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Geography and Landscape


British Columbia (commonly referred toby the initials BC) is Canada's westernmost province, covering 944,735 km2. Worldwide there are only about 30 countries that are larger than British Columbia. Together with the US states of Washington and Oregon, this area is called the 'Pacific Northwest'.

British Columbia is bordered on the east by the Canadian province of Alberta, on the south by the American states of Montana, Idaho and Washington, on the west by the Pacific Ocean for a total length of approximately 27,000 km, on the northwest by the US state of Alaska and to the north by Yukon Territory and the Northwest Territories. The distance from the north to the south of British Columbia is a maximum of 1,300 kilometers; the maximum distance from east to west is 700 kilometers. British Columbia is Canada's second largest province after Quebec and Ontario.

British Columbia Satellite PhotoPhoto:public domain


Canada Pacific Rim National Park British Columbia Photo:Adam Jones, Ph.D. CCAttribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

Approx. three quarters of British Columbia is mountainous; more than half of the province is above 1250 meters. The only flat area is in the northeast on the Peace River. More than half of British Columbia is covered in forests. On the coast mainly Douglas fir and red cedar trees; inland forests of pines, spruces and conifers. Approx. 10% of British Columbia is grassland or is being cleared; almost 2% of the surface consists of rivers and lakes. Along the more than 7,000 km long coast of British Columbia are approximately 11,000 rivers and streams and 7,000 lakes. The largest lake in British Columbia is the 200 km long Williston Lake, also the largest man-made lake in North America.

Just off the southwest coast of British Columbia is Vancouver Island, the largest island along the west coast of North America and just slightly larger than Belgium (31,285 km2 to 30,528 km2; approx. A ridge runs longitudinally across the island, the Vancouver Island Ranges, with long mountain fjords on the west coast. The longest fjord in British Columbia is Gardner Canal (114 km). Vancouver Island is separated from mainland British Columbia and the United States by the Johnstone Strait and Queen Charlotte Street to the north and northeast, the Strait of Georgia to the southeast, and the Strait of Juan de Fuca to the southwest. The island is also famous for its beautiful sandy beaches and dense forests. In the large Strathcona Provincial Park, the oldest provincial park in British Columbia (1911) lies the highest waterfalls in North America, the Della Falls (440 m along three cascades). The highest point on Vancouver Island is also located in Strathcona Provincial Park, the Golden Hinde (2197 m). Near Gold River is the Quatsino Cave, the deepest vertical cave in North America at 152 meters. The deepest 'common' caves are also found in British Columbia, Heavy Breather System (653 m), Arctomys Cave (536 m), Close to the Edge (472 m) and Thanksgiving Cave on Vancouver Island (416 m).

The Pacific Rim National Park Reserve includes three areas: Long Beach with its rugged and windswept beaches (here is the only surfing beach in British Columbia), West Coast Trail with rainforests and deep rock canyons and the Broken Group Islands, an archipelago consisting of approximately 300 islands and rocky outcrops, spread over an area of about 80 km2. North of Vancouver Island are the Queen Charlotte Islands, officially referred to as Haida Gwaii, "Islands of the Haida People" since 2010. The main islands are Graham Island to the north and Moresby Island to the south. Furthermore, there are several hundred small islands from north to south over a distance of 300 km. Half of the population is Haida.

Queen Charlotte Islands of Haida Gwaii, British Columbia Photo:Public domain

The Gulf Islands is a group of islands in the Strait of Georgia, also known as the Salish Sea or Gulf of Georgia, that lie between Vancouver Island and mainland British Columbia. The Gulf Islands can be divided into the Northern and the Southern Gulf Islands. The Southern Gulf Islands consist of about two hundred most uninhabited islets and rocky outcrops. A small number of larger islands are inhabited, including Salt Spring Island, the largest and most populous, North Pender Island, South Pender Island, Saturna Island, Mayne Island, Gabriola Island, and Galiano Island. Notable islands of the Northern Gulf Islands include Denman Island, Hornby Island, Lasqueti Island, and Texeda Island. Quadra Island also appears to belong to the Gulf Islands in terms of location, but is generally considered to be the Discovery Islands, also an archipelago between Vanouver Island and mainland British Columbia. Most of the islands are unpopulated or very sparsely populated, only to Quadra Island, the largest and most populous island, and Cortes Island run by ferries. The larger islands include Hardwicke Island, East Thurlow Island, Stuart Island, Maurelle Island, West Redonda Island, Marina Island, Hernando Island, Savary Island, and the Twin Islands.

Northern British Columbia is mountainous and the central interior consists of a high plateau with dense forests. A number of mountain ranges run from east to northwest. Southeastern British Columbia, Kootenay, is made up of mountain ranges such as the Rocky Mountains (including the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies, the 3,954m Mount Robson), Purcells, Selkirks, and Monashees. In between flow rivers like the Columbia River and the Arrow Lakes. Yoho Park is home to one of Canada's tallest waterfalls, the 384-meter-high (including a 254-meter-tall drop) Takakkaw Falls, which is fed by the glacial meltwater from the Daly Glacier flowing into the Yoho River. Near Whistler, in Shannon Falls Provincial Park, British Columbia's third-highest waterfall plunges, Shannon Falls (335m), six times the height of the famed Niagara Falls. The third waterfall is Hunlen Falls (260 m) in Tweedsmuir Provincial Park, whose water flows into the Atnarko River.

Takakkaw Falls, British ColumbiaPhoto:Michael Rogers Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

The city of Kimberley is located at 1117 meters, making it the highest city in Canada. The Kootenay region is known for its many hot springs (including Harrison Hot Springs near the town of Harrison Lake), but here is also the Glacier National Park (1350 km2) with 422 glaciers (the most famous of which are Asulkan and Illecillewaet Glacier) and on the 3391 meter high Mount Dawson falls on average 23 meters of snow in winter. Due to the steep mountain walls, this area is one of the most active avalanche areas in the world. Mount Waddington (4,019 meters) is British Columbia's highest mountain located entirely in the province. At 4,671 meters, Mount Fairweather is much higher, but that mountain is partially located in Alaska. In the Stawamus Chief Provincial Park is the 652-meter high rock wall Stawamus Chief, the second largest granite monolith in the world.

The Lower Mainland is a lagoon between the mountains of Vancouver Island and the Coast Mountains on the mainland. The Fraser River, British Columbia's longest river at 1,368 kilometers, has created a long delta here and then flows into the Strait of Georgia. The Okanagan Similkameen Region is formed by the Okanagan Valley, one of the foothills in a hill country between the Cascade Range to the west and the Monashee Range to the east. The Okanagan Valley stretches for 215 kilometers and is actually a series of valleys connected by a number of lakes. One of those lakes is Osoyoos Lake, Canada's warmest freshwater lake with temperatures in August of 26-33°C and sometimes a bit higher.

Surrounding the lake is the Okanagan Desert, a distant offshoot of the Sonoran Desert, which begins in Mexico and stretches north across five U.S. states to eventually British Columbia. Typical desert flora such as desert sage, blackberry and cacti can be found here. Another remarkable lake is the blue/green colored Kalamalka Lake or 'Lake of a Thousand Colours', one of the few marl lakes in the world. Also in this area is the lake with the highest average summer temperature in Canada, Christina Lake (23°C).

Okanagan Desert around Lake Osoyoos, British ColumbiaPhoto:Spatial Mongrel Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic no changes made

In addition to the Fraser River and the Columbia River, which originate in Columbia Lake, this province also contains the 611 kilometer long Peace River and the Skeena, Yukon and Liard rivers. The Kootenay River rises in Kootenay National Park and eventually joins the Columbia River. The Liard River Hot Springs are located along the Alaska Highway. Surface water seeps through the fissures and fractures to the red-hot rocks of the Earth's crust, which can reach 1000°C.

Halfway along the British Columbia coastline are the Queen Charlotte Islands (about 150 islands); Due to the warm gulf streams from Asia, the climate here is always very humid and there is often fog between the ancient rainforests with thousand-year-old spruce and cedars.

Wells Gray Provincial Park (5200 km2) is one of the most beautiful natural areas in British Columbia and is characterized by mountain meadows, more than 250 waterfalls and high mountains with glaciers. Mount Edziza Provincial Park consists of volcanic landscapes, including lava flows and basalt plains. About a third of Atlin Provincial Park is covered by ice sheets and glaciers.

British Columbia has potentially active volcanoes, but the last eruption dates back more than 2,000 years. Another eruption of Mount St. Helens occurred in Washington state, bordering British Columbia.

Earthquakes, on the other hand, still occur regularly in British Columbia, but with barely visible consequences. Yet it was only a few decades ago (1949) that the Queen Charlotte Islands in particular off the coast of British Columbia were hit by an earthquake measuring 8.1 on the Richter scale. These earthquakes are caused by two tectonic plates rubbing against each other off Canada's west coast.

Data from a 2012 earthquake off the Queen Charlotte Islands, British ColumbiaUnited States Geological Survey public domain

Climate and Weather

British Columbia Winter Photo:Tim Gage Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic no changes made

British Columbia has a varied climate due to the influence of the Pacific Ocean with its warm gulf currents and the north-south mountain ranges, with the eastern slopes in the rain shadow and the western slopes receiving the most rain. Large differences in a relatively small area are possible: for example, in the south of the Fraser Canyon there is an average of 1770 mm of rainfall per year, 150 km further in the same canyon, Ashcroft is the driest place in British Columbia (150 mm of precipitation per year).

Summers on the south coast are warm and sunny, up to a maximum of about 25°C. The temperature is pleasantly tempered by sea breezes. Canada's highest temperatures are regularly recorded in southern British Columbia, between Vancouver and Kamloops: in the town of Lytton, the highest temperature ever recorded in Canada is 44°C. In winter it rains regularly and the minimum temperatures during the day are around freezing. In summer there are rain storms and in winter it can snow in Vancouver or on Vancouver Island for a very long time. Annually there is about 2000 mm precipitation in this area. A place like Prince Rupert in western British Columbia on Kaien Island has an average of about 200 rainy days a year and has the dubious honor of being the least sunny place on earth.

The climate in the Okanagan Valley is strongly influenced by the mountainous coast, which separates this region from the Lower Mainland. The mountains ensure that in summer cool air from the valley does not penetrate and in winter cool air is brought in from the polar region. In summer there is little precipitation (an average of 310 mm per year) and it is very warm. The extreme temperatures are between -18°C in winter and 32°C in summer. Some parts are so arid that there is talk of desertification, complete with cacti and rattlesnakes.

