Arrival of the Prince of Wales - His Reception - The British Colonial Secretary expresses satisfaction with the Assembly's proceedings in regard to the Land Commission - The Report of the Commissioners - Its cardinal points presented - Their views with regard to Escheat and other subjects - The case of the Loyalists and Indians. Remarks on the Report: its merits and its defects. The evils incident to the Laud Question fundamentally attributable to the Home Government - The Immigrants deceived - The misery consequent on such deception - The burden of correction laid on the wrong shoulders - Volunteer Companies - General Census - Death of Prince Albert - The Duke of Newcastle and the Commissioners' Report.
THE Prince of Wales having, in compliance with an invitation from the Canadian parliament, resolved to visit British North America, he was invited by the authorities to pay a visit to Prince Edward Island. Having signified his intention of doing so, suitable preparations were made for his reception. His Royal Highness having proceeded to Newfoundland, and thence to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, he, after a short stay in these colonies, arrived in Charlottetown, in the ship Hero, on Thursday, the tenth of August, about twelve o'clock, m. On the Hero swinging to her anchors, the lieutenant governor, attended by Colonel Gray, stepped into a barge and proceeded on board the ship. After a short interval, his excellency returned, and intimated that the royal party would disembark in half an hour. The governor received His Royal Highness as he stepped on the pier, and, in the name of the colonists, welcomed him to the island. The governor then presented the mayor to the Prince, and the recorder and city council, collectively. A guard of honor, consisting of a detachment
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of the 62nd regiment, and a body of volunteers, lined the way from the landing place to the royal carriage, into which, amidst the cheers of the people, the Prince stepped, inviting the governor to occupy the vacant seat. The procession was then formed, headed by an escort of volunteer cavalry, commanded by Major Davies. Immediately in advance of the first carriage walked the mayor, supported by the recorder and the city treasurer, and after the carriages, the procession was composed of the judges, the executive council, the members of both branches of the legislature, the clergy, the public officers, the city councillors, the committee of management, the members of the bar and other gentlemen, the troops, and societies and associations. There were four triumphal arches through which the procession passed. These were erected at the public expense. On passing through Rochfort Square, the procession halted for a moment opposite a platform, on which were assembled upwards of a thousand children, neatly attired, and belonging to the sabbath schools. When the carriage of time Prince reached the platform, a thousand youthful voices united in singing the national anthem, when the emotion of the Prince was such that he actually shed tears.
At the door of Government House, His Royal Highness was received by Mrs. Dundas, and conducted to the drawing-room, where the members of the executive council were presented by the governor. Rain, which had threatened all day, now began to descend; but there was a pleasant interval in the afternoon, during which the Prince rode, taking the Saint Peter's and Malpeque roads, and returning in time for dinner, at half-past seven o'clock. There was a general illumination in the evening, the due effect of which was marred by heavy rain. But the following day was a splendid one. His Royal Highness, in the
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uniform of a colonel, held a levee in the forenoon, after which he inspected the volunteers, to the number of about four hundred and fifty men, in front of Government House. They were commanded by Major the Hon. T. H. Haviland, who was complimented on the appearance of the force. Major Davies' troop of cavalry also received its share of royal commendation.
His Royal Highness drove to the Colonial Building for the purpose of receiving the addresses of the executive council and of the corporation of the city. He was received by Mr. Palmer and the Mayor, at the entrance. Two large stands had been erected for the accommodation of ladies wishing to witness the interesting ceremony. The civic and executive addresses were respectively read by the Recorder and the Honorable Edward Palmer. We may be permitted to say that these addresses, in point of good taste and expression, were far above the average of such compositions. To these addresses the Prince made suitable replies. In the afternoon his Royal Highness took another ride into the country, making a brief halt at the farm of Mr. H. Longworth, whence he obtained an extensive view of Charlottetown and the harbor.
In the evening there was a ball in the Colonial Building, which was attended by a numerous and brilliant assemblage, and where His Royal Highness danced with much spirit, remaining till after three o'clock.
On Saturday the prince departed from the island, where he had produced a most favorable impression, - leaving one hundred and fifty pounds to be disposed of in charity, according to directions communicated to the lieutenant-governor and his lady.
