Place:British Columbia, Canada

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NameBritish Columbia
Alt namesB.C.source: Wikipedia
BC
Colombie-Britanniquesource: Wikipedia
New Caledoniasource: Webster's Geographical Dictionary (1988) p 178
Province de Colombie-Britanniquesource: NIMA, GEOnet Names Server (1996-1998)
TypeProvince
Coordinates55°N 125°W
Located inCanada     (1871 - )
Contained Places
District municipality
North Vancouver
Inhabited place
Abbotsford
Agassiz
Ahousat
Aiyansh
Albert Canyon
Albion
Albreda
Aldergrove
Alert Bay
Alexandria
Alexis Creek
Alice Arm
Alkali Lake
Anahim Lake
Anyox
Apenes
Armstrong
Arnold
Ashcroft
Atlin
Avola
Babine
Bamberton
Bamfield
Barkerville
Barrière
Basque
Bear Cove
Bear Lake
Beaton
Beaverdell
Bella Bella
Bella Coola
Bennett
Big Bar Creek
Big Creek
Birch Island
Birken
Black Creek
Blaineys
Bloedel
Blue River
Blunden Harbour
Boat Basin
Boston Bar
Bountiful
Brackendale
Bradner
Bralorne
Brem River
Brentwood Bay
Bridge Lake
Brilliant
Brookmere
Bull Harbour
Burnaby ( 1892 - )
Burns Lake
Burton
Cache Creek
Campbell Island
Campbell River
Canal Flats
Canim Lake
Canoe
Cascade
Cassiar
Cassidy
Castlegar
Cawston
Caycuse
Cedarvale
Ceepeecee
Charlie Lake
Chase River
Chase
Cheam View
Chemainus
Cherry Creek
Chilanko Forks
Chilliwack
Chinook Cove
Chu Chua
Cinema
Clayhurst
Clearbrook
Clearwater
Clinton
Clo-oose
Cloverdale
Coal Harbour
Coal River
Coalmont
Cobble Hill
Colleymount
Comox
Coombs
Copper Mountain
Coquitlam
Cowichan Bay
Craig
Craigellachie
Crawford Bay
Crescent Beach
Crescent Spur
Creston
Criss Creek
Crofton
Croydon Station
Cultus Lake
Cumberland
D'Arcy
Decker Lake
Delta
Departure Bay
Deroche
Devine
Dewdney
Doe River
Dog Creek
Dome Creek
Douglas Lake
Driftwood
Duke Point
Dunster
Eagle Bay
East Kelowna
East Pine
East Sooke
Edgewood
Elko
Endako
Enderby
Engen
Englewood
Erickson
Errington
Estevan Point
Extension
Fairmont Hot Springs
Falkland
Fanny Bay
Fauquier
Ferguson
Field
Finmoore
Forest Grove
Fort Fraser
Fort Langley
Fort St. James
Fort Steele
Franklin River
François Lake
Fraser Lake
Fraser Mills
Fruitvale
Fulford Harbour
Gabriola
Galiano
Ganges
Garibaldi
Germansen Landing
Gibsons
Giscome
Glacier
Glen Lake
Gold Bridge
Gold River
Golden
Gordon River
Grand Forks
Grassy Plains
Great Central
Greendale
Greenwood
Groundbirch
Hagensborg
Halfmoon Bay
Hanceville
Haney
Hansard
Harrison Hot Springs
Harrison Mills
Hartley Bay
Hatzic
Hazelton
Hedley
Hells Gate
Hixon
Holberg
Honeymoon Bay
Hope
Horsefly
Horseshoe Bay
Hosmer
Houston
Howser
Hudson Hope
Huntingdon
Hydraulic
Invermere
Ioco
Irvines Landing
James Island
Jeune Landing
Juskatla
Kaleden
Kamloops
Kaslo
Keefers
Keithley Creek
Kelsey Bay
Kemano
Keremeos
Kersley
Kildonan
Kilgard
Kimberley
Kimsquit
Kincolith
Kingsgate
Kinnaird
Kispiox
Kitimat
Kitkatla
Kitwanga
Kleena Kleene
Klemtu
Koksilah
Kyuquot
Lac la Hache
Ladner
Ladysmith
Laidlaw
Lake Country
Lake Errock
Lake Windermere
Lamming Mills
Lang Bay
Langford
Lantzville
Lardeau
Leechtown
Likely
Lillooet
Lions Bay
Little Fort
Longworth
Lower Post
Lumby
Lund
Lytton
Macalister
Mackenzie
Madeira Park
Mahood Falls
Malahat
Manson Creek
Maple Bay
Margaret Bay
Marysville
Masset
Matsqui
Mayne
McBride
McLeod Lake
McLure
Meldrum Creek
Mesachie Lake
Metchosin
Metlakatla
Michel
Midway
Mill Bay
Millstream
Milner
Mission
Moberly Lake
Monte Creek
Moose Heights
Moyie
Murrayville
Musgrave
Nakusp
Namu
Nanoose Bay
Naramata
Natal
Nelson
New Denver
New Hazelton
New Westminster
Newgate
Nicola
Nithi River
Nitinat
Noralee