The climate in the Okanagan Valley is strongly influenced by the mountainous coast, which separates this region from the Lower Mainland. The mountains ensure that in summer cool air from the valley does not penetrate and in winter cool air is brought in from the polar region. In summer there is little precipitation (an average of 310 mm per year) and it is very warm. The extreme temperatures are between -18°C in winter and 32°C in summer. Some parts are so arid that there is talk of desertification, complete with cacti and rattlesnakes.

Central and northern British Columbia have temperature differences that are becoming more and more extreme. For example, the Peace River district has extremes between -29°C and 27°C. The arctic influences in the northeast are obvious, cold winters with lots of snow and short, cold and wet summers. In winter there is an average of 55 centimeters of snow.

British Columbia also has a number of microclimates. One is in southern British Columbia near the town of Lillooet, which has a semi-arid climate in the Fraser Canyon with between 200-300mm of precipitation per year and some of the highest temperatures in Canada.

Climate types in British Columbia according to KöppenPhoto:Adam Peterson CC BY-SA 4.0no changes made

Plants and Animals


Beacon Hill Park British Columbia Photo:H at English Wikipedia CCAttribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic no changes made

British Columbia in general has a lush flora, with many different species depending on location, climate and the influences of human habitation. The exuberant summer display of beautiful wildflowers in a variety of hues is almost unparalleled in North America, but British Columbia is best known for its splendor of trees, which are among the largest and most majestic in the world.

Giant elderberry, British Columbia's provincial tree, sitka spruce, hemlock, and Douglas fir are the predominant tree species in the humid coastal region. The giant life tree was important to the original inhabitants of this region, they used the tree for making canoes, clothing, medicine and totem poles. Canada's largest tree, a sitka spruce known as the Carmanah Giant, is about 95 meters high, several hundred years old and is located in the Carmanah Valley in western Vancouver Island. Other places where many giant old trees can be seen are on the Ancient Rain Forest Trail near Prince George and near Yakoun Lake in the Queen Charlotte Islands.

Carmanah Giant, Canada's tallest tree

Photo: Ademoor Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Generic

Also characteristic of the coastal region of British Columbia is the Arbutus menziesii, a tree species of the heather family, which occurs along almost the entire west coast of North America, from British Columbia to Southern California. Also called 'madrona' or 'madrone', this tree is an evergreen tree with a striking orange-red bark, twisted branches and thick, glossy dark green leaves. Beacon Hill Park on Vancouver Island is home to rare Quercus garriana oak trees, some of which are over 400 years old.

The temperate rainforest includes Douglas firs that can grow more than 90 meters high and 500 years old. Kootenay National Park has a wide variety of habitats. In the valley of the river Kootenay are alpine meadows and moist coniferous forests, while in the warm Rocky Mountain Trench (disc) cacti grow. Near Fernie is the oldest (approx. 400 years) poplar forest in the world, but only discovered in 1993.

The rare orchid species Cypipedium can be found in the swamps of Muncho Lake Provincial Park. The rare swamp arum is found in Mount Revelstoke National Park.

The Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve includes ancient rainforest including 1000-year-old Sitka spruces. Stanley Park in Vancouver is a beautiful forest of cedars, Canadian pines and Douglas firs, and with over 400 hectares is the largest urban park in North America. Lighthouse Park is one of the most beautiful parks in Greater Vancouver, with one of the last places in Canada to still have pristine rainforest with over 800-year-old trees. Banana snails up to 30 cm long crawl around on the forest floor. The plant symbol of British Columbia is the Canadian dogwood.

Canadian dogwood, plant symbol of British ColumbiaPhoto:Curtis Clark Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic no changes made

Disastrous for the coniferous forests in Canada, and therefore certainly for British Columbia, is the pine beetle Dendroctonus ponderosae (mountain pine beetle). This five millimeter small beetle lays its eggs under the bark of the coniferous trees. During this activity, he creates a fungus that paralyzes the passage of water and nutrients. Moreover, the larvae of this beetle are fond of tree bark, with the result that the trees die after only a few weeks. This ecological disaster has ensured that approximately 160,000 km2 of forest in British Columbia has died in less than twenty years.

Dendroctonus ponderosae, pest of Canadian (pine) forestsPhoto:Public domain

Devastating effect of the Dendroctonus ponderosae in the E.C. Manning Provincial Park, British ColumbiaPhoto:Jonhall at English Wijipedia Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported no changs made

A dangerous plant, because poisonous, is poison ivy or poison ivy, which can cause allergic itching, inflammation and then ulcers after contact. The poison ivy, which also occurs in the (Northern) Netherlands, is a shrub from the wig tree family.



Due to its geographic and climatic diversity, British Columbia has a rich fauna that includes more than 160 terrestrial mammal species, 500 bird species, 500 fish species, 20 reptile species and 20 amphibian species. Approx. 100 species, including most of the whales, the burrowing owl (also called shoco or burrowing owl) and the Vancouver Island vancouver marmot from the squirrel family are on the list of most endangered animals. Most ecosystems are in southern British Columbia, but that's where most people live, increasing the pressure on those ecosystems.

A special fauna can be found on the Queeen Charlotte Islands, with unique subspecies of the pine marten, Queen Charlotte fish otter, stag mouse, American black bear and ermine. Unfortunately, imported animals like beaver, raccoon, rat and sitka deer are putting pressure on these unique species. Approx. 15% of all British Columbia's nestlings are found in the Queen Charlotte Islands, including Canada's only puffin nesting site. Also remarkable is that about 30% of all silver auks in Canada breed on the islands, and the world's largest colonies of Peale's peregrine falcons and black-footed albatrosses. Roderick Haig-Brown Provincial Park is still one of the few places in the world where a subspecies of the swan-necked grebe breeds.

Silver Auklet, special breeding bird in British ColumbiaPhoto:Eric Ellingson Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic no changes made

Land mammals

Nowhere in North America are snow goats related to the chamois more abundant than in British Columbia, more than 50% of the total world population lives here in the Rocky Mountains. Bears are other large mammals prominent in British Columbia, known are the American black bear or baribal and the grizzly bear. Less well-known is the Kermode bear (also called spirit bear or ghost bear), which closely resembles the polar bear but is actually a subspecies of the American black bear. This bear species is the provincial mammal symbol of British Columbia and lives on the islands off the coast of British Columbia in the Great Bear Rainforest.

Kermode bear, symbol of British Columbia, near Spirit Bear Lodge, Klemtu, British ColumbiaPhoto:Maximilian Helm Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic no changes made

Also special are two subspecies of the mule deer, the black-tailed deer and the sitka deer. Other large mammals native to British Columbia include the bighorn sheep, cougar (also called mountain lion or silver lion), Roosevelt's wapiti, endangered Dalls or dunhorn sheep, white-tailed or Virginian deer, coyote or prairie wolf, mountain caribou, American hare, and the largest deer in the world, the moose. Albino raccoons are found on Newcastle Island, one of the Gulf Islands.

The British Columbia wolf, a subspecies of the gray wolf, can be found on both mainland British Columbia and the islands off the coast. Ongoing scientific research has led to the belief that they are two genetically different species, whose diet consists mainly of fish and that of the mainland from land mammals.

British Columbia wolf Photo:Bruce McKay Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic no changes made

Marine Mammals and Fish

Whales are an integral part of British Columbia's marine fauna. For example, several tens of thousands of gray whales migrate twice a year, from October to December to Mexico and from February to May to the northern Bering and Chukchi Seas. Not so great in number but very striking are the orcas, some groups of which live permanently off the coast of Vancouver Island, others live along the coast as far as northern British Columbia. Other common marine mammals are porpoises or round-beaked dolphins, dolphins, seals, otters and the largest species of the eared seal family, the Steller sea lion.

Steller sea lion, British ColumbiaPhoto:Lauber Lon E, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in het publieke domein

Five species of salmon occur in the Pacific Ocean off British Columbia: chinook (max. 55 kg), chum (max. 5 kg), coho (max. 10 kg), pinky (max. 2.5 kg) and sockeye (max. . 3.5 kg). The variety of freshwater fish is great: the lakes in south-central British Columbia are home to rainbow, red-throated, lake and brown trout, while the Peace River Area mainly fishes for Siberian grayling and Amur pike.

Special sea creatures are the giant carrion, a species of squid, the great blue shark and the Anarrhichthys ocellatus, a type of wolffish.


Of the more than 500 bird species, the Steller's jay is famous in British Columbia, so it's no surprise that it was declared the official provincial bird not too long ago.

Steller's jay, British Columbia's most popular birdPhoto:Noel Reynolds Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic no changes made

Notable birds of prey include the American or white-headed sea eagle, golden eagle, American eagle-owl, saw owl and peregrine falcon. The sea around the Queen Charlotte Islands is home to the largest population of bald eagles in all of British Columbia. Howser, on the north side of Kootenay Lake, is home to North America's largest colony of ospreys, approximately 100 pairs.
The small and shy Harlequin ducks can be found in fast-flowing rivers and in the surf of the ocean. The George C. Reifel Waterfowl Refuge on Westham Island is home to Canada's largest population of waterfowl, over 240 species, including snow geese.


In British Columbia there are three subspecies of the common garter snake, a snake from the water snake family: Themnophis sirtalis pickeringi, Themnophis sirtalis fitchi and Themnophis sirtalis parietalis.
The non-venomous Pituophis catenifer catenifer is a subspecies of the Pituophis catenifer and British Columbia's largest snake with a length of 90-240 cm. This snake is found in the hot dry interior of southern British Columbia, the Southern Interior.

Other snakes are the special Hypsiglena torquata deserticola, a nocturnal animal; the Crotalus oraganus oreganus, a rattlesnake; the northwestern garter snake found in southwestern British Colmbia and on coastal islands such as VancouverIsland; the rubber boa that comes from the giant snake family (including pythons and anacondas), but only grows to 35-80 cm; the Contia tenuis, a small snake (20-45 cm), no thicker than a pencil and a nocturnal animal; the Thamnophis elegans vagrans, which occurs in southern British Columbia as far as the Peace River District in a northerly direction and on Vancouver Island, the Coluber constrictor mormon, a subspecies of the runner or yellow-bellied snake (50-200 cm), lives in the warm , arid interior of British Columbia.

Coluber contrictor mormon, snake native to British ColumbiaPhoto:Jrtayloriv Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

British Columbia has four lizard species: the short-horned toad lizard, which lives in rocky, sandy, arid areas, but is probably extinct in Canada; the imported European wall lizard; the Elgaria coerulea principis (max. 20 cm), found in southern British Columbia, Vancouver Island and the Northern Gulf Islands; the Plestiodon skiltonianus skiltonianus, a lizard from the skink family (max. 20 cm).

