First populated by Aboriginals over 10,000 years ago, British Columbia was flooded with scores of European settlers after the arrival of Captain James Cook in 1778.
The arrival of a British agent, James Douglas, helped to establish a profitable trade network and later the discovery of gold in the Fraser River and the Cariboo brought a rapid influx of prospectors, merchants, and pioneers to BC in the 1860s. Widespread city and transportation expansion soon followed and boomtowns were born.
This expansion continued well in the 1950s and 60s and massive building projects helped shape the landscape of the province. New industries were born and new bridges, railways, and ferries help link land and people with technological progress.
Today, the province is home to a wonderfully diverse population. Sizeable Aboriginal, Asian, German, Italian, Japanese and Russian communities throughout the province have helped BC to mold itself into a vibrant cultural mosaic where distinct cuisine, architecture, language and arts thrive. With a population of 3.9 million people, BC is home to three major cities: Vancouver, Victoria and Whistler and is divided into six regions: Vancouver Island, Victoria & the Gulf Islands, Vancouver, Coast & Mountains, Thompson Okanagan, Kootenay Rockies, Cariboo Chilcotin Coast, and Northern British Columbia.
Vancouver Whistler and Victoria
One of the world’s most spectacular cities, Vancouver offers a remarkable combination of natural beauty and urban living. Stanley Park, one of North America’s largest urban parks, houses impressive gardens, an aquarium, an authentic totem pole collection and a scenic 10 kilometer long seawall. The Vancouver Art Gallery houses more than nine thousand pieces and showcases artwork from leaders in the field of contemporary art. A hub of outdoor activities, Vancouver also offers a wealth of outdoor hiking options, picturesque golf courses, and sandy beaches. After a day on the course, wind down with a taste of Vancouver’s west coast cuisine in any number of local restaurants, each offering up their own distinctive flair.
Legendary Whistler, ranked as one of the top four-season resorts in North America, played host to the world as the site of the alpine and Nordic venues for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. The site of once in a lifetime downhill skiing and snowboarding experiences, hiking, mountain biking, championship golfing, canoeing, kayaking, swimming, fishing and windsurfing, Whistler attracts visitors from the world over.
Victoria, BC’s scenic capital is a coastal city of more than 300,000 people situated on the southern tip of Vancouver Island. A historically rich city that houses some of the most fascinating museums in Western Canada, the city offers a multitude of outdoor activities year round including horse-drawn carriage tours, kayaking, canoeing, diving, fishing, whale and wildlife watching, golfing, biking and sailing. Known as the Garden City, Victoria has the mildest climate in Canada and some of the most exhilarating scenery in the country. Full of colorful history, the city is home to BC’s Legislative Buildings and offers a wealth of heritage architecture, charming restaurants and cafes, and a bustling inner harbor full of street vendors and entertainment.
Famous for its orchards, vineyards and wildly varied landscape, the Thompson Okanagan region is known for its golf courses, orchards and vineyards. A desert region full of museums and heritage sites, the Thompson Okanagan is home to the tallest mountain in the Canadian Rockies and a waterfall twice the height of Niagara Falls.
The Kootenay Rockies is a vast scenic wilderness of rivers, lakes, waterfalls, beaches, mineral hot springs, alpine meadows and snow-capped mountains. The region is known for its internationally renowned fishing locales, golfing, mountain biking, dude and guest ranches, camping, heritage and gold rush boomtowns and frequent wildlife sightings.
The Cariboo Chilcotin Coast, famous for its rodeos and stampedes, is comprised of thousands of lakes, rivers and a breathtaking stretch of Pacific Ocean coastline. The perfect location for fishing, boating, camping, swimming and kayaking, no trip to the region is complete without a day of paddling on the legendary Bowron Lake Provincial Park Canoe Circuit, a visit to the volcanic mountains of Tweedsmuir Provincial Park or a drive along the original Cariboo Wagon Road on the historic Gold Rush Trail.
The vast wilderness of Northern BC occupies more than half of the province – approximately 500,000 square kilometers. A land of jagged mountain peaks, roaring rivers, serene lakes, green valleys, rugged coastlines and ancient island archipelagos, Northern BC is known for its freshwater and saltwater fishing, canoeing, kayaking, whitewater rafting and powder skiing. The region is home to the Queen Charlotte Islands, an untouched land rich in Haida culture and full of distinct island flora and fauna.
With a wealth of activities and locations to choose from, you are sure to experience a true west coast experience when visiting beautiful British Columbia.