North Bend
Northfield
Notch Hill
Ocean Falls
Ocean Park
Okanagan Centre
Okanagan Falls
Okanagan Landing
Oliver
One Hundred Fifty Mile House
One Hundred Mile House
Oona River
Ootsa Lake
Osoyoos
Oyama
Pacific
Paldi
Palling
Parksville
Pavilion
Peachland
Pemberton
Penny
Penticton
Perow
Pioneer Mine
Popkum
Port Alice
Port Clements
Port Coquitlam
Port Edward
Port Essington
Port Hammond
Port Hardy
Port McNeill
Port Mellon
Port Neville
Port Renfrew
Port Simpson
Port Washington
Prince George ( 1807 - )
Prince Rupert ( 1800 - )
Princeton
Procter
Punchaw
Queen Charlotte
Quesnel
Radium Hot Springs
Red Pass
Red Rock
Redstone
Refuge Cove
Renata
Revelstoke
Riondel
River Jordan
Rivers Inlet
Rock Bay
Rock Creek
Rolla
Rose Lake
Rosedale
Rossland
Royal Oak
Royston
Ruskin
Rutland
Rykerts
Sahtlam
Salmo
Salmon Valley
Salt Spring Island
Saltair
Sandspit
Sandwick
Sardis
Saseenos Station
Saturna
Savona
Sayward
Sechelt
Seton Portage
Seventy Mile House
Shalalth
Shawnigan Lake
Shelley
Shirley
Shoreacres
Sicamous
Sidney
Silverdale
Silverton
Simoom Sound
Sinclair Mills
Sirdar
Skeena Crossing
Skidegate
Skookumchuck
Slocan
Soda Creek
Sointula
Somenos
Sooke
South Fort George
South Pender
South Slocan
South Wellington
Southbank
Sparwood
Spences Bridge
Sperling
Springhouse
Spuzzum
Squamish
Squilax
Steelhead
Stewart
Stillwater
Stoner
Streatham
Stuie
Summerland
Summit Lake
Sunset Prairie
Swartz Bay
Tahsis
Takla Landing
Takysie Lake
Tatla Lake
Tatlayoko Lake
Telegraph Cove
Telegraph Creek
Telkwa
Terrace
Thetis Island
Tintagel
Tofino
Topley
Tsawwassen
Tulsequah
Tupper
Tête Jaune Cache
Ucluelet
Union Bay
Upper Fraser
Upper Hat Creek
Upper Sumas
Usk
Valemount
Vananda
Vancouver
Vanderhoof
Vedder Crossing
Vernon
Vesuvius Bay
Victoria ( 1843 - )
Wadhams
Walcott
Waldo
Walhachin
Walnut Grove
Wardner
Websters Corners
Wellington
Wells
Westbank
Westbridge
Westholme
Westwold
Whistler
White Rock
Whonock
Williams Lake
Willow River
Wilmer
Windermere
Winlaw
Winter Harbour
Woodfibre
Wynndel
Yahk
Yale
Yarrow
Yennadon
Ymir
Youbou
Zeballos
Island
Vancouver Island
Land district
Cowichan Lake
Cowichan
Kamloops (land district)
Kootenay
North Saanich (land district)
Saltspring Island
South Saanich
Place
Newton
Regional district
Alberni-Clayoquot
Bulkley-Nechako
Capital
Cariboo
Central Kootenay
Central Okanagan
Columbia-Shuswap
Comox-Strathcona
Cowichan Valley
East Kootenay
Fraser Valley
Greater Vancouver
Kootenay Boundary
Nanaimo
Northern Rockies
Peace River
Powell River
Squamish-Lillooet
Stikine Region
Sunshine Coast
Thompson-Nicola
Township
Langley
Unincorporated area
Crowsnest
Unknown
Ainsworth
Alberni
Aleza Lake
Arrowhead
Ashton Creek
Balfour
Beresford
Blackpool
Bowen Island
Bridesville
Brisco
Cape Scott
Cecil Lake
Celista
Cherryville
Christina Lake
Clayburn
Coast
Coldstream
Denman Island
Donald
Ecoole
Ellison
Flood
French Creek
Galiano Island
Glenrosa
Gordon Head
Granite Creek
Grindrod
Harrop
Hills
Hullcar
Kelly Lake
Kettle Valley
Kitsumkalum
Knutsford
Lasqueti
Lavington
Lone Butte
Longbeach
Lower Nicola
Maillardville
Mara
Mount Pleasant
Myncaster
Needles
North Delta
North Saanich
Oakridge
Okanagan Mission
Olsen Valley
Poplar City
Port Douglas
Queens Bay
Quesnel Forks
Roberts Creek
Salmon River
Sandon
Savary Island
Seymour Arm
Silver Creek
Spallumcheen
Spillimacheen
Stanley
Sunshine Bay
Surrey Centre
Tomslake
Trout Lake
Tulameen
Two Rivers
Vavenby
Whonnock
Winfield
source: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names
source: Family History Library Catalog


