REPORT ON OREGON TERRITORY 295 from Frasers River by way of Johnstons Strait, between Van- couvers Island and the mainland, is not only difficult but dan- gerous to navigate from the rapidity of the currents and can not be made use of. She will, therefore, probably urge her claim to the southern line, say, the Columbia, as the boundary which they are desirous of holding, and are now doing all in their power to secure its permanent settlement through the Hudson Bay Co., and extending the laws by which she governs the Canadas over her own citizens settled in the territory ; and by the delays of our Government hope to obtain such a foot- hold as will make it impossible to set aside their sovereignty in it. This, as far as I was enabled to perceive, is evidently their intention, being extremely desirous to appear as the larger claimants of the territory and to assert their right to the soil to the north of the Columbia River. This boundary would subject the island of Vancouver to two sovereignties and, of course, their laws. It never could be sur- rendered by us without abandoning the great interest and safety of the territory. And it will be perceived how very prejudicial it would be if the British in possession of the north- ern section should establish free ports, and thus be enabled to counteract all our revenue laws, and so forth. The contract for supplies with the Russians now enables the Hudson Bay Co. to purchase the grain and produce from the Willamette settlers, but in a short time it will be supplied by themselves through their great farms, and consequently the produce of settlers can obtain no market whatever, all trade being in the hands of that company. The Puget Sound Co. are enabled to compete with and un- dersell all others from the low price of labor 17 per annum absence from duties, and the facilities of sending their products to market by the ships of the Hudson Bay Co., which hitherto have returned almost empty, the furs occupying but a small part of the vessel, which will hereafter be filled with hides and tallow; this must operate very prejudicially to the settlement and increase their hold on the territory.
Page:Oregon Historical Quarterly volume 12.djvu/303
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