In the sea and on land, British Columbia has five turtle species: the East Pacific green turtle, the Pacific leatherback turtle, the Pacific water turtle, the letter turtle and the midland ornamental turtle.


British Columbia before the arrival of the Europeans

Between 20,000 and 15,000 years ago, the first ancestors of the 'First Nations' of British Columbia showed themselves in mainland North America and particularly in present-day British Columbia. At that time, North America and Asia were not yet separated by the Bering Strait, but there was still a land bridge between Russia and Alaska. From 10,000 BC, after the retreat of the great glaciers that covered the country at that time, some settled on the Pacific coast, others moved more inland. The return to Asia was also definitively closed due to the rise in sea level.

It is thought that the coastal region of present-day British Columbia soon grew into one of the most densely populated areas in North America, with perhaps more than 300,000 inhabitants. Indigenous culture remained undisturbed for thousands of years, until the arrival of the British in 1778.

The above theory, because there are of course no written sources, has been contested lately. The first humans to arrive in North America, according to new theories based on carbon-14 dating, also arrived by water. The image below shows this well.

Migration by land and water to North AmericaPhoto:Public domain

The first First Nations peoples on the Pacific coast were Nuxalk, Cowichan, Gitksan, Haida, Kwakwaka'wakw, Nisga'a, Nuu-chah-nulth, Salish, Sechelt, and Tsimshian. Due to a relative abundance of food, these peoples were also very active in the artistic field, as witnessed by the beautiful totem poles and masks that have been preserved. In addition to developing their artistic qualities, these coastal inhabitants also managed to build a complex trade network.

In the interior, with harsher climatic conditions, people lived a nomadic life and were happy if they could provide for themselves. In the north of British Columbia, these hunters followed caribou and elk, in the south the bison. Most of the peoples were Atapskan (now called Dene) like Chilcotin, Sekani and Tahltan, Interior Salish and Kootenay.

A great event in the year 800 had a major impact on the peoples of British Columbia. An eruption of the volcano now known as Mount Churchill in Yukon province caused the ash to destroy nature. Many Native Americans left the devastated area and moved to the southwestern United States. These groups later evolved into nations such as the Navajo and the Apaches.

Totem Plaza at Lions Lookout Park, White Rock, British ColumbiPhoto:Joe Mabel Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

The first Europeans

Around the middle of the 18th century, the first European explorers, in search of new riches, appeared on the west coast of Canada and the United States. It is likely that the Russian Alexei Chirikov (1703-1748) was the first white person to enter British Columbia in 1741, but there is also speculation that the Englishman Sir Francis Drake may have been there as early as 1579. By the way, Chirikov mainly traveled along the Alaskan coast.

In any case, Spaniards followed, who claimed the entire west from Mexico to Vancouver Island. First, Juan Pérez Hernández (ca. 1725-1775) sailed from Mexico in 1774 to the Queen Charlotte Islands off the coast of British Columbia and Nootka Sound on Vancouver Island, followed in 1775 by Francisco de la Bodega y Quadra (1744-1794).

Spanish Expeditions to British Columbia and Alaska, Late 18th CenturyPhoto:NorCalHistory - NASA CC Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

In 1778, British Captain James Cook reached British Columbia and his enthusiastic tales of the riches to be gained from the trade in animal skins attracted many adventurers and trappers to the area. The Scotsman Alexander MacKenzie (1764-1820) was one of them, he was the first to cross the entire continent above Mexico, but was stranded near present-day Bella Coola and fled to the east again from Heiltsuk Indians. He just missed the open ocean. Other well-known trappers were the Scotsman Simon Fraser (1776-1862) and the Englishman David Thompson (1770-1857).

Alexander MacKenzie was the first to cross the North American continent from east to westPhoto:Public domain

The first European settlement, Fort St. John on the Peace River, was built in 1794, followed by many others. The Hudson's Bay Company (today still one of the largest department store chains in Canada) soon gained control of all these trading posts.

At the same time, Captain George Vancouver (1757-1798) had been sent to the west coast of North America to fight the presence on what later became Vancouver Island off the coast of British Columbia and to claim Vancouver Island for the British. In 1843, Guyana-born Briton James Douglas (1803-1877) was sent to Vancouver Island and founded Fort Victoria there. In 1849 Vancouver Island became a Crown Colony and in 1849 British and American claims were settled and the boundaries established in the Oregon Treaty. Vancouver Island was assigned to British Columbia.

George Vancouver British Columbia Photo:Public domain

In 1858 gold was found in the Fraser River and many gold and fortune seekers moved to British Columbia, which was immediately proclaimed a crown colony of Great Britain. Later on, north of the Fraser River, in the Cariboo region, gold was also found and that led to a new 'gold rush'. Although the actual 'gold rush' only lasted a few years, many lingered in the region and many settlements were established.

British Columbia and Vancouver Island were merged in 1866 and Victoria was declared the capital in 1868. British Columbia, along with the other states in western Canada, joined the "Dominion of Canada" confederation on July 20, 1871, through the British North American Act of 1867, on the condition that the federal government build a railroad from the east to western Canada. It did, and in 1885 the Canadian Pacific Railway completed this transcontinental railroad, which runs from Montreal to the Pacific coast and transported much timber for the construction of many settlements in western Canada. Although part of Great Britain, much (political) power remained in the hands of the central Canadian government and the individual provinces. The Canadian Confederation was led in those early years by three future Prime Ministers of British Columbia, Amor De Cosmos (1825-1897), Robert Beaven (1836-1920) and John Robson (1824-1892). They pushed British Columbia towards the Canadian Confederation and in 1871 British Columbia became the sixth province to join the confederation. The first Prime Minister of British Columbia was the Irish-born, non-party John Foster McCreight (1827-1913). In October 1871, the first provincial general election was held and McCreight won a seat on behalf of Victoria City. He was subsequently elected as British Columbia's first Prime Minister by then-Lieutenant Governor Joseph Trutch. In the short time he reigned, from November 14, 1871 to December 23, 1872, McCreight's government was prolific, passing more than 35 laws.

John Foster McCreight werd opgevolgd door de mormoonse journalist Amor De Cosmos (1825-1897; oorspronkelijke naam William Alexander Smith), die door luitenant-gouverneur Joseph Trutch werd gevraagd om als partijloze premier een nieuwe regering te vormen. Hij trad aan op 23 december 1872 en zette in op politieke hervormingen, economische expansie en ontwikkeling van het onderwijs in British Columbia. Na veel kritiek op een aantal privé-zaken trad hij af op 9 februari 1874.

The Cosmos was succeeded on 11 February 1874 by the non-partisan Irish lawyer George Anthony Walkem (1834-1908), who was forced to resign less than two years after a vote of no confidence. He was succeeded on September 11, 1875 by the non-partisan jurist Andrew Charles Elliott (1829-1889) and Walkem became the leader of the opposition in Parliament at the time. Elliott remained prime minister of an unstable cabinet until February 11, 1878, and failed to build a railroad to the Pacific at the federal level. He also did not make himself popular by raising taxes and the construction of a train station for the capital Victoria also did not get off the ground.

Elliott was succeeded on June 25, 1878, after a successful election campaign, by George Anthony Walkem, who had retired from office just over two years ago. The new Walkem government was strongly against hiring any more Chinese workers, and all contracts signed by the government included a clause prohibiting the hiring of Chinese. A special tax for Chinese only was fired by the Canadian Supreme Court.

George Anthony Walkem, 3rd and 5th Prime Minister of British Columbia

Photo: public domain

In 1882 Walkem lost the election to businessman Robert Beaven (1836-1920), but he remained prime minister of British Columbia for less than a year. He ruled a minority cabinet from June 13, 1882 to January 29, 1883, and was forced to resign after a vote of no confidence. Beaven later served as opposition leader for several years and was mayor of Victoria for several periods.
Beaven was succeeded on January 29, 1883 by the Englishman William Smithe (1842-1887 and in England William Smith), who had settled on Vancouver Island in 1862 as a farmer. Smithe was an opposition leader throughout his political career and also served in the cabinet of Andrew Charles Elliott. During his term, he ensured that the national government resumed construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway. Smithe died in harness as Prime Minister of British Columbia on March 28, 1887, a fate that also befell his non-partisan successor, attorney Alexander Edmund Batson Davie (1847-1889). Davie was the first person to complete his legal training in British Columbia and became Attorney General under Prime Minister William Smithe, among other things. After Beavan's death, Davie was asked by Canada's Lieutenant General Hugh Nelson (1830-1893) to become Prime Minister of British Columbia. Despite ill health, he took the job on April 1, 1887, but on August 1, 1889, Davie died of tuberculosis.

The ninth Prime Minister of British Columbia would be businessman and journalist John Robson (1824-1892). He was already his replacement during the illness of his predecessor Davie, and after his death the lieutenant governor asked him to form a new cabinet. During his reign from August 3, 1889, he wanted, among other things, to get higher education in British Columbia off the ground. That was only partially successful, when Robson died suddenly on June 29, 1892, there were only three high schools in British Columbia, in Victoria, Nanaimo and Vancouver. The plan for a university failed due to the rivalry between Victoria and Vancouver and the University of British Columbia would not open its doors until 1915. Johnson died tragically, he got a finger stuck in the door of a London taxi and died nine days later from blood poisoning.

Johnson was succeeded on July 2, 1892 by the brother of former Prime Minister Alexander Edmund Batson Davie, the lawyer and jurist Theodore Davie (1852-1898), who had already made it to Attorney General under John Robson. Davie's most notable achievement was the construction of Parliament Buildings in Victoria. Despite his job as Prime Minister of British Columbia, he continued to run his busy law firm, which cost him so much time and energy that his health suffered. On March 2, 1895, Davie resigned as Prime Minister of British Columbia.

The Englishman John Herbert Turner (1833-1918) left for North America in 1856 and would eventually succeed Theodore Davie as the eleventh Prime Minister of British Columbia on March 4, 1895. From 1887 to 1895 he was the Secretary of the Treasury and Agriculture of several cabinets (Alexander Davie, John Robson, Theodore Davie); from 1901 to 1915 he would represent British Columbia in London. During his term of office, Turner immediately came under fire, because during his period as Minister of Finance (1887-1898) there were large deficits every year. He was also accused by opposition newspapers of favoritism, a lax civil service and extravagant spending of public money. After all, he would also have used his public office to enrich himself. In the period leading up to provincial elections in July 1898, Turner increasingly lost public credit. Although the elections ended roughly evenly between government and opposition candidates, Lieutenant General Thomas Robert McInnes (1840-1904) nevertheless pushed for Turner's resignation, which he followed up on August 8, 1898 after some resistance. His resignation brought an end to a political and economic power base established in the capital Victoria. The rise of Vancouver in mainland British Columbia had been unstoppable since the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1885, and British Columbia's economic center slowly shifted from Victoria to the mainland.

