About the Colonial Despatches

This web archive contains the “Despatches” – the official correspondence between the governors of the colonies of Vancouver Island (1849-1866) and British Columbia (1858-1871) with the British Colonial Office and associated branches. The Despatches have been transcribed, are fully searchable and indices have been prepared for all the people, including Indigenous People, all the Indigenous groups, ships and places mentioned. The transcripts link to images of the original letters; the numerous enclosures, containing supporting information sent with the letters, including over 200 maps, are also attached, untranscribed as images. Read more…
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Any man may be presented with the freedom of the Colony as a reward for a great public service rendered the State.

Where we live and work

The Colonial Despatches project is housed in the University of Victoria, and we acknowledge and respect the lək̓ʷəŋən Peoples, on whose traditional territory the university stands, and the historical and ongoing relationships to these lands held by the Songhees, Esquimalt, and W̱SÁNEĆ Peoples.
We also acknowledge with respect the territories referred to in this colonial archive. We acknowledge the need to “decolonize” our archive’s colonial content and our workplace practices. See the Decolonizing the Despatches page to read more about our ongoing decolonial work.
This website contains transcriptions and images of original, nineteenth-century historical documents. Many of these documents contain racist language and discuss colonization, as well as other topics that could cause trauma to some readers.