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British Columbia

The province of British Columbia is one of the most popular destinations in Canada. Miles of pristine coastal shoreline, countless mountain trails and one of the largest commercial centers in the nation provide every opportunity for leisure and business travel alike. Almost 4.5 million people live in the second largest province in the nation, mostly in and around the city of Vancouver, the largest in the province (and third largest in the country). A melting pot of global culture, British Columbia is among the strongest regions in Canada, showing rapid growth in the construction and service industries, with growing interest in technology and education. As such, the province attracts residents from across Canada and around the world.


The province of British Columbia began as a crown colony of British North America in the mid 1850s, but evidence of First Nations residents dates back almost 12,000 years. Captain James Cook and George Vancouver (from whom the province's largest city takes its name) visited the area in the late 1700s, and the British claimed the land in the 1790s with the arrival of Sir Alexander Mackenzie.

The potential for fur trade attracted attention, and the North West Company and the Hudson's Bay Company established trading posts in direct competition with each other. Some of these would grow into lasting communities, including the current capital of Victoria. the fur trade would remain the primary industry until the mid 1800s, when gold was discovered along the Thompson River. The Fraser Gold Rush helped Britain cement its hold on the land, which became known as the Crown Colony of British Columbia.

The influx of minors looking to get rich led to increasing tension with First Nations residents, finally coming to a head in the Fraser Canyon War of 1858.

Racial tensions were high, and many loves were lost. By the end of the war, six treaties were signed to keep the peace.

A second gold rush a few years later brought even more people, and more attention, to British Columbia. Pressure was on for the territory to join Canada, a situation made all the more urgent by the end of the gold rush. A high percentage of the population became unemployed, and the colony's debt grew. The Canadian Pacific Railway came to the rescue, with plans to extend their lines to the Vancouver area and absorb the bulk of the colony's debt. In 1871 the Crown Colony of British Columbia became the Province of British Columbia.

Economic interests turned from gold to mining and forestry, and the population again began to grow. The CP Rail allowed for the shipping of BC's bountiful natural resources across the country, The result was a boom in agriculture, primarily in central British Columbia. The Port of Vancouver further secured the province's future, increasing trade potential and building an import/ export industry that today processes more than 40 billion dollars annually.

The population continued to swell during the early years of the 20th century, attracting attention with strong economic growth, not slowed by the onset of the First World War. After the war, the province endured a short loved prohibition, and during the American prohibition ear many unemployed residents earned their keep smuggling alcohol into the United States.

Vancouver saw an increase in unemployed residency during the depression era, due to its warm climate. Tension ran high until the economy began to change with the approach of the Second World War. ON the down side, Japan's role in the war led to Asian residents being relocated to internment camps in central BC.

After the war, new government led to new growth, and the province became a leader in forestry, oil and gas, and energy production. The strong economic and social standing brought a new kind of resident, and Vancouver and Victoria became known for artisans, poets and entertainers from all disciplines, a trend that would continue into the new millennium.

Recently, British Columbia has enjoyed a sporting and entertainment boom, with many major productions being filmed in and around the Vancouver area from blockbuster films like the Fantastic Four to hit TV shows like The X-Files and Smallville. Vancouver also successfully won the bid for the location of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.

The province boasts more than 100 nature reserves, three dozen marine parks and more than 100,000 square kilometers of protected forest land. As such, British Columbia has become one of the premiere destinations for outdoor recreation.

North Vancouver

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