On the sixteenth of June, 1860, the Duke of Newcastle addressed a despatch to the lieutenant-governor, expressing
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his sense of the promptitude and completeness with which the house of assembly had given its support to the plan devised in the hope of terminating the differences on the question of land, by which the island had been so long agitated, and intimating that a commission would be forwarded, under the royal sign manual, containing the appointment of the Honorable Joseph Howe, Mr. John Hamilton Gray, and Mr. John William Ritchie, as commissioners, - Mr. Howe being the representative of the tenants, Mr. Gray of the Crown, and Mr. Ritchie of the proprietors. The commissioners accordingly opened their court at the Colonial Building, on the fifth of September, l860, - Mr. Gray presiding. There appeared at the court, as counsel for the government of the colony, on behalf of the tenantry, Mr. Samuel Thomson, of Saint John, N. B ., and Mr. Joseph Hensley; and for the proprietors, Mr. K. G. Haliburton and Mr. Charles Palmer. Mr. Benjamin DesBrisay was appointed clerk to the commissioners. On the first day, the court was addressed by counsel representing the various interests, and on the succeeding days, a very large number of witnesses were examined, for the purpose of eliciting information for the guidance of the court in coming to a decision. After the evidence had been heard, the court was addressed by counsel.
The report of the commissioners was dated the eighteenth of July, 1861; and, as any history of the island would be incomplete without an outline of its contents, the writer will now proceed to give such outline, which, whilst it presents leading facts and arguments adduced, will not, it is hoped, be open to the charge of undue prolixity.
As we have, in the course of the narrative, given an incidental sketch of the history of the land question, we shall pass over that portion of the commissioners' report
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which is occupied with facts that have already been partially submitted, and to which we must again refer at a more advanced stage of the narrative, and give the substance of the remedies which the commissioners proposed for existing evils. The commissioners expressed the hope that they might be regarded as having entered upon the discharge of their duties, not only with a high appreciation of the honor conferred by their appointment, but also with a due sense of the grave responsibilities which they assumed. When they commenced their labors there was a general impression that the act of the provincial legislature, which made their award binding on all parties concerned, would receive the royal assent; and, although the decision of the colonial secretary - not to submit that act for Her Majesty's approval - somewhat relieved them from the weight of responsibility necessarily involved in the preparation and delivery of a judgment beyond appeal, they still felt that, as their award was to affect the titles of a million of acres, and the rights and interests of eighty thousand people, a hasty decision would not be a wise one, and that the materials for a judgment ought to be exhausted before the report was made.
By traversing the island and mixing freely with its people, the commissioners had become familiar with its great interests and general aspects. By holding an open court in all the shire towns, they had given to every man on the island, however poor, an opportunity to explain his grievances, if he had any. By bringing the proprietors and tenants face to face before an independent tribunal, mutual misunderstandings and exaggerated statements had been tested and explained, and the real condition of society and the evils of the leasehold system had been carefully contemplated from points of view not often reached by those whose interests were involved in the controversy. The evidence
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collected, though not under oath, - the commissioners not being vested with power to administer oaths, - was most valuable in aiding them to form a correct estimate of the evils of which the people complained.
The documentary history of the question extended over nearly a century of time, and was to be found in the journals of the Legislature, in the newspaper files of the colony, and in pamphlets more or less numerous. The amount of time and money wasted in public controversy no man could estimate; and the extent to which a vicious system of colonization had entered into the daily life of the people, and embittered their industrial and social relations, it was painful to record.
The commissioners felt that as the case of Prince Edward Island was exceptional, so must be the treatment. The application of the local government for a commission, and the large powers given to it by the Queen's authority, presupposed the necessity of a departure from the ordinary legal modes of settling disputes between landlords and tenants, which the experience of half a century had proved to be inadequate.
Finding that it was impossible to shut out of their inquiry, while on the island, the questions of escheat, quitrents, and fishery reserves, - the claims of the descendants of the original French inhabitants, Indians, and loyalists, - they thought it quite within the range of their obligations to express their opinions freely upon these branches of the general subject.
The question of escheat, though apparently withdrawn from the scope of their inquiry by despatches from the Colonial office, - received long after the opening of the commission, - could not be put aside. The discussion of the question was forced upon them from the day the court
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opened until it closed. The commissioners, therefore, thought it comported with their duty to express the conclusions at which they had arrived.