the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

British Columbia , also commonly referred to by its initials BC or B.C., (C.-B.) is a province located on the West Coast of Canada. British Columbia is also a component of the Pacific Northwest, along with the U.S. states of Oregon and Washington. The province's name was chosen by Queen Victoria in 1858, reflecting its origins as the British remainder of the Columbia District of the Hudson's Bay Company. In 1871, it became the sixth province of Canada. Its Latin motto is Splendor sine occasu ("Splendour without Diminishment").

The capital of British Columbia is Victoria, the 15th largest metropolitan region in Canada, named for the Queen that created the Colony of British Columbia. The largest city is Vancouver, the third-largest metropolitan area in Canada, the largest in Western Canada, and the second largest in the Pacific Northwest. In 2012, British Columbia had an estimated population of 4,622,573 (about two and a half million of whom were in Greater Vancouver). The province is currently governed by the BC Liberal Party, led by Premier Christy Clark, who became leader as a result of the party election on February 26, 2011 and who led her party to an election victory on May 14, 2013.

British Columbia's economy is largely resource-based. It is the endpoint of transcontinental railways and the site of major Pacific ports, which enable international trade. Though less than five percent of its vast land is arable, the province is agriculturally rich (particularly in the Fraser and Okanagan Valleys) because of its mild weather. Its climate encourages outdoor recreation and tourism, though its economic mainstay has long been resource extraction, principally logging, farming, and mining. Vancouver, the province's largest city and metropolitan area, also serves as the headquarters of many of the Western-based natural resource companies. It also benefits from a strong housing market and a per-capita income well above the national average. While the coast of BC and certain valleys in the south-central part of the province have mild weather, the majority of BC's land mass experiences a cold winter temperate climate similar to the rest of Canada. The Northeast corner of BC has a Subarctic climate with very cold winters.

end of quotation from Wikipedia

For an explanation of the divisions of British Columbia, see List of regional districts of British Columbia.

Contents

History

the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Fur trade and colonial era

The discovery of stone tools on the Beatton River near Fort St. John date human habitation in British Columbia to at least 11,500 years ago. The Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast spread throughout the region, achieving a high population density; at the time of European contact, nearly half the aboriginal people in present-day Canada lived in the region. During the 1770s, smallpox killed at least 30% of the Pacific Northwest First Nations. This epidemic was the first and the most devastating of a number that were to follow, other than the Great Smallpox Epidemic of 1862 which killed off 50% of the native population in that year.

