Judge Begbie hears from over taxed miners

Starting in the summer of 1859, Judge Begbie travelled to Langley, Fort Hope, Yale, and Port Douglas to hear from over taxed miners and merchants who gathered to voice their concerns and grievances.

When Begbie arrived in Langley on June 29th, he got an earful.

First, the people voiced their disapproval of land being sold by auction. This, they felt, was in favour of speculators who could afford to spend money on improvements. As a result, most settlers were forced to buy from speculators. It was required to wait until land could be surveyed first. In comparison, settlers south of the border could get land at five shillings per acre.

The over taxation of miners meant that many left the gold diggings altogether even though many of them were earning from $5 to $20 per day. Why? too many fees to pay. Miners had to pre-pay for their monthly licences, pay for registering mining claims, water rights and many other taxes.

To sum it up, the Grand Jury reported:

“We want a governor…who is unconnected with the Hudson’s Bay Company, or any other company, who will carry out the orders of the Home Government…”

At Fort Hope, Judge Begbie heard that their jail was insecure, that a bridge was needed across the Coquihalla River, and that few people had land of their own, with most of it in the hands of a few.