John Herbert Turner, 11th Prime Minister of British Columbia

Photo: public domain

Turner was succeeded on August 15, 1898 by the then opposition leader, schoolteacher, hotel owner and rancher Charles Augustus "Charlie" Semlin (1836-1927), after Lieutenant General McInnes first asked former Prime Minister Robert Beaven. Semlin would remain prime minister for only eighteen months, from August 15, 1898 to February 27, 1900. The turn of the century was a turbulent one due to the informal structures that tried to keep all political groups together. Due to a lack of real leadership, Semlin was unable to handle this well, as well as a clash between two of his cabinet members. Some reform proposals were also not accepted, including a months-long mining strike as a result. Finally, Lieutenant General McInnes fired Semlin's cabinet on February 27, 1900.

As everywhere in Canada and the United States, the original inhabitants suffered from the growing population and economic development. Also in British Columbia they had to leave their original habitat and that was accompanied by a lot of violence. In addition, missionaries complained about the pagan customs of the Native Americans, resulting in a ban on practicing their traditional customs. The 'potlatch' tradition that is so important to them, a system of gifts that always exceed each other, was banned in the eighties of the 19th century and only reinstated in 1951.

In the second half of the 19th century, British Columbia's economy also improved, and the furskin industry was replaced by mainly fishing, forestry and agriculture. These remained the main pillars of the economy well into the 20th century. The economic prosperity also meant that trading posts like Victoria, Nanaimo and Kamloops quickly developed into modern cities. New cities were Yale, New Westminster and, as an afterthought, Vancouver, but that city quickly grew into the most important city in British Columbia. From about 1850 to the end of the 19th century, ethnic diversity also began to show itself more and more, because immigrants, attracted by industrialization and the associated economic growth, came not only from Europe, but especially also from Asian countries such as China and Japan.
The development of the economy was accompanied by the emergence of a militant labor movement. The first major strike was in 1903 by train workers and that cost strike leader Frank Rogers (ca. 1878-1903) his life, he was killed by agents of the Canadian Pacific Railway. The first nationwide strike in Canada also killed a strike leader, in 1918 Ginger Goodwin (1887-1918) died at the Cumberland coal mine on Vancouver Island.

The first years of the 20th century were a coming and going of partyless prime ministers. Charles Augustus Semlin was successively succeeded by Joseph Martin (February 28, 1900 - June 14, 1900, founder of the Vancouver Guardian newspaper and member of the British House of Representatives for eight years), James Dunsmuir (June 15, 1900 - November 21, 1902, from 1906 to 1909, the 8th Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia) and Edward Gawler Prior (November 21, 1902 – June 1, 1903, 11th Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia).

Ginger Goodwin Memorial at Cumberland Cemetery, British ColumbiaPhoto:Richard Eriksson Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic no changes made

British Columbia's 16th Prime Minister was Richard McBride (1870-1917), who ruled from June 1, 1903 to December 15, 1915, and is considered the founder of the British Columbia Conservative Party. His party won British Columbia's first election conducted along party lines with a two-seat majority. The elections in 1909 and 1912 were won with a larger majority. Under his rule, British Columbia's first university, the University of British Columbia, was opened in 1915. After his term in office, he represented his county in London for a few more years. The completion of the Panama Canal in 1914 made it easier for British Columbia to transport timber to the North American east coast and Europe. The interior of British Columbia benefited greatly from the completion of the Grand Trunk Railway from Edmonton, Alberta to Prince Rupert. Like later in the United States, the prohibition of alcohol, the 'Prohibition', created an extensive black market between 1917 and 1921.

McBride was succeeded by the conservative William John Bowser (1867-1933), who remained in power for less than a year and was succeeded after the lost elections in 1916 by the Liberal party leader Harlan Carey Brewster (1870-1918), who unexpectedly resigned in 1918. died at the age of 47 and had only been in power for a year and a half. Carey Brewster was succeeded by his Minister of Agriculture and Railways, John Oliver (1856-1927), who ruled British Columbia from March 3, 1918 until his death on August 17, 1927. The 20th Prime Minister of British Columbia was John Duncan MacLean (1873-1948) ), under Prime Minister John Oliver, he was still Minister of Finance. Under his rule, the Liberal Party experienced a decline and this was confirmed in the 1928 elections, which were won by the conservatives of Simon Fraser Tolmie (1867-1937).

Tolmie reigned from 1928 to November 1933, in the midst of the Great Depression with its mass unemployment in the early 1930s; British Columbia suffered the most with an unemployment rate of 28%, the highest rate in all of Canada. The strikes and demonstrations at that time were mainly led by the Communist Party, peaking in 1935, during the reign of Thomas Dufferin Pattulo (1873-1956), who had succeeded Tolmie after a very convincing election victory with 34 of the 47 seats in the parliament. parliament. The outgoing Tolmie government was also British Columbia's last all-conservative government for the time being. After two months of continuous unrest, some 2,000 unemployed people decided to travel to the capital Ottawa, a journey that became known as the "On-to-Ottawa Trek" and led by Arthur "Slim" Evans (1890-1944).

However, the protesters got no further than Regina in the province of Saskatchewan, and the fighting between them and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, among others, left two policeman Charles Millar and the Tractor Nick Shaack dead. Hundreds were also injured and more than a hundred Trekkers and civilians were arrested by police equipped with revolvers and machine guns.

Arrested 'trekkers' from the On-to-Ottawa Trek'Photo:Communist Party of Canada in the public domain

Pattullo remained in power after the 1937 elections, but the 1941 elections did not yield a majority in parliament, so a coalition partner had to be sought. However, Pattullo refused to form a coalition with the Conservatives, something the Liberal Party was strongly in favor of. Pattullo's party put him on hiatus and eventually joined forces with the conservatives under Pattullo's internal successor, John Hart (1879-1957). Hart was Prime Minister during World War II and was best known for a number of infrastructural projects such as the construction of Highway 97 to northern British Columbia and the first major hydroelectric project in Birtish Columbia, the Brisge River Power Project.

During World War II, Hart's government took controversial measures. The Japanese-Canadian population was openly discriminated against as 'enemy aliens' and placed in internment camps, including in the Slocan Valley (BC) about 22,000 Japanese Canadians were interned. Property, homes and businesses were taken without mercy. It was not until 1988 that the Canadian government apologized to the Japanese Canadians and they received monetary compensation.

In 1942 an armed defense group, the Pacific Coast Militia Rangers, was established and coastal defenses were built along the coast, including to defend the harbor of Vancouver. British Columbia was also indirectly involved in acts of war. Japan fired a small number of parachute bombs at British Columbia, but after the defeat of the Japanese at Midway, the danger had passed.

A number of units of the Canadian army in British Columbia fought in Europe against the Germans, including in Italy, but also against the Japanese, including through a battalion of Rocky Mountain Rangers in the Battle of the Aleutian Islands, an archipelago (until 1867 known as the Catherine Archipelago) in the North Pacific, located between the United States and Russia.

British Columbia Vancouver ChinatownPhoto:Xicotencatl Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

In the 20th century, many Chinese and Japanese moved to British Columbia. Although these were hard-working people, like the Europeans who kept pouring in, they were not too welcome. There were even regular violent clashes in Vancouver's Chinatown and Little Tokyo.

British Columbia went through an economically difficult period between the two world wars. During the Second World War, several German companies were destroyed, but after the war things went in the right direction. British Columbia's economy was based primarily on natural resources, and the demand for paper and timber continued to increase. The population also continued to grow throughout the twentieth century. Many immigrants came from Asia, in particular, so that British Columbia's economy became strongly linked to Asia. While things were booming in Asia in the early 1990s, British Columbia benefited, but when the Asian economy collapsed completely in the late 1990s, British Columbia's economy was also badly hit.

The first prime minister after World War II was still John Hart, but he resigned as prime minister and Treasury Secretary in December 1947. He was succeeded by Liberal party colleague Byron Ingemar 'Boss' Johnsson (actually Björn Ingimar 'Bjössi' Jónsson, 1890-1964), the 24th Prime Minister of British Columbia. Johnsson was the first Prime Minister of British Columbia born after the accession of the province of British Columbia to Canada. The Liberal-Conservative government won the 1949 elections by force majeure; with 61% the most votes ever in British Columbia history. But already in 1951 the coalition collapsed and the conservatives left the government. The subsequent 1952 elections were won by W(illiam).A(ndrew).C(ecil). Bennett's (1900-1979) Social Credit Party. Bennett would become British Columbia's longest-serving Prime Minister, from August 1, 1952 to September 15, 1972. Bennett's Social Credit Party would eventually win seven consecutive elections: 1952, 1953, 1956, 1960, 1963, 1966, and 1969. he ran for the last time, but those elections were lost.

During his long reign, during which he also served as Chancellor of the Exchequer, the first official flag of British Columbia was inaugurated in 1960. A number of nationalizations were also made, including of BC Ferries in 1960, BC Hydro in 1961 and BC Rail. In addition, many expansions and improvements of the highways, dam plants in the Columbia River and the Peace River and the establishment of the Bank of British Columbia, in which the government owned 25% of the shares. The University of Victoria was founded in 1963 and Simon Fraser University in 1965.

Tombstone of W.A.C. Bennett at Kelowna Memorial Park Cemetery, British ColumbiaPhoto:CurtisNaito Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

On January 9, 1965, the town of Hope in southern British Columbia was hit by the largest landslide (Hope Slide) to ever hit Canada. An earthquake caused the entire southwest slope of a mountain to slide down, burying an entire lake in the rubble. In addition, four people in a car were killed.

W.A.C. Bennett was succeeded on September 15, 1972 by David (Dave) Barrett (1930-) of the New Democratic Party of British Columbia (NDP). Under his rule, the public sector expanded and some important social reforms and measures were implemented, including the abolition of corporal punishment in schools.

Dave Barrett was succeeded in 1975 by William Richards 'Bill' Bennett (1932-2015), the son of W.A.C. Bennett. And he too, like his father, lasted for a long time, almost eleven years. Bennet won the 1975 election against Barrett for the British Columbia Social Credit Party, the new name for the Social Credit Party. He also won the elections in 1979 and 1983. His policies suffered from an economic crisis in the early 1980s, education and social services were cut sharply and labor legislation provoked a province-wide strike in 1983.

