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British Columbia
Flag Coat of arms
Motto: Latin: Splendor sine occasu
(English: Splendour without diminishment)
Capital Victoria
Largest city Vancouver
Largest metro Metro Vancouver
Official languages English
Demonym British Columbian[1]
Lieutenant-Governor Steven Point
Premier Gordon Campbell (BC Liberal)
Federal representation in Canadian Parliament
House seats 36
Senate seats 6
Confederation 20 July 1871 (6th province)
Area  Ranked 5th
Total 944,735 km2 (364,764 sq mi)
Land 925,186 km2 (357,216 sq mi)
Water (%) 19,549 km2 (7,548 sq mi) (2.1%)
Population  Ranked 3rd
Total (2009) 4,419,974 (est.)[2]
Density 4.7 /km2 (12 /sq mi)
GDP  Ranked 4th
Total (2006) C$179.701 billion[3]
Per capita C$41,689 (7th)
Postal BC
ISO 3166-2 CA-BC
Time zone UTC−8 & −7
Postal code prefix V
Flower Pacific Dogwood
Tree Western Redcedar
Bird Steller's Jay
Rankings include all provinces and territories
British Columbia  Listeni /ˌbrɪtɪʃ kəˈɫʌmbɪə/ (BC) (French: la Colombie-Britannique, C.-B.) is the westernmost of Canada's provinces and is known for its natural beauty,[citation needed] as reflected in its Latin motto, Splendor sine occasu ("Splendour without Diminishment"). In 1871, it became the sixth province of Canada.
The capital of British Columbia is Victoria, the 15th largest metropolitan region in Canada. The largest city is Vancouver, the third-largest metropolitan area in Canada and the second-largest in the Pacific Northwest. In 2009, British Columbia had an estimated population of 4,419,974 (about 2 million of whom were in Metro Vancouver).



The province's name was chosen by Queen Victoria when the Colony of British Columbia and the Mainland became a British colony in 1858.[4] It refers to the Columbia District, the British name for the territory drained by the Columbia River, which has its origins and upper reaches in southeastern British Columbia, which was the namesake of the pre-Oregon Treaty Columbia Department of the Hudson's Bay Company. Queen Victoria chose British Columbia to distinguish what was the British sector of the Columbia District from that of the United States ("American Columbia" or "Southern Columbia"), which became the Oregon Territory in 1848 as a result of the treaty.


Cities of British Columbia; Regional District boundaries shown
Physical map of British Columbia
Strait of Georgia, near Vancouver
British Columbia is bordered by the Pacific Ocean on the west, by the U.S. state of Alaska on the northwest, and to the north by the Yukon and the Northwest Territories, on the east by the province of Alberta, and on the south by the U.S. states of Washington, Idaho, and Montana. The current southern border of British Columbia was established by the 1846 Oregon Treaty, although its history is tied with lands as far south as the California border. British Columbia's land area is 944,735 square kilometres (364,800 sq mi). British Columbia's rugged coastline stretches for more than 27,000 kilometres (17,000 mi), and includes deep, mountainous fjords and about six thousand islands, most of which are uninhabited
British Columbia's capital is Victoria, located at the southeastern tip of Vancouver Island. The province's most populous city is Vancouver, which is not on Vancouver Island but rather is located in the southwest corner of the mainland (an area often called the Lower Mainland). Other major cities include Surrey, Burnaby, Coquitlam, Richmond, Delta, and New Westminster in the Lower Mainland; Abbotsford, Pitt Meadows, Maple Ridge and Langley in the Fraser Valley; Nanaimo on Vancouver Island; and Kelowna and Kamloops in the Interior. Prince George is the largest city in the northern part of the province, while a village northwest of it, Vanderhoof, is near the geographic centre of the province.[5]
The Coast Mountains and the Inside Passage's many inlets provide some of British Columbia's renowned and spectacular scenery, which forms the backdrop and context for a growing outdoor adventure and ecotourism industry. Seventy-five percent of the province is mountainous (more than 1,000 metres (3,300 ft) above sea level); 60% is forested; and only about 5% is arable.
The Okanagan area is one of three wine-growing regions in Canada and also produces excellent ciders. The cities of Kamloops and Penticton, and rural towns of Oliver, and Osoyoos have some of the warmest and longest summer climates in Canada, although their temperature ranges are exceeded by the warmer Fraser Canyon towns of Lillooet and Lytton, where shade temperatures on summer afternoons often surpass 40 °C (104 °F) but with very low humidity.
Much of the western part of Vancouver Island and the rest of the coast is covered by temperate rainforest. This region, which includes parts of the West Coast of the United States, is one of a mere handful of such temperate rain forest ecosystems in the world (notable others being in Turkey, Georgia, Chile, New Zealand, Tasmania, and the Russian Far East). The province's mainland away from the coastal regions is not as moderated by the Pacific Ocean and ranges from desert and semi-arid plateau to the range and canyon districts of the interior plateau. A few southern interior valleys have short cold winters with infrequent heavy snow, while those in the Cariboo, the northern part of the Central Interior, are colder because of their altitude and latitude, but without the intensity or duration experienced at similar latitudes elsewhere in Canada. The northern two-thirds of the province is largely unpopulated and undeveloped, and is mostly mountainous except east of the Rockies, where the Peace River District, historically called the Peace River Block, in the northeast of the province contains BC's portion of the Canadian Prairies.

Parks and protected areas

There are 14 designations of parks and protected areas in the province that reflects the different administration and creation of these areas in a modern context. There are 141 ecological Reserves, 35 provincial marine parks, 7 Provincial Heritage Sites, 6 National Historic Sites, 4 National Parks and 3 National Park Reserves. 12.5% (114,000 km2 (44,000 sq mi)) of British Columbia is currently considered protected under one of the 14 different designations that includes over 800 distinct areas.
British Columbia contains seven of Canada's national parks:
British Columbia also contains a large network of provincial parks, run by BC Parks of the Ministry of Environment. British Columbia's provincial parks system is the second largest parks system in Canada (the largest is Canada's National Parks system).
In addition to these areas, over 47,000 km2 (18,000 sq mi) of arable land are protected by the Agricultural Land Reserve.


British Columbia's cold winters can be very severe in the interior and the north. For example, the average overnight low in Prince George by January is -13 degrees Celsius. This can happen often in northern cities. The coldest temperature ever recorded in British Columbia happened in Pink Mountain, when the temperature dropped to -59 degrees Celsius. Besides the extreme cold, British Columbia can also have hot, severe summers in the interior and on the south coast often. It can happen in the north, but not as often. For example, if you live in the Okanagan, temperatures can climb to 35 degrees sometimes, and not often over 40 degrees. One small town, Lytton, holds the all time high in BC, when the temperature rose to 44.4 degrees Celsius in Lytton and Lillooet, which is 62 kilometres north of Lytton. It is the second highest ever recorded in Canada.


Fur trade and colonial eras

The discovery of stone tools on the Beatton River near Fort St. John date human habitation in British Columbia to at least 11,500 years ago. The Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast spread throughout the region, achieving a high population density; at the time of European contact, nearly half the aboriginal people in present-day Canada lived in the region. During the 1770s, smallpox killed at least 30% of the Pacific Northwest First Nations.[6] This epidemic was the first and the most devastating of a number that were to follow.[7]
Kwakwaka'wakw house pole, second half of the 19th century
The explorations of James Cook in the 1770s and George Vancouver in 1792 established British jurisdiction over the coastal area north and west of the Columbia River. In 1793, Sir Alexander Mackenzie was the first European to journey across North America overland to the Pacific Ocean, inscribing a stone marking his accomplishment on the shoreline of Dean Channel near Bella Coola. His expedition theoretically established British sovereignty inland, and a succession of other fur company explorers charted the maze of rivers and mountain ranges between the Canadian Prairies and the Pacific. Mackenzie and these other explorers—notably John Finlay, Simon Fraser, Samuel Black, and David Thompson—were primarily concerned with extending the fur trade, rather than political considerations. In 1794, by the third of a series of agreements known as the Nootka Conventions, Spain conceded its claims of exclusivity in the Pacific. This opened the way for formal claims and colonization by other powers, including Britain, but because of the Napoleonic Wars there was little British action on its claims in the region until later.
The establishment of trading posts under the auspices of the North West Company and the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC), effectively established a permanent British presence in the region. The Columbia District, broadly defined as being south of 54°40? north latitude, (the southern limit of Russian America) and north of Mexican Controlled California west of the Rocky Mountains was, by the Anglo-American Convention of 1818, under the "joint occupancy and use" of citizens of the United States and subjects of Britain (which is to say, the fur companies). This co-occupancy was ended with the Oregon Treaty of 1846.
The major supply route was the York Factory Express between Hudson Bay and Fort Vancouver. Some of the early outposts grew into settlements, communities, and cities. Among the places in British Columbia that began as fur trading posts are Fort St. John (established 1794); Hudson's Hope (1805); Fort Nelson (1805); Fort St. James (1806); Prince George (1807); Kamloops (1812); Fort Langley (1827); Fort Victoria (1843); Yale (1848); and Nanaimo (1853). Fur company posts that became cities in what is now the United States include Vancouver, Washington (Fort Vancouver), formerly the "capital" of Hudson's Bay operations in the Columbia District, Colville, Washington and Walla Walla, Washington (old Fort Nez Percés).
With the amalgamation of the two fur trading companies in 1821, the region now comprising British Columbia existed in three fur trading departments. The bulk of the central and northern interior was organized into the New Caledonia district, administered from Fort St. James. The interior south of the Thompson River watershed and north of the Columbia was organized into the Columbia District, administered from Fort Vancouver on the lower Columbia River. The northeast corner of the province east of the Rockies, known as the Peace River Block, was attached to the much larger Athabasca District, headquartered in Fort Chipewyan, in present day Alberta.
Until 1849, these districts were a wholly unorganized area of British North America under the de facto jurisdiction of HBC administrators. Unlike Rupert's Land to the north and east, however, the territory was not a concession to the company. Rather, it was simply granted a monopoly to trade with the First Nations inhabitants. All that was changed with the westward extension of American exploration and the concomitant overlapping claims of territorial sovereignty, especially in the southern Columbia basin (within present day Washington state and Oregon). In 1846, the Oregon Treaty divided the territory along the 49th parallel to the Georgia Strait, with the area south of this boundary (excluding Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands) transferred to sole American sovereignty. The Colony of Vancouver Island was created in 1849, with Victoria designated as the capital. New Caledonia, as the whole of the mainland rather than just its north-central Interior came to be called, continued to be an unorganized territory of British North America, "administered" by individual HBC trading post managers.
With the Fraser Canyon Gold Rush in 1858, an influx of Americans into New Caledonia prompted the colonial office to formally designate the mainland as the Colony of British Columbia, with New Westminster as its capital. A series of gold rushes in various parts of the province followed, the largest being the Cariboo Gold Rush in 1862, forcing the colonial administration into deeper debt as it struggled to meet the extensive infrastructure needs of far-flung boom communities like Barkerville and Lillooet, which sprang up overnight. The Vancouver Island colony was facing financial crises of its own, and pressure to merge the two eventually succeeded in 1866.

Rapid growth and development

Lord Strathcona drives the Last Spike of the Canadian Pacific Railway, at Craigellachie, 7 November 1885. Completion of the transcontinental railroad was a condition of entry into Confederation.
The Confederation League, including such figures as Amor De Cosmos, John Robson, and Robert Beaven, led the chorus pressing for the colony to join Canada, which had been created out of three British North American colonies in 1867 (the Province of Canada, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick). Several factors motivated this agitation, including the fear of annexation to the United States, the overwhelming debt created by rapid population growth, the need for government-funded services to support this population, and the economic depression caused by the end of the gold rush. With the agreement by the Canadian government to extend the Canadian Pacific Railway to British Columbia and to assume the colony's debt, British Columbia became the sixth province to join Confederation on 20 July 1871. The borders of the province were not completely settled until 1903, however, when the province's territory shrank somewhat after the Alaska boundary dispute settled the vague boundary of the Alaska Panhandle.
Population in British Columbia continued to expand as the province's mining, forestry, agriculture, and fishing sectors were developed. Mining activity was particularly notable in the Boundary Country, in the Slocan, in the West Kootenay around Trail, the East Kootenay (the southeast corner of the province), the Fraser Canyon, the Cariboo and elsewhere. Agriculture attracted settlers to the fertile Fraser Valley, and cattle ranchers and later fruit growers came to the drier grasslands of the Thompson River area, the Cariboo, the Chilcotin, and the Okanagan. Forestry drew workers to the lush temperate rainforests of the coast, which was also the locus of a growing fishery.
The completion of the railway in 1885 was a huge boost to the province's economy, facilitating the transportation of the region's considerable resources to the east. The booming logging town of Granville, near the mouth of the Burrard Inlet was selected as the terminus of the railway, prompting the incorporation of the community as Vancouver in 1886. The completion of the Port of Vancouver spurred rapid growth, and in less than fifty years the city surpassed Winnipeg, Manitoba, as the largest in Western Canada. The early decades of the province were ones in which issues of land use—specifically, its settlement and development—were paramount. This included expropriation from First Nations people of their land, control over its resources, as well as the ability to trade in some resources (such as the fishery). Establishing a labour force to develop the province was problematic from the start, and British Columbia was the locus of immigration from Europe, China, and Japan. The influx of a non-Caucasian population stimulated resentment from the dominant ethnic groups, resulting in agitation (much of it successful) to restrict the ability of Asian people to immigrate to British Columbia through the imposition of a head tax. This resentment culminated in mob attacks against Chinese and Japanese immigrants in Vancouver in 1887 and 1907. By 1923, almost all Chinese immigration had been blocked except for merchants and investors
Meanwhile, the province continued to grow. In 1914, the last spike of a second transcontinental rail line, the Grand Trunk Pacific, linking north-central British Columbia from the Yellowhead Pass through Prince George to Prince Rupert was driven at Fort Fraser. This opened up the north coast and the Bulkley Valley region to new economic opportunities. What had previously been an almost exclusively fur trade and subsistence economy soon became a locus for forestry, farming, and mining.

