British Columbia History, Now, and the Future

Being the westernmost Canadian province, British Columbia has a rich history, culturally diverse population, dry and wet climates, forests, rolling grasslands, and mountains.


Captain James Cook was the first to reach the cost of British Columbia in 1778, and settlers of European decent began to arrive and settle during this period. Diseases brought by the settlers almost decimated indigenous people who had no immunity. During the 19th century, Great Britain claimed British Columbia and founded a colony on the Vancouver Island. With the discovery of gold in the 1860s, many pioneers and merchants arrived in British Columbia, and this resulted in population growth and steady economic growth. Steamships, railways, and roads were built for sustainable economic growth. British Columbia experienced rapid economic growth during the 1950s when many large projects were completed, including railways, bridges, roads, and the Trans Canada Highway.

Geography, Rivers, Lakes, and Parks

The province includes four regions – the Peace River country which is part of the Great Interior Planes, the Stikine Plateaux covered by forests and grasslands, the Columbia Mountains and Rocky Mountains, and the Insular Mountains and Coast Mountains. The territory of British Columbia is covered by streams, rivers, marshes, and lakes, including major rivers such as the Kootenay River, Columbia River, Peace River, and others. There are hundreds of large and small lakes, for example, Upper Arrow, Stuart, Babine, Atlin, Pitt, Harrison, and many others. British Columbia is also the home of many protected territories and parks such as the Kootenay National Park, Gulf Islands National Park, and Glacier National Park, among others. The Glacier National Park, for example, has a diverse flora and fauna with species such as lynx, cougar, red fox, coyote, timber wolf, and many others. There are different facilities and recreational activities, including a bookstore, shelter, camping areas, natural history displays, exhibit hall, and theatre, part of the Rogers Pass Discovery Centre. The Kootenay National Park also offers plenty of attractions and things to do, including camping and hiking, paint pots, radium hot springs, and many others. The park is also the home of hundreds of species such as meadow horsetail, oval-leaf blueberry, pinegrass, twinflower, dwarf bilberry, and many others. Other parks in British Columbia are the Yoho National Park and Pacific Rim National Park Reserve.

With a territory of 944.735 sq. km, British Columbia is the home of plants, marine species, birds, reptiles, amphibians, mammals, and fish. There are 6 eco zones, among which the Boreal Plains Ecozones, Taiga Plains, and Montane Cordillera, which is the southernmost eco zone in the province. The three others are the Boreal Cordillera, Pacific Maritime, and Pacific Marine.

Economy and Major Sectors

The main sectors in British Columbia are forestry, the service and retail sectors, agriculture, and fishing. Fishing is still an important sector, along with fish processing in areas such as Prince Rupert and Vancouver. Commercial catch mainly consists of shellfish, herring, halibut, and cod. Forestry is a major industry in British Columbia in light of the fact that 40 percent of Canada’s timber is found there, and the province is the home to close to 20 percent of Canada’s forests.

Population, Demographics, Ethnicity and Religious Affiliation

The majority of residents in British Columbia are of Canadian (17.7 percent), Scottish (20.3 percent), and English origin (29.6 percent). The list of groups by ethnic origin also includes Swedish, Russian, Polish, French, Chinese, and others. British Columbia has a diverse mix of residents who speak a multitude of languages, including Japanese, Vietnamese, Spanish, French, etc. English is spoken by more than 71 percent of residents. Chinese is the second most common language (8.5 percent) while French is the mother tongue of 1.4 percent of residents. In terms of religious affiliation, the Protestant church has the most followers or a total of close to 42 percent, followed by the Catholic Church. There are small religious groups such as Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, Eastern Orthodox, and others. Aboriginal people represent 4.8 percent of all residents and include groups such as Inuit, Metis, and First Nations. There are many foundations and organizations that offer support and services to indigenous communities in British Columbia. Focus areas include housing and healthcare, employment and education, child and family services, and economic and business development, among others.

Major Cities and Employment by Industry and Sector

The largest cities in British Columbia include Victoria, Vancouver, Abbotsford, and Kelowna. The largest in terms of population are municipalities such as Vancouver, Richmond, Burnaby, and Surrey. The total population of British Columbia is more than 4,300,000 residents. Residents find employment in sectors such as wholesale and retail trade, manufacturing, construction, and utilities. Major employers operate in sectors such as forestry, fishing, agriculture, and mining. The services production sector includes companies in the technical and scientific services, real estate and finance, and warehousing and transportation, among others. The majority of residents find employment in goods producing sectors, the main being construction, oil and gas, quarrying, mining, and others.

Public Transit and Road, Air, and Water Transport

The public transit system is well-developed and consists of rail transport, diesel buses, trolleys, and air and water transport. There are several major ports in the province – Victoria, Prince Rupert, Roberts Bank, and Vancouver. A total of more than 200 airports serve residents and visitors of British Columbia. The three largest airports in the province are the Kelowna International Airport, Victoria International Airport, and Vancouver International Airport.

Points of Interest

There are plenty of attractions and points of interest such as the Butchart Gardens, Victoria’s Inner Harbour, Barkerville Historic Town, Salt Spring Island, and many others. Barkerville Historic Town is a former gold-mining settlement featuring historic buildings. Located between Nanaimo and Victoria, Salt Spring Island features retail venues, restaurants, cafes, ice cream shops, and beautiful scenery. Other points of interest include Mt. Robson Provincial Park, Queen Charlotte Islands, Vancouver’s Stanley Park, and the Capilano Suspension Bridge in North Vancouver which was built in 1889. The bridge is 140 meters long and is open for pedestrians.