The arrival of Europeans began around the mid-18th century, as fur traders entered the area to harvest sea otters. While it is thought that Sir Francis Drake may have explored the British Columbian coast in 1579, it was Juan Pérez who completed the first documented voyage, which took place in 1774. Juan Francisco de la Bodega y Quadra explored the coast in 1775. In doing so, Pérez and Quadra reasserted the Spanish claim for the Pacific coast, first made by Vasco Núñez de Balboa in 1513. The explorations of James Cook in 1778 and George Vancouver in 1792-93 established British jurisdiction over the coastal area north and west of the Columbia River. In 1793, Sir Alexander Mackenzie was the first European to journey across North America overland to the Pacific Ocean, inscribing a stone marking his accomplishment on the shoreline of Dean Channel near Bella Coola. His expedition theoretically established British sovereignty inland, and a succession of other fur company explorers charted the maze of rivers and mountain ranges between the Canadian Prairies and the Pacific. Mackenzie and these other explorers—notably John Finlay, Simon Fraser, Samuel Black, and David Thompson—were primarily concerned with extending the fur trade, rather than political considerations. In 1794, by the third of a series of agreements known as the Nootka Conventions, Spain conceded its claims of exclusivity in the Pacific. This opened the way for formal claims and colonization by other powers, including Britain, but because of the Napoleonic Wars there was little British action on its claims in the region until later.

The establishment of trading posts under the auspices of the North West Company and the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC), effectively established a permanent British presence in the region. The Columbia District, broadly defined as being south of 54°40 north latitude, (the southern limit of Russian America) and north of Mexican Controlled California west of the Rocky Mountains was, by the Anglo-American Convention of 1818, under the "joint occupancy and use" of citizens of the United States and subjects of Britain (which is to say, the fur companies). This co-occupancy was ended with the Oregon Treaty of 1846.

The major supply route was the York Factory Express between Hudson Bay and Fort Vancouver. Some of the early outposts grew into settlements, communities, and cities. Among the places in British Columbia that began as fur trading posts are Fort St. John (established 1794); Hudson's Hope (1805); Fort Nelson (1805); Fort St. James (1806); Prince George (1807); Kamloops (1812); Fort Langley (1827); Fort Victoria (1843); Yale (1848); and Nanaimo (1853). Fur company posts that became cities in what is now the United States include Vancouver, Washington (Fort Vancouver), formerly the "capital" of Hudson's Bay operations in the Columbia District, Colville, Washington and Walla Walla, Washington (old Fort Nez Percés).

With the amalgamation of the two fur trading companies in 1821, the region now comprising British Columbia existed in three fur trading departments. The bulk of the central and northern interior was organized into the New Caledonia district, administered from Fort St. James. The interior south of the Thompson River watershed and north of the Columbia was organized into the Columbia District, administered from Fort Vancouver on the lower Columbia River. The northeast corner of the province east of the Rockies, known as the Peace River Block, was attached to the much larger Athabasca District, headquartered in Fort Chipewyan, in present day Alberta.

Until 1849, these districts were a wholly unorganized area of British North America under the de facto jurisdiction of HBC administrators. Unlike Rupert's Land to the north and east, however, the territory was not a concession to the company. Rather, it was simply granted a monopoly to trade with the First Nations inhabitants. All that was changed with the westward extension of American exploration and the concomitant overlapping claims of territorial sovereignty, especially in the southern Columbia basin (within present day Washington and Oregon). In 1846, the Oregon Treaty divided the territory along the 49th parallel to the Strait of Georgia, with the area south of this boundary (excluding Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands) transferred to sole American sovereignty. The Colony of Vancouver Island was created in 1849, with Victoria designated as the capital. New Caledonia, as the whole of the mainland rather than just its north-central Interior came to be called, continued to be an unorganized territory of British North America, "administered" by individual HBC trading post managers.

With the Fraser Canyon Gold Rush in 1858, an influx of Americans into New Caledonia prompted the colonial office to formally designate the mainland as the Colony of British Columbia, with New Westminster as its capital. A series of gold rushes in various parts of the province followed, the largest being the Cariboo Gold Rush in 1862, forcing the colonial administration into deeper debt as it struggled to meet the extensive infrastructure needs of far-flung boom communities like Barkerville and Lillooet, which sprang up overnight. The Vancouver Island colony was facing financial crises of its own, and pressure to merge the two eventually succeeded in 1866.

Rapid growth and development

The Confederation League, including such figures as Amor De Cosmos, John Robson, and Robert Beaven, led the chorus pressing for the colony to join Canada, which had been created out of three British North American colonies in 1867 (the Province of Canada, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick). Several factors motivated this agitation, including the fear of annexation to the United States, the overwhelming debt created by rapid population growth, the need for government-funded services to support this population, and the economic depression caused by the end of the gold rush.