1920s through 1940s

When the men returned from World War I, they discovered the recently enfranchised women of the province had helped vote in the prohibition of liquor in an effort to end the social problems associated with the hard-core drinking that Vancouver and the rest of the province was famous for until the war. Because of pressure from veterans, prohibition was quickly relaxed so that the "soldier and the working man" could enjoy a drink, but widespread unemployment among veterans was hardened by many of the available jobs being taken by European immigrants and disgruntled veterans organized a range of "soldier parties" to represent their interests, variously named Soldier-Farmer, Soldier-Labour, and Farmer-Labour Parties. These formed the basis of the fractured labour-political spectrum that would generate a host of fringe leftist and rightist parties, including those who would eventually form the Co-operative Commonwealth and the early Social Credit splinter groups.
The advent of prohibition in the United States created new opportunities, and many found employment or at least profit in cross-border liquor smuggling. Much of Vancouver's prosperity and opulence in the 1920s results from this "pirate economy", although growth in forestry, fishing and mining continued. The end of U.S. prohibition, combined with the onset of the Great Depression, plunged the province into economic destitution. Compounding the already dire local economic situation, tens of thousands of men from colder parts of Canada swarmed into Vancouver, creating huge hobo jungles around False Creek and the Burrard Inlet rail yards, including the old Canadian Pacific Railway mainline right-of-way through the heart of the city's downtown (at Hastings and Carrall). Increasingly desperate times led to intense political organizing efforts, an occupation of the main Post Office at Granville and Hastings which was violently put down by the police and an effective imposition of martial law on the docks for almost three years. A Vancouver contingent for the On-to-Ottawa Trek was organized and seized a train, which was loaded with thousands of men bound for the capital but was met by a Gatling gun straddling the tracks at Mission; the men were arrested and sent to work camps for the duration of the Depression.[citation needed]
There were some signs of economic life beginning to return to normal towards the end of the 1930s, but it was the onset of World War II which transformed the national economy and ended the hard times of the Depression. Because of the war effort, women entered the workforce as never before.
British Columbia has long taken advantage of its location on the Pacific Ocean to have close relations with East Asia. However, this has often caused friction between cultures which have caused occasional displays of animosity toward Asian immigrants. This was most manifest during the Second World War when many people of Japanese descent were relocated or interned in the Interior of the province. Conversely, there have also been historically high rates of intermarriage and other examples of inter-racial harmony, cooperation and integration

Coalition and the post-War boom

The BC Regiment, DCO, marching in New Westminster, 1940.
During World War II the mainstream BC Liberal and BC Conservate Parties of British Columbia united in a formal coalition government under new Liberal leader John Hart, who replaced Duff Pattullo when the latter failed to win a majority in the 1941 election. While the Liberals won the most number of seats, they actually received fewer votes than the socialist Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF). Pattullo was unwilling to form a coalition with the rival Conservatives led by Royal Lethington Maitland and was replaced by Hart who formed a coalition cabinet made up of five Liberal and three Conservative ministers.[8] The CCF was invited to join the coalition but refused.[8] The pretext for continuing the coalition after the end of World War II was to prevent the CCF, which had won a surprise victory in Saskatchewan in 1944, from ever coming to power in British Columbia. The CCF's popular vote was high enough in the 1945 election that they were likely to have won three-way contests and could have formed government. However, the coalition prevented that by uniting the anti-socialist vote.[8] In the post-war environment the government initiated a series of infrastructure projects, notably the completion of Highway 97 north of Prince George to the Peace River Block, a section called the John Hart Highway and also public hospital insurance.
In 1947 the reins of the Coalition were taken over by Byron Ingemar Johnson. The Conservatives had wanted their new leader Herbert Anscomb to be premier, but the Liberals in the Coalition refused. Johnson led the coalition to the highest percentage of the popular vote in British Columbia history (61%) in the 1949 election. This victory was attributable to the popularity of his government's spending programmes, despite rising criticism of corruption and abuse of power. During his tenure, major infrastructure continued to expand, and the agreement with Alcan to build the Kemano-Kitimat hydro and aluminum complex was put in place. Johnson achieved popularity for flood relief efforts during the 1948 flooding of the Fraser Valley, which was a major blow to that region and to the province's economy.
Increasing tension between the Liberal and Conservative coalition partners led the Liberal Party executive to vote to instruct Johnson to terminate the arrangement. Johnson ended the coalition and dropped his Conservative cabinet ministers, including Deputy Premier and Finance Minister Herbert Anscomb, precipitating the general election of 1952.[8] A referendum on electoral reform prior to this election had instigated an elimination ballot (similar to a preferential ballot), where voters could select second and third choices. The intent of the ballot, as campaigned for by Liberals and Conservatives, was that their supporters would list the rival party in lieu of the CCF, but this plan backfired when a large group of voters from all major parties, including the CCF, voted for the fringe British Columbia Social Credit Party (Socreds), who wound up with the largest number of seats in the House (19), only one seat ahead of the CCF, despite the CCF having 34.3% of the vote to Social Credit's 30.18%. The Social Credit Party, led by rebel former Conservative MLA W. A. C. Bennett, formed a minority government backed by the Liberals and Conservatives (with 6 and 4 seats respectively). Bennett began a series of fiscal reforms, preaching a new variety of populism as well as waxing eloquent on progress and development, laying the ground for a second election in 1953 in which the new Bennett regime secured a majority of seats, with 38% of the vote.

Growth of government in the economy

Premier W. A. C. Bennett and his wife accompany Princess Margaret in Victoria, August 1958. Bennett governed the province for an unprecedented twenty years
With the election of the Social Credit Party, British Columbia embarked a phase of rapid economic development. Bennett and his party governed the province for the next twenty years, during which time the government initiated an ambitious programme of infrastructure development, fuelled by a sustained economic boom in the forestry, mining, and energy sectors.
During these two decades, the government nationalized British Columbia Electric and the British Columbia Power Company, as well as smaller electric companies, renaming the entity BC Hydro. By the end of the 1960s, several major dams had been begun or completed in—among others—the Peace, Columbia, and Nechako River watersheds. Major transmission deals were concluded, most notably the Columbia River Treaty between Canada and the United States. The province's economy was also boosted by unprecedented growth in the forest sector, as well as oil and gas development in the province's northeast.
The 1950s and 1960s were also marked by development in the province's transportation infrastructure. In 1960, the government established BC Ferries as a crown corporation, in order to provide a marine extension of the provincial highway system. That system was improved and expanded through the construction of new highways and bridges, and paving of existing highways and provincial roads.
Vancouver and Victoria become cultural centres as poets, authors, artists, musicians, as well as dancers, actors, and haute cuisine chefs flocked to the beautiful scenery and warmer temperatures. Similarly, these cities have either attracted or given rise to their own noteworthy academics, commentators, and creative thinkers. Tourism also began to play an important role in the economy. The rise of Japan and other Pacific economies was a great boost to British Columbia's economy.
Politically and socially, the 1960s brought a period of significant social ferment. The divide between the political left and right, which had prevailed in the province since the Depression and the rise of the labour movement, sharpened as so-called free enterprise parties coalesced into the defacto coalition represented by Social Credit—in opposition to the social democratic New Democratic Party, the successor to the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation. As the province's economy blossomed, so did labour-management tensions. Tensions emerged, also, from the counterculture movement of the late 1960s, of which Vancouver and Nanaimo were centres. The conflict between hippies and Vancouver mayor Tom Campbell was particularly legendary, culminating in the so-called Gastown Riots of 1971. By the end of the decade, with social tensions and dissatisfaction with the status quo rising, the Bennett government's achievements could not stave off its growing unpopularity.

1970s and 1980s

On August 27, 1969, the Social Credit Party was re-elected in a general election for what would be Bennett's final term in power. At the start of the 1970s, the economy was quite strong because of rising coal prices and an increase in annual allowable cuts in the forestry sector. However, BC Hydro reported its first loss, which was the beginning of the end for Bennett and the Social Credit Party.[9]
The Socreds were forced from power in the August 1972 election, paving the way for a provincial New Democratic Party (NDP) government under Dave Barrett. Under Barrett, the large provincial surplus soon became a deficit, although changes to the accounting system makes it likely that some of the deficit was carried over from the previous Social Credit regime and its "two sets of books", as WAC Bennett had once referred to his system of fiscal management. The brief three year ("Thousand Days") period of NDP governance brought several lasting changes to the province, most notably the creation of the Agricultural Land Reserve, intended to protect farmland from redevelopment, and the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, a crown corporation charged with a monopoly on providing single-payer basic automobile insurance.
This stylized version of the flag of BC was introduced by the Bennett government in the early 1980s. It remained as the logo of the government of BC for 20 years.
Perceptions that the government had instituted reforms either too swiftly or that were too far-reaching, coupled with growing labour disruptions led to the ouster of the NDP in the 1975 general election. Social Credit, under W.A.C. Bennett's son, Bill Bennett, was returned to office. Under the younger Bennett's government, 85% of the province's land base was transferred from Government Reserve to management by the Ministry of Forests, reporting of deputy ministers was centralized to the Premier's Office, and NDP-instigated social programs were rolled back, with then-Human Resources Minister infamously demonstrating a golden shovel to highlight his welfare policy, although the new-era Socreds also reinforced and backed certain others instigated by the NDP—notably the Resort Municipality of Whistler. Also during the "MiniWac" regime (WAC was "Big Wac"), certain money-losing Crown-owned assets were "privatized" in a mass giveaway of shares in the British Columbia Resources Investment Corporation, "BCRIC", with the "Brick shares" soon becoming near-worthless. Towards the end of his tenure in power, Bennett oversaw the completion of several megaprojects meant to stimulate the economy and win votes[10] Most notable of these was the winning of a world's fair for Vancouver, which came in the form of Expo 86, to which was tied the construction of the Coquihalla Highway and Vancouver's SkyTrain system. The Coquihalla Highway project became the subject of a scandal after revelations that the premier's brother bought large tracts of land needed for the project before it was announced to the public, and also because of graft investigations of the huge cost overruns on the project. Both investigations were derailed in the media by a still further scandal, the Doman Scandal, in which the Premier and millionaire backer Herb Doman were investigated for insider-trading and securities fraud. Nonetheless, the Socreds were re-elected in 1979 under Bennett, who led the party until 1986.
The Coquihalla Highway was one of the legacies of Expo 86. The creation of the toll highway sparked controversy.
As the province entered a sustained recession, Bennett's popularity and media image were in decline. On April 1, 1983 Premier Bennett overstayed his constitutional limits of power by exceeding the legal tenure of a government, and the Lieutenant-Governor, Henry Pybus Bell-Irving, was forced to call Bennett to Government House to resolve the impasse, and an election was called for April 30, while in the meantime government cheques were covered by special emergency warrants as the Executive Council no longer had signing authority because of the constitutional crisis. Campaigning on a platform of moderation, and backed by the support and computer-organization tactics of the Big Blue Machine from Ontario and other consultants who were electoral lobbyists for the American Republican Party, Bennett won an unexpected majority. After several weeks of silence in the aftermath, a sitting of the House was finally called and in the speech from the Throne the Socreds instituted a programme of fiscal cutbacks dubbed "restraint", which had been a buzzword for moderation during the campaign. The programme included cuts to "motherhood" issues of the left, including the human rights branch, the offices of the Ombudsman and Rentalsman, women's programs, environmental and cultural programs, while still supplying mass capital infusions to corporate British Columbia. This sparked a backlash, with tens of thousands of people in the streets the next day after the budget speech, and through the course of a summer repeated large demonstrations of up to 100,000 people. This became known as the 1983 Solidarity Crisis, from the name of the Solidarity Coalition, a huge grassroots opposition movement mobilized, consisting of organized labour and community groups, with the British Columbia Federation of Labour forming a separate organization of unions, Operation Solidarity, under the direction of Jack Munro, then-President of the International Woodworkers of America (IWA), the most powerful of the province's resource unions. Tens of thousands participated in protests and many felt that a general strike would be the inevitable result unless the government backed down from its policies they had claimed were only about restraint and not about recrimination against the NDP and the left. Just as a strike at Pacific Press ended, which had crippled the political management of the public agenda by the publishers of the province's major papers, the movement collapsed after an apparent deal was struck by union leader and IWA president, Jack Munro and Premier Bennett.[11] A tense winter of blockades at various job sites around the province ensued, as among the new laws were those enabling non-union labour to work on large projects and other sensitive labour issues, with companies from Alberta and other provinces brought in to compete with union-scale British Columbia companies. Despite the tension, Bennett's last few years in power were relatively peaceful as economic and political momentum grew on the megaprojects associated with Expo, and Bennett was to end his career by hosting Prince Charles and Lady Diana on their visit to open Expo 86. His retirement being announced, a Social Credit convention was scheduled for the Whistler Resort, which came down to a three-way shooting match between Bud Smith, the Premier's right-hand man but an unelected official, Social Credit party grande dame Grace McCarthy, and the charismatic but eccentric Bill Vander Zalm.
Bill Vander Zalm became the new Socred leader when Smith threw his support to him rather than see McCarthy win, and led the party to victory in the election later that year. Vander Zalm was later involved in a conflict of interest scandal following the sale of Fantasy Gardens, a Christian and Dutch culture theme park built by the Premier, to Tan Yu, a Filipino-Chinese gambling kingpin. There were also concerns over Yu's application to the government for a bank licence, and lurid stories from flamboyant realtor Faye Leung of a party in the "Howard Hughes Suite" on the top two floors of the Bayshore Inn, where Tan Yu had been staying, with reports of a bag of money in a brown paper bag passed from Yu to Vander Zalm during the goings-on. These scandals forced Vander Zalm's resignation, and Rita Johnston became premier of the province. Johnston presided over the end of Social Credit power, calling an election which led to the reducing of the party's caucus to only two seats, and the revival of the long-defunct British Columbia Liberal Party as Opposition to the victorious NDP under former Vancouver mayor Mike Harcourt.
In 1988, David See-Chai Lam was appointed by the Queen of Canada to become British Columbia’s twenty-fifth Lieutenant-Governor, and was the Province's first Lieutenant-Governor of Chinese origin.