In considering the best mode of quieting the disputes between the proprietors and their tenants, and of converting the leasehold into freehold tenures, the commissioners remarked that the granting of a whole colony in a single day, in huge blocks of twenty thousand acres each, was an improvident and unwise exercise of the prerogative of the Crown. There was no co-operation on the part of the proprietors in peopling the island. Each acted on his own responsibility, and while a few showed energy in the work, the great body of the grantees did nothing. The emigrants sent out by the few were disheartened by the surrounding wilderness owned by the many, who made no effort to reclaim it, or were tempted to roam about or disregard the terms of settlement by the quantity of wild land, with no visible owner to guard it from intrusion. By mutual co-operation and a common policy, the proprietors might have redeemed the grants of the imperial government from the charge of improvidence. The want of these indispensible elements of success laid the foundation of all the grievances which subsequently afflicted the colony.
The commissioners regarded the land purchase act as embodying the most simple and efficacious remedy for existing evils. Under that act the Worrell and Selkirk estates had been purchased, - covering about one hundred and forty thousand acres, by which signal advantages were secured, the proprietors being dispossessed by their own consent, the tenants being enabled to purchase their holdings and improvements, not necessarily at a price so high as to represent the rents stipulated to be paid, but at the lowest price which the expenses of management, added to the ag-
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gregate cost of the estate, would warrant; and the wild lands were at once rescued from the leasehold system, and were subjected to the wholesome control of the local government, to be hereafter disposed of in fee simple, at moderate prices, as they are in all the other North American provinces. The commissioners unanimously recommended the application to the whole island of the principles embodied in the land purchase act, under modifications which appeared to be essential to their more extended adoption.
With respect to escheat, the commissioners reported that there was no light in which the present escheat of the titles, on the ground of the conditions of the original grants having been broken, could be viewed, which would not exhibit consequences most disastrous to the island. They therefore reported that there should be no escheat of the original grants for non-performance of conditions as to settlement.
The commissioners recommended that the imperial parliament should guarantee a loan of one hundred thousand pounds, so that the money could be borrowed at a low rate of interest. With the command of such a fund, the government would be in a condition to enter the market, and to purchase, from time to time, such estates as could be obtained at reasonable prices. They did not doubt that many of the proprietors would be glad to sell, and the competition for the funds at the disposal of the government would so adjust the prices that judicious purchases could be made without any arbitrary proceedings or compulsory interference with private rights. The commissioners felt that it might be beyond their duty to make such a suggestion, but they hoped Her Majesty's government would regard the case of Prince Edward Island as exceptional, its grievances having sprung from the injudicious mode in which its lands were originally given away.
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Assuming that the imperial parliament guaranteed a loan, there remained to be considered the nature of the security which would be offered. Although it was not improbable that doubts might have arisen as to the ability of the colony to repay so large an amount, a glance at its financial position would show that the required relief might be given without the risk of any loss to the mother country. The commissioners showed that the revenue of the island had increased from seventeen thousand pounds in 1839, to forty-one thousand in 1859, - more than doubling itself in twenty years. It seemed apparent, therefore, that without disturbing the tariff or reducing the ordinary appropriations, in five years the natural increase of population, trade, and consumption would give six thousand pounds a year, or a sum sufficient to pay the interest on a hundred thousand pounds, at six per cent.. As it was not improbable that five years would be required to purchase the estates, and expend the loan to advantage, it might happen that the revenue would increase as fast as the interest was required, without any increase in the tariff, or diminution of the appropriations. But it might be reasonably assumed, when a new spirit was breathed into the island, and its population turned to the business of life, with new hopes and entire confidence in the future, that trade would be more active, and the condition of the people improve. The very operation of the loan act might therefore supply all the revenue required to meet the difference; but if it should not, an addition of two and a half per cent, upon the imports of the island, or a reduction of the road vote for two or three years, would yield the balance that might be required.
In making their calculations, no reference was made to the fund which would be at once available from the payment of their installments by the tenants who purchased. Two
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thousand five hundred pounds had been paid by the tenants on the Selkirk estate in the first year after it was purchased. Guided by the experience thus gained of the disposition and of the resources of the tenantry, it was deemed by the commissioners fair to conclude that if such a sum could be promptly realized from sales of land, admitted to be among the poorest in the island, the local government might fairly count upon the command of such an increase, from the re-sale of the estates they might purchase, as would enable them to keep faith with the public creditor, without any risk of embarrassment.
In considering the remedies to be applied, three conclusions forced themselves on the commissioners: that the original grants were improvident and ought never to have been sanctioned; that all the grants were liable to forfeiture for breach of the conditions with respect to settlement, and might have been justly escheated; and that all the grants might have been practically annulled by the enforcement of quitrents, and the lands seized and sold by the Crown, at various times, without the slightest impeachment of its honor. But whilst this opinion was firmly held, still, the Sovereign having repeatedly confirmed the original grants, it was impossible to treat the grantees in any other manner than as the lawful possessors of the soil.