With the agreement by the Canadian government to extend the Canadian Pacific Railway to British Columbia and to assume the colony's debt, British Columbia became the sixth province to join Confederation on July 20, 1871. The borders of the province were not completely settled. The Treaty of Washington sent the Pig War San Juan Islands Border dispute to arbitration in 1871 and in 1903, the province's territory shrank again after the Alaska boundary dispute settled the vague boundary of the Alaska Panhandle.

Population in British Columbia continued to expand as the province's mining, forestry, agriculture, and fishing sectors were developed. Mining activity was particularly notable throughout the Mainland, particularly in the Boundary Country, in the Slocan, in the West Kootenay around Trail, the East Kootenay (the southeast corner of the province), the Fraser Canyon, the Cariboo, the Omineca and the Cassiar, so much so a common epithet for the Mainland, even after provincehood, was "the Gold Colony". Agriculture attracted settlers to the fertile Fraser Valley, and cattle ranchers and later fruit growers came to the drier grasslands of the Thompson River area, the Cariboo, the Chilcotin, and the Okanagan. Forestry drew workers to the lush temperate rainforests of the coast, which was also the locus of a growing fishery.

The completion of the railway in 1885 was a huge boost to the province's economy, facilitating the transportation of the region's considerable resources to the east. The milltown of Granville, known as Gastown, near the mouth of the Burrard Inlet was selected as the terminus of the railway, prompting the incorporation of the City as Vancouver in 1886. The completion of the Port of Vancouver spurred rapid growth, and in less than fifty years the city surpassed Winnipeg, Manitoba, as the largest in Western Canada. The early decades of the province were ones in which issues of land use—specifically, its settlement and development—were paramount. This included expropriation from First Nations people of their land, control over its resources, as well as the ability to trade in some resources (such as the fishery).

Establishing a labour force to develop the province was problematic from the start, and British Columbia was the locus of immigration from Europe, China, and Japan. The influx of a non-Caucasian population stimulated resentment from the dominant ethnic groups, resulting in agitation (much of it successful) to restrict the ability of Asian people to immigrate to British Columbia through the imposition of a head tax. This resentment culminated in mob attacks against Chinese and Japanese immigrants in Vancouver in 1887 and 1907. By 1923, almost all Chinese immigration had been blocked except for merchants, professionals, students and investors.

Meanwhile, the province continued to grow. In 1914, the last spike of a second transcontinental rail line, the Grand Trunk Pacific, linking north-central British Columbia from the Yellowhead Pass through Prince George to Prince Rupert was driven at Fort Fraser. This opened up the North Coast and the Bulkley Valley region to new economic opportunities. What had previously been an almost exclusively fur trade and subsistence economy soon became a locus for forestry, farming, and mining.

1920s through 1940s

When the men returned from World War I, they discovered the recently enfranchised women of the province had helped vote in the prohibition of liquor in an effort to end the social problems associated with the hard-core drinking that Vancouver and the rest of the province was famous for until the war. Because of pressure from veterans, prohibition was quickly relaxed so that the "soldier and the working man" could enjoy a drink, but widespread unemployment among veterans was hardened by many of the available jobs being taken by European immigrants and disgruntled veterans organized a range of "soldier parties" to represent their interests, variously named Soldier-Farmer, Soldier-Labour, and Farmer-Labour Parties. These formed the basis of the fractured labour-political spectrum that would generate a host of fringe leftist and rightist parties, including those who would eventually form the Co-operative Commonwealth and the early Social Credit splinter groups.


The advent of prohibition in the United States created new opportunities, and many found employment or at least profit in cross-border liquor smuggling. Much of Vancouver's prosperity and opulence in the 1920s results from this "pirate economy", although growth in forestry, fishing and mining continued. The end of U.S. prohibition, combined with the onset of the Great Depression, plunged the province into economic destitution. Compounding the already dire local economic situation, tens of thousands of men from colder parts of Canada swarmed into Vancouver, creating huge hobo jungles around False Creek and the Burrard Inlet rail yards, including the old Canadian Pacific Railway mainline right-of-way through the heart of the city's downtown (at Hastings and Carrall). Increasingly desperate times led to intense political organizing efforts, an occupation of the main Post Office at Granville and Hastings which was violently put down by the police and an effective imposition of martial law on the docks for almost three years. A Vancouver contingent for the On-to-Ottawa Trek was organized and seized a train, which was loaded with thousands of men bound for the capital but was met by a Gatling gun straddling the tracks at Mission; the men were arrested and sent to work camps for the duration of the Depression.

There were some signs of economic life beginning to return to normal towards the end of the 1930s, but it was the onset of World War II which transformed the national economy and ended the hard times of the Depression. Because of the war effort, women entered the workforce as never before.

British Columbia has long taken advantage of its location on the Pacific Ocean to have close relations with East Asia. However, this has often caused friction between cultures which have caused occasional displays of animosity toward Asian immigrants. This was most manifest during the Second World War when many people of Japanese descent were relocated or interned in the Interior of the province.

Coalition and the post-War boom

During World War II the mainstream BC Liberal and BC Conservative Parties of British Columbia united in a formal coalition government under new Liberal leader John Hart, who replaced Duff Pattullo when the latter failed to win a majority in the 1941 election. While the Liberals won the most number of seats, they actually received fewer votes than the socialist Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF). Pattullo was unwilling to form a coalition with the rival Conservatives led by Royal Maitland and was replaced by Hart who formed a coalition cabinet made up of five Liberal and three Conservative ministers.[1] The CCF was invited to join the coalition but refused.[1]

The pretext for continuing the coalition after the end of World War II was to prevent the CCF, which had won a surprise victory in Saskatchewan in 1944, from ever coming to power in British Columbia. The CCF's popular vote was high enough in the 1945 election that they were likely to have won three-way contests and could have formed government. However, the coalition prevented that by uniting the anti-socialist vote.[1] In the post-war environment the government initiated a series of infrastructure projects, notably the completion of Highway 97 north of Prince George to the Peace River Block, a section called the John Hart Highway and also public hospital insurance.

In 1947 the reins of the Coalition were taken over by Byron Ingemar Johnson. The Conservatives had wanted their new leader Herbert Anscomb to be premier, but the Liberals in the Coalition refused. Johnson led the coalition to the highest percentage of the popular vote in British Columbia history (61%) in the 1949 election. This victory was attributable to the popularity of his government's spending programmes, despite rising criticism of corruption and abuse of power. During his tenure, major infrastructure continued to expand, and the agreement with Alcan to build the Kemano-Kitimat hydro and aluminum complex was put in place. Johnson achieved popularity for flood relief efforts during the 1948 flooding of the Fraser Valley, which was a major blow to that region and to the province's economy.

Increasing tension between the Liberal and Conservative coalition partners led the Liberal Party executive to vote to instruct Johnson to terminate the arrangement. Johnson ended the coalition and dropped his Conservative cabinet ministers, including Deputy Premier and Finance Minister Herbert Anscomb, precipitating the general election of 1952. A referendum on electoral reform prior to this election had instigated an elimination ballot (similar to a preferential ballot), where voters could select second and third choices. The intent of the ballot, as campaigned for by Liberals and Conservatives, was that their supporters would list the rival party in lieu of the CCF, but this plan backfired when a large group of voters from all major parties, including the CCF, voted for the fringe British Columbia Social Credit Party (Socreds), who wound up with the largest number of seats in the House (19), only one seat ahead of the CCF, despite the CCF having 34.3% of the vote to Social Credit's 30.18%.

The Social Credit Party, led by rebel former Conservative MLA W. A. C. Bennett, formed a minority government backed by the Liberals and Conservatives (with 6 and 4 seats respectively). Bennett began a series of fiscal reforms, preaching a new variety of populism as well as waxing eloquent on progress and development, laying the ground for a second election in 1953 in which the new Bennett regime secured a majority of seats, with 38% of the vote. Secure with that majority, Bennett returned the province to the first-past-the-post system thereafter, which is still in use today.

Growth of government in the economy

With the election of the Social Credit Party, British Columbia embarked a phase of rapid economic development. Bennett and his party governed the province for the next twenty years, during which time the government initiated an ambitious programme of infrastructure development, fuelled by a sustained economic boom in the forestry, mining, and energy sectors.

During these two decades, the government nationalized British Columbia Electric and the British Columbia Power Company, as well as smaller electric companies, renaming the entity BC Hydro. By the end of the 1960s, several major dams had been begun or completed in—among others—the Peace, Columbia, and Nechako River watersheds. Major transmission deals were concluded, most notably the Columbia River Treaty between Canada and the United States. The province's economy was also boosted by unprecedented growth in the forest sector, as well as oil and gas development in the province's northeast.

