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THE preceding chapters will, it is believed, be found to contain all necessary information connected with the survey of any tract of country, whatever degree of accuracy or detail may be required; but in a newly-established colony, or one only partially settled, the primary object in view, in commencing an undertaking of this nature, is not the same as in that of a thickly peopled and cultivated country. In the latter case, the surveyor aims at obtaining, by the most approved methods consistent with the time and means at his disposal, data for the formation of a territorial map showing the position and extent of all roads, towns, provinces, counties, and, where the scale is large, parishes, and even the boundaries of property and cultivated or waste land; as well as the features of the surface of the ground, and all natural and artificial divisions, together with the collection of a variety of other useful geological and statistical information. In a new country only the natural lines and features exist;-the rest has all to be created.
The first operations then, required in a perfectly new settlement, are, the division into sections of such size as may be considered best adapted to the wants of settlers, of the land upon which they are to be located; and the marking out the plan of the first town or towns, the sizes and positions of which will of course be regulated by local circumstances and advantages; whilst the first rural sections will naturally be required either in their immediate vicinity, or contiguous to the main lines of communication leading to the different portions of the province, whose local importance is the earliest developed.
In the case of a small settlement established upon the coast of any country, for the immediate reception of settlers who require to
be put in possession, directly upon their arrival, of a certain stipulated amount of land for agricultural or other purposes, the simplest form of survey must necessarily be adopted; that described in Capt. Dawson's Report upon the Survey of New Zealand for instance, which consists simply in marking methodically upon the ground the angles of a continued series of square or rectangular figures, leaving even the roads which are intended to surround each block of sections, to be laid off at some future period, would answer the purpose of putting impatient emigrants in possession of a homestead containing about the number of acres to which they might be entitled. But this system could not be carried out extensively with any degree of accuracy, even in a comparatively level country, and not at all in a mountainous or irregular one. In fact, it is not a survey; and though perhaps it may sometimes be necessary to adopt what Mr. F. Wakefield, in his recently-published pamphlet upon Colonial Surveying, terms this "make-shift process," ,"* the sooner a regular survey takes its place the better for the colony, even on the score of the ultimate saving that would be effected by getting rid of the necessity of incessant alterations and corrections; to say nothing of the amount of litigation laid up in store by persevering in a system necessarily entailing an incorrect division of property, upon which there is no check during the progress of the survey, and for which there is no remedy afterwards,
Excepting in some isolated instances such as described above, where everything is required to give way to the imperative necessity of at once locating the first settlers upon land for which payment has been received, (for, by the present system of colonization, no land is alienated from the Crown otherwise than by purchase, the greater portion of the proceeds of the sale being devoted to the purpose of further emigration,) the first step to be undertaken at the commencement of the survey of a new country, is a careful and laborious exploration within the limits over which its operations are to extend; during which would be collected for subsequent use a vast amount of practical information
*For an explanation of the details of this species of surveying, see Mr. Kingston's Statements, page 33, Third Report of the South Australian Commissioners, 1838; and Captain Dawson's Report on the Survey of New Zealand, 1840.
as to the number and physical condition of the aboriginal natives (if any); the geological character of the soil; its resources of all kinds; sources and directions of rivers; inland lakes and springs; the probable sites of secondary towns; the most apparent, practicable, and necessary main lines of communication; prominent sites for trigonometrical stations, &c., &c. A sketch of the country examined, rough and inaccurate doubtless, but still sufficient for future guidance, is at the same time obtained; the positions of many of the most important points for reference being determined by astronomical observation, and the altitudes of some of them by the mountain-barometer or aneroid, or by the temperature of boiling water, by methods already explained.
The next step should be, if this question has not been already determined by strongly-marked local advantages, or previous settlement, the position of the site of the first principal township, a nucleus being immediately required where fresh arrivals may be concentrated, prior to their dispersion over the country. The size and figure of the town will of course vary according to circumstances; and the principal general requirements that should suggest themselves to any one charged with a decision of this nature are,—facilities of drainage; plentiful supply of good water; easy access both to the interior of the country, and, if not situated on the coast, to the adjacent port; the apparent salubrity of the site; facility of procuring timber and other building materials, such as sand, lime, brick-earth, stone, &c.; security from predatory attacks, and vicinity to sufficient tracts of land suited to agricultural and pastoral purposes.
The site of the town, with its figure and extent, being decided upon after a careful investigation of the above and a variety of other minor considerations, the best main lines of road diverging from it in all the palpably-required directions should be marked out, and upon these main lines should abut the sections to be first laid out for selection. Errors of judgment will doubtless be subsequently found to have been made in the directions of some of
* The size of the lots into which the township is to be divided may vary from a quarter of an acre to one acre; half an acre would be found generally sufficient. It is customary to give to the first purchasers of rural sections one town lot in addition for every such section, the remaining lots to be sold either by auction, or at some fixed price.
these roads; but this is certainly productive of less injury to the colony than the plan of systematically marking out the land without providing for any main lines of communication at all, leaving them to be afterwards forced through private property under the authority of separate acts of the colonial legislature; a system entailing discontent, litigation, delay, and expense. The marked natural features of the ground, such as the lines of the coast, or the banks of lakes or rivers of sufficient importance to constitute the division of property, and the main lines of roads alluded to, will, where practicable, guide the disposition of the lines forming the boundaries of the sections to be now marked out. Where no such natural or artificial frontages exist, the best directions in which these rectangular figures can be laid out are perhaps those of the cardinal lines, excepting in cases where the nature, inclination, and general form of the ground evidently point out the advantage of a deviation from this rule.
The size of these sections is a question to be determined by that of the minimum average number of acres which it is supposed is best adapted to the means and wants of the settler; the latter being in a great measure regulated by the apparent capabilities of the soil. Land divided into very large farms is placed beyond the reach of settlers of moderate capital; and if subdivided into very small portions, the expense of the survey is enormously increased, and labourers are tempted to become at once proprietors of land, very much to their own real disadvantage, as well as that of the colony. In South Australia, 80 acres has been adopted as the average content. In parts of New Zealand * and elsewhere, 100 acres. In Canada †, generally more than double that quantity. Whatever size may be determined upon, it is advisable to adhere to as nearly as possible, in all general cases; though, where special application is made for rather larger blocks,
* In the Canterbury Settlement, on the Middle Island, New Zealand, 50 acres has been fixed as the minimum size; the maximum is unlimited; as in South Australia, no reservation is made of coal and other minerals; the purchaser being put in possession of all that is on and under the surface.
The rude and inaccurate mode in which land has been marked out in Canada by the chain and compass, and the little value that has been set upon waste land which used to be alienated from the Crown in grants of extensive size, renders the survey of that country not a fair point of comparison with that of more modern colonies.
there has been found no mischief in departing from the average size, provided this deviation is not so extreme as to prevent fair competition for any peculiarly valuable locality. In such cases, it is however, always necessary to guard particularly against the monopoly of surface water within the area of the section, or of any extended valuable frontage; as well as against any impediment that might be placed in the way of forming roads through the property. Where the main lines of communication have not been previously laid out, it is requisite, especially in large blocks of land, to reserve to the government, at all events for a limited number of years, a right of forming such roads as are evidently for the public benefit, making of course compensation for any damage that may be thereby done, though this can generally be met by a previous allowance of a certain number of acres in excess of the proper content of the block*. Indeed, if proper precautions could be taken to prevent its being abused, it would be advisable to reserve this power of making such general roads as are clearly advantageous to the community, through all sections of land of whatever size; with the right of taking stone and timber for making and repairing these roads and the bridges erected along their line; though all such interference with private rights should as much as possible be obviated by previous careful examination of the country.
The rapid settlement of a newly-formed colony being an object always to be fostered, the sections marked out for sale should be so arranged as to conduce as much as possible to this desideratum; to attain which end, the surveys should, at all events at first, be kept well in advance of the demand for land, for the purpose of giving the most ample choice of selection to intended purchasers. By the opposite system of selling land in advance of the survey, an unfortunate emigrant not unfrequently finds the greater part of his section occupied by the bed of a salt lagoon or swamp, and experiences no slight dismay in discovering that he is not even in possession of the number of acres for which he has paid, and to
* Two or three per cent. upon the average, is proved amply sufficient in small or moderate-sized sections. In very large blocks, one per cent. would perhaps be as much as could be required.