Assuming, then, the sufficiency of the original grants, and the binding authority of the leases, the commissioners were clearly of opinion that .the leasehold tenure should be converted into freehold. It was, they said, equally the interest of the imperial and local governments that this should be done, that agrarian questions should be swept from the field of controversy, that Her Majesty's ministers might be no longer assailed by remonstrance and complaint, and that the public men in the island might turn their attention to the development of its resources.
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Assuming, therefore, that a compulsory compromise was inevitable, the question arose: upon what terms should the proprietors be compelled to sell, and the tenants be at liberty to purchase?
In answer to this important question, the commissioners awarded that tenants who tendered twenty years' purchase to their landlords, in cash, should be entitled to a discount of ten per cent., and a deed conveying the fee-simple of their farms. Where the tenant preferred to pay by instalments, he should have that privilege; but the landlord would not be bound to accept a less sum than ten pounds at any time; nor should the tenant have a longer time than ten years to liquidate the debt. The tenants whose lands were not worth twenty years' purchase, and who therefore declined to pay that amount, might tender to their landlords what they considered the value of their farms. If the landlord declined to accept the amount offered, the value should be adjusted by arbitration. If the sum tendered was increased by the award, the tenant was to pay the expenses; if it was not, they should be paid by the landlord. It was provided that the rent should be reduced in proportion to the instalments paid; but no credit should be given for any such instalments until the three years arrears allowed by the commissioners' award were paid, nor while any rent accruing after the adjustment of the value of the farm remained due. Proprietors who held not more than fifteen thousand acres, or such as desired to hold particular lands to that extent, were not to be compelled to part with such lands under the award. Leases under a term of less than forty years were not affected by the award.
With regard to arrears of rent due, it was awarded by the commissioners that a release of all arrears, beyond those which had accrued during the three years preceding
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the first of May, would be for the benefit of both landlords and tenants.
With regard to the case of the descendants of the 1oyalists who sought homes in Prince Edward Island after the confiscation of their properties in the old revolted colonies, the commissioners considered that they had claims on the local government. His Majesty's government, in 1783, felt the full force of the claims of their ancestors, and was sincere in its desire to make a liberal provision for them; but the rights which they had then acquired, when the proprietors had engaged to make certain grants of land for their benefit, were, unfortunately, not enforced. The commissioners recommended that the local government should make free grants to such as could prove that their fathers had been lured to the island under promises which had never been fulfilled.
With regard to the claims of the descendants of the original French inhabitants, the commissioners, with every desire to take a generous view of the sufferings of persons whose only crime was adherence to the weaker side in a great national struggle, could not, after the lapse of a century, rescue them from the ordinary penalties incident to a state of war.
The Indian claims were limited to Lennox Island, and to grass lands around it; and as it appeared by evidence that the Indians had been in uninterrupted occupancy of the property for more than half a century, and had built a chapel and several houses on the island, the commissioners were of opinion that their title should be confirmed, and that this very small portion of the wide territory their forefathers formerly owned should be left in the undisturbed possession of this last remnant of the race.
The commissioners closed their report by expressing their conviction that, should the general principles propounded be
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accepted in the spirit by which they were animated, and followed by practical legislation, the colony would start forward with renewed energy, dating a new era from the year 1861. In such an event, the British government would have nobly atoned for any errors in its past policy, the legislature would no longer be distracted with efforts to close the courts upon proprietors, or to tamper with the currency of the island; the cry of tenant-rights would cease to disguise the want of practical statesmanship, or to overawe the local administration; men who had hated and disturbed each other would be reconciled, and pursue their common interests in mutual co-operation; roads would be levelled, breakwaters built, the river-beds dredged, new fertilizers applied to a soil annually drained of its vitality; emigration would cease, and population attracted to the wild lands would enter upon their cultivation, unembarrassed by the causes which perplexed the early settlers. Weighed down by the burden of the investigation, the commissioners had sometimes felt doubtful of any beneficial results; but they now, at the close of their labors, indulged the hope that, if their suggestions were adopted, enfranchised and disenthralled from the poisoned garments that enfolded her, Prince Edward Island would yet become the Barbadoes of the Saint Lawrence.
Our limits will not admit of a more extended account of the commissioners' report, which constitutes a most important portion of the annals of the island. We hope we have succeeded in giving the kernel of it. It is impossible for any candid person to rise from the perusal of the document, as well as of the voluminous body of facts and evidence on which it is based, without the conviction that the work was committed to men whose experience and acquirements eminently fitted them for the onerous duty
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entrusted to them, and without feeling that they were inspired with the desire to do justice to all the interests involved. They condemned - and most justly - the imperial government, which had originally granted the land in such enormous quantity to each grantee, on the ground of public services, the merits of which it was most difficult for the commissioners to estimate. To say the truth, in the case of many of the grantees, it would require a microscope of no ordinary power to detect their existence. The conditions attached to the grants were deliberately disregarded by the bulk of the proprietors, who, up to the time the commission was appointed, continued to wield an amount of influence in the councils of successive Sovereigns, which successfully frustrated every effort made by the people to obtain justice. The emigrants who left their native land were under the impression that they were to be conducted to a country where they might speedily attain, by moderate industry, to independence; where advantages were to be obtained which could not be got in other portions of the vast continent of America. In four years from the date of the original grants a third of the land was to be actually settled; within ten years there was to be a settler to every hundred acres of land; as evidence that there was to be no lack of protestant clergymen, one hundred acres were allotted for a church and glebe; and as a guaranty that the schoolmaster would be found at home, thirty acres were allotted to him in this prospectively populous and happy island. The honor of the British government was committed as a guaranty for the realization of these brilliant promises. But during the first ten years the terms, as to population, were complied with in ten townships only, nine being partially settled, and forty-eight utterly neglected. The proprietors, knowing that they could get the British government to do what they pleased, petitioned,
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in the year after the grants were made, for a separate government, and the expense was to be met by the quitrents, which, however, they took good care not to pay; and as a reward for the concession of a separate government, Britain had to pay for the maintenance of the civil establishment of the island. Thirty years after the grants were made, the assembly passed resolutions which set forth clearly the extent to which the obligations under which the proprietors had come were disregarded, and petitioned that they might be compelled to fulfil the conditions on which they had obtained the land, or that it should be escheated and granted in small tracts to actual settlers. In shameful violation of the principles of national honor and justice, the representations of the people, through their representatives, were disregarded, in consequence of the influence brought to bear, by the grantees, on a weak and incompetent government; and thus there was on the part of Britain a flagrant breach of faith with the immigrants who had been tempted to leave their native country, trusting to guarantees the violation of which was never suspected. The people of the island continued for ninety years to protest against the injury under which they suffered, till at last a commission was appointed. Credit must be given to the commissioners for the thoroughness of their investigation, for the reliability of their facts, and for the impartiality and general soundness of their awards. Yet the report seems to lack necessary pungency and power in dealing with the iniquity of successive governments in failing to make compensation to the island immigrants and their successors for injuries persistently inflicted, and borne with a degree of patience that excites our wonder. Instead, however, of such injuries generating sympathy or admiration, leading to a rectification of admitted evils, the only result was a flow of official twaddle about the sacred rights of
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property, and the duty of obedience to imperial edicts relating to the soil, - edicts of which any civilized country might well be ashamed, and to which no parallel can be found in the voluminous annals of the colonial possessions of an empire on which the sun never sets. While immigrants to other portions of America obtained good land in fee-simple for the merest trifle, and were working their way to competence and independence, the farmers of Prince Edward Island, weighed down by rent, were doomed to clear the forest and improve the land, finding themselves in many cases, in their old age, no richer than on their arrival in the country, with no prospect before their families but hard work, and with no hope of a permanent or adequate return. Happily, the fearful difficulties encountered by the early settlers do not exist - at least in the same degree - now; and by dint of economy, hard work, and self-denial, not a few have attained to comparative comfort and independence. The commissioners say: "the grievances of the island have sprung from the injudicious mode in which the lands were originally given away." That is only half the truth. The Crown had the abstract right to grant the land in blocks of twenty thousand acres each; but the Crown had not the right, after the conditions on which the land had been allotted were published, and its good faith had been committed to the fulfilment of these conditions by the owners on pain of forfeiture, to permit their violation without the infliction of the penalty. Thousands, on the faith of these conditions being honestly implemented, had staked their prospects in life. The original immigrants would not have come to Prince Edward Island as tenants while they might have obtained free land elsewhere, unless compensatory advantages had been offered. These advantages were implied in the conditions of settlement attached to the
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grants. When, therefore, the British government permitted the violation of the contract, they broke faith with the immigrants, and became morally and constitutionally responsible for the consequences of such violation. The remedy was in the hands of the Crown. The original proprietors having failed to keep their engagements, the clear and honest duty of the Crown was to declare the land of such proprietors escheated, and, as compensation to the emigrants, to make moderate free grants to them of a portion of it. Instead of adopting this manly and honest course, the Crown ignored the injury inflicted on the tenants, and allowed the proprietors to retain their land in a wilderness state, thus causing long-continued misery and bitterness in the island, and almost permanently obscuring the lustre of one of the brightest gems in the British colonial diadem. The charge of indifference to the just complaints of the people cannot be brought against the successive local legislatures and governments of the island. Law after law was enacted, and petition after petition was laid at the foot of the throne. The people met in masses and prayed for relief. Verily, there was no lack of importunity; but the official ear - always open to the complaints and representations of many landholders and their satellites, who were ever sensitive to the imaginary rights, but totally oblivious of the real duties of property - was conveniently deaf to the groans of an oppressed people. Year after year passed without any effectual remedy being applied, and the original proprietors either died or transferred their property to others; and for a long period, before the appointment of the commission, the answer to all applications to the colonial office for escheat was the melancholy chant of too late! too late! Father Time and his progeny proscription now presented barriers which were deemed insuperable. Every
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successive minister for the colonies became expert at counting on his fingers the number of years that had elapsed since the British government broke faith with the people of Prince Edward Island, and re-echoed the chant, "Too late! too late! "It must be conceded that, after the lapse of so long a period, it was impossible, without positive injury to proprietors who were in no way responsible for existing evils, to escheat the land, and the views taken by the commissioners on this point must commend themselves to every unprejudiced mind; but, admitting all this, the question occurs, was it too late to fix blame in the proper quarter, and to repair the damage sustained by the island? Certainly not. 'We think it must be regarded as a radical defect in the report of the commissioners that no pointed answer was given to that question. It was unfortunately too late to make compensation to those who first came to the country on the faith of imperial pledges which were not redeemed, and who, after a life of toil, had passed the bourne whence no traveller returns, leaving an inheritance of difficulty and trouble to their sons and daughters; but it was not too late to make honorable compensation to the latter, and, at the same time, justice to the present owners of the soil, by buying the land with money out of the public treasury of the mother country, and giving it to those whose just claims had been so long criminally disregarded. Whilst in the plainest terms the commissioners admitted that the island grievances sprung from the injudicious mode in which the lands were originally given away, they did not press for due compensation being made by the country whose rulers had produced these grievances, hut recommended that the imperial government should guarantee a loan for the purchase of the land of one hundred thousand pounds, on the production, by the island authorities, of most satisfactory security for the
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payment of principal and interest. In plain English, the aggrieved parties were made practically responsible for oppression in the production of which they had no hand, and for which, therefore, they could in no legitimate sense be held responsible. On the assumption that the British government were not accountable, the award of the commissioners was admirable; but, assuming their responsibility, the cost of rectification was recommended to be borne by the wrong parties.
Let it not be for a moment supposed that it is intended by these remarks to foster discontent in the island, to weaken the bonds which unite it to the old country, or to generate a spirit of disloyalty to the Crown or dissatisfaction towards good landlords. Were the writer inspired by so criminal a desire, his efforts would fail in the production of any such consequences. The people have learned to put no confidence either in governments or princes; but, under Almighty favor, by economy, temperance, and hard work, to trust to their own efforts in sweeping from the island the remnants of a pernicious system, and of attaining that measure of independence and prosperity to which such formidable obstacles have been presented, but the ultimate realization of which the capabilities of the island warrant. Since the island became British property, not a petition or complaint has been laid at the foot of the throne which has not breathed the most devoted loyalty; and the people, under trials which might have tested the patience of Job, have borne them with a degree of meekness and patience to which few parallels can be produced; and at this moment the beloved Queen of Great Britain has not more sturdy, faithful, and resolute defenders of her throne and person than the inhabitants of Prince Edward Island. Loyalty must be indigenous to a soil where, under such adverse conditions, it has taken such deep root and flourishes.
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In the very year when the commissioners were prosecuting their inquiries, Prince Edward Island responded to the call for a defensive force by organizing twenty companies of volunteers, mustering upwards of a thousand men, showing a degree of loyalty, zeal, and energy in that direction inferior to no other portion of the Queen's dominions.
