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The North West

Manitoba Pageant, Winter 1966, Volume 11, Number 2

This article was published originally in Manitoba Pageant by the Manitoba Historical Society on the above date. We make it available here as a free, public service.

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An excerpt from the Toronto Globe in the Nor'Wester, 17 March 1863.

Those who take an interest in this subject, will be pleased to learn that an earnest effort seems at length, about to be made by the Home Authorities for a settlement of this great question.

In June last, towards the close of the session, the Duke of Newcastle stated in the house of Lords that the chief hindrance in the way was the inordinate demand of the Hudson's Bay Company.

That stumbling block seems still to present itself.

"It is understood," says the Quebec Mercury of the 19th ult. "that negotiations have been opened between the Hudson's Bay Company and the Imperial Government, for the purchase by the latter of the Company's charter. For the time, the extravagant price demanded by the Company - not less than a million and a half pounds sterling - forms an obstacle to the progress of negotiations; but we are informed that the opinion prevails in England that the course thus indicated is that most likely to result in the satisfactory settlement of the important territorial question which the pretensions of the Company involve.

The inference is not unfair, that the step taken by the Duke of Newcastle in opening intercourse with the Company upon the subject, implies a readiness on the part of the Home Authorities to assume their full share of the responsibility in connection with the colonization and government of the vast territory over which the rule of the Company has hitherto extended.

So farewell!! The price demanded is, unquestionably, grossly excessive - being, in fact, quadruple the whole capital stock of the Company. One third of the million and a half would be ample compensation. That sum, together with their retention of their instruments of trade, and the fee simple of ground occupied by their trading posts, should satisfy them. They had better take that, else they may lose all; as in their claim some years ago on the United States Government, of $1,000,000 for their "Possessory rights" in Oregon.

This, however, is not a matter in which Canada has, at present, aught to say - unless, indeed, in case of "annexation" to her, reimbursement of the Hudson's Bay Company compensation should be exacted.

The Hudson's Bay charter and its redemption is a matter solely of Imperial concern. If it must be bought off, the British Government should do so at once - on terms not such as the Company claim, but such as the equities of the case may call for.

This done, the next vital question that presents itself is that of the government of the new country to be opened for colonization.

On this head Canada has much to urge. She is, geographically and socially, the feeder of the North-West. The only possible British high-way thence, for general commerce, is her incomparable water lines. Its only present settlement is, in the main, essentially Canadian, in origin largely, and in proclivity, strongly so. The people of Red River Settlement - immigrants and natives - have, by their mass petition in 1857, asked, in tones of the most earnest entreaty, for political annexation to Canada - for the aegis of her government. In the accord of that prayer lies the solution-perhaps for Britain at least, the only possible solution of the North West problem - the ultimate problem, in fact, of Britain in America. The voice of British House of Commons has, in its Committee Report of 1857, virtually and that in anxious terms, declared.

Page revised: 18 July 2009

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