district lots and maps


Pre-emption Process

The Land Act

Index of District Lots and Maps

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Cariboo, Lytton and Lillooet pre-emption records 1860-1884

The process of pre-emption, from the Latin pre (before), emptio (buying), was a measure instituted by the British Columbia Colonial Government, through the Land Ordinance of 1870, to accommodate the pressure exerted by incoming settlers to quickly obtain temporary title or permission to occupy land for settlement purposes. A temporary method of tenure was desireable to allow the settler to start his homestead and plant his crops, hence the pre-emption process. Pre-emptions were usable by companies and partnerships, as well as individuals.

For the purposes of the general researcher, the process commenced with the process commenced with the selection from vacant, non-reserved Crown land, a rectangular block of up to 160 acres. The land was staked according to regulations and a written application for the land was submitted. A Certificate of pre-emption was then issued with a copy to the pre-emptor, one to the local office, and a third sent to the Department office in Victoria.

After improvements to a specified value had been made, the residence qualification met, and the land surveyed, a Certificate of Improvement was issued and the land could be purchased at a low discount rate, or, in some case gratis. After complete payment, a Crown Grant was issued and the ownership of the land passed from the Crown to the pre-emptor. At this point, the responsibility for keeping records of the land passed to the Land registry office of the Attorney General, with the exception that if the owner defaulted on taxes the land reverted to the Crown, and the records once again were kept by Lands.

This precis is meant only to give a basic understanding of the records. The actual process over the years changed its requirements from time to time, for example, early pre-emptions, unlike the later ones, did not require that their borders conform to the cardinal points of the compass; at certain times, and in certain areas, the maximum pre-emption was 320 acres rather than 160; pre-emptions have also been applied to partnerships, companies, mining claims, timber, summer cottages, and hunting and trapping cabins. The researcher is referred to the appropriate Land Act or Amendments for details. Located on this website is the Land Act, 1974, as an example of the Act during the Cariboo 'rush.

The process of pre-emption was terminated by the new Land Act, 1970.

Last updated November 30, 1998.
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