1990s to present

Johnston lost the 1991 general election to the NDP, under the leadership of Mike Harcourt, a former mayor of Vancouver. The NDP's unprecedented creation of new parkland and protected areas was popular, and helped boost the province's growing tourism sector. However, the economy continued to struggle against the backdrop of a weak resource economy. Housing starts and an expanded service sector saw growth overall through the decade, despite political turmoil. Harcourt ended up resigning over "Bingogate"—a political scandal involving the funnelling of charity bingo receipts into party coffers in certain ridings. Harcourt was not directly implicated, but he resigned nonetheless in respect of constitutional conventions calling for leaders under suspicion to step aside. Glen Clark, a former president of the BC Federation of Labour, was chosen the new leader of the NDP, which won a second term in 1996. More scandals dogged the party, most notably the Fast Ferry Scandal involving the province trying to develop the shipbuilding industry in British Columbia. An allegation (never explicitly substantiated) that the Premier had received a favour in return for granting a gaming licence led to Clark's resignation as Premier. He was succeeded on an interim basis by Dan Miller who was in turn followed by Ujjal Dosanjh. For Dosanjh and the NDP, however, it was too late to save the party from near-oblivion in the next election.
In the 2001 general election Gordon Campbell's BC Liberals defeated the NDP party, gaining 77 out of 79 seats total seats in the provincial legislature. Campbell instituted various reforms and removed some of the NDP's policies including scrapping the "fast ferries" project, lowering income taxes, and the controversial sale of BC Rail to CN Rail. Campbell was also the subject of criticism after he was arrested for driving under the influence during a vacation in Hawaii. However, Campbell still managed to lead his party to victory in the 2005 general election, against a substantially strengthened NDP opposition. Campbell won a third term in the British Columbia general election, 2009, marking the first time in 23 years that a premier has been elected to a third term.
The province successfully won a bid to host the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver and Whistler, with Olympic organizers winning a referendum held in the city of Vancouver.
British Columbia has also been significantly affected by demographic changes within Canada and around the world. Vancouver (and to a lesser extent some other parts of British Columbia) was a major destination for many of the immigrants from Hong Kong who left the former UK colony (either temporarily or permanently) in the years immediately prior to its handover to the People's Republic of China. British Columbia has also been a significant destination for internal Canadian migrants. This has been the case throughout recent decades, because of its image of natural beauty, mild climate and relaxed lifestyle, but is particularly true during periods of economic growth. As a result, British Columbia has moved from approximately 10% of Canada's population in 1971 to approximately 13% in 2006. Trends of urbanization mean that the Greater Vancouver area now includes 51% of the Province's population, followed in second place by Greater Victoria with 8%. These two metropolitan regions have traditionally dominated the demographics of BC.


Welcome sign at the province's border

Population since 1851

Year Population Five Year
 % change
Ten Year
 % change
Rank Among
1851 55,000 n/a n/a 6
1861 51,524 n/a −6.3 6
1871 36,247 n/a −35.3 7
1881 49,459 n/a 36.4 8
1891 98,173 n/a 98.5 8
1901 178,657 n/a 82.0 6
1911 392,480 n/a 119.7 6
1921 524,582 n/a 33.7 6
1931 694,263 n/a 32.3 6
1941 817,861 n/a 17.8 6
1951 1,165,210 n/a 42.5 3
1956 1,398,464 20.0 n/a 3
1961 1,629,082 16.5 39.8 3
1966 1,873,674 15.0 34.0 3
1971 2,184,620 16.6 34.1 3
1976 2,466,610 12.9 31.6 3
1981 2,744,467 11.3 25.6 3
1986 2,883,370 5.1 16.9 3
1991 3,282,061 13.8 19.6 3
1996 3,724,500 13.5 29.2 3
2001 3,907,738 4.9 19.1 3
2006 4,113,487 5.3 10.4 3


Religious groups in BC (1991 & 2001) & Canada (2001)
1991 BC % 2001 BC % 2001 Canada % BC 2001 number
Total population 100% 100% 100% 3,868,875
No religious affiliation 30.0% 35.1% 17% 1,388,300 includes Agnostic, Atheist, Humanist, and No religion, and other responses, such as Darwinism, etc.
Protestant 41.9% 31.4% 29% 1,213,295
Catholic 18.3% 17.2% 44% 675,320 includes Roman Catholic, Eastern Catholic .
Christian Orthodox 0.7% 0.9% 2% 35,655
Christian n. i. e. 2.7% 5.2% 3% 200,345 Includes mostly answers of 'Christian', not otherwise stated
Sikh 2.3% 3.5% 1% 135,310
Buddhist 1.1% 2.2% 1% 85,540
Muslim 0.8% 1.5% 2% 56,220
Hindu 0.6% 0.8% 1% 31,500
Jewish 0.5% 0.5% 1% 21,230
Eastern religions 0.3% 0.1% 9,970 includes Baha'i, Eckankar, Jains, Shinto, Taoist, Zoroastrian and Eastern religions, not identified elsewhere
Other religions 0.4% 0.2% 16,205 includes Aboriginal spirituality, Pagan, Wicca, Unity – New Thought – Pantheist, Scientology, Rastafarian, New Age, Gnostic, Satanist, etc.
The largest denominations by number of adherents according to the 2001 census were none (atheist, agnostic, etc) with 1,388,300 (35.9%); the Roman Catholic Church with 675,320 (17%); the United Church of Canada with 361,840 (9%); and the Anglican Church of Canada with 298,375 (8%).[16]

Ethnic groups

The following statistics represent both single (e.g., "German") and multiple (e.g., "Chinese-Canadian") responses to the 2006 Census, and thus do not add up to 100%. All items are self-identified, meaning that some identities, such as "Canadian" or "English", that are not always considered to be ethnicities are included.[17]
Ethnic Origin Population Percent
English 1,207,245 29.6%
Scottish 828,145 20.3%
Canadian 720,200 17.7%
Irish 618,120 15.2%
German 561,570 13.8%
Chinese 432,435 10.6%
French 361,215 8.9%
East Indian 232,370 5.7%
Ukrainian 197,265 4.8%
Dutch (Netherlands) 196,420 4.8%
North American Indian 193,060 4.7%
Italian 143,155 3.5%
Norwegian 129,420 3.2%
Polish 128,360 3.2%
Russian 114,105 2.8%
Welsh 104,275 2.6%
Swedish 104,025 2.6%
Filipino 94,255 2.3%
British 74,145 1.8%
American (USA) 66,765 1.6%
Ethnic Origin Population Percent
Métis 62,570 1.5%
Danish 56,125 1.4%
Spanish 52,640 1.3%
Korean 51,860 1.3%
Hungarian 49,870 1.2%
Austrian 46,620 1.1%
Japanese 41,585 1.0%
Portuguese 34,660 0.9%
Vietnamese 30,835 0.8%
Jewish 30,830 0.8%
Finnish 29,875 0.7%
Iranian 29,265 0.7%
Swiss 28,240 0.7%
Romanian 25,670 0.6%
Icelandic 22,110 0.5%
Greek 21,770 0.5%
Czech 21,150 0.5%
Croatian 18,815 0.5%
Punjabi 18,525 0.5%
Belgian 17,510 0.4%

Though just 1.8% refer to their origins as being "British", a majority 57.3% of the population of British Columbia claim their ethnic origin as being from one of the British nations (England, Scotland or Wales). Another 15.2% refer to their ethnicity as "Irish", though not distinguishing between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
Of the provinces, British Columbia had the highest proportion of visible minorities, representing 24.8% of its population.[18] Asians are by far the largest visible minority demographic, with many of the Lower Mainland's large cities having sizable Chinese, South Asian, Japanese, Filipino, and Korean communities.
Also present in large numbers relative to other regions of Canada (except Toronto), and ever since the province was first settled (unlike Toronto), are many European ethnicities of the first and second generation, notably Germans, Scandinavians, Yugoslavs and Italians. Third-generation Europeans are generally of mixed lineage, and traditionally intermarried with other ethnic groups more than in any other Canadian province. First-generation Britons remain a strong component of local society despite limitations on immigration from Britain since the ending of special status for British subjects in the 1960s.


Of the 4,113,847 population counted by the 2006 census, 4,074,385 people completed the section about language. Of these 4,022,045 gave singular responses to the question regarding mother tongue. The languages most commonly reported were the following:
Language Number of
native speakers
Percentage of
singular responses
English 2,875,770 71.5%
Chinese languages 342,920 8.5%
Punjabi 158,750 4.0%
German 86,690 2.2%
French 54,745 1.4%
Tagalog (Filipino) 50,425 1.3%
Korean 46,500 1.2%
Spanish 34,075 0.9%
Persian 28,150 0.7%
Italian 27,020 0.7%
Dutch 26,355 0.7%
Vietnamese 24,560 0.7%
Hindi 23,240 0.6%
Japanese 20,040 0.5%
Russian 19,320 0.5%
Polish 17,565 0.4%
Portuguese 14,385 0.4%
Ukrainian 12,285 0.3%
Hungarian 10,670 0.3%
Croatian 8,505 0.2%
Language Number of
native speakers
Percentage of
singular responses
Arabic 8,440 0.2%
Urdu 7,025 0.2%
Danish 6,720 0.2%
Greek 6,620 0.2%
Gujarati 6,565 0.2%
Romanian 6,335 0.2%
Serbian 6,180 0.2%
Czech 6,000 0.1%
Finnish 4,770 0.1%
Athabaskan languages 3,500 0.1%
Slovak 3,490 0.1%
Norwegian 3,275 0.1%
Tamil 3,200 0.1%
Salish languages 3,190 0.1%
Ilocano 3,100 0.1%
Malay 3,100 0.1%
Bisayan languages 3,035 0.1%
Swedish 2,875 0.1%
Turkish 2,255 0.1%
Tsimshianic languages 2,125 0.1%

Numerous other languages were also counted, but only languages with more than 2,000 native speakers are shown.
(Figures shown are for the number of single language responses and the percentage of total single-language responses)[19]


Vancouver is the business capital of British Columbia
British Columbia has a resource dominated economy, centred on the forestry industry but also with increasing importance in mining. Employment in the resource sector has fallen steadily, and new jobs are mostly in the construction and retail/service sectors. With its film industry known as Hollywood North, the Vancouver region is the third-largest feature film production location in North America, after Los Angeles and New York City.[20]
The economic history of British Columbia is replete with tales of dramatic upswings and downswings, and this boom and bust pattern has influenced the politics, culture and business climate of the province. Economic activity related to mining in particular has widely fluctuated with changes in commodity prices over time, with documented costs to community health.[21]


Transportation played a major role in British Columbia history. The Rocky Mountains and the ranges west of them constituted a significant obstacle to overland travel until the completion of the transcontinental railway in 1885. The Peace River Canyon through the Rocky Mountains was the route that the earliest explorers and fur traders used. Fur trade routes were only marginally used for access to British Columbia through the mountains. Travel from the rest of Canada before 1885 meant the difficulty of overland travel via the United States, around Cape Horn or overseas from Asia. Nearly all travel and freight to and from the region occurred via the Pacific Ocean, primarily through the ports of Victoria and New Westminster.
Until the 1930s, rail was the only means of overland travel to and from the rest of Canada; travellers using motor vehicles needed to journey through the United States. With the construction of the Inter-Provincial Highway in 1932 (now known as the Crowsnest Pass Highway), and later the Trans-Canada Highway, road transportation evolved into the preferred mode of overland travel to and from the rest of the country.

Roads and highways

Alex Fraser Bridge on Highway 91 in Richmond/Delta
Because of its size and rugged, varying topography, British Columbia requires thousands of kilometres of provincial highways to connect its communities. British Columbia's roads systems were notoriously poorly maintained and dangerous until a concentrated programme of improvement was initiated in the 1950s and 1960s. There are now freeways in the Lower Mainland and Central Interior of the province, and much of the rest of the province is accessible by well-maintained two lane arterial highways with additional passing lanes in mountainous areas. The building and maintenance of provincial highways is the responsibility of the provincial government.
There are only five major routes to the rest of Canada. From south to north they are: BC Highway 3 through the Crowsnest Pass, the Vermilion Pass and the Kicking Horse Pass, the latter being used by the Trans-Canada Highway entering Alberta through Banff National Park, the Yellowhead Highway through Jasper National Park, and Highway 2 through Dawson Creek. There are also several highway crossings to the adjoining American states of Washington, Idaho, and Montana. The longest highway is Highway 97, running 2,081 km (1,293 mi) from the British Columbia-Washington border at Osoyoos north to Watson Lake, Yukon and which includes the British Columbia portion of the Alaska Highway.
As of 2008, the provincial Occupational Health and Safety Regulation was amended to require that fuel purchases must be prepaid.[22] The regulation amendment—nicknamed "Grant's Law"-was enacted following the death of gas station employee Grant DePatie, who attempted to stop a theft of gasoline in 2005. British Columbia is the first province in Canada to enact such a rule.

Public transit

Prior to 1978, surface public transit was administered by BC Hydro, the provincially owned electricity utility. Subsequently, the province established BC Transit to oversee and operate all municipal transportation systems. In 1998, the Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority (TransLink) (now South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority), a separate authority for routes within the Greater Vancouver Regional District (now Metro Vancouver), was established.
Public transit in British Columbia consists mainly of diesel buses, although Vancouver is also serviced by a fleet of trolleybuses. Several experimental buses are being tested such as hybrid buses that has both gasoline and electric engines. TransLink operates SkyTrain, a rapid transit system serving Vancouver, Burnaby, New Westminster, North Surrey and Richmond. Presently, extensions of the line east to Coquitlam and Port Moody (the Evergreen Line) are being developed.


CPR train traversing the Stoney Creek Bridge
Rail development expanded greatly in the decades after the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1885 and was the chief mode of long-distance surface transportation until the expansion and improvement of the provincial highways system began in the 1950s. Two major routes through the Yellowhead Pass competed with the Canadian Pacific Railway—the Grand Trunk Pacific, terminating at Prince Rupert, and the Canadian National Railway, terminating at Vancouver. The Pacific Great Eastern line supplemented this service, providing a north-south route between Interior resource communities and the coast. The Pacific Great Eastern (later known as British Columbia Railway and now owned by Canadian National Railway) connects Fort St James, Fort Nelson, and Tumbler Ridge with North Vancouver. The E&N Railway, rebranded as Southern Railway of Vancouver Island, serves the commercial and passenger train markets of Vancouver Island by owning the physical rail lines. Passenger train service on Vancouver Island is operated by VIA Rail.


BC Ferries was established as a provincial crown corporation in 1960 to provide passenger and vehicle ferry service between Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland as a cheaper and more reliable alternative to the service operated by the Canadian Pacific Railway. It now operates 25 routes among the islands of British Columbia, as well as between the islands and the mainland. Ferry service to Washington is offered by the Washington State Ferries (between Sidney and Anacortes) and Black Ball Transport (between Victoria and Port Angeles, Washington). Ferry service over inland lakes and rivers is provided by the provincial government.
Commercial ocean transport is of vital importance. Major ports are located at Vancouver, Roberts Bank (near Tsawwassen), Prince Rupert, and Victoria. Of these, the Port of Vancouver is the most important, being the largest in Canada and the most diversified in North America. Vancouver, Victoria, and Prince Rupert are also major ports of call for cruise ships. In 2007, a large maritime container port was opened in Prince Rupert with an inland sorting port located in Prince George.


There are over 200 airports located throughout British Columbia, the major ones being the Vancouver International Airport, the Victoria International Airport, the Kelowna International Airport, and the Abbotsford International Airport, the first three of which each served over 1,000,000 passengers in 2005. Vancouver International Airport is the 2nd busiest airport in the country with an estimated 17.9 million travellers passing through in 2008.

Government and politics

The BC Legislative Buildings in Victoria
The chamber of the provincial legislature in Victoria
The Lieutenant-Governor of British Columbia, Steven Point, is the Queen of Canada's representative in the Province of British Columbia. During the absence of the Lieutenant-Governor, the Governor General in Council may appoint an administrator to execute the duties of the office. In practice, this is usually the Chief Justice of British Columbia.[23]
British Columbia has an 85-member elected Legislative Assembly, elected by the plurality voting system, though in recent years there has been significant debate about switching to a single transferable vote system.
Currently, the province is governed by the Liberal Party under Premier Gordon Campbell. Campbell won a third straight majority government in May 2009, taking 49 seats to the opposition New Democratic Party's 35. Campbell had previously led the largest landslide election in British Columbia history in 2001, with 77 of 79 seats, but the legislature has been more evenly divided between Liberals and NDP following the 2005 (46 of 79) and 2009 (49 of 85) provincial elections. The Green Party of British Columbia plays a larger role in the politics of British Columbia than Green Parties do in most other jurisdictions in Canada. However, after a breakthrough election in 2001 (12.39%), the party's vote share has declined (2005 – 9.17%, 2009 – 8.09%).
The British Columbia Liberal Party is not related to the federal Liberal Party and does not share the same ideology. Instead, the BC Liberal party is a rather diverse coalition, made up of the remnants of the Social Credit Party, many federal Liberals, federal Conservatives, and those who would otherwise support right-of-centre or free enterprise parties. Historically, there have commonly been third parties present in the legislature (including the Liberals themselves from 1952 to 1975), but there are presently none.
Prior to the rise of the Liberal Party, British Columbia's main political party was the British Columbia Social Credit Party which ruled British Columbia for 20 continuous years. While sharing some ideology with the current Liberal government, they were more right-wing although undertook nationalization of various important monopolies, notably BC Hydro and BC Ferries. In an April 2008 poll by polling firm Ipsos-Reid, the BC Liberals were shown as having the support of 49% of voters, compared to 32% for the NDP.[24]
British Columbia is known for having politically active labour unions who have traditionally supported the NDP or its predecessor, the CCF.
British Columbia's political history is typified by scandal and a cast of colourful characters, beginning with various colonial-era land scandals and abuses of power by early officials (such as those that led to McGowan's War in 1858–59). Notable scandals in Social Credit years included the Robert Bonner Affair, the Fantasy Gardens scandal which forced Premier Bill Vander Zalm to resign and ended the Social Credit era, the Bingogate scandal which brought down NDP Premier Mike Harcourt, the alleged scandal named Casinogate which drove NDP Premier Glen Clark to resign. A variety of scandals have plagued the current Liberal government, but with little apparent effect on the electorate, including the Premier's arrest for drunk driving in Maui and the resignation of various cabinet ministers because of conflict-of-interest allegations. A Christmas Eve raid on the Parliament Buildlings in Victoria, including the Premier's Office, has resulted in charges only for ministerial aides, although key cabinet members from the time have since resigned. The case, currently in preliminary hearings in the courts and relating to the sale of BC Rail to an American company, may not reach trial because of the mass of evidence and various procedural problems.


Half of all British Columbians live in the Metro Vancouver area, which includes Vancouver, Surrey, New Westminster, West Vancouver, North Vancouver (city), North Vancouver (district municipality), Burnaby, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Maple Ridge, Langley (city), Langley (district municipality), Delta, Pitt Meadows, White Rock, Richmond, Port Moody, Anmore, Belcarra, Lions Bay and Bowen Island, with adjacent unincorporated areas represented in the regional district as the electoral area known as Greater Vancouver Electoral Area A. Seventeen Indian reserves are located in the metropolitan area but are outside the jurisdiction of the regional district and not represented in its government. Also in the metropolitan area but not represented in the regional district are the University Endowment Lands.
The second largest concentration of British Columbia population is located at the southern tip of Vancouver Island, which is made up of the 13 municipalities of Greater Victoria, Victoria, Saanich, Esquimalt, Oak Bay, View Royal, Highlands, Colwood, Langford, Central Saanich/Saanichton, North Saanich, Sidney, Metchosin, Sooke, which are part of the Capital Regional District. The metropolitan area also includes several Indian reserves (the governments of which are not part of the regional district). Almost half of the Vancouver Island population is located in Greater Victoria.
Ten Largest Metropolitan Areas in BC by Population[25][26]
Community (includes metro areas) 2006 1996
Vancouver 2,215,200 1,831,665
Victoria 330,088 304,287
Kelowna 162,276 136,349
Abbotsford 159,020 136,480
Kamloops 92,882 85,407
Nanaimo 92,361 82,691
Prince George 83,225 87,731
Chilliwack 80,892 66,254
Vernon 55,418 49,701
Courtenay 49,214 46,297
Ten Largest Municipalities in BC by Population
Municipality 2006 1996
Vancouver 578,041 514,008
Surrey (Metro Vancouver) 394,976 304,477
Burnaby (Metro Vancouver) 202,799 179,209
Richmond (Metro Vancouver) 174,461 148,867
Abbotsford 123,864 104,403
Coquitlam (Metro Vancouver) 114,565 101,820
Saanich (Metro Victoria) 108,265 101,388
Kelowna 106,707 89,422
Delta (Metro Vancouver) 96,723 95,411
Langley Township (Metro Vancouver) 93,726 80,179
A view overlooking Skaha Lake in the Okanagan Valley, one of the driest regions of the province's Interior.
Other municipalities
Campbell River
Dawson Creek
Fort St. John
Maple Ridge
North Cowichan
Port Alberni
Prince George
Prince Rupert
Victoria (provincial capital)
Williams Lake


Much of the province is wild or semi-wild, so that populations of many mammalian species that have become rare in much of the United States still flourish in British Columbia. Watching animals of various sorts, including a very wide range of birds, has also long been popular. Bears (grizzly, black, and the Kermode bear or spirit bear—only found in British Columbia) live here, as do deer, elk, moose, caribou, big-horn sheep, mountain goats, marmots, beavers, muskrat, coyotes, wolves, mustelids (such as wolverines, badgers and fishers), mountain lions, eagles, ospreys, herons, Canada geese, swans, loons, hawks, owls, ravens, Harlequin Ducks, and many other sorts of ducks. Smaller birds (robins, jays, grosbeaks, chickadees, etc.) also abound.
Healthy populations of many sorts of fish are found in the waters (including salmonids such as several species of salmon, trout, char, etc.). Besides salmon and trout, sport-fishers in B.C. also catch halibut, steelhead, bass, and sturgeon. On the coastlines, Harbor Seals and river otters are common. Cetacean species native to the coast include the Orca, Gray Whale, Harbour Porpoise, Dall's Porpoise, Pacific White-sided Dolphin and Minke Whale.
Some endangered species in British Columbia are: Vancouver Island marmot, Spotted Owl, White Pelican, and badgers.
Type of organism Red-listed species in BC Total number of species in BC
Freshwater fish 24 80
Amphibians 5 19
Reptiles 6 16
Birds 34 465
Terrestrial mammals 11 104
Marine mammals 3 29
Plants 257 2333
Butterflies 12 187
Dragonflies 9 87
As of 2001[27]


Environment Canada subdivides British Columbia into a system of 6 ecozones:


Given its varied mountainous terrain and its coasts, lakes, rivers, and forests, British Columbia has long been enjoyed for pursuits like hiking and camping, rock climbing and mountaineering, hunting and fishing.
Water sports, both motorized and non-motorized, are enjoyed in many places. Sea kayaking opportunities abound on the British Columbia coast with its fjords. Whitewater rafting and kayaking are popular on many inland rivers. Sailing and sailboarding are widely enjoyed.
Ice sailing in Whistler
In winter, cross-country and telemark skiing are much enjoyed, and in recent decades high-quality downhill skiing has been developed in the Coast Mountain range and the Rockies, as well as in the southern areas of the Shuswap Highlands and the Columbia Mountains. Snowboarding has mushroomed in popularity since the early 1990s. The 2010 Winter Olympics downhill events were held in Whistler Blackcomb area of the province, while the indoor events were conducted in the Vancouver area.
In Vancouver and Victoria (as well as some other cities), opportunities for joggers and bicyclists have been developed. Cross-country bike touring has been popular since the ten-speed bike became available many years ago. Since the advent of the more robust mountain bike, trails in more rugged and wild places have been developed for them. Some of the province's retired rail beds have been converted and maintained for hiking, biking, and cross-country skiing. Longboarding is also a popular activity because of the hilly geography of the region.
Horseback riding is enjoyed by many British Columbians. Opportunities for trail riding, often into especially scenic areas, have been established for tourists in numerous areas of the province.
British Columbia also has strong participation levels in many other sports, including golf, tennis, soccer, hockey, Canadian football, rugby union, softball, basketball, curling and figure skating. British Columbia has produced many outstanding athletes, especially in aquatic and winter sports.
Consistent with both increased tourism and increased participation in diverse recreations by British Columbians has been the proliferation of lodges, chalets, bed and breakfasts, motels, hotels, fishing camps, and park-camping facilities in recent decades.
A crop of Cannabis Sativa, or "BC Bud"
In certain areas, there are businesses, non-profit societies, or municipal governments dedicated to promoting ecotourism in their region. A number of British Columbia farmers offer visitors to combine tourism with farm work, e.g. through the WWOOF Canada program.[28]

Recreational cannabis

A 2004 study (published 2006) by the University of Victoria Centre for Addictions Research of BC and Simon Fraser University Applied Research on Mental Health and Addictions indicated cannabis use is more widespread among British Columbians than other Canadians.[29] However, a United Nations report published in July 2007 actually placed Quebec as the highest consumption province, citing 15.8% of Quebecers having used marijuana in a single year, versus 14.1% of Canadians nationally,[30] and resulted in Canada being placed first in the industrialized world in marijuana use. With the actual growing of marijuana, British Columbia is responsible for 40% of all cannabis produced in Canada.[31]

See also


  1. ^ According to the Oxford Guide to Canadian English Usage (ISBN 0-19-541619-8; p. 335), BCer(s) is an informal demonym that is sometimes used for residents of BC.
  2. ^ Statistics Canada. "Canada's population estimates 2009-26-03". Retrieved 2009-07-04. 
  3. ^ "Statistics Canada Gross domestic product, expenditure-based, by province and territory". 
  4. ^ Ged Martin, "The Naming of British Columbia," Albion: A Quarterly Journal Concerned with British Studies, Vol. 10, No. 3 (Autumn, 1978), pp. 257–263 in JSTOR
  5. ^ "Vanderhoof". Tourism BC. Retrieved 2007-04-26. 
  6. ^ "Smallpox epidemic ravages Native Americans on the northwest coast of North America in the 1770s."
  7. ^ "Plagues and Peoples on the Northwest Coast"
  8. ^ a b c d Hans J. Michelmann, David E. Smith, Cristine De Clercy Continuity And Change in Canadian Politics: Essays in Honour of David E. Smith, University of Toronto Press (2006), page 184
  9. ^ Elections BC (1998). "Electoral History of British Columbia 1871–1986". Archived from the original on 2006-10-20. Retrieved 2007-04-26. 
  10. ^ Unlike most right-wing parties, British Columbia's Social Credit actively practiced government stimulation of the economy.
  11. ^ Palmer, Bryan (1987). Solidarity: The Rise and Fall of an Opposition in British Columbia. Vancouver: New Star Books. ISBN. 
  12. ^ "Statistics Canada — Population". 
  13. ^ Canada's population. Statistics Canada. Retrieved September 28, 2006.
  14. ^ Statistics Canada.
  15. ^ Statistics Canada.
  16. ^ Religions in Canada
  17. ^ "2006 Canadian Census". 
  18. ^ "Statistics Canada. "Canada’s Ethnocultural Mosaic, 2006 Census: Provinces and territories"".
  19. ^ Detailed Mother Tongue (148), Single and Multiple Language Responses (3) and Sex (3) for the Population of Canada, Provinces, Territories, Census Metropolitan Areas and Census Agglomerations, 2006 Census – 20% Sample Data. 2007. 
  20. ^ Vancouver Economic Development (2005). Film and Development "Film and TV". Film and Development. Retrieved 2007-04-26. 
  21. ^ University of British Columbia (September 2006). "Hard on Health of Mining Communities". Retrieved 2007-04-26. 
  22. ^ Regulation Part 4 General Conditions – Tue May 26, 2009
  23. ^ Executive Power in the Provinces under the Constitutional Act, 1867.
  24. ^ S. 23 of the Constitution Act (British Columbia) requires elections to be held on the second Tuesday in May every fourth year after May 2005. Constitution Act. Retrieved on 2009-04-06.
  25. ^ Statistics Canada (2002). Statistics Canada "Population and Dwelling Counts, for Canada, Provinces and Territories, Census Metropolitan Areas and Census Agglomerations". Statistics Canada. Retrieved 2007-04-26. 
  26. ^ Indian reserve populations are not included in these figures
  27. ^ BC Ministry of Sustainable Resource Management, Conservation Data Centre
  28. ^ "WWOOF — Willing Workers on Organic Farms, Canada". 
  29. ^ "Cannabis Use Highest in BC". 
  30. ^ "Quebec gone to pot". 
  31. ^ "Canada leads 'rich' world in using marijuana: UN". 

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

This article is for quotes about the province of British Columbia, Canada.
British Columbia (BC), is the westernmost of Canada's provinces and is famed for its natural beauty, as reflected in its Latin motto, Splendor sine occasu ("Splendour without Sunset (Diminishment)"). It was the sixth province to join the Canadian Confederation. Its residents are referred to as British Columbians. The capital of British Columbia is Victoria, the 15th largest metropolitan region in Canada. The largest city is Vancouver, Canada's third-largest metropolitan area.


By Canadians

  • And the only really good thing about the province of British Columbia is that
    it's right next to us,
    Cuz Alberta, doesn't suck
Source:The Toronto Song Lyrics by Arrogant Worms[1]
  • As I was a-walking on down Broughton Street,
    To me, way, heigh, blow the man down,
    I went into Speedie's me shipmates to meet,
    Gi' me some time to blow the man down.
Source:Blow the Man Down (Halyard Shanty) song lyrics by Anonymous[2]
Notes:Broughton Street is in Victoria, the capital city of British Columbia. This song is a Pacific Ocean sea faring tune starting in Victoria.
  • A story I will tell you of the salty fisherman,
    Of all the little rivers and inlets of the coast,
    He seems to like Pender Harbour to bum around the most.
Source:The Pender Harbour Fisherman's Come All Ye song lyrics by PJ Thomas[3]
Notes: Pender Harbour is a part of the Sechelt Peninsula on British Columbia's Sunshine Coast.
  • Bitter days, on the fishing grounds.
    And we tacked off Hippa, in a dirty lump,
    And the pigs were bouncing, man, and you could see them jump
Source:Fishing Grounds song lyrics by Ken Hamm[4]
Notes:The Queen Charlotte Islands on the west coast of British Columbia features Hippa Island near Graham Island. The Salmon fishing grounds are now called Haida Gwaii.
  • Downstream ever further from our native
    nowheres (paradise, wilderness)
    we ooh and aah harder over
    these sockeye come three hundred miles upstream
Source:Adam's River John Carr Governor General's Award poet[5]
Notes: The Adams River, British Columbia features a famous Salmon run.
  • Here comes Henry Currie, he's always in a hurry
    Teaming up the Cariboo road
    He makes his horses go through the dust and through the snow
    Teaming up the Cariboo road
Source:Teaming up the Cariboo road song lyrics by Phil Thomas [6]
Notes:The Cariboo Road (also called the Cariboo Wagon Road, the Great North Road or the Queen's Highway) connects Fort Yale to Barkerville, British Columbia.
  • Huge orange flying boat rises off a lake
    Thousand-year-old petroglyphs doing a double take
Source: Wondering Where The Lions Are song lyrics by Bruce Cockburn
Notes:The lake referred to is Sproat Lake which is on Vancouver Island. The huge oragne flying boats are fire fighting boats or Mars Water Bombers. Vancouver Island is the home of the petroglyphs referred to in the song as well.[7]
  • in a place called Canada West
    On Williams Creek they called me green
    and Johnny come lately
    But, ah, I came from Canada,
    I ain't from the old country
Notes:Williams Creek, British Columbia had a logging industry in the watershed area.
Source:Young Man from Canada
Barry Taylor[8]
  • In Port Hardy one morning I cast off my lines
    The sea was all smooth and the weather just fine
    And for Castle Rock I was headed away
    Where the coho flash silver all over the bay
Notes:Port Hardy, British Columbia is located on the north-eastern coast of Vancouver Island.
Source:Where the Coho Flash Silver
Lloyd Arntzen[9]
  • Leaving B.C.
    A thousand faces without names
    Unknown souls all look the same
    A thousand people pass me by
    In this city of dreams my soul
Source: Leaving B.C. Lyrics by The Unknownn [10]
  • oh yeah these BC people
    oh yeah they make me feel fine
    oooo extreme are your seasons
    carving beauty as they rest
on through you I feel welcome
in your land, so lush and so fresh
Source: B.C. People Lyrics by Xavier Rudd [11]
  • Plus, British Columbia's real nice
    This time of year
    And when she gets there
    She says she'll phone
Source:Canal Flats John Carr Governor General's Award poet[12]
  • Stand with Baillie-Grohman in 1882
    on the shoulder of the Purcells gazing
    east and north up the Rocky Mountain trench
    but bear with his southwest intentions
    for the arable flood plain near Creston
    he'll sell once reclaimed from the Kootenay's high water
    re-routing its headwaters here with a trench of his own
    into the Columbia.
Source:Canal Flats John Carr Governor General's Award poet[13]
Notes: Canal Flats is situated at the southern end of Columbia Lake, which is the source of the Columbia River. Creston is located in the Okanagan Valley, British Columbia's Purcell Mountain creates the Columbia River Valley or Rocky Mountain Trench. The Kootenay Rockies, are in southeastern British Columbia west of the Purcells
  • The flavour is its own reward, like kissing the whole world
    at once, rivers, willows, bugs and all, until your swollen
    lips tingle.
Source:Many Have Written Poems About Blackberries Stephanie Bolster Governor General's Award poet[14]
Notes:The Himalayan blackberry is one of the most popular species which can be found growing wild in British Columbia's forests.

By non-Canadians

  • I wanted to be... a lumberjack!
    Leaping from tree to tree, as they float down the mighty rivers of British Columbia.
    The Giant Redwood. The Larch. The Fir! The mighty Scots Pine!
Source:Lumberjack Song lyrics by Monty Python[15]
  • The coast of British Columbia was one of the three chief centers of aboriginal America.
Source:Ellsworth Huntington
  • This land is your land, this land is my land
    From Bonavista to Vancouver Island
Source:This Land is Your Land song lyrics by Woody Guthrie[16]

See also


  1. Arrogant Worms. The Toronto Song lyrics by Arrogant Worms: (in english). TS Rocks. Retrieved on 2008-01-15.
  2. C (December 5th. 2004). Folksongs of British Columbia: - “Blow the Man Down ” (in english). The British Columbia Folklore Society. Retrieved on 2008-01-12.
  3. C (apr97). Folk & Traditional Song Lyrics - The Pender Harbour Fisherman's Come All Ye (in english). Retrieved on 2008-01-12.
  4. C (December 5th. 2004). Folksongs of British Columbia: - “Fishing Grounds.” (in english). The British Columbia Folklore Society. Retrieved on 2008-01-12.
  5. Carr, John (1997-2008). Adam's River (in english). Poetry by John Pass : A Journal of the Built & Natural Environments. Retrieved on 2008-01-12.
  6. Thomas, PHil (apr96). Teaming Up the Cariboo Road (in english). Retrieved on 2008-01-12.
  7. C (2002-2007). Wondering Where The Lions Are (in english). The Cockburn Project,. Retrieved on 2008-01-12.
  8. Taylor, Barry (1997-2008). Young Man from Canada (in english). Folk Music Pages. Retrieved on 2008-01-12.
  9. Arntzen, Lloyd (1997-2008). DigiTrad: Where the Coho Flash Silver (in english). Folk Music Pages. Retrieved on 2008-01-12.
  10. B.C. People Lyrics (in english). Lets Sing It (1998-2008). Retrieved on 2008-01-12.
  11. B.C. People Lyrics (in english). (2000-2007). Retrieved on 2008-01-12.
  12. The Elected - British Columbia lyrics from Me First album - Song Lyrics (in english). (2002-2006). Retrieved on 2008-01-12.
  13. Carr, John (1997-2008). Canal Flats / Grand Canal (in english). Poetry by John Pass : A Journal of the Built & Natural Environments. Retrieved on 2008-01-12.
  14. Bolster, Stephanie (1997-2008). Many Have Written Poems About Blackberries (in english). The Fiddlehead #180, Summer 1994;. Canadian Poetry website University of Toronto and University of Toronto Library.. Retrieved on 2008-01-12.
  15. Python, Monty. Monty Python - (Complete)Lumberjack Song lyrics (in english). Sing365 Lyrics. Retrieved on 2008-01-14.
  16. C (2002-2007). Farewell Nova Scotia: Canadian Song Lyrics (in english). Educators' Circle LLC. Retrieved on 2008-01-12.
Wikipedia has an article about:

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

North America : Canada : British Columbia
Totem Pole in Stanley Park.
Totem Pole in Stanley Park.
British Columbia (BC) [1] is the westernmost province in Canada. Like much of the rest of Canada, it is a large place. British Columbia is about four times the size of Great Britain with less than one tenth of the population.
British Columbia is a very mountainous region with a number of major ranges running mostly north-south from the coast to the border between BC and Alberta. Some of these ranges include the Rockies, the Selkirks, the Purcells and the Coastal Range.
As with most places worth visiting, there is a little something for everyone here. You will definitely want to spend at least some time outside of the main cities in this region, and if you enjoy a very active and adventurous vacation, there are many options here to explore. "Ecotourism" is an often-mentioned attraction in this part of Canada. Whether backpacking in the majestic forests or coast mountains, or kayaking through the many groups of islands, getting off the beaten path is sure to lead to a memorable trip.
The regions, main cities and other destinations of British Columbia
The regions, main cities and other destinations of British Columbia
Vancouver Island
Home of British Columbia's capital and all sorts of marine adventures.
Lower Mainland (Vancouver, Sea to Sky, Sunshine Coast, Fraser Valley)
The world-class city of Vancouver and world-class skiing in Whistler (and much more).
Thompson-Okanagan (Okanagan, Thompson-Nicola, Shuswap, Similkameen)
Sun and fun, wineries and beaches in the Okanagan, summertime boating in the Shuswap and rivers, waterfalls and mountains in the Thompson River valley.
Kootenays (West Kootenays, East Kootenays, Columbia-Rockies)
Lakes, deep valleys, hot springs and world famous cat skiing.
Canyons and the Cariboo (Cariboo-Chilcotin, Fraser Canyon)
Retrace history through the narrow confines of the Fraser Canyon and explore the ranchlands and remote parks of the Cariboo.
North and Central Coast
Untouched wilderness and native culture. Famous for fishing.
Northern British Columbia
Large region with mountains, forests and wilderness in the east, the start of the mighty Fraser River in the south and limitless vistas and the Alaska Highway in the northwest.
Downtown Vancouver
Downtown Vancouver
Listed below are just nine of the province's most notable urban destinations. Links to others will be found in the various regional articles.
  • Victoria is the provincial capital, on the south tip of Vancouver Island.
  • Kamloops is called the tournament Capital of Canada.
  • Kelowna is the largest city in the British Columbia interior.
  • Nelson is "The Queen City" of the Kootenays, renowned for its tourism, culture and outdoor activities.
  • Penticton is a popular summer destination on Okanagan Lake.
  • Prince George is the largest city in Northern British Columbia and the center of the BC Forest Industry.
  • Prince Rupert, Canada's rainiest city, is the hub of the North Coast.
  • Vancouver is by far the largest city in British Columbia, and the largest metropolitan area west of Toronto.
  • Whistler is a summer and winter outdoor destination and the future site of many events in the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Other destinations

With its abundance of mountains, coastline and wilderness, British Columbia has many destinations outside of its cities and towns. Listed below are nine of the province's most notable other destinations.
Ferry arriving in Horseshoe Bay
Ferry arriving in Horseshoe Bay
BC was the sixth province to join the Confederation of Canada, in 1871. This was done at least partly on the basis of a promise by the Federal Government to build a railway linking BC to the rest of Canada. Significant geographical barriers and political feuding delayed the completion of this railway until 1885 when the last spike was driven home at a place called Craigellachie in the Eagle Pass area in the interior of BC.
Being on the Pacific, there has always been a strong Asian influence. .Many Chinese men arrived in the early part of the 19th Century to work in the gold rush of that era and later many more worked on the construction of the railway through the mountains.^ Colombia’s history has been characterized by frequent periods of political violence and protracted civil war dating back to as early as the second half of the 19th century.
  • Minority Rights Group International : Colombia : Colombia Overview 19 January 2010 8:49 UTC [Source type: Original source]

.The indigenous people of BC have been called Indians or Native Canadians, but now the generally accepted term is First Nations.^ First Nations (indigenous Canadians) .
  • Minority Rights Group International : Colombia : Colombia Overview 19 January 2010 8:49 UTC [Source type: Original source]

^ Native peoples see indigenous peoples .
  • Minority Rights Group International : Colombia : Colombia Overview 19 January 2010 8:49 UTC [Source type: Original source]

Prior to arrival of Europeans BC was a very prosperous area. This was largely due the abundance of salmon. This was demonstrated by the advanced culture that existed in BC. More than thirty languages belonging to seven different language families were spoken in BC. Initially the arrival of Europeans was a positive relationship. However, eventually the Europeans brought smallpox and other diseases, which decimated the First Nations population.
Many First Nations people were encouraged or even forcibly required to send their children to residential schools during the early to mid 20th century. These schools were government sponsored. .The primary intent of the schools was to assimilate the First Nation population.^ In 1999 the Roma population was recognized for the first time as a national ethnic group through resolution 0222 of 2 September of that year (DANE, 2005).
  • Minority Rights Group International : Colombia : Colombia Overview 19 January 2010 8:49 UTC [Source type: Original source]

Children were taught that their culture was backward and evil and were not allowed to speak their native languages. This was a systemic problem at that time and has only recently been addressed and discussed openly.
Many of the First Nation communities have being trying to revive their culture and are now often the center of much of the ecotourism industry.
With a few exceptions, the First Nations of BC (unlike the rest of Canada) have never signed treaties or officially ceded their territory to Canada. Therefore the official ownership of much of the province is contested as the First Nations claim much of the province as their territory. .The courts have generally acknowledged that there is a basis for the claims based on historical use of the land and has urged the governments to negotiate a settlement to these claims.^ As reparation the Court required the Colombian government to very publicly acknowledge its responsibility.
  • Minority Rights Group International : Colombia : Colombia Overview 19 January 2010 8:49 UTC [Source type: Original source]

^ Until the late 1980s it applied only to the lands of indigenous groups outside the forest areas who could base their claims on ancient title.
  • Minority Rights Group International : Colombia : Colombia Overview 19 January 2010 8:49 UTC [Source type: Original source]

^ There are no exact figures which disaggregate the number of fatalities due to the conflict based on ethnicity, despite calls for the government to do so by the same UN Rapporteurs.
  • Minority Rights Group International : Colombia : Colombia Overview 19 January 2010 8:49 UTC [Source type: Original source]

Settling these land claims has been a complex issue that is still ongoing. The first modern treaty signed was by the Nis'ga in Northern BC. In 2007, the Tsawassen and Maa-Nulth First Nations signed treaties with the Province and the federal government.


Although Canada is officially a bilingual French/English country, you would be hard pressed to find many French-speaking people in BC. Services from the federal government are officially available in both English and French. Provincial and municipal governments operate in English only. Some businesses, especially in Vancouver and Victoria offer services in a number of languages (primarily Asian ones). Banks sometimes indicate by a sign in the window which languages are offered.
At one time Chinook Jargon, a bridge language for trading between English, French and First Nations peoples in the late 1800's and early 1900's, was common and almost became the official language of BC. Now there are very few speakers of the language, but many terms from the language are common slang terms in parts of BC.
Newcomer (more common in Northern BC and the Yukon).
The ocean.
High Muckamuck 
The chief, or boss.
Bad or worthless.
Strong, powerful, or impressive.

Get in

By plane

Vancouver airport is the major international airport of the province, which is served by most major international airlines. Victoria, Abbotsford, Cranbrook, and Kelowna also have international airports that have service to a number of locations within Canada and to some destinations in the United States.

By car

There are a number of land border crossings from the United States into BC from Washington (state). See the Lower Mainland (BC) and Northwest Cascades (WA) articles for details. There are also land border crossings into BC from Idaho, Montana and Alaska. BC is also connected to Alberta and the Yukon by a number of major highways.

By Boat

There are ferrys from Washington (state) into Victoria and Sidney, and from Alaska into Prince Rupert.

By Rail

There is rail service by Amtrak from Seattle to Vancouver. Within Canada; VIA Rail offers several different passenger trains. "The Canadian", a piece of railway history, no longer runs on the CPR. Travelers can still take VIA Rail along the historic and scenic Canadian National Railway which runs north and before it heads east through Jasper and on into Alberta. Between Mission and Ashcroft, BC, the eastbound VIA train runs on Canadian Pacific track due to a directional running agreement between Canadian Pacific and Canadian National. VIA Rail also offers passenger rail service between Jasper, AB, Prince George, BC and Prince Rupert, BC on the north coast with "The Skeena" that runs over Canadian National's former Grand Truck Pacific BC North line, "The Skeena" connects with BC Ferries' Inside Passage and Queen Charlotte routes at Prince Rupert.

Get around

BC is a large province. The most convenient way to get to much of the province is by air. However, this can be quite expensive. It is often more expensive to fly to some point in BC than it is to fly to Europe. Vancouver is the regional hub for most air service within BC. Float planes can also be convenient for accessing many coastal locations.
Getting around here is not always easy. Many worthwhile destinations are outside of the cities and not accessible by public transportation options. This makes renting a car quite a popular option for getting around, although there is some bus service to be found. Bear in mind when travelling by car that headlights should be used both day and night, regardless of conditions. If driving during the winter, plan your route carefully as British Columbia experiences some hazardous weather.
If you drive or rent a vehicle, be aware that provincial law requires fuel to be prepaid before filling up. If you use a "pay-at-pump" interface, the station may place a hold on an available amount in your account which may last for a few days. It is wise to ensure you have adequate funds or credit limit room on your payment cards before visiting.
Pacific Coach Lines [2] and Greyhound [3] operate standard bus service on some of the more popular routes between cities. Sometimes you can arrange to be dropped off at points in between, and in the summer, many different guided bus tours are available. Moose Travel Network [4] runs a unique service on less travelled routes that is a combination between "just getting you there" and a tour of some very worthwhile destinations. They have a number of quite flexible packages available, many of them connecting the coast with popular destinations in the Canadian Rockies like Jasper, Banff and Calgary. There is also daily bus services to Vancouver Island and Whistler.
You will also find that the ferry service (provided by BCFerries [5]) is the only way to access many island and coastal communities. Some of the smaller islands can be visited on foot or by bicycle, but in many cases additional road transportation is necessary. Although ferry service is generally reliable, taking an automobile on board is rarely cheap, and you will likely find it less expensive to take the ferry as a foot passenger and rent an automobile at your destination. If you are taking bus service across a ferry, you should confirm when buying your bus ticket that the ferry fare is included.
Along with "The Canadian" and "The Skeena" VIA Rail Canada operates "The Malahat", a daily regional passenger service between Victoria, the Captial City, and Courtenay, BC (139 railway miles north of Victoria) on the Southern Railway of Vancouver Island, the former Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railway. "The Malahat" makes one round trip daily out of Victoria while "The Canadian" and "The Skeena" run three times per week.
Rocky Mountain Rail Tours [6] operates tourist trains from Vancouver to Whistler, Vancouver to Kamloops, Kamloops to Banff or Calgary, Kamloops to Jasper, and Whistler to Jasper during the tourist season (May-October). There are many tourist railroad operations that run in BC. The Alberni Pacific Railway in Port Alberni, BC that runs on former Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railway trackage. The Kettle Valley Steam Railway that runs out of Summerland BC on the last remaining portion of the famous Kettle Valley Railway. The Kamloops Historical Railway that runs ex-CNR steam over the Kelowna Pacific, CN, and CPR. The White Pass and Yukon Route operates out of Skagway, AK and runs through northern BC on its way to Whitehorse, YT.
  • International Buddhist Temple[7] in Richmond is the most authentic example of traditional palatial Chinese architecture in North America. It is an edifice straight out of the Chinese past, as it resembles any authentic temple that can be found along the banks of the Yangtze River, where one of the world’s oldest civilizations originated. Come explore traditional Chinese art, culture, and the Buddhist philosophy inside this magnificent place. Free admission.
  • Glacier National Park takes in part of the Selkirk Mountain Range where the Trans Canada Highway crosses the range through Roger's Pass.
  • Butchart Gardens [8] near Victoria offers over 50 acres (22 hectares)of gardens and floral display.
  • Stanley Park (Vancouver) — is not just your average urban park! You can stroll through the park on the seawall, check out the aquarium, take a look at the totem poles, and stop at various historical points of interest.
  • Royal British Columbia Museum in Victoria
  • Science World Vancouver [9] — nice for kids of all ages. Also has an IMAX Theatre.


Accommodation throughout BC can always be arranged in the usual motels, hotels and B&Bs. BC Provincial Parks have had a good reputation over the years and most have very nice campgrounds. Camping in BC is an experience you shouldn't miss.


The legal drinking age in BC is 19.
Beer, wine and spirits are available from the government liquor stores (BCL). They are also available from private beer and wine stores which are usually associated with pubs or bars. Most BCL stores close at 8PM while most private liquor stores are open until 11PM. You cannot buy alcohol in grocery stores.
BC is home to a number of breweries,including the Columbia Brewery in Creston which brews Kokanee, the Granville Island Brewery in Vancouver and Nelson Brewing Company [13] in Nelson. Most breweries offer tours.
BC is also well-renowned for its wine and the Okanagan Valley [14] is the center of the wine industry in the province. It's a perfect area to visit during the Autumn grape harvest. There are large number of wineries open for tastings.
Exterior of a Vancouver marijuana cafe.
Exterior of a Vancouver marijuana cafe.
The use and possession of marijuana is illegal in all of Canada, and British Columbia is no exception. However, discrete use of small amounts is generally tolerated in the larger cities and particularly Vancouver. Avoid flaunting your use -- do not walk down the street smoking, use in a busy park, or talk loudly about your use in public. Keep in mind that Vancouver has strict anti-smoking regulations against any kind of indoor smoking so lighting up in a bar or nightclub may get you in trouble. Pot cafes in Vancouver often provide a smoking room where you can safely and discretely indulge; however, unlike their Amsterdam counterparts, they will not sell you marijuana.

Stay Safe

Outside of the metropolitan areas, much of BC is pretty remote. The more remote the area, the better prepared you need to be.
If you are thinking of traveling off designated ski or snowmobile trails always take an avalanche safety course. Travel with experienced guides, talk to locals, look at the Canadian Avalanche Centre's [15] forecast. Or best of all, just play it safe and ski at one of BC's great ski resorts.
Outside the winter months always inform yourself about local concerns with carnivorous wildlife, i.e. bears and cougars. If you're in the BC woods, you can assume that there are likely bears and other wildlife in the area. You're in their territory and it's good practice to make noise and keep your eyes (and ears) open. Knowing how to avoid wildlife encounters is a good idea.
Petty property crime is a problem in the major cities, as it is in most, so don't leave items visible in a vehicle. Violent crime is relatively infrequent. Simple precautions will normally preclude a brush with crime. A problem area for tourists to avoid is the infamous East Hastings area of Vancouver.
Recent experiments with late bar/nightclub closing times (4AM) have also led to increased problems and violence on Granville Street in downtown Vancouver (especially on weekends).
Close to 20 women have been killed or are missing along the "Highway of Tears" (Highway 16) between Prince George and Prince Rupert since about 1970. Young women might want to avoid hitch-hiking along this highway, especially if you are alone.

Get out

To the south is Washington (state) in the U.S.A. which is home the Olympic Peninsula, Mount Ranier National Park, the North Cascades mountain range, a highly developed agricultural region and the vibrant cities of Seattle-Tacoma on the Pacific coast.
To the east is the province of Alberta which is home to a beautiful mix of prairie, boreal forest and mountains and an economy that fluctuates with the price of oil. It is also home to the cities of Edmonton (the provincial capital) and Calgary (a self-styled cow-town). The mountain towns of Banff, Lake Louise and Jasper are popular and busy in all seasons.
This is a usable article. It gives a good overview of the region, its sights, and how to get in, as well as links to the main destinations, whose articles are similarly well developed. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

BRITISH COLUMBIA, the western province of the Dominion of Canada. It is bounded on the east by the continental watershed in the Rocky Mountains, until this, in its north-westerly course, intersects 120° W., which is followed north to 60° N., thus including within the province a part of the Peace river country to the east of the mountains. The southern boundary is formed by 49° N. and the strait separating Vancouver Island from the state of Washington. The northern boundary is 60° N., the western the Pacific Ocean, upon which the province fronts for about 600 m., and the coast strip of Alaska for a further distance of 400 m. Vancouver Island and the Queen Charlotte Islands, as well as the smaller islands lying off the western coast of Canada, belong to the province of British Columbia.
Physical Features. - .British Columbia is essentially a mountainous country, for the Rocky Mountains which in the United States lie to the east of the Great Basin, on running to the north bear toward the west and approach the ranges which border the Pacific coast.^ (AP, 9/11/07)(Reuters, 10/22/09) 2007 Oct 2, Colombia's navy seized 2 tons of cocaine, most destined for the United States, in small packages labeled with the British flag from a truck on the country's Caribbean coast.
  • Timeline Colombia 19 January 2010 8:49 UTC [Source type: News]

Thus British Columbia comprises practically the entire width of what has been termed the Cordillera or Cordilleran belt of North America, between the parallels of latitude above indicated. There are two ruling mountain systems in this belt - the Rocky Mountains proper on the north-east side, and the Coast Range on the south-west or Pacific side. Between these are subordinate ranges to which various local names have been given, as well as the " Interior Plateau " - an elevated tract of hilly country, the hill summits having an accordant altitude, which lies to the east of the Coast Range. The several ranges, having been produced by successive foldings of the earth's crust in a direction parallel to the border of the Pacific Ocean, have a common trend which is south-east and north-west. Vancouver Island and the Queen Charlotte Islands are remnants of still another mountain range, which runs parallel to the coast but is now almost entirely submerged beneath the waters of the Pacific. The province might be said to consist of a series of parallel mountain ranges with long narrow valleys lying between them.
The Rocky Mountains are composed chiefly of palaeozoic sediments ranging in age from the Cambrian to the Carboniferous, with subordinate infolded areas of Cretaceous which hold coal. The average height of the range along the United States boundary is 8000 ft., but the range culminates between the latitudes of 51' and 53', the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies being Mount Robson, 13,700 ft., although the highest peak in British Columbia is Mount Fairweather on the International Boundary, which rises to 15,287 ft. Other high peaks in the Rocky Mountains of Canada are Columbia, 12,740 ft.; Forbes, 12,075; Assiniboine, 11,860; Bryce. .11,686; Temple, 11,626; Lyell, 11,463. There are a number of passes over the Rocky Mountains, among which may be mentioned, beginning from the south, the South Kootenay or Boundary Pass, 7100 ft.; the Crow's Nest Pass, 5500 (this is traversed by the southern branch of the Canadian Pacific railway and crosses great coal fields); the Kicking Horse or Wapta Pass, 5300 (which is traversed by the main line of the Canadian Pacific railway); the Athabasca Pass, 6025; the Yellow Head Pass, 3733 (which will probably be used by the Grand Trunk Pacific railway); the Pine River Pass, 2850; and the Peace River Pass, 2000, through which the Peace river flows.^ (SFC, 1/11/99, p.A8) 1999 Jan 14, In Colombia right-wing paramilitary groups announced they were willing to begin peace talks.
  • Timeline Colombia 19 January 2010 8:49 UTC [Source type: News]

The Coast Range, sometimes called the Cascade Range, borders the Pacific coast for 900 m. and gives to it its remarkable character. To its partially submerged transverse valleys are due the excellent harbours on the coast, the deep sounds and inlets which penetrate far inland at many points, as well as the profound and gloomy fjords and the stupendous precipices which render the coast line an exaggerated reproduction of that of Norway. The coast is, in fact, one of the most remarkable in the world, measuring with all its indentations 7000 m. in the aggregate, and being fringed with an archipelago of innumerable islands, of which Vancouver Island and the Queen Charlotte Islands are the largest.
Along the south-western side of the Rocky Mountains is a very remarkable valley of considerable geological antiquity, in which some seven of the great rivers of the Pacific slope, among them the Kootenay, Columbia, Fraser and Finlay, flow for portions of their upper courses. This valley, which is from 1 to 6 m. in width, can be traced continuously for a length of at least Boo m. .One of the most important rivers of the province is the Fraser, which, rising in the Rocky Mountains, flows for a long distance to the north-west, and then turning south eventually crosses the Coast Range by a deep canton-like valley and empties into the Strait of Georgia, a few miles south of the city of Vancouver.^ Colombia is bordered to the east by Venezuela and Brazil; to the south by Ecuador and Peru; to the North by the Atlantic Ocean, through the Caribbean Sea; and to the west by Panama and the Pacific Ocean.
  • Minority Rights Group International : Colombia : Colombia Overview 19 January 2010 8:49 UTC [Source type: Original source]

.The Columbia, which rises farther south in the same range, flows north for about 150 m., crossing the main line of the Canadian Pacific railway at Donald, and then bending abruptly back upon its former course, flows south, recrossing the Canadian Pacific railway at Revelstoke, and on through the Arrow Lakes in the Kootenay country into the United States, emptying into the Pacific Ocean at Astoria in the state of Oregon.^ (AP, 3/2/05) 2005 Mar 9, Colombia extradited to the United States a top member of the South American country's main rebel group, a woman known by the nom de guerre of Sonia and accused of running the insurgents' drug trafficking business.
  • Timeline Colombia 19 January 2010 8:49 UTC [Source type: News]

^ Colombia is bordered to the east by Venezuela and Brazil; to the south by Ecuador and Peru; to the North by the Atlantic Ocean, through the Caribbean Sea; and to the west by Panama and the Pacific Ocean.
  • Minority Rights Group International : Colombia : Colombia Overview 19 January 2010 8:49 UTC [Source type: Original source]

These lakes, as well as the other large lakes in southern British Columbia, remain open throughout the winter. In the north-western part of the province the Skeena flows south-west into the Pacific, and still farther to the north the Stikine rises in British Columbia, but before entering the Pacific crosses the coast strip of Alaska. The Liard, rising in the same district, flows east and falls into the Mackenzie, which empties into the Arctic Ocean. The headwaters of the Yukon are also situated in the northern part of the province. All these rivers are swift and are frequently interrupted by rapids, so that, as means of communication for commercial purposes, they are of indifferent value. Wherever lines of railway are constructed, they lose whatever importance they may have held in this respect previously.
At an early stage in the Glacial period British Columbia was covered by the Cordilleran glacier, which moved south-eastwards and north-westwards, in correspondence with the ruling features of the country, from a gathering-ground situated in the vicinity of the 57 t h parallel. Ice from this glacier poured through passes in the coast ranges, and to a lesser extent debouched upon the edge of the great plains, beyond the Rocky Mountain range. The great valley between the coast ranges and Vancouver Island was also occupied by a glacier that moved in both directions from a central point in the vicinity of Valdez Island. The effects of this glacial action and of the long periods of erosion preceding it and of other physiographic changes connected with its passing away, have most important bearings on the distribution and character of the gold-bearing alluviums of the province.
Table of contents


The subjoined figures relating to temperature and precipitation are from a table prepared by Mr R. F. Stupart, director of the meteorological service. The station at Victoria may be taken as representing the conditions of the southern part of the coast of British Columbia, although the rainfall is much greater on exposed parts of the outer coast. Agassiz represents the Fraser delta and Kamloops the southern interior district. The mean temperature naturally decreases to the northward of these selected stations, both along the coast and in the interior, while the precipitation increases. The figures given for Port Simpson are of interest, as the Pacific terminus of the Grand Trunk Pacific railway will be in this vicinity.
Mean Temp., Fahr.
Rainfall - Inches.
Victoria 1..
Jan. 37.5°
July 60.3°
- I°
Dec. 7.98
July '4
Agassiz 2. ...
Jan. 33.0°
Aug. 64.7°
4 8.9°
- 13°
Dec. 9.43
J uly 1 '55
Kamloops 3. .
Jan. 24.2°
Aug. 68.5°
- 27°
July 1 61
April -37
Port Simpson 4..
Jan. 34.9°
Aug. 5 6.9°
- 10°
Oct. 22.42
June 4.37


Among the larger mammals are the big-horn or mountain sheep (Ovis canadensis),the Rocky Mountain goat (Manama montana), the grizzly bear, moose, woodland caribou, black-tailed or mule deer, white-tailed deer, and coyote. All these are to be found only on the mainland. The black bear, wolf, puma, lynx, wapiti, and Columbian or coast deer are common to parts of both mainland and islands. Of marine mammals the most characteristic are the sea-lion, furseal, sea-otter and harbour-seal. About 340 species of birds are known to occur in the province, among which, as of special interest, may be mentioned the burrowing owl of the dry, interior region, the American magpie, Steller's jay and a true nut-cracker, Clark's crow (Picicorvus columbianus). True jays and orioles are also well represented. The gallinaceous birds include the large blue grouse of the coast, replaced in the Rocky Mountains by the dusky grouse. The western form of the " spruce partridge " of eastern Canada is also abundant, together with several forms referred to the genus Bonasa, generally known as " partridges " or ruffed grouse. Ptarmigans also abound in many of the higher mountain regions. Of the Anatidae only passing mention need be made. During the spring and autumn migrations many species are found in great abundance, but in the summer a smaller number remain to breed, chief among which are the teal, mallard, wood-duck, spoon-bill, pin-tail, buffle-head, red-head, canvas-back, scaup-duck, &c.

Area and Population

The area of British Columbia is 357, 600 sq. m., and its population by the census of 1901 was 190,000. Since that date this has been largely increased by the influx of miners and others, consequent upon the discovery of precious metals in the Kootenay, Boundary and Atlin districts. Much of this is a floating population, but the opening up of the valleys by railway and new lines of s'ttamboats, together with the settlements made in the vicinity of the Canadian Pacific railway, has resulted in a considerable increase of the permanent population. The white population comprises men of many nationalities. There is a large Chinese population, the census of 1901 returning 14,201. The influx of Chinamen has, however, practically ceased, owing to the tax of $500 per head imposed by the government of the dominion. Many Japanese have also come in. The Japanese are engaged chiefly in lumbering and fishing, but the Chinese are found everywhere in the province. Great objection is taken by the white population to the increasing number of " Mongolians," owing to their competition with whites in the labour markets. The Japanese do not appear to be so much disliked, as they adapt themselves to the ways of white men, but they are equally objected to on the score of cheap labour; and in 1907-1908 considerable friction occurred with the Dominion government over the Anti-Japanese attitude of British Columbia, which was shown in some rather serious riots. In the census of 1901 the Indian population is returned at 25,488; of these 20,351 are professing Christians and 5137 are pagans. .The Indians are divided into very many tribes, under local names, but fall naturally on linguistic grounds into a few large groups.^ (WSJ, 1/16/03, p.D8) 2002 The Colombia coffee federation, set up in 1927, began opening local coffee shops under the Valdez name.
  • Timeline Colombia 19 January 2010 8:49 UTC [Source type: News]

^ In Maria la Baja the local paramilitary group disbanded and handed over its weapons under a peace agreement with the government.
  • Timeline Colombia 19 January 2010 8:49 UTC [Source type: News]

Thus the southern part of the interior is occupied by the Salish and Kootenay, and the northern interior by the Tinneh or Athapackan people. On the coast are the Haida, Tsimshian, Kwakiatl, Nootka, and about the Gulf of Georgia various tribes related to the Salish proper. There is no treaty with the Indians of British Columbia, as with those of the plains, for the relinquishment of their title to the land, but the government otherwise assists them. There is an Indian superintendent at Victoria, and under him are nine agencies throughout the province to attend to the Indians - relieving their sick and destitute, supplying them with seed and implements, settling their disputes and administering justice. The Indian fishing stations and burial grounds are reserved, and other land has been set apart for them for agricultural and pastoral purposes. A number of schools have been established for their education. They were at one time a dangerous element, but are now quiet and peaceable.
The chief cities are Victoria, the capital, on Vancouver Island; and Vancouver on the mainland, New Westminster on the Fraser and Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. Rossland and 1 48° 24' N., 123° 19' W., height 85 ft.
2 49° 14' N., 121° 31' W., height 52 ft.
3 50° 41' N., 120° 29' W., height 11 93 ft.
54° 34' N., 130° 26' W., height 26 ft.
Nelson in West Kootenay, as well as Fernie in East Kootenay and Grand Forks in the Boundary district, are also places of importance.


Mining is the principal industry of British Columbia. The country is rich in gold, silver, copper, lead and coal, and has also iron deposits. From 1894 to 1904 the mining output increased from $4,225,717 to $18,977,359. In 1905 it had reached $22,460,295. The principal minerals, in order of value of output, are gold, copper, coal, lead and silver. Between 1858 - the year of the placer discoveries on the Fraser river and in the Cariboo district - and 1882, the placer yields were much heavier than in subsequent years, running from one to nearly four million dollars annually, but there was no quartz mining. Since 1899 placer mining has increased considerably, although the greater part of the return has been from lode mining. The Rossland, the Boundary and the Kootenay districts are the chief centres of vein-mining, yielding auriferous and cupriferous sulphide ores, as well as large quantities of silver-bearing lead ores. Ores of copper and the precious metals are being prospected and worked also, in several places along the coast and on Vancouver Island. The mining laws are liberal, and being based on the experience gained in the adjacent mining centres of the Western States, are convenient and effective. The most important smelting and reducing plants are those at Trail and Nelson in the West Kootenay country, and at Grand Forks and Greenwood in the Boundary district. There are also numerous concentrating plants. Mining machinery of the most modern types is employed wherever machinery is required.
The province contains enormous supplies of excellent coal, most of which are as yet untouched. It is chiefly of Cretaceous age. The producing collieries are chiefly on Vancouver Island and on the western slope of the Rockies near the Crow's Nest Pass in the extreme south-eastern portion of the provinces. Immense beds of high grade bituminous coal and semi-anthracite are exposed in the Bulkley Valley, south of the Skeena river, not far from the projected line of the Grand Trunk Pacific railway. About one-half the coal mined is exported to the United States.


A large percentage of the commerce is derived from the sea, the chief product being salmon. Halibut, cod (several varieties), oolachan, sturgeon, herring, shad and many other fishes are also plentiful, but with the exception of the halibut these have not yet become the objects of extensive industries. There are several kinds of salmon, and they run in British Columbia waters at different seasons of the year. The quinnat or spring salmon is the largest and best table fish, and is followed in the latter part of the summer by the sockeye, which runs in enormous numbers up the Fraser and Skeena rivers. This is the fish preferred for canning. It is of brighter colour, more uniform in size, and comes in such quantities that a constant supply can be reckoned upon by the canneries. About the mouth of the Fraser river from 1800 to 2600 boats are occupied during the run. There is an especially large run of sockeye salmon in the Fraser river every fourth year, while in the year immediately following there is a poor run. The silver salmon or cohoe arrives a little later than the sockeye, but is not much used for packing except when required to make up deficiencies. The dog-salmon is not canned, but large numbers are caught by the Japanese, who salt them for export to the Orient. The other varieties are of but little commercial importance at present, although with the increasing demand for British Columbia salmon, the fishing season is being extended to cover the runs of all the varieties of this fish found in the waters of the province.
Great Britain is the largest but not the only market for British Columbia salmon. The years vary in productiveness, 1901 having been unusually large and 2903 the smallest in eleven years, but the average pack is about 700,000 cases of forty-eight 1-lb tins, the greater part of all returns being from the Fraser river canneries, the Skeena river and the Rivers Inlet coming next in order. There are between 60 and 70 canneries, of which about 40 are on the banks of the Fraser river. There is urgent need for the enactment of laws restricting the catch of salmon, as the industry is now seriously threatened. The fish oils are extracted chiefly from several species of dog-fish, and sometimes from the basking shark, as well as from the oolachan, which is also an edible fish.
The fur-seal fishery is an important industry, though apparently a declining one. Owing to the scarcity of seals and international difficulties concerning pelagic sealing in Bering Sea,where the greatest number have been taken, the business of seal-hunting is losing favour. Salmon fish-hatcheries have been established on the chief rivers frequented by these fish. Oysters and lobsters from the Atlantic coast have been planted in British Columbia waters.
United Kingdom
7,49 8 ,30 1
South America .
15,6 47 ,808
Australia .
10, 0 45, 0 94
11 ,596,482
South Africa .
2 ,5 1 7, 1 54
7,0 93 ,681
China and Japan
4, 802 ,4 2 6
Germany .
Fiji Islands. .


The province is rich in forest growth, and there is a steady demand for its lumber in the other parts of Canada as well as in South America, Africa, Australia and China. The following is a list of some of the more important trees - large leaved maple (Ater macrophyllum), red alder (Alnus rubra), western larch (Larix occidentalis), white spruce (Picea alba), Engellmann's spruce (Picea Engelmanii), Menzies's spruce (Picea sitchensis), white mountain pine (Pinus monticola), black pine (Pinus murrayana), yellow pine (Pinus ponderosa), Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga Douglasii), western white oak (Quercus garryana), giant cedar (Thuya gigantea), yellow cypress or cedar (Thuya excelsa), western hemlock (Tsuga mertensiana). The principal timber of commerce is the Douglas fir. The tree is often found 300 ft. high and from 8 to to ft. in diameter. The wood is tough and strong and highly valued for ships' spars as well as for building purposes. Red or giant cedar, which rivals the Douglas fir in girth, is plentiful, and is used for shingles as well as for interior work. The western white spruce is also much employed for various purposes. There are about eighty sawmills, large and small, in the province. The amount of timber cut on Dominion government lands in 1904 was 22,760,222 ft., and the amount cut on provincial lands was 325,271,568 ft., giving a total of 348,031,790 ft. In 1905 the cut on dominion lands exceeded that in 1904, while the amount cut on provincial lands reached 450,385,554 ft. The cargo shipments of lumber for the years 1904 and 1905 were as follows: - 4 2, 1 99,777 51,515,100 There is a very large market for British Columbia lumber in the western provinces of Canada.
A griculture. - Although mountainous in character the province contains many tracts of good farming land. These lie in the long valleys between the mountain ranges of the interior, as well as on the lower slopes of the mountains and on the deltas of the rivers running out to the coast. On Vancouver Island also there is much good farming land. The conditions are in most places best suited to mixed farming; the chief crops raised are wheat, oats, potatoes and hay. Some areas are especially suited for cattle and sheep raising, among which may be mentioned the Yale district and the country about Kamloops. Much attention has been given to fruit raising, especially in the Okanagan valley. Apples, plums and cherries are grown, as well as peaches, apricots, grapes and various small fruits, notably strawberries. All these are of excellent quality. Hops are also cultivated. A large market for this fruit is opening up in the rapidly growing provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Imports and Exports

For the year ending June 30th 1905 the total exports and imports (showing a slight gradual increase on the two preceding years) were valued at $16,677,882 and $12,565,019 respectively. The exports were classified as follows: - Mines, $9,777,4 2 3; fisheries, $2,101,533; forests, $1,046,718; animals, $471,231; agriculture, $119,426; manufactures, $1,883,777; miscellaneous, $1,106,643; coin and bullion, $171,131.


The Pacific division of the Canadian Pacific railway enters British Columbia through the Rocky Mountains on the east and runs for about 500 m. across the province before reaching the terminus at Vancouver. A branch of the same railway leaves the main line at Medicine Hat, and running to the south-west, crosses the Rocky Mountains through the Crow's Nest Pass, and thus enters British Columbia a short distance north of the United States boundary. This continues across the province, running approximately parallel to the boundary as far as Midway in what is known as the Boundary district. The line has opened up extensive coal fields and crosses a productive mining district. On Vancouver Island there are two railways, the Esquimalt & Nanaimo railway (78 m.) connecting the coal fields with the southern ports, and the Victoria & Sydney railway, about 16 m. in length. The Great Northern has also a number of short lines in the southern portion of the province, connecting with its system in the United States. In 1905 there were 1627 m. of railway in the province, of which 1187 were owned or controlled by the Canadian Pacific railway.


The Canadian Pacific Railway Company has two lines of mail steamer running from Vancouver and Victoria: (1) the Empress line, which runs to Japan and China once in three weeks, and (2) the Australian line to Honolulu, Fiji and Sydney, once a month. The same company also has a line of steamers running to Alaska, as well as a fleet of coasting steamers.


The province is governed by a lieutenant-governor, appointed by the governor-general in council for five years, but subject to removal for cause, an executive council of five ministers, and a single legislative chamber. The executive council is appointed by the lieutenant-governor on the advice of the first minister, and retains office so long as it enjoys the support of a majority of the legislature. The powers of the lieutenant-governor in regard to the provincial government are analogous to those of governor-general in respect of the dominion government.
The British North America Act (1867) confederating the colonies, defines the jurisdiction of the provincial legislature as distinguished from that of the federal parliament, but within its own jurisdiction the province makes the laws for its own governance. The act of the legislature may be disallowed, within one year of its passage, by the governor-general in council, and is also subject to challenge as to its legality in the supreme court of and, or on appeal to the juridical committee of the privy council of the United Kingdom. British Columbia sends three senators and seven members to the lower house of the federal parliament, which sits at Ottawa.


There is a supreme court of British Columbia presided over by a chief justice and five puisne judges, and there are also a number of county courts. In British Columbia the supreme court has jurisdiction in divorce cases, this right having been invested in the colony before confederation.

Religion and Education

In 1901 the population was divided by creeds as follows: Church of England, 40,687; Methodist, 25,047; Presbyterian, 34,081; Roman Catholic, 33, 6 39; others, 40,197; not stated, 5003; total, 178,654. The educational system of British Columbia differs slightly from that of other provinces of Canada. There are three classes of schools - common, graded and high - all maintained by the government and all free and undenominational. There is only one college in the province, the " McGill University College of British Columbia " at Vancouver, which is one of the colleges of McGill University, whose chief seat is at Montreal. The schools are controlled by trustees selected by the ratepayers of each school district, and there is a superintendent of education acting under the provincial secretary.


Under the terms of union with Canada, British Columbia receives from the dominion government annually a certain contribution, which in 1905 amounted to $307,076. This, with provincial taxes on real property, personal property, income tax, sales of public land, timber dues, &c., amounted in the year 1905 to $2,920,461. The expenditure for the year was $2,302,417. The gross debt of the province in 1905 was $13,252,097, with assets of $4,463,869, or a net debt of $8,788,228. These assets do not include new legislative buildings or other public works. The income tax is on a sliding scale. In 1899 a fairly close estimate was made of the capital invested in the province, which amounted to $307,385,000, including timber, $100,000,000; railways and telegraphs, $47,500,000; mining plant and smelters, $10,500,000; municipal assessments, $45,000,000; provincial assessments, $51,500,000; in addition to private wealth, 5280,000,000. There are branch offices of one or more of the Canadian banks in each of the larger towns.


The discovery of British Columbia was made by the Spaniard Perez in 1774. With Cook's visit the geographical exploration of the coast began in 1778. Vancouver, in 1792-1794, surveyed almost the entire coast of British Columbia with much of that to the north and south, for the British government. The interior, about the same time, was entered by Mackenzie and traders of the N.W. Company, which in 1821 became amalgamated with the Hudson's Bay Company. For the next twenty-eight years the Hudson's Bay Company ruled this immense territory with beneficent despotism. In 1849 Vancouver Island was proclaimed a British colony. In 1858, consequent on the discovery of gold and the large influx of miners, the mainland territory was erected into a colony under the name of British Columbia, and in 1866 this was united with the colony of Vancouver Island, under the same name. In 1871 British Columbia entered the confederation and became part of the Dominion of Canada, sending three senators and six (now seven) members to the House of Commons of the federal parliament. One of the conditions under which the colony entered the dominion was the speedy construction of the Canadian Pacific railway, and in 1876 the non-fulfilment of this promise and the apparent indifference of the government at Ottawa to the representations of British Columbia created 9/ 136° s s. e,n7 .2e x„,of r anof 132° ?
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B Longitude West 135 of Greenwich strained relations, which were only ameliorated when the construction of a transcontinental road was begun. In subsequent years the founding of the city of Vancouver by the C.P.R., the establishment of the first Canadian steamship line to China and Japan, and that to Australia, together with the disputes with the United States on the subject of pelagic sealing, and the discovery of the Kootenay and Boundary mining districts, have been the chief events in the history of the province.


Cook's Voyage to the Pacific Ocean (London, 1784); Vancouver, Voyage of Discovery to the Pacific Ocean (London, 1798); H. H. Bancroft's works, vol. xxxii., History of British Columbia (San Francisco, 1887); Begg's History of British Columbia (Toronto, 1894); Gosnell, Year Book (Victoria, British Columbia, 1897 and 1903); Annual Reports British Columbia Board of Trade (Victoria); Annual Reports of Minister of Mines and other Departmental Reports of the Provincial and [Dominion Governments; Catalogue of Provincial Museum (Victoria); Reports Geological Survey of Canada (from 1871 to date); Reports of Canadian Pacific (Government) Surveys (1872-1880); Reports of Committee of Brit. Assn. Adv. Science on N.W. Tribes (1884-1895); Lord, Naturalist in Vancouver Island (London, 1866); Bering Sea Arbitration (reprint of letters to Times), (London, 1893); Report of Bering Sea Commission (London, Government, 1892); A. Metin, La Colombie Britannique (Paris, 1908). See also various works of reference under CANADA. (G. M. D.; M. ST J.; F. D. A.)


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary




  • (UK) IPA: /ˈbɹɪt.ɪʃ ˌkə.lʌə/, SAMPA: /"brIt.IS
  •  (CA)help, file

Proper noun

British Columbia
  1. Province in western Canada which has Victoria as its capital. Abbreviation: BC


Derived terms

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