The 1950s and 1960s were also marked by development in the province's transportation infrastructure. In 1960, the government established BC Ferries as a crown corporation, in order to provide a marine extension of the provincial highway system. That system was improved and expanded through the construction of new highways and bridges, and paving of existing highways and provincial roads.

Vancouver and Victoria become cultural centres as poets, authors, artists, musicians, as well as dancers, actors, and haute cuisine chefs flocked to the beautiful scenery and warmer temperatures. Similarly, these cities have either attracted or given rise to their own noteworthy academics, commentators, and creative thinkers. Tourism also began to play an important role in the economy. The rise of Japan and other Pacific economies was a great boost to British Columbia's economy.

Politically and socially, the 1960s brought a period of significant social ferment. The divide between the political left and right, which had prevailed in the province since the Depression and the rise of the labour movement, sharpened as so-called free enterprise parties coalesced into the defacto coalition represented by Social Credit—in opposition to the social democratic New Democratic Party, the successor to the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation. As the province's economy blossomed, so did labour-management tensions. Tensions emerged, also, from the counterculture movement of the late 1960s, of which Vancouver and Nanaimo were centres. The conflict between hippies and Vancouver mayor Tom Campbell was particularly legendary, culminating in the so-called Gastown Riots of 1971. By the end of the decade, with social tensions and dissatisfaction with the status quo rising, the Bennett government's achievements could not stave off its growing unpopularity.

1970s and 1980s

On August 27, 1969, the Social Credit Party was re-elected in a general election for what would be Bennett's final term in power. At the start of the 1970s, the economy was quite strong because of rising coal prices and an increase in annual allowable cuts in the forestry sector. However, BC Hydro reported its first loss, which was the beginning of the end for Bennett and the Social Credit Party.

The Socreds were forced from power in the August 1972 election, paving the way for a provincial New Democratic Party (NDP) government under Dave Barrett. Under Barrett, the large provincial surplus soon became a deficit, although changes to the accounting system makes it likely that some of the deficit was carried over from the previous Social Credit regime and its "two sets of books", as WAC Bennett had once referred to his system of fiscal management. The brief three-year ("Thousand Days") period of NDP governance brought several lasting changes to the province, most notably the creation of the Agricultural Land Reserve, intended to protect farmland from redevelopment, and the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, a crown corporation charged with a monopoly on providing single-payer basic automobile insurance.

Perceptions that the government had instituted reforms either too swiftly or that were too far-reaching, coupled with growing labour disruptions led to the ouster of the NDP in the 1975 general election. Social Credit, under W.A.C. Bennett's son, Bill Bennett, was returned to office. Under the younger Bennett's government, 85% of the province's land base was transferred from Government Reserve to management by the Ministry of Forests, reporting of deputy ministers was centralized to the Premier's Office, and NDP-instigated social programs were rolled back, with then-Human Resources Minister infamously demonstrating a golden shovel to highlight his welfare policy, although the new-era Socreds also reinforced and backed certain others instigated by the NDP—notably the creation of the Resort Municipality of Whistler, whose special status including Sunday drinking, then an anomaly in BC.

Also during the "MiniWac" regime (a reference to his father's acronym, WAC) certain money-losing Crown-owned assets were "privatized" in a mass giveaway of shares in the British Columbia Resources Investment Corporation, "BCRIC", with the "Brick shares" soon becoming near-worthless. Towards the end of his tenure in power, Bennett oversaw the completion of several megaprojects meant to stimulate the economy and win votes - unlike most right-wing parties, British Columbia's Social Credit actively practiced government stimulation of the economy. Most notable of these was the winning of a world's fair for Vancouver, which came in the form of Expo 86, to which was tied the construction of the Coquihalla Highway and Vancouver's SkyTrain system. The Coquihalla Highway project became the subject of a scandal after revelations that the premier's brother bought large tracts of land needed for the project before it was announced to the public, and also because of graft investigations of the huge cost overruns on the project. Both investigations were derailed in the media by a still further scandal, the Doman Scandal, in which the Premier and millionaire backer Herb Doman were investigated for insider-trading and securities fraud. Nonetheless, the Socreds were re-elected in 1979 under Bennett, who led the party until 1986.


