Page images

Vancouver's Island.

Power was given to annex Vancouver's Island on re-
ceiving an address from the two Houses of the Legislature
of that Island.

Sir James Douglas was appointed Governor and by his commission he was authorised to make laws, institutions and ordinances for the peace, order and good government of British Columbia, by proclamation issued under the public seal of the colony. The first proclamation issued was one for indemnifying the Governor and other officers for all acts done previous to the date of the proclamation, whilst by a subsequent proclamation the English Civil and Criminal law as it existed on the date of the proclamation of the 21 & 22 Vic. c. 99, i.e. 19 Nov. 1858, was declared to be in force in the colony'. The Governor continued to legislate by proclamation until 1864, when his proclamations gave way to Ordinances passed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Legislative Council. The Legislative Council consisted of five officials, five magistrates, and five other members selected from the inhabitants.

Up to this time the Governor of British Columbia was also Governor of the neighbouring island of Vancouver.

Vancouver's Island is historically an older colony than British Columbia. Though discovered in 1592 it remained practically unknown to Europeans for two centuries, and it was not until 1849, when the island was granted to the Hudson's Bay Company, that a Governor was appointed. The first Governor called a legislative Council of nine members, and his successor constituted an Assembly of seven members under the direction of the Secretary of the Colonies. Freeholders of twenty acres, being British subjects, were qualified to vote, and members of the legislature were required to possess real property of the value of £300.

1 But the effect of this proclamation was modified by the Ordinance of the 6th March, 1867, which enacted that the English law as it existed on the 19 Nov. 1858 should apply "so far as the same are not from local circumstances inapplicable."

The seat of government in British Columbia had been fixed by the 21 & 22 Vic. (i) c. 99 at New Westminster, but Victoria in Vancouver's Island was fixed as the Governor's residence. The complaints of the inhabitants of the mainland regarding the continual absence of the Governor from the seat of government led to the passing of the 26 & 27 Vic. (i) c. 83 establishing separate governments at Victoria and New Westminster.

In 1865 the legislature of the island adopted a series of resolutions in favour of union with British Columbia, and by the Imperial Act 29 & 30 Vic. (i) c. 67 the two colonies were united. The power and authority of the executive government and of the legislature of British Columbia was extended over the island, and the number of Councillors was increased from 15 to 23 in order to provide for the representation of the island in the legislature. No other alteration was made in the constitution of the legislature, which until the admission of the colony into the union continued to consist of the Governor and a Council.


Though British Columbia was not represented at the AdmisQuebec Conference, the legislative Council on the 18th March, to the 1868, unanimously adopted a resolution expressing the desire Dominion. that the province should be admitted into the union. Negotiations were entered into with the Dominion and resolutions embodying the terms and conditions agreed upon were adopted by the Dominion Parliament on the 31st March, 1871, and by the legislature of British Columbia.

By an Order in Council dated the 16th day of May, 1871', British Columbia was declared to be a province of the Dominion from the 20th July, 1871.

1 See Appendix.

Early Constitution.




Prince Edward's Island, the smallest province of the Dominion, originally called St John's Island, until 1770 formed part of Nova Scotia. The first Governor was Walter Patterson, and by his commission' he was required to execute the duties of his office in accordance with his commission, the royal instructions, and such laws as might be passed by the Council and the Assembly. The Council possessed both executive and legislative functions, and the Governor and the Council were empowered to call an Assembly of the freeholders and the planters. After the first Assembly was summoned all laws were to be passed by the Governor, the Council and the Assembly, a power of disallowance being reserved to the Crown. The Governor was authorized by and with the consent of the Council to constitute Courts of Justice "for the hearing and determining of all causes as well criminal as civil according to law and equity," and full power was given to appoint judges, commissioners, justices of the peace, sheriffs, and other officers and ministers for the administration of justice. The Governor had also the right of pardoning criminals and presenting to benefices: of levying forces for the defence of the island and of erecting castles and forts: of disbursing public money for the support of the government and of granting Crown lands.

The first Assembly met in 1773 and consisted of 18 members.

In 1839 the Executive Council was separated from the Legislative Council, and in 1862 an Act was passed making the Legislative Council elective.

Introduction of re

In 1847 the Assembly adopted an address to the Crown, sponsible representing that the Lieutenant-Governor alone should be responsible to the Crown and Imperial Parliament for his

[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

acts and that the Executive Council should be deemed the constitutional advisers of Her Majesty's representative.

Earl Grey in a despatch to the Lieutenant-Governor in January 1849 pointed out, that the introduction of responsible government in a colony depended on the increase of the community in wealth, numbers and importance, and expressed the view that the conditions which would warrant the introduction of responsible government into Prince Edward's Island were wanting.

In a subsequent despatch Earl Grey intimated that if the other expenses of government were defrayed by the Island the home Government would provide the salary of the Governor. The Assembly offered to accept the suggestion provided the Crown surrendered all claim to the quit rents and Crown lands and conceded responsible government. The latter condition Earl Grey refused to grant and the Assembly thereupon adopted the expedient of refusing supplies. This course proved successful and in 1851 the concession was made.


The proposal to unite all the provinces in one Confedera- Federation was not received with favour in Prince Edward's Island. After the Quebec Conference public meetings were held to protest against the Island joining the Union and in the Assembly only five members were in its favour. In the following session (1866) the Assembly resolved that "this House cannot admit that a federal union of the North American Provinces and Colonies which would include Prince Edward's Island could ever be accomplished on terms that would prove advantageous to the interests and well-being of the people of this island, separated as it is and must ever remain, from the neighbouring provinces by an immoveable barrier of ice for many months in the year." The question continued to be discussed in the following years, and at length in 1873 the Executive Council adopted a minute that, if liberal terms of union were offered, the Government would dissolve the As



of the


sembly in order to give the people an opportunity of deciding
the question. Delegates were appointed to meet the Do-
minion Government and certain terms and conditions were
agreed to. The Assembly was dissolved but the new House
passed a resolution to the effect that the terms and con-
ditions proposed did not secure to the Island a sum sufficient
to defray the requirements of its local government. A com-
promise was ultimately arrived at, and the House unanimously
resolved to present an address to Her Majesty to unite the
island with the Dominion. The necessary Order in Council
was issued on the 26th of June 1873', and the Island was
declared to be a province of the Dominion from the 1st day
of July of the same year.

The principal terms and conditions were:

(1) That the Island not having incurred a debt equal to 50 dollars a head of its population, i.e. of 4,701,050 dollars, should receive from the Dominion interest at 5 per cent. per annum on the difference between the actual amount of its indebtedness and the above amount.

(2) That as the Government of the Island held no lands from the Crown and therefore enjoyed no revenue from that source for the construction and maintenance of public works, the Dominion Government should pay by yearly instalments to the Government of the Island 45,000 dollars yearly less 5 per cent. on any sum not exceeding 800,000 dollars which the Dominion might advance to the Island for the purchase of land held by large proprietors.

(3) That in consideration of the transfer to Canada of the powers of taxation mentioned in the B.N.A. Act, 1867, the Dominion was to pay the Government of the Island 30,000 dollars and an annual grant equal to 80 cents per head of its population as shewn by the census of 1871, such grant to increase as the population increased until it reached 400,000. (4) That the Dominion should assume the following

1 See Appendix,

[ocr errors][ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »