Todd, A. T. Jamieson, T. Humphreys, John Robson, Henry Holbrook, J. C.
Hughes, W. J. Armstrong, J. F. McCreight, Simeon Duck, Robert Beaven,
James Trimble, M. D., A. de Cosmos, A. Bunster, Robert Smith, James Rob-
inson, Charles A. Semlin. Of that number of well known British Colum-
bians, many of whom were or afterwards became prominent in public affairs,
the following are still living: George A. Walkem, recently retired from the
Supreme Court bench; Joseph Hunter, for many years Superintendent of
the E. & N. Railway; John A. Mara, ex-Speaker, and ex-member of the
Dominion House of Commons; W. J. Armstrong, ex-sheriff of New West-
minster; J. F. McCreight, retired from the Supreme Court bench; Robert
Beaven, who for many years occupied a seat in the House, was Premier and
several times Mayor of Victoria; W. F. Tolmie; and Charles A. Semlin, of
Cache Creek, who was Premier succeeding Hon. J. H. Turner, and for many
years a member of the Legislature. Seven of the number became Premiers
of the province.

it was not long before the question of the Canadian Pacific Railway
began to give cause for trouble, which existed in a more or less aggravated
form for seven or eight years. Few people, even in British Columbia, imag-


ined that the terms of union, so far as the railway was concerned, would be
strictly adhered to, but of course they expected a bona fide attempt to com-
mence and complete it within the time specified. Few people, either, prob-
ably had considered fully the magnitude of the enterprise and the difficulties
to be overcome. Sir Joseph Trutch, one of the delegates, was fully cognizant
of the difficulties, however, when he made a speech at Ottawa in reply to
the toast to his health at a banquet given in his honor before his visit to
England. Speaking about the limit of time, he said : " If it had been put
at twelve or fifteen years, British Columbia would have been just as well
satisfied, and if the estimated period had been reduced to eight years it would
not have been better pleased. But some definite period for the completion
of this work the delegates from British Columbia insisted upon as a neces-
sary safeguard to our colony in entering into the proposed union. To argue
that any other interpretation will be placed upon this railway engagement by
British Columbia than that which I have given to you as my construction of
it, to argue that she expects that it will be carried out in the exact interpreta-
tions of the words themselves, regardless of all circumstances, is a fallacy
which cannot bear the test of common sense. I am sure you will find that
British Columbia is a pretty intelligent community, which will be apt to take a
business view of the matter. She will expect that this railway shall be com-
menced in two years, for that is clearly practicable, and she will also expect
that the financial ability of the Dominion will be exerted to its utmost, within
the limit of reason, to complete it within the time named in the agreement.
But you may rest assured that she will not regard this railway agreement as
a ' cast iron contract,' as it has been called, or desire that it should be carried
out in any other way than as will secure the prosperity of the whole Dominion,
of which she is a part. I have understood this railway engagement in this
way from the first, and still so understand it."

This statement of Sir Joseph Trutch is most important to keep in mind.
At a later date it was quoted in justification on the part of the Dominion


Government for the delay in fulfilling the terms of union in regard to the
building of a railway as agreed upon. In the next chapter the sequel to
Confederation in the long and sore dispute over the construction of the Cana-
dian Pacific Railway is dealt with at some length. Between that and the per-
sonal reminiscences supplied by Mr. Higgins in a previous part of this his-
tory, a very complete record is supplied of a memorable and crucial period in
affairs of the province.





On July 23rd, 1871, Governor Musgrave bade farewell to the province.
His Excellency had been appointed for the special purpose of preparing the
way for the entrance of British Columbia into the Canadian Confederation,
and it must be admitted that he performed his delicate and difficult mission
with diplomatic skill and ability. Thus another chapter in the history of the
country was completed.