In contrast, tens of millions of dollars were invested in bringing in and organizing the Expo 86 World's Fair in Vancouver. The World's Fair was opened on May 2, 1986 by the Prince and Princess of Wales, Charles and Diana.

Logo of Expo 86 in Vancouver, British Columbia

Photo:Public domain

The 28th Prime Minister of British Columbia has a Dutch background. Born in Noordwijkerhout as Wilhelmus Nicholaas Theodore Marie van der Zalm (1934-), he emigrated with his parents in 1947 to Canada, in this case the Fraser Valley in British Columbia. In 1986 he succeeded the retiring Prime Minister Bennett, now as William Nicholas 'Bill' Vander Zalm. Vander Zalm was sworn in as Prime Minister of British Columbia a month before the 1986 election. Charismatic Vander Zalm's British Columbia Social Credit Party defeated the NDP with ease, though he didn't really have a long-term plan. In the end, after a number of other issues, his premiership ended due to a conflict of interest in the sale of a garden.

Vander Zalm was succeeded by British Columbia's first female Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister Rita Johnston (1935-), but the 1991 elections came too soon for her and the British Columbia Social Credit Party was severely punished by the voters. The party only won seven seats, and those were also the last seats the party would ever win, as the party was eventually dissolved in 2013.

The election was won by a former mayor of Vancouver, Michael 'Mike' Franklin Harcourt (1943- ), leader of the British Columbia New Democratic Party. Harcourt resigned in February 1996 for reasons of principle after a misstep ('Bingogate') by a party member, and his successor Glen David Clark (1957-) also resigned after various scandals (casinogate, fast ferry scandal). The drops were a raid on his home by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in March 1999 and allegations in August of that year that he had taken a bribe in connection with a casino solicitation. He was later acquitted for lack of evidence, but had already resigned on August 21, 1999.

Mike Harcourt, 31st Prime Minister of British Columbia

Photo:Samuelgodfrey Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

The NDP's interim leader and Prime Minister was Arthur Daniel Miller (1944- ), who served as British Columbia's 32nd Prime Minister until February 24, 2000. On that date, a party convention of the NDP elected Ujjal Dosanjh (1947- ) as party leader and he also became prime minister. The 2001 elections were won gloriously by the leader, since 1993, of the British Columbia Liberal Party and opposition leader Gordon Muir Campbell (1948- ), previously the 35th mayor of Vancouver. The Liberals won 77 of the 79 seats, the largest majority ever, and the number of votes was the second largest ever in British Columbia history. Gordon Campbell became the seventh Prime Minister in ten years, and the first Liberal Prime Minister in nearly 50 years.

Right at the start of his reign, he kept his promise to cut income taxes by just 25% for all taxpayers. Campbell also invested heavily in more and better education. Furthermore, the minimum wage was lowered and British Columbia (Canada) managed to bring the 2010 Winter Olympics to Vancouver.

Vancouver 2010 Olympic Fire Winter Games, British ColumbiaPhoto:Duncan Rawlinson Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Genericno changes made

Campbell's Liberals also won the May 17, 2005 election, although the majority was not as strong as in 2001. The May 12, 2009 election was also somewhat less successful than in 2001, but still won a large majority of 49 seats. in a parliament that now consisted of 85 seats.

Finally, Campbell announced that he would resign on November 3, 2010, in his third reign, after months of political opposition to his plan for a tax measure called the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST). On 11 June 2010, a member of his cabinet, the Minister of Energy, Mines and Oil Stocks, even resigned because of this plan. On March 14, 2011, he effectively resigned and was succeeded by Christina Joan 'Christy' Clark (1965- ), Minister of Education under Gordon Campbell. She was also the second female prime minister and the 35th prime minister since British Columbia joined the confederation. Clark had won the February 26, 2011 leadership election (from former Health Minister Kevin Falcon with 52% of the vote) and also won the 2013 provincial election, albeit in a roundabout way because she lost the election in her own district. . The next provincial elections will be held on 9 May 2017. The elections are narrowly won by the NDP, with the help of the Green Party, John Horgan becomes the new prime minister.

Christy Clark, 35th Prime Minister of British Columbia

Photo:kris krüg Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic no changes made



Vancouver people flock to the Stanley Cup ice hockey final
Photo: Vaska037, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic, noc hanges made

Canada is a country of immigrants, just like British Columbia. The provincial population was 178,000 in 1901, grew to 1.1 million at the end of the Second World War and due to continuous immigration flows to approximately 4.7 million in 2017. Although the largest group of immigrants comes from the British Isles, there are also large groups Germans, Italians, Russians, Ukrainians and Greeks. More recent are Asian immigrants, for example from Hong Kong after it joined China. Due to its location on the Pacific Ocean, Vancouver has many Chinese, more than 100,000, and other Asian immigrants. Today, about half of the population is of Asian descent and after Chinatown San Francisco and Chinatown Manhattan New York, Vancouver has the largest Chinatown in North America. Chinatown in the capital Victoria is the oldest Chinese neighborhood in Canada and the entire North American west coast, because it dates back to the 1970s. In 2006, British Columbia counted more than 30 ethnic groups of more than 20,000 inhabitants following a census.

British Columbia joined Canada in 1871 as the sixth province. It is known that about 90% of the Canadian population lives within 100 miles of the United States border. Less well known is that about 75% of the British Columbian population lives within 60 km of the Atlantic coast. The city of Vancouver has just over 610,000 inhabitants, in the metropolitan area, with suburbs such as Surrey, Burnaby, Richmond, Coquitlam, Maple Ridge, New Westminster, Port Coquitlam, North Vancouver, Port Moody, White Rock, Pitt Meadows and Langley , live about 2.5 million people.
About 760,000 people live on Vancouver Island, of which more than half live in the southern conurbation of Victoria, which has a very pleasant climate. The rest of the people live on the southeast coast and some villages in the west and north of the island. Nanaimo is the second largest city on Vancouver Island with approximately 85,000 after Victoria.

British Columbia Population Density OverviewPhoto:Public domain

Dutch Canadians

Although the first Dutch arrived in North America as early as the 17th century, the flow only really got going during the American Revolution (1775-1783), when Dutch Loyalists settled in the British North American colonies. This group adapted quickly and became part of the large wave of immigration after 1815. From about 1850, poor economic and social conditions in the Netherlands caused a large wave of immigration to start again, which mainly concentrated on the American 'frontier'. From about 1880 the cheap agricultural land became more and more expensive and new immigrants and American Dutch people moved to the Canada 'Last Best West'.

A population survey in 2006 showed that there are just over one million Canadians with a Dutch background. The emigration of Dutch people to Canada can be divided into three periods. During the first period from 1890 to 1914, Dutch immigrants moved to the prairies of western Canada and established settlements such as New Nijverdal (now Monarch in Alberta), Neerlandia in Alberta (1911) and Edam in Saskatchewan (1907).

Edam Cafe in Edam, SaskatchewanPhoto:Jacobsimmonds Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

The majority of these immigrants spread across western Canada as farmers or farmhands. Other immigrants settled around major cities like Calgary, Edmonton and Winnipeg. The latter city probably had the largest Dutch community in Canada before the First World War.

The second major wave of immigration lasted from 1923 to 1930, ending at the beginning of the Great Depression. There was not much cheap farmland left, but in other sectors it was still easy for immigrants to find work, especially after the economic crisis came to an end and the economy started to recover. Especially in Ontario and western provinces such as British Columbia, the Dutch immigrants seized their opportunity. During that period, many Dutch people settled in the south and southwest of Ontario, especially in Toronto. It is estimated that approximately 25,000 Dutch and American-Dutch immigrants settled in Canada between 1890 and 1930.

Immigration to Canada briefly dropped due to the great economic crisis in the 1930s and the Second World War, but from 1947 onwards, immigration from economically ruined countries in Europe started again. Initially, the new immigrants again mostly came from the agricultural sector, but soon more technicians and other professionals were needed. Ontario was the most popular destination, but many immigrants also moved to Alberta, British Columbia and the maritime provinces. By the end of the 1960s, approximately 150,000 Dutch immigrants had settled in all Canadian provinces, except Newfoundland & Labrador.

Overview of the number of immigrants, +100,000 from the Netherlands, among othersPhoto:Kransky Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

Special are the many descendants of 19th century Russian immigrants, initially in the province of Saskatchewan, in towns such as Grand Forks and especially Castlegar (since 1908), but also in the province of Saskatchewan. These so-called 'Duchoboren', religious pacifists from southern Russia and Ukraine, fled in 1899 because of their religious-political convictions under the leadership of Peter Verigin (1859-1924) or 'Lordly' from Russia before the Russian Tsar Nicholas II to Canada, among other places. . They disregarded the government and rejected the liturgy and procedures of the organized church. They believed that God resided in every individual, not in a church building or institution. The Douchoboren were supported, among others, by the famous Russian writer Leo Tolstoy. In the 1920s, there were approximately 90 shower-bore settlements in British Columbia, each with about sixty residents. There are currently about 15,000 Douchobors living in British Columbia, about 30,000 if everyone with Douchobor roots is included. The 'Freedomites' or 'Sons of Freedom' were a controversial split sect that did not shy away from violence and often walked around naked.

Dukhobor women at work in Saskatchewan© author unknown, public domain image is available from Library and Archives Canada, reproduction C-008891 and MIKAN ID number 3193407

Peter Verigin, leader of the Douchoboren

Photo:E.J. Campbell / British Library in the public domain

First Nations

British Columbia's lush coast has attracted many cultures over the past thousands of years. Due to the massive presence of food (including salmon), peoples such as the Haida, Nuxalk and Tsimshian had enough time to make beautiful totem poles and large canoes. In the interior of British Columbia the situation was completely different for a people like the Salish, where life was mainly focused on the basic necessities of life and surviving the long and harsh winters. In the far north, peoples like the Tagish and Gwich'in were completely dependent on migrating elk and reindeer. The largest indigenous group are the Quw'utsun, of whom approximately 4,000 people live in the Cowichan Valley.

The decline of the First Nations began with the arrival of The Europeans and their diseases. Later on, issues such as racism and pure discrimination were added. As late as 1859, British Columbia's Governor James Douglas decreed that all the land and property of the First Nations peoples belonged to the Crown. The age-old potlatch tradition was also banned. From the second half of the 20th century, the various (national) governments reconsidered all these decisions and the culture of the First Nations was again valued and promoted more. A difficult and complex process is the claims of the First Nations to their pre-1859 land possessions. To date, one agreement has been made, namely with the Nisga'a people, who received compensation of $200 million and a certain amount of of self-government. Only 20% of all First Nations peoples have started negotiations.

In British Columbia, a 'Recognition and Reconciliation Act' was passed in 2009 that literally scrutinizes all laws related to the First Nations. One of the ideas is to unite the 203 First Nation peoples of British Columbia under about 30 governing bodies. But as early as 2011, a summit of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs and the British Columbia Assembly of First Nations concluded that the law was unenforceable and was effectively declared "dead."

Flag of the Nisga'a people, British Columbia

Photo:Public domain


The original inhabitants of British Columbia all celebrated the so-called 'potlatch' ceremony in honor of special events. For several days there is dancing, fasting and the exchange of gifts. The invited guests are expected to throw a thanksgiving party a while later. That party is often even more beautiful and bigger than the original party. The guests at this party are also more or less obliged to hold another thanksgiving party. This cycle can last for months. The potlatch was banned in 1927, but has been legal again since 1951 and is still celebrated today.

Potlatch: Building where guests stay during the potlatch, Thunderbird Park, Victoria, British ColumbiaPhoto:HighInBC CC Naamsvermelding-Gelijk delen 2.5 Unported no changes made

Totem Poles

The First Nations totem poles on the coast of British Columbia are the highlights of many a tourist. The totem poles had and have various functions, from portraying stories to explaining family history. Scientists assume that totem poles were already used before Europeans came into contact with First Nations, but often as part of a home. It wasn't until the 19th century, using much better materials, that totem pole making fully blossomed. This development was almost brought to an end by the cultural repression exerted on the First Nations by the Canadian and American authorities.

It was not until the 1930s that the making of totem poles was taken up again by woodcarvers such as Mungo Martin, a Kwakwaka'wakw chief who made many totem poles for the Royal British Columbia Museum in Victoria. At the end of the 20th century, the totem poles became known worldwide again by the Haida artist Bill Reid.

Totem poles are sacred to the First Nations and the designs belong specifically to a family, clan or group. Many First Nations are trying to retrieve ancient totem poles from the 19th century from the various museums where they are exhibited worldwide.

Totem poles are almost always made from the 'Western red cedar', the giant tree of life. The largest totem pole in the world is the two-piece, 53-meter high totem pole in Alert Bay in northern Vancouver Island. The area around the Hazeltons, Old Hazelton, South Hazelton and New Hazelton, is known as the Totem Pole Capital of the World.

Tallest totem pole in the world in Alert Bay, British Columbia

Photo:Owen Lloyd Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made


British Columbia has its own Loch Ness Monster, Ogopogo. Ogopogo has a dragon-like appearance and according to the Salish First Nation lives in Lake Okanagan in southern British Columbia and can be seen throughout the Okanagan Valley on postcards, billboards or bumper stickers. The name Ogopogo comes from a song that was often heard in the variety theaters in the 1920s, but the myth dates back much earlier. The Salish believed in a creature called N'ha-a-itk, meaning "more-demon," a demonized man who had been punished by the gods for allegedly killing a fellow tribesman. To please the monster, the Salish sacrificed animals every time they got close to Rattlesnake Island, where Ogopogo resided.

Ogopogo, Okanagan Lake, British ColumbiaPhoto:Hamedog / Beyond My KenCCAttribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unportedno changes made


Canada Bilingual Photo:Public domain

Canada has two official languages, English and French. French is the mother tongue of 24% of the population, English of 63% of the population.

Canadians have their own distinctive accent, but written Canadian English is very similar to English in Britain. Outside of Quebec, fewer people are native speakers of French, and while French-speaking communities still exist in the Maritime Provinces of Manitoba and Ontario, in some areas the language has been heavily influenced by English in terms of words and sentence structure. This has led to a mixed language that is incomprehensible to an outsider called 'franglais'.

Due to different waves of emigration, 40 languages with more than 2000 speakers were counted after a survey in 2006. English is of course the predominant language in British Columbia, unlike in Eastern Canada, French is hardly present. For example, there are many more residents of British Columbia who speak Mandarin or Cantonese than French.

Dutch is spoken in Canada by about 140,000 people by migrants of both the first and second generation. This mainly concerns Dutch people who emigrated to Canada in the 1950s and 1960s, but Flemings also belong to this group. These immigrants and their children mainly live in urban areas such as Vancouver, Ottawa and Toronto. Dutch lessons are given at, among others, The University of British Columbia and the University of Waterloo and the University of Toronto in Ontario.

In British Columbia, ten First-Nation languages have become extinct in the last hundred years. First Nation languages, such as the Skidegate Haida of the Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands) through the Skidegate Haida Immersion Program (1998), are trying to preserve it for the future.



Overview religions in British ColumbiaPhoto:StatGraphs Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

The population of British Columbia is primarily Christian, with the predominant denominations being the Catholic and Protestant Churches.

Most Jews live in Vancouver, currently Canada's third largest Jewish community.
With the arrival of many cultures over the centuries, so have their beliefs and Buddhist, Sikh and Hindu temples can be found all over the province of British Columbia.

Special Religious Buildings in British Columbia

Christ Church: Anglican church, consecrated in 1861 by George Hills (1816-1895), the first bishop of the British Columbia diocese. The oldest church in mainland British Columbia and also the oldest church in the province on the original foundations.

International Buddhist Temple (also called Guan-Yin Temple): authentic Chinese temple, completed in 1983 and officially consecrated in 1986, where Mahayana Buddhism can be studied and practiced. Symmetrically built in an imperial style with the imperial color yellow and Chinese dragon figures on the roof and on beams and pillars.

Christ Church Cathedral: de oudste(neogotische) kerk van Vancouver, de eerste mis werd gehouden in 1889. Glas-in-lood ramen zijn van Edward Burne-Jones (1833-1898), een Engels ontwerper en kunstenaar die zeer sterk verbonden was met de Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Burne-Jones behoorde tot de tweede golf van de beweging, die zich na 1860 manifesteerde en ook wel de 'aesthetic movement' wordt genoemd.

Christ Church Cathedral: Anglican Church of Canada cathedral of the British Columbia diocese. Cathedral built in 13th century Gothic style, inspired by Durham Cathedral in Durham, North East England. Designed by Victorian architect J.C.M. Keith. foundation stone was laid in 1926, but it would be several decades before the cathedral would be completed. As late as 1983, two bells were hung in the tower, in the presence of Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Prince Philip.

St. John the Divine: oldest church in British Columbia, still from the pioneer days (1863).

St. John the Divine, British Columbia's Oldest Church from 1863Photo:Darren Kirby Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made


State Structure

British Columbia Parliament Building in the capital VictoriaPhoto:Ikiwaner Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

The Queen

Canada's ten provinces and three territories are part of a federation whose form of government is parliamentary democracy. Canada is an independent constitutional monarchy within the British Commonwealth and comprises a Crown, a Senate and a House of Representatives or House of Commons following the British (Westminster) model.

Canadian law recognizes the King or Queen, in this case Elizabeth II, as head of state. All federal laws are passed in the name of the King or Queen. Furthermore, it is mainly a ceremonial function.

The Governor General

The Governor General is the permanent representative of the King or Queen in Canada. The Governor-General is in principle appointed for a period of five years by the head of state on the advice of the Prime Minister of Canada.

One of the main duties of the Governor General is to ensure that Canada always has a Prime Minister. For example, if a party does not have a clear majority after elections or if the incumbent Governor General dies, the Governor General chooses a successor.

Furthermore, the Governor-General only acts on the advice of the Prime Minister and his cabinet. Other duties of the Governor-General are: convening parliament, opening and closing parliamentary sessions, reading the speech from the throne, giving royal approval to bills, signing state documents and dissolving parliament in new elections.

David Lloyd Johnston (1941– ), 28th Governor General of CanadaPhoto:Valacosa Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic no changes made

The Senate

The Senate studies, amends, and rejects or accepts bills passed in the House of Commons. The Senate can also introduce bills itself, but they must not cost public money or have to do with taxes, that is only the prerogative of the House of Representatives. No bill can become law without being reviewed by the Senate. Senators also study important social, legal and economic matters on committees. One of the Senate's other duties is to safeguard the interests of all Canadian regions, provinces, territories and minority groups.

The 105 seats of the Senate are distributed in such a way as to do justice to the size of the region. Senators are appointed by the Governor General on the intercession of the Prime Minister and may remain in the Senate until the age of 75.

Canada Senate Meeting RoomPhoto: Makaristos in the public domain

The House of Representatives

Most laws in Canada start as bills in the House of Commons, the House of Representatives or House of Commons, in the Netherlands the House of Representatives. Members of the House of Commons spend their time mainly debating and voting on bills. The House of Commons is also the place where members represent the views of their constituents, discuss national issues and monitor and hold the government to account.

To become a member of the House of Commons one must first participate in one of the 338 regional elections, 'constituencies' or 'ridings'. The candidate with the highest number of votes goes to the House of Commons, even if less than half of the votes are obtained.

The 338 seats in the House of Representatives, adjusted every ten years as necessary, are roughly distributed according to the number of people living in a province or territory. So the more residents, the more members in the House of Representatives. The condition is that each province or territory has at least as many seats in the House of Representatives as in the Senate. British Columbia currently has 42 representatives in the national House of Commons and 6 seats in the Senate.

Meeting room 'House of Commons' CanadaPhoto: Makaristos in hthe public domain

In 1982 a constitutional amendment was passed (Constitution Act 1982) which gave the Canadian Parliament the power to make changes to the Constitution itself without the prior consent of the British Parliament. Amendments to the Constitution require a decision from the federal parliament and seven provinces (together more than 50% of the population). Regional representation applies in the Senate and the 105 members are appointed by the Prime Minister, just like in Great Britain. The political weight of the Senate is quite small because the government decides on the candidacy of the Senate members. In addition, the Canadian cabinet is only answerable to the House of Commons, not to the Senate. The Senate is mainly concerned with amending bills.

The polity has a federal structure; each province, including British Columbia, has its own constitution, a Lieutenant Governor nominated by the Governor General who is nominated by the federal cabinet, and a unicameral Legislative Assembly.

The Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia represents the Queen in Canada at the provincial level and is the legal head of state of British Columbia, meaning he or she is the highest representative of the people and holds the highest position in provincial government.

The British Columbia Executive Council, also known as the Cabinet of British Columbia, consists of the Lieutenant Governor, the Prime Minister and his Cabinet Ministers, who are also members of Parliament and are elected by the Lieutenant Governor and the Prime Minister.

Since 2002, British Columbia has been the first Canadian province to hold parliamentary elections for the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia on a fixed day. These elections take place every four years on the second Tuesday in May. The next elections will be held on Tuesday 9 May 2017.

