British Columbia facts begin with the First Nation peoples who have flourished on this beautiful land since the last Ice Age ended. It is fitting that Canada refers to its Native American indigenous people as the First Nations since they have been here for at least 10,000 years.
These peoples had rich lives throughout what is considered modern British Columbia history and each of the tribes developed distinctly different and complex cultures because of the diversity of landscapes to be found here. This is one of the most mountainous regions in North America, and those cultures that lived in the mountains became expert hunters and trappers. They would provide the skins that traders sought. The coastal people became expert wood carvers and skilled whalers and fishermen. Today, many of the fishing, hunting, and whale watching guides are natives of various tribes, and you can purchase beautifully carved totem poles and other items during tours of the coastal areas.
The history of BC Canada took a turn when Spanish explorers arrived in 1774. In the eastern provinces, it was England and France that fought over the rich lands they found. The British Columbia facts include both Spain and Russia claiming ownership of the virgin territories in the west. This also happened in northern California, Washington State, and Oregon, as well as Alaska, where you can still enjoy tours of old Russian forts along the coast. Many of the museums that chronicle British Columbia history have priceless Russian art and artifacts from this period. Spain had competing claims from Mexico to San Francisco, and even claimed Vancouver Island.
However, British Columbia facts, including its "British" name, show the heaviest influences came from England. Captain James Cook, who also left his exploratory mark on Australia and the Hawaiian Islands, first charted the region in 1778. The first English colony, present-day Victoria (named for Britain's Queen Victoria), was established in 1843. Today, this lovely city (the province's capital) and nearby Vancouver are considered two of the most beautiful cities in North America. The history of BC Canada took yet another turn in 1857 when gold was discovered in the Lower Fraser Valley. In 1866, Vancouver Island became part of British Columbia and the province joined the Canadian Confederation in 1871. Today, the Fraser Valley (set between the coast and the Cascades Mountains) is one of the most beautiful areas, with numerous national parks, wilderness, and outdoor activities.
The Fort Langley National Historic Site is located in Fraser Valley, and it is possible to take tours of this wonderfully preserved and restored nineteenth-century fort. More British Columbia history is preserved here at the Xa:ytem Longhouse Interpretive Centre in the town of Mission. Some of the best fishing is available here, and there are numerous golf courses.
The 20th and 21st century history of BC Canada shows a heavy reliance on natural resources, including fishing, logging, and mining. More recently, tourism has become an increasingly important factor for the region. Vancouver, located on the mainland opposite Victoria Island, and its surrounding area boasts numerous attractions. Vancouver is a major port stop for ships on Pacific cruises, which will normally dock here for at least a night or two. Many Alaska and Hawaii cruises also embark or disembark in the port.