Page images

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.

ridges of the secondary features, or wherever the ground may offer fewest impediments, cross roads leading into the main lines, and to lay off the sections fronting upon them; or to make these by-roads run through the sections; which is to be avoided as much as possible, on account of their cutting up small properties, and entailing a very considerable expense in the increased quantity of fencing required.

In parts of the country where water is scarce, the greatest care should be taken to prevent its monopoly by individuals. Springs and permanent water-holes should in such localities be enclosed within a small block of land (one or two acres), and reserved for the use of neighbouring flock-owners and the public generally; and practicable roads must be arranged leading to these reserves, without which, excellent and extensive tracts of land would often be comparatively valueless.

As it would evidently very much increase the cost of laying out sections having broken and irregular frontages, if they were required each to contain exactly the same number of acres; the nearest approximation that can be made to the established size by the judgment of the surveyor should be adopted, and the section afterwards sold according to the quantity of land it is found to measure.

For the purpose of giving to settlers seeking for land upon which to locate, every facility for acquiring information respecting its capabilities, and the positions of the different surveyed portions; the freest access to the statistical reports of the surveyors, and to the plans of the different districts deposited in the Survey Office, should be given. In addition to which, the sections themselves should be marked so distinctly upon the ground by short pickets, driven at intervals regulated by the comparative open and level character of the country, as to enable any person to follow up their boundary lines without difficulty. The angular pickets should be much larger, and squared at the head, on which the number of the section, and of all the contiguous sections, should be marked. Adjacent roads should also be designated by the letter R. Independent of the corners of sections being pointed out by these pickets, they should be deeply trenched with a small

spade or pick, showing not only the angle formed by contiguous sections, but also the directions of their boundary lines.


120 121

Such marks remain easily recognised for years, and are not injured either by bush fires or by the constant passage of herds of cattle, by both of which means many of the wooden pickets are soon destroyed.

It has been generally considered expedient, that roads should be reserved if not actually marked on the ground, (excepting in cases where they would interfere with the erection of wharves, mills, &c.,) along the banks of all navigable rivers, the borders of lakes, and along the lines of a coast. This regulation, if stringently applied, without reference to peculiar circumstances in different localities, would often be found oppressive and mischievous. Very frequently roads laid out with judgment to the various points on the margins of these waters, which are best adapted for the purposes of fisheries, watering flocks, establishment of ferries, building or launching boats, &c., with a sufficient space reserved for the use of the public at these spots, would prove of more general utility.

As a general rule, as many sections as possible should be laid out in the same locality, if the land is of a nature to be soon brought into cultivation. Whilst greater choice of selection is thus given, the comparative cost per acre of the survey is diminished; of course this remark applies only to situations the rapid settlement of which is anticipated.

In marking the boundaries of sections on the ground, all natural features crossed by the chain should be invariably noted in the field-book; on the outlines plotted from which are drawn the general character of the contours of the hills, the different lines proposed for roads, directions of native paths, wells, springs, and every other object tending to mark the nature and resources of the country. Copies of these plans* should always be transmitted to the principal Survey Office, accompanied by a rough diagram, showing, for future reference, the construction lines of the work, and the contents and length of the sides of all sections, also the measure of the angles, when not right angles; and by an explana

* Two inches to one mile is found a very convenient scale for plans of these sections, intended for the information of the public.

« PreviousContinue »