A general census of the island was taken in 1861. The population was then - as certified in the most accurate returns - eighty thousand eight hundred and fifty-six, including three hundred and fifteen Indians. The churches numbered one hundred and fifty-six; schoolhouses, three hundred and two; and public teachers, two hundred and eighty. There were eighty-nine fishing establishments on the island, which produced twenty-two thousand barrels of herrings and gasperaux, seven thousand barrels of mackerel, thirty-nine thousand quintals of codfish, and seventeen thousand gallons of fish-oils. There were one hundred and forty-one grist-mills, one hundred and seventy-six saw-mills, and forty-six carding-mills; fifty-five tanneries, manufacturing one hundred and forty-three thousands pounds of leather.
The executive government having, in 1861, appointed commissioners to superintend the collection of products and manufactures of the island for the London exhibition of 1862, the duty was judiciously performed, and the articles forwarded to the exhibition under the charge of Mr. Henry Haszard, the secretary to the commissioners.
A profound sensation was caused in the island by intelligence of the seizure of Messrs. Mason and Slidell, civil servants of the Southern States, when under the protection of the English flag, on their passage from Havana to England on board the steamship Trent. A remonstrance was forwarded by the British government to that of the Northern States; and the act of the commander of the San
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Jacinto - the American vessel by which the outrage was committed - having been disapproved of by the American government, the Southern commissioners were set at liberty, and the dispute happily terminated.
On the eighth of January, 1862, intelligence of the death of His Royal Highness Prince Albert reached the island. He died at Windsor Castle on the fourteenth of December, 1861, in the forty-second year of his age. Official intimation of his death was communicated to the lieutenant-governor by the Duke of Newcastle, and His Excellency ordered that forty-two minute-guns should be fired from Saint George's Battery at twelve o'clock, noon; and Her Majesty's faithful subjects were enjoined to put themselves into mourning. The life of the departed Prince was one of singular purity and usefulness, and his memory will forever stand honorably associated with that of Queen Victoria, than whom a more virtuous and beloved Sovereign never swayed a British sceptre. An address of condolence to Her Majesty was adopted by the legislature.
In answer to a despatch from the governor to the colonial secretary, requesting that he should be favored with a copy of the land commissioners' report, His Excellency received a despatch from the Duke of Newcastle, dated the seventh of February, 1862, accompanied by a copy of the report, which was anxiously desired by the people. His Grace said that he was desirous of expressing his appreciation of the painstaking, able, and impartial report which the commissioners had furnished, - a report which would derive additional weight from its unanimity, and which was the result of an investigation so complete that it had exhausted the material for inquiry into the facts of the case. The difficulties that remained were those which were inherent in the subject, and which had, for a long course of years,
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LOAN NOT GRANTED
baffled every attempt at solution. his Grace, at the same time, held out no hope - for reasons which he did not state - that the loan of one hundred thousand pounds, in order to buy the estates of Prince Edward Island from their present owners, would be guaranteed. Mr. Labouchere, the colonial minister, suggested such a loan in 1855, and it was warmly advocated by Lord Stanley in 1858, when he held that office; and the people of the island had fair ground for additional complaint against the home government, when that government did not condescend even to state manfully the reasons for such a point-blank refusal, more especially as the commissioners had advocated most earnestly the imperial guaranty of such a loan, - such recommendation being one of the cardinal points in their award. The duke further intimated in the despatch that there appeared to be insuperable objections to that multiplicity of separate land arbitrations which would be the effect of the alternative measure alluded to in the commissioners' report. Shorn of the vital portions of the award, which were thus politely ignored, the report was divested, to a large extent, of its immediate practical value; and the official compliment paid to the commissioners was but very poor compensation for the rejection of incomparably the most important portions of an award which had been arrived at after a painstaking and complete investigation, in the conduct of which was enlisted an. amount of patience, impartiality, discrimination, and ability which it would be difficult to match. The secret of the mild manner in which imperial delinquencies, in the treatment of Prince Edward Island, were touched upon in this production may probably be found in a due appreciation by the commissioners of governmental sensitiveness on the point, producing the conviction that to ask for more than would probably be granted would injure - rather than promote - just claims to Compensation.
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HISTORY OF PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND
The assembly met in February, and adopted a resolution, by a vote of twenty-three to six, pledging itself to introduce a measure to confirm the award of the commissioners in all it's provisions. The action of the assembly in thus, without hesitation, honorably abiding by the award of the commissioners, without cavil or complaint, was highly creditable to its character; but the award did not meet with the same degree of approval at the hands of the landowners who were parties to the appointment of the commission. The Duke of Newcastle addressed a despatch to the governor, dated the fifth of April, 1862, enclosing a draft bill, drawn up by the proprietors, for settling the differences between landlords. and tenants on certain townships, in the preamble of which it was stated that the commissioners, in providing that the value of land should be ascertained by arbitrators, to be appointed by the landlords and tenants, exceeded the authority intended to be given to them by the assembly and the proprietors, and if their suggestion were adopted, disputes and litigation between the landlords and tenants would ensue. Thus these gentlemen completely ignored the award of the commissioners, and proposed to substitute a remedy of their own. In thus acting, they had the support of the colonial secretary; for although, in the despatch by which the draft bill was accompanied his Grace did not express positive approval of the landowners' proposals, he, nevertheless, stated that it would give him great pleasure if Sir Samuel Cunard's anticipations as a proprietor were realized in reference to the bill.
Two acts had been promptly passed by the assembly on the land question, - one to give effect to the report of the commissioners, and another to facilitate the operation of the award in cases of anticipated difficulty; and the local government framed a minute in which they affirmed, in refer
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LOCAL GOVERNMENT ARGUMENTS
ence to the landlords' proposed bill, that they could not believe that the legislature would sanction any measure bearing on the land question which might differ essentially from the principles embodied in the commissioners' report. They asserted that the assembly deemed the government pledged to carry out the award of the commission, and they denied that the charge preferred in the preamble of the proprietors' bill, that the commissioners had exceeded their commission, could be substantiated. From the language of the commission, the government argued that the powers conferred upon them were unlimited, - amply sufficient to empower them to define any mode of settlement of a purely equitable character. By a passage contained in a despatch of the colonial secretary, he seemed to apprehend that the arbitration system prescribed by the commissioners would necessitate a multiplicity of separate local arbitrations, which would constitute insuperable objections against, this mode of adjustment. The government, however, did not anticipate that many of these arbitrations would take place in the practical working of the system. In their opinion, two or three cases on a township would have the effect of establishing a scale of prices which would become a standard of value. The minute - a temperate and well-reasoned document - concluded with an expression of the hope that the bills passed by the house of assembly would receive the royal sanction. They reminded the colonial secretary that the differences which the commissioners were appointed to determine had, for half a century, exerted a most baneful influence upon the colony, and that the people hailed with much satisfaction the prospect of having them adjusted. Should anything occur to prevent such adjustment, the consequences would be of a very serious nature, and result in causing much anxiety to Her Majesty's ministers, and also to the local government.
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HISTORY OF PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND
To this minute, which was dated the twenty-second of July, 1862, the Duke of Newcastle replied in a despatch of the ninth of August, following. He expressed regret that he could not concur in the views of the government. The main questions which the commissioners were appointed to decide were first, at what rate tenants ought to be allowed to acquire freehold interests in their property; and, next, what amount of arrears of rent should be remitted by the landlords. On the first and most important of these questions, the commissioners professed themselves unable to come to any conclusion, and, instead of deciding it, they recommended, virtually, that it should be decided by other arbitrators, to be hereafter nominated. This, however, he said, was not what they were charged to do: they were authorized by the proprietors to make an award themselves, but they were not authorized to transfer the duty of making that award to others. The trust confided to them was a personal one. The proprietors relied on the skill, knowledge, and fairness of the three gentlemen appointed in 1860; and they could not, therefore, be called upon, in deference to these gentlemen's opinion, to confide their interests even to arbitrators specially designated in the award, much less to persons whose very mode of appointment was undetermined by it. This objection might be waived by the proprietors, but it was not waived; and being insisted on, the colonial secretary said he was obliged to admit that it was conclusive, and he was bound further to say that it was, in his opinion, an objection founded, not on any technical rule of law, but on a sound and indisputable principle of justice, - the principle, namely, that a person who has voluntarily submitted his case to the decision of one man, cannot, therefore, be compelled, without his consent, to transfer it to the decision of another.
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ACTS NOT SANCTIONED
For these reasons, the colonial minister did not advise Her Majesty to sanction the two acts which had been forwarded, and which were, of course, intended to render the award obligatory on all who had consented to the reference. The report of the commissioners was therefore regarded by the home government simply as an expression of opinion which was not binding, and which ought not to be allowed to stand in the way of any other proposal which promised an amicable settlement of the question.
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