House of Commons, 22 February 1875, Canadian Confederation with Alberta and Saskatchewan



Mr. THOMPSON (Cariboo) moved the adoption of an address to HIS EXCELLENCY the GOVERNOR GENERAL, praying that he will take the necessary steps to have the boundary line between British Columbia and the North-West Territory (especially towards the North-Eastern boundary of the former) defined without delay, in view of the anticipated extensive immigration to the recently discovered gold mines on the Arctic Watershed. He said he would state briefly the reasons which led him to submit the motion to the House. The miners who had settled in the Stikeen River country had ascended the river 160 miles, and crossed the high-land separating the waters which ran into the Pacific Ocean by the Stikeen from those which ultimately flow into the Arctic Ocean by the Mackenzie River. During three months, because the miners reached there late in the season, between one million and one million and a quarter of dollars worth of gold was taken out of the streams tributary to the Mackenzie. A number of miners had gone two hundred and fifty miles further up than FEBRUARY 22, 1875 263 any point hitherto discovered ; laid in a stock of provisions there, and were engaged in prosecuting mining operations in that section. In travelling through an unsettled country it was impossible for those men to know when they crossed the boundary line separating British Columbia from the North-West territory, and passed under different jurisdictions. The Chief Justice of British Columbia, on a trip made into that section last year, took observations from which he came to the conclusion that the mines then being worked were between 58 ° and 59 ° parallel of north latitude—the boundary line being at 60 ° —and when the miners proceeded between 250 and 300 miles further in a north-easterly direction, it was impossible for them to know when they might strike one of the boundaries of British Columbia, and therefore whether they were within the jurisdiction of British Columbia or the North-West territory. He believed there was no officer of the North-West Government in that section of country, and it was therefore highly important that either two boundaries be definitely settled, or powers be delegated to the British Columbia Government to exercise jurisdiction on the boundaries of the North West territory.
Hon. Mr. MACKENZIE said the Dominion Government would have, in the first place, to take steps to ascertain, as far as possible, from existing documents, where this boundary should be located, and then they would determine what steps should be taken in connection with the Columbia Government to determine the boundary. Communications woud, therefore, have to take place with the Columbia Government on the subject. He hoped the motion would not be pressed, because the matter would be dealt with by the Government as a matter of course, and it could only be dealt with, in the first place, by correspondence with the Local Government.
Mr. THOMPSON said that on the understanding that the matter would be brought before the Provincial Government by the Dominion Government, which he hoped would be done without delay, he would withdraw the motion.—Motion withdrawn.


Canada. House of Commons Debates, 1875-1949. Provided by the Library of Parliament.



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