As the province entered a sustained recession, Bennett's popularity and media image were in decline. On April 1, 1983, Premier Bennett overstayed his constitutional limits of power by exceeding the legal tenure of a government, and the Lieutenant-Governor, Henry Pybus Bell-Irving, was forced to call Bennett to Government House to resolve the impasse, and an election was called for April 30, while in the meantime government cheques were covered by special emergency warrants as the Executive Council no longer had signing authority because of the constitutional crisis. Campaigning on a platform of moderation, Bennett won an unexpected majority.

After several weeks of silence in the aftermath, a sitting of the House was finally called and in the speech from the Throne the Socreds instituted a programme of fiscal cutbacks dubbed "restraint", which had been a buzzword for moderation during the campaign. The programme included cuts to "motherhood" issues of the left, including the human rights branch, the offices of the Ombudsman and Rentalsman, women's programs, environmental and cultural programs, while still supplying mass capital infusions to corporate British Columbia. This sparked a backlash, with tens of thousands of people in the streets the next day after the budget speech, and through the course of a summer repeated large demonstrations of up to 100,000 people.

This became known as the 1983 Solidarity Crisis, from the name of the Solidarity Coalition, a huge grassroots opposition movement mobilized, consisting of organized labour and community groups, with the British Columbia Federation of Labour forming a separate organization of unions, Operation Solidarity, under the direction of Jack Munro, then-President of the International Woodworkers of America (IWA), the most powerful of the province's resource unions. Tens of thousands participated in protests and many felt that a general strike would be the inevitable result unless the government backed down from its policies they had claimed were only about restraint and not about recrimination against the NDP and the left. Just as a strike at Pacific Press ended, which had crippled the political management of the public agenda by the publishers of the province's major papers, the movement collapsed after an apparent deal was struck by union leader and IWA president, Jack Munro and Premier Bennett.

A tense winter of blockades at various job sites around the province ensued, as among the new laws were those enabling non-union labour to work on large projects and other sensitive labour issues, with companies from Alberta and other provinces brought in to compete with union-scale British Columbia companies. Despite the tension, Bennett's last few years in power were relatively peaceful as economic and political momentum grew on the megaprojects associated with Expo, and Bennett was to end his career by hosting Prince Charles and Lady Diana on their visit to open Expo 86. His retirement being announced, a Social Credit convention was scheduled for the Whistler Resort, which came down to a three-way shooting match between Bud Smith, the Premier's right-hand man but an unelected official, Social Credit party grande dame Grace McCarthy, and the charismatic but eccentric Bill Vander Zalm.

Bill Vander Zalm became the new Socred leader when Smith threw his support to him rather than see McCarthy win, and led the party to victory in the election later that year. Vander Zalm was later involved in a conflict of interest scandal following the sale of Fantasy Gardens, a Christian and Dutch culture theme park built by the Premier, to Tan Yu, a Filipino Chinese gambling kingpin. There were also concerns over Yu's application to the government for a bank licence, and lurid stories from flamboyant realtor Faye Leung of a party in the "Howard Hughes Suite" on the top two floors of the Bayshore Inn, where Tan Yu had been staying, with reports of a bag of money in a brown paper bag passed from Yu to Vander Zalm during the goings-on. These scandals forced Vander Zalm's resignation, and Rita Johnston became premier of the province. Johnston presided over the end of Social Credit power, calling an election which led to the reducing of the party's caucus to only two seats, and the revival of the long-defunct British Columbia Liberal Party as Opposition to the victorious NDP under former Vancouver mayor Mike Harcourt.

In 1988, David Lam was appointed as British Columbia’s twenty-fifth Lieutenant-Governor, and was the Province's first Lieutenant-Governor of Chinese origin.

1990s to present

Johnston lost the 1991 general election to the NDP, under the leadership of Mike Harcourt, a former mayor of Vancouver. The NDP's unprecedented creation of new parkland and protected areas was popular, and helped boost the province's growing tourism sector. However, the economy continued to struggle against the backdrop of a weak resource economy. Housing starts and an expanded service sector saw growth overall through the decade, despite political turmoil. Harcourt ended up resigning over "Bingogate"—a political scandal involving the funnelling of charity bingo receipts into party coffers in certain ridings. Harcourt was not implicated, but he resigned nonetheless in respect of constitutional conventions calling for leaders under suspicion to step aside. Glen Clark, a former president of the BC Federