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further, the key of the East is the key of the world, and should the United States monopolise the eastern trade by the Pacific railroad, or the Isthmus of Panama, our power and influence as a nation must rapidly decrease.
It is absolutely necessary that Great Britain should make and preserve a direct communication with the East through the continent of America, the passages through which continent the United States will otherwise, ere long, close against us. This communication can be made by means of a railroad connecting our possessions on the Atlantic and Pacific seaboards, and would prove a benefit to ourselves and to the colonies.
But other arguments may be urged (beyond those which merely touch the public purse) against the abandonment of our possessions. Are the people of England content to live with the sole object of manufacturing goods for the rest of the world, at the prices which others choose to offer for them ? to work, and see others reap the profits of their labour and ingenuity? Are British statesmen content to degenerate into mere managers of a vast business; to see other nations contending for power and precedence, and to remain indifferent and passive spectators ?
Are we prepared to recede step by step from the territories which have been handed down to us, content with that easy but ignoble doctrine that our mission is to civilise the world, and then sink into oblivion ?
But even if, consistently with her advantage, England might negociate a cession of her colonies, I must venture to submit that she could not, consistently with her honour, dispose of or sell a portion of her territory, with the population inhabiting the same, and possessing the rights of citizenship jointly with Englishmen, unless by the express desire or consent of such inhabitants. This is a proposition which needs no argument to support it; for, as every man is bound to provide for the maintenance of his own progeny during infancy, so is every nation bound to sustain the life, interests, and nationality of its offshoots until they are able to maintain their positions and individual rights amongst the nations of the world.
On a just and equitable solution of the so-called San Juan Water Boundary Question depends the future, not only of British Columbia, but also of the entire British possessions in North America.
The contention on this subject between Great Britain and the United States has extended over a period of more than twenty years, but the papers relating thereto have been, with the exception of a few selected documents, and extracts from documents, carefully concealed. I am at a loss to find any reason for this reticence, unless it has been caused by a dread of calling public attention to the subject. It is evident, therefore, that if any difficulties or complications now arise, or any misfortunes befall the colonies interested in the question, or any dishonour attach to this country, the blame cannot be said to rest upon the nation or upon the Houses of Parliament, but upon those individual members of successive Governments who have taken upon themselves the responsibility of refusing the information which has been repeatedly called for in the House. I have myself for many years taken a great interest in this and other cognate questions, and
I now feel it my duty to the colonies and to the
Vancouver's Island takes its title from the dis-
It is separated on the north from British Columbia by St. George's Sound, or, as the United States geographers term it, the Gulf of Georgia. The Sound in the north is a broad open channel, tolerably free from islands, but towards its southern extremity it is divided into a number of channels by a large cluster of islands, of more or less extent respectively, termed by United States geographers the Haro Archipelago, which were formerly thought to be a part of the mainland of Vancouver's Island. The channel used by Vancouver, and laid down in his chart—being the straightest course from north to south, and, indeed, the channel best adapted for sailing vessels, if not for steamers—is the Rosario Strait, which intervenes between this cluster of islands and the Territory of Washington in the United States. Another channel was subsequently discovered, viz., the Canal de Haro, xa? which separates this cluster of islands from Van-lu
couver's Island; and, on account of its tortuous course,
and the absence of anchorage ground therein, except at its northern extremity, that channel is little used by sailing vessels.
These two channels meet at the south of the cluster of islands above mentioned, and join the Pacific Ocean through the Straits of San Juan da Fuca.
The important colony of Victoria—the capital of British Columbia—with the harbours of Victoria and Esquimault, is situate at the southern and eastern extremity of the Island of Vancouver; and the communication between these harbours and the eastern coast of the island, as well as with the mainland of British Columbia, is now carried on mainly by the Canal de Haro.
The entrance to this strait or canal is, however, commanded by the Island of San Juan, one of the islands of the group, and it will be seen that it is of the very last importance to the citizens of Vancouver's Island, and of the mainland of British Columbia, that in case of any disagreement with the United States they should hold possession of this key to the strait.
The Strait of Rosario is commanded by several of the islands which immediately fringe the mainland of Washington territory, as, for instance, by Cypress Island, and should the island of San Juan, commanding the Canal de Haro, fall into the hands of the United States, the inhabitants of Victoria and the inhabitants of the mainland of British Columbia could be cut off from intercourse with each other by the batteries of the United States erected on San Juan.