The next great task to be performed, in" order to give full effect to the
treaty just completed, was the construction of the railway which was the v-ery
issue of the bond. Here we enter upon the consideration of a phase of pro-
vincial history as important as any we shall probably ever have to deal with,
and an endeavor will be made to set forth clearly the chief points in the long-
standing and, at times, bitter dispute between the province and the Dominion
of Canada which arose out of the efforts of the former to secure the fulfill-
ment of the contract with respect to the promised communication by rail from
east to west. If Confederation in British Columbia was difficult to bring
about, the carrying out of the terms proved to be still more difficult and
was productive of so much delay and irritation that at one time there threat-
ened to be an abortive ending of the hopes of all those who had labored for
the union. As the Imperial authorities had intervened to smooth the way
for British Columbia entering the Dominion, so it was afterwards found ex-
pedient that they should assist in smoothing her pathway in the Dominion.
As all things end, so in this instance, there was an end to dispute and a happy
consummation was reached in the commencement of the railway, which her-


aided the dawn of new hopes and foretold prosperity. The hatchet was
buried, old fends were forgfotten and thereafter the province held loyally to

In committing itself to the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway
within ten years it is undoubtedly true that Canada had undertaken a task
which seemed almost impossible of fulfillment, and little time had elapsed
before it became apparent that the Dominion Government was not prepared
to comply with the let+er of the compact. Sir John A. Macdonald. in his
anxiety to bring about the union of the British North American possessions,
had acceded to the wishes of the province, but in so doing had evidently
underestimated the tremendous engineering difficulties which would have to
be overcome before the road was an accomplished fact. Canada had entered
into the agreement with entire sincerity, but also in ignorance of the char-
acter of the country to be traversed by the railway. It is, therefore, not sur-
prising that many and great delays occurred. British Columbia contended,
and rightfully so, that the construction, or at least the commencement, of the
railway within a reasonable period was of the gravest importance, and in-
deed railway communication with the east had been practically the sole in-
ducement that led the province to enter Confederation. Her public men, in
common with the people of Eastern Canada, recognized that it would be im-
possible to hold Canada responsible for the exact fulfillment of Section II of
the Terms of Union. All that they desired was that an earnest should be
given of the good faith of the Dominion in complying with its spirit.

In June, 1873, an Order-in-Council was passed fixing Esquimalt on
Vancouver Island as the western terminus of the Canadian Pacific Railway,
and it further provided that a line of railway should be built between that
point and Seymour Narrows. The order also recommended that British Co-
lumbia should convey to the Dominion Government a strip of twenty miles
in width on the east coast of Vancouver Island, along the proposed route of
the railway. Much satisfaction was expressed by the people of the province


at this evidence of the wilHngness of the Canadian Government to fulfill the
Terms of Union. Two years, however, had elapsed and beyond the expendi-
ture of some $400,000 in preliminary surveys, nothing had been done by
Canada, and the people of British Columbia did not attempt to hide their


Mr. Edgar's Mission.

In July, 1873, the Executive Council of the province, through the Lieu-
tenant-Governor, Sir Joseph Trutch, entered a strong protest against further
delay in the matter of the fulfillment of the Terms of Union, and it became
apparent to the Dominion Government that no small amount of dissatisfaction
existed in the western province.

In September of this year Premier De Cosmos proceeded to Ottawa
and afterwards to London as a special delegate from the Government of
British Columbia to negotiate in connection with the construction of the
graving dock at E^quimalt. He arranged that British Columbia should re-
ceive $250,000 in lieu of a guarantee of interest on $500,000 for ten years
after the construction of the dock. Mr. De Cosmos' report was laid on the
table during the session of the following year, when another protest against
delay was passed and forwarded to Ottawa.