The number of parliamentary seats has increased over time from 25 before the first election in 1871 to the current 85 seats.

Canada is quite complicated legally. Statutes issued by the Federal Parliament are valid throughout the country; laws of the provincial legislature apply only in that province. Therefore, there are major differences in laws and regulations from province to province – insofar as they concern matters that fall within the competence of the province, of course. Criminal law is a federal matter and therefore the same throughout Canada.

Since joining the Confederation, British Columbia has had 34 prime ministers, fourteen of whom are non-party-aligned. Of the partisan prime ministers, three were Conservatives, eight were Liberals, four were from the British Columbia Social Credit Party (or Socreds), and five were New Democrats. The first prime minister was John Foster McCreight, who was sworn in in 1871.

Joseph Martin was Prime Minister for only 106 days, W.A.C. Bennett was the longest-serving prime minister to date at over twenty years and the only one to serve in four different cabinets. Kim Campbell of Port Alberni, though only five months in 1993, was Canada's first female Prime Minister and also the first British Columbia resident to ever hold the position. The current Prime Minister of British Columbia is Christy Clark, who was sworn in on March 14, 2011.

Administrative division

Canada Administrative DivisionPhoto:Public domain

Since 1999, the federal state of Canada (established on July 1, 1867) has consisted of ten provinces and three 'territories'. Each province has a high degree of autonomy, which is reflected, among other things, in the power to regulate local government itself. Furthermore, it is largely self-sufficient in areas such as prison services, education, health care and taxation. The Crown is represented in each of the provinces by a Lieutenant Governor.

AlbertaEdmonton948.000 km23.113.600
British ColumbiaVictoria661.200 km24.141.300
ManitobaWinnipeg650.000 km21.150.800
New BrunswickFredericton73.500 km2756.700
Newfoundland & LabradorSt. John's406.000 km2531.600
Northwest TerritoriesYellowknife3.300.000 km241.400
Nova ScotiaHalifax55.000 km2944.800
NunavutIqaluit1.900.000 km228.700
OntarioToronto1.070.000 km212.068.300
Prince Edward IslandCharlottetown5.657 km2139.900
QuébecQuébec-City1.650.000 km27.455.200
SaskatchewanRegina651.900 km21.011.800
Yukon TerritoryWhitehorse536.000 km229.900


British Columbia Downtown Vancouver Photo:Bobanny Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

British Columbia's economy is booming again after the 2008 economic and financial crisis. In early 2016, Canada's westernmost province created more than 10,000 jobs monthly and the unemployment rate dropped to 5.8%, since 1976 British Columbia again had the fewest unemployed people in Canada. While the rest of the country was still suffering from falling real estate prices and a faltering industry, British Columbia benefited from a strong recovery in the real estate market, boosting consumer confidence and associated spending. These favorable economic conditions also coincided with a revival of the timber industry. British Columbia's gross domestic product, like that of the province of Ontario, is expected to grow at a rate of 2.5% per year through 2017. The last time British Columbia experienced such growth was in 2005, and the largest growth in two consecutive years was in 1961 and 1962.

In terms of employment, British Columbia outperforms the rest of Canada in almost every sector, especially wholesale, retail and housing. Retail employment has grown by 5-10% a year in recent years, compared to just 1.5% in the rest of Canada. The differences with the rest of the country are also great in the wholesale sector. But the industry is also increasingly establishing itself in British Columbia. House prices in Vancouver shot up in one year by tens of percentages up to 25%.

British Columbia's agri-food sector (primary manufacturing, manufacturing, supply chain, distribution, retail and hospitality) is one of the most diverse in Canada. Processed is milk, meat, chicken, fish, fruit (especially in the Okanagan Valley), vegetables, berries, grapes, mushrooms, flower bulbs, ornamental plants and shrubs. The production of food and drink, British Columbia's second largest processing industry, yielded approximately 7.5 billion euros in 2013. Port Alberni, a major center of the timber industry, like Port McNeill, has declared itself the 'salmon capital' of the world, as has Campbell River, by the way. Grass Root Diaries in Salmon Arm, formerly Gort's Gouda Cheese Farm, makes Gouda and Maasdammer cheese in the traditional way.

British Columbia's forestry sector remains very important to the province's economy. While the demand for wood, pulp and paper from the United States continues to persist, the demand for wood pulp and wood from Asia appears to be increasing annually. For example, forestry remains vital for many communities in British Columbia, not only in rural areas, but also in urban regions and First Nations communities. Of the more than 100 trillion tons of cellulose produced worldwide, about 10% comes from Canada and half of that comes from the forests of British Columbia. British Columbia's entire forestry sector provides more than 60,000 jobs and exports alone generate more than $10 billion annually. Centers of the timber industry include places like Squamish, Port Alberni, Golden, Revelstoke and Powell River and Vancouver Island.
In earlier years, the forests on the west coast of British Columbia in particular were severely plundered. At the moment, more trees are being felled than are being planted. Environmentalists have now enforced stricter rules for logging.

Wood Transportation Near Vancouver, British ColumbiaPhoto:Tony Hisgett Creative Commons-licentie Naamsvermelding 2.0 Unported no changes made

Known as Hollywood North, the Vancouver region is the third largest feature film production location in North America, after Los Angeles and New York, with dozens of filmed, often American, feature films and TV series each year.
Marijuana cultivation also plays an important role in British Columbia's economy, some say it plays a greater role than forestry.

While British Columbia may not be the first winegrowing region to come to mind for Europeans, this Canadian province has been producing the finest wines in a wide variety for decades. The many climates and soil conditions allow growers to choose the best places for each grape variety.

More than sixty grape varieties are used in British Columbia; from Auxerrois to Zweigelt! While traditional strains like Merlot, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, and Riesling still dominate, British Columbia also produces several unknown, but no less spectacular, strains.

British Columbia had 929 vineyards and 287 licensed wineries in 2016. These companies used about as much red as white grapes (52% to 48%). The most commonly used red grape varieties are Merlot, Syrah/Shiraz, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc; the most commonly used white grape varieties are Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Gewuerztraminer, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc.

Most wineries are in the Okanagan Valley (173), then Vancouver Island (39), Fraser Valley (37), Similkameen Valley (18), Gulf Islands (14), and in emerging regions such as Kootenays, Lillooet, Shuswap, Thompson Valley and Northern British Columbia (6). The 250 km long Okanagan Valley, with a vineyard area of almost 3500 hectares, is the largest and most important wine region of British Columbia. One of the best-known wineries is Sumac Ridge Estate Winery, as well as Summerhill Pyramid Winery, Cedar Creek Estate Winery and Mission Hill Family Estate. Famous is the Okanaga ice wine, a sweet desert wine, whose grapes are only picked when they are frozen by the first frost.

Vineyard in Kelowna (Okanagan Valley), British ColumbiaPhoto:Mack Male Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic no changes made

Tourism, with approximately 15 million overnight stays, of which approximately 5 million are non-Canadians, is an important part of British Columbia's life and economy. With more than 20 million passengers in 2015, Vancouver International Airport is the busiest airport in western North America after Los Angeles International Airport (almost 75 passengers in 2015. More than 100,000 people are employed in tourism and the The economic value of tourism is more than $10 billion a year, of which more than $1 billion is generated by tourism to Vancouver alone, which attracts some nine million tourists a year, spending approximately $1 billion.

The Port of Vancouver is the largest port in Canada and the most diversified in North America, where approximately 400,000 cars and three million containers are handled annually, two terminals deal with general cargo (including wood products, steel and machinery) and two thirds of all tonnages consist of dry and liquid bulk goods. In addition, countless cruise ships, an average of about 120 a year with about 600,000 tourists on board, dock annually in the port.

Port of Vancouver, British ColumbiaPhoto:assumed Bobanny public domain

Important for the economy and opening up of British Columbia is the Alaska Highway (abbreviated Alcan), which runs from Dawson Creek in northern British Columbia to the Delta Junction in Alaska, located 2236 km away. Construction of this highway started in March 1942, and the road was ready for use in October of the same year.

Holidays and Sightseeing

British Columbia NaturePhoto:Ken Eckert Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 Internation no changes made

British Columbia is an ideal vacation destination for nature and outdoor enthusiasts, in general for those looking for an active vacation. British Columbia treats its millions of visitors each year to impressive and highly varied natural beauty, including the Rocky Mountains with its lakes, forests and rainforests, mountains, glaciers, ice lakes, ski areas, canyons and prairies. But British Columbia is also the province of Canada with sandy beaches, impressive fjords and tens of thousands of islands, including Vancouver Island, the largest island on the North American west coast. In the south of the province is Canada's warmest area with even a self-proclaimed 'desert', but in fact a dry scrubland steppe. The most touristic city is the beautifully situated modern metropolis of Vancouver. The capital Victoria offers a wide variety of monuments and historic buildings.

Vancouver British Columbia Photo:Rollan Budi Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic no changes made

Vancouver has a number of interesting museums, including the Vancouver Art Gallery (national and international art, including many works by British Columbian artist Emily Carr); Maritime Museum (history of Vancouver as a port and trading city); Vancouver Museum (history of Vancouver), University of British Columbia Museum of Anthropology (art by indigenous peoples, including a collection of totem poles); Science World (science museum).

Gastown, where Vancouver originated, is one of Vancouver's oldest neighborhoods with 19th-century brick buildings, as well as modern buildings such as the architectural masterpiece Canada Palace and Harbor Center Tower with a 167-meter tower. Also notable are Water Street with the world's first steam clock (c. 1870), the statue of 'gassy' Jack Deighton, the founder of the neighborhood, the Inuit Gallery with Inuit jewelry and paintings, and the striking Triangular Building.

Well worth a visit are Robson Street, one of the most expensive shopping streets in the world; the popular English Bay beach; Capilano Suspension Bridge & Lynn Valley Canyon (suspension bridges); Chinatown (declared historical heritage); BC Place Stadium (guided tours of Canada's first indoor stadium); Granville Island (separate, unique shops, no chains); Old Hastings Mill Store (1865 wooden building, Vancouver's first post office and department store).

The nature lover will also get their money's worth in Vancouver with the Dr. Sun Yat-sen Classical Chinese Garden; the Van Dusen Botanical Garden, opened in 1975; the beautiful city park Stanley Park, which includes the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Center (in addition to many fish species also belugas, dolphins, sea lions, sea otters, sea turtles, frogs, caimans, sloths and snakes) and the Ted & Mary Greig Rhododendron Garden with about 45,000 rhododendrons ; Lynn Canyon Park and Ecology Center, a popular hiking area; Grouse Mountain (1211 m), with stunning views at the top, on foot or via cable car, and ski facilities in winter; Lighthouse Park, home to the 1910 Atkinson Lighthouse, Canada's oldest manned lighthouse; Queen Elizabeth Park with the Bloedel Conservatory (approx. 500 tropical and subtropical plants, over 100 bird species); Cypress Provincial Park, a ski and cross-country ski area in winter, hiking and mountain biking in summer.

Victoria British Columbia Photo:Brandon Godfrey Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic no changes made

The capital Victoria, with an almost Mediterranean climate and an old British colonial atmosphere, is located at the southernmost tip of Vancouver Island and is home to two remarkable late-19th-century buildings: the Parliament Buildings of British Columbia Legislative Buildings (1898) and the Fairmont Empress Hotel (1905), both designed by renowned architect Francis Rattenbury (1867-1935). Other fine 19th-century buildings line Bastion Square and Market Square.

Nature lovers can visit Thunderbird Park (with a number of totem poles) and Beacon Hill Park (with the rare oak species Quercus garryana). Other places of interest are Helmcken House (British Columbia's oldest house from 1852), British Columbia Experience (multimedia exhibition in historic building about British Columbia with, among other things, 372 m2 large model), Carr House (birth house artist Emily Carr), Art Gallery of Greater Victoria (changing exhibitions and permanent Emily Carr exhibition), Craigdarroch Castle (gorgeous Art Nouveau stained glass windows), Government House (residence of the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia; building not open to tourists, but the beautiful garden does have), Royal British Columbia Museum (history, geology, population, natural history, indigenous art and culture), China Town (with Fan Tan Alley, Canada's narrowest street), Royal London Wax Museum in the 1924 former Canadian Pacific Steamship Terminal, Pacific Undersea Gardens (floating aquarium), Crystal Garden (now meeting center, last Francis Rattenbury designed g . in 1925 building). Victoria and the surrounding area are also ideal for all kinds of outdoor activities such as hiking, cycling, golf, canoeing, diving, sailing and kayaking. Victoria also stands out because many lampposts are decorated with flower boxes, giving the city an extremely cheerful and friendly character.

In addition to the capital Victoria, Vancouver Island is above all a true paradise for nature lovers, hikers, cyclists, water sports enthusiasts, divers and water sports enthusiasts. The Pacific Rim National Park Reserve has three areas: Long Beach has beaches and many hiking opportunities, including the Schooner trail; The West Coast Trail (75 km) is a particularly difficult trail that leads through rainforests and deep rock gorges; the Broken Group Islands is a popular place for diving enthusiasts and canoeists. Popular with whalewatchers and stormwatchers alike, the west coast of Vancouver Island is known for its large number of whales to see, and whale watching trips from the towns of Tofino and Ucluelet are a holiday highlight for many tourists.

Butchart gardens British Columbia Photo:Marcus Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 1.0 Generic no changes made

The beautiful 22-acre Butchart Gardens, one of Vancouver Island's most popular attractions, includes an Italianate garden and a rose garden with more than a hundred species. Several hundred orcas can be seen in the waters of Johnstone Strait, with Alert Bayt known as "Home of the Killer Whale." Each Falls Provincial Park has several waterfalls. The tidal changes in Juan de Fuca Provincial Park are spectacular and the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail is really only suitable for experienced hikers. Goldstream Provincial Park has various walking routes through extensive rainforests and along impressive waterfalls: including Arbutus Loop, Gold Mine Trail, Lower Goldstream Trail and Upper Goldstream Trail.

The Nanaimo District Museum shows a replica of the 19th-century Chinatown of the capital Victoria, and the Old City Quarter contains many 19th-century buildings.

Speleologists and tourists alike will find plenty to do in Gold River with more than 50 caves; Strathcona Provincial Park, with high mountains such as the Golden Hind (2200 m), Elkhorn Mountain (2195 m) and the highest waterfall in Canada (440 m), is the oldest provincial park in British Columbia, where in addition to mountain lions, bears and wolves, the very rare Vancouver Island marmot, one of the rarest animals in the world; the WWII minesweeper Uchuck III allows a visit to Friendly Cove, where Captain James Cook was the first European to have contact with the natives in 1778.

Duncan has 80 totem poles, and the Cowichan Community Center has the world's largest ice hockey stick, officially recognized by the Guinness World Records. Duncan is also home to the British Columbia Forest Discovery Center (forestry and forest management). Coombs has the World Parrot Refuge with over 700 parrots. Maquinna Provincial Park has one of the most extraordinary hot springs in the world, Hot Springs Cove, where hot water plunges floor-to-ceiling.

Chemainus is special, with murals on many homes about the history and population of the town. Beautiful beaches can be found in Comox. Campbell River is called the salmon capital of the world, where king salmon (Chinook salmon) of more than 20 kg are indeed removed from the river. Here one can also snorkel among hundreds of thousands of salmon during their migration to spawning grounds.

Barkerville British Columbia Photo Kickstart 70 in the public domain

Various sights:
-Barkerville: Barkerville Historic Town (open air museum)
-Bella Coola: Thorsen Creek Petroglyphs (Native American petroglyphs)
-Boswell: Glass House made from square bottles used for embalming fluid

Glass House, British ColumbiaPhoto:TilJ Creative CommonsAttribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unportedno changes made

-Bowron Lake Provincial Park: Bowron Lake Circuit (canoe trips)
-Britannia Beach: British Columbia Museum of Mining
-Cache Creek: Hat Creek Ranch (19th Century Ranch)
-Capilano: Capilano Suspension Bridge (137 m long suspension bridge)
-Castlegar: Dukhobor Discovery Center (Russian Community in Canada); Christina Lake (Canada's warmest lake, summer average 23°C)
-Cody Caves Provincial Park: Cave Tours
-Courtenay: Courtenay District Museum and Paleontology Center (including fossils and dinosaurs)
-Cranbrook: Canadian Museum of Rail Travel
-Dawson Creek: Alaska Highway starting point
-E.C. Manning Provincial Park: many different ecosystems and walking routes in a small area

Glacier National Park British Columbia

Photo:Mark Wagner Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Generic no changes made

-Glacier National Park: long trails (Great Glacier Trail, Balu Pass Trail); short trails (Hemlock Grove Trail, Abonded Rails Trail, Meeting of the Waters Trail, Bear Falls Trail, Loop Brook Trail)
-Golden: Northern Lights Wildlife Wolf Center
-Greenwood: preserved mining town and mining museum
-Hope: Othello-Quintette Tunnels (formerly part of the Kettle Valley Railroad, now part of the Trans-Canada Trail)
-Kasko: S.S. Moyle (North America's oldest paddle steamer)
-Kelowna: British Columbia Wine Museum; British Museum Orchard Industry Museum (fruit picking, packaging and preservation); Myra-Bellevue Provincial Park (very spectacular walk over 18 railway bridges built on wooden trestles); Kalamalka Lake (rare marl lake)
-Kicking Horseriver: spectacular rafting area
-Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park: one of the oldest parks in Canada with several glaciers: Kokanee Glacier, Caribou Glacier, Woodbury Glacier
-Kootenay Region: mountain and water sports; Sinclair Canyon
-Lytton: 'Rive Rafting Capital of Canada'
-Merritt: 'Country Music Capital' (July Merritt Mountain Music Festival); Canadian Country Music Hall of Honor & Museum; Walk of Stars (handprints of famous country singers)
-Mount Robson Provincial Park: Mount Robson is the highest mountain of the Canadian Rocky Mountains, 4000 m
-Mount Washington: ski resort
-Nelson: hundreds of beautiful Victorian properties
-Old-, South- and New Hazelton: 'Totem Pole Capital of the World'
-Osoyoos: Osoyoos Desert Center (Desert Museum): Canada's Desert Region, Pocket Desert
-Penticton: Okanagan Inland Marine Heritage Park (paddle steamers and other historic ships); Okanagan Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory (telescopes)
-Port Edward: North Pacific Historic Fishing Village: (open air museum with original fish cannery and working class neighborhood from 1889)

Overview provincial parks and protected nature areas

Photo:Public domain

-Prince Rupert: Museum of Northern British Columbia (Native American utensils and artifacts); Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Sanctuary and Whale Watching (Excursions)
-Qualicum Beach: Old Schoolhouse Arts Center (art); Qualicum Beach Museum (fossils)
-Queen Charlotte Islands of Haida Gwaii: unique plants and animals; Gwaii Haanas National Park with Remains of Haida Villages and Ancient Rainforest
-Revelstoke Mountain Resort: North America's longest descent ski area; Railway Museum (historic locomotives and wagons)
-Sicamous: 'Houseboat Capital of Canada' (hundreds of houseboats for rent)
-Squamish: rock climbing, mountain biking; West Coast Railway Heritage Park (Western Canada's largest railway exhibit); Stawamus Chief (652 m high rock wall with 200 climbing routes second largest granite monolith in the world)
-Squilax: Roderick Haig-Brown Provincial Park ('salmon runs', return of salmon to their spawning grounds)
-Sunshine Coast: beautiful beaches
-Wells Gray Provincial Park: nature reserve with about 250 waterfalls, including Spahats Falls, Moul Falls, Dawson Falls and especially Helmcken Falls)
-Whistler Mountain / Blackcomb Peak: top ski destination; Peak-2Peak Gondola (gondola connecting Whistler Mountain and Blackcomb Peak, length 4.5 km); Shannon Falls (335 m high waterfall)
-Williams Lake: Williams Lake Stampede (one of the largest rodeos in North America)
-Yale: St. John the Divine (British Columbia's Oldest Church)
-Yoho National Park: UNESCO World Heritage Site (location of 500 million year old fossils); hoodoos (pyramidal rock pillars); Takakkaw Falls (Canada's second highest waterfall)

Click the menu button at the top left of the screen for more information


BBC - Country Profiles

British Columbia and the Rockies
Michelin Apa Publications


Lonely Planet

CIA - World Factbook

Elmar Landeninformatie

Jepson, Tim / Vancouver en de Canadese Rockies
Wat & Hoe

Leigh Fleming, Janet / British Columbia : a walking guide

Ohlhoff, Kurt Jochen / Canada west & Alaska

Phenix, Penny / Canada
Wat & Hoe

The rough guide to Canada
Rough Guides

Struijk, Aad / West-Canada

Veldt, Marc / Canada

Ver Berkmoes, Ryan / British Columbia & the Yukon
Lonely Planet

Wagner, Heike / West-Canada : Alberta, British Columbia


Last updated October 2021
Copyright: Team Landenweb