In the meanwhile the Government of Sir John A. Macdonald had be-
come involved in the famous " Pacific Scandal." Sir John was forced to
resign in November, 1873, and Mr, Alexander Mackenzie was called upon
by the Earl of Dtifferin, then Governor-General of Canada, to form a Min-
istry. On taking office he found himself heir to the problem of building a
trans-continental railway, as provided in the treaty with British Columbia.
At the inception of his management of affairs, he made, tactically at least, a
very grave mistake by boldly outlining in a public speech at Sarnia the policy
which he intended to pursue in that matter, and from his remarks on this
occasion it was easy to infer that he deemed it impossible to carry out the
Terms of Union in their entirety as they affected railway construction. In


the meantime, public feeling in British Columbia was becoming roused and
Mr. Mackenzie decided to despatch Mr. J. D. Edgar to the Pacific Coast to
examine into and fully report upon the whole question. Mr. Edgar was
empowered to make certain proposals to the provincial authorities with a
view to an ultimate settlement of matters in dispute. He was also' instructed
to point out that it was impossible to construct the road within the time speci-
fied, and that any attempt to do so would only result in " very great useless
expense and financial disorder " ; and to state that it was the intention of the
Dominion to reach the seaboard of the Pacific only, not Esquimalt or
Nanaimo. It was also to be intimated that " any further extension beyond
the headwaters of Bute Inlet or whatever portion of the sea waters may be
reached, may depend entirely on the spirit shown by themselves in consenting
to a reasonable time or a modification of the terms originally agreed to." It
must not be forgotten that the Dominion Government had gone beyond the
Terms of Union in the matter of the graving dock at Elsquimalt, and had
also agreed to advance in cash the balance of the amount of debt with which
the province had entered Confederation. The Dominion, therefore, not un-
reasonably perhaps, expected that British Columbia would be actuated by a
similar tolerant spirit. But the Federal Ministry apparently entirely failed
to comprehend the intense feeling on the subject in the province where the
railway was considered, as indeed it was, of vital importance. With regard
to the proposals which Mr. Edgar had been empowered to make in behalf of
the Canadian Government to the provincial authorities, it may be added that
they were briefly as follows: The Dominion Government would undertake
the commencement of a railway on Vancouver Island, traversing northward
to the point of crossing; to provide for the diligrnt prosecution of surveys
on the Mainland ; and that as soon as the railway could be placed under con-
struction no less than $1,500,000 would be spent annually.

Mr. Edgar reached Victoria in May, 1874, and immediately entered into
communication with the Honorable George A. Walkem, then Attorney-Gen-


eral. He endeavored, in addition to the work involved by tedious negotia-
tions, to ascertain the popular view on the railway question by traveling and
mingling with the people on the Mainland. Unfortunately, the representa-
tive of the Dominion, though an able and conscientious man, accomplished
nothing, and it is quite clear from his method of procedure that diplomacy
was not his forte. After the negotiations had been continued for some time,
the local Government, through Mr. Walkem, informed Mr. Edgar that they
were not satisfied as to his status, and desired the authorities at Ottawa to
state whether their representative was clothed with full power to negotiate,
and whether proposals made by him would be considered as binding by the
Government of Canada. Mr. Mackenzie intimated in reply that the position
of Mr. Edgar had been plainly indicated. The latter, however, was imme-
diately recalled, his mission, if anything, having rather increased than less-
ened the difficulties of the situation. The failure of Mr. Edgar to procure
an amicable settlement only tended to increase the friction between the two
Governments, which now assumed threatening proportions. A profound
anxiety was expressed by Mr. Walkem and his colleagues regarding the in-
tentions of the Canadian Ministiy, and the dilatory action of the Dominion
was viewed with alarm and disappointment. The Ottawa authorities were
anxious that a change should be made in the railway terms, and contended
that they could not be called upon to carry out the original provisions, in
view of the fact that the route of the railway had not yet been determined,
although every effort had been made to settle this all-important point. The
Provincial Government, on the other hand, while evincing no desire to hold
Canada, in face of the opposition of the majority of its people, responsible for
the carrying out of these terms to the letter, did not hesitate to demand that
the Ministry should give a definite assurance with regard to the commence-
ment of construction and the completion of this great work.

Mr. Mackenzie's opinion of the promise of the Dominion Government
to construct the Canadian Pacific Railway is clearly shown in the following


excerpt from his letter of instructions to Mr. Edg-ar : " Yoti will also put

Online LibraryR. E. (R. Edward) GosnellA history; British Columbia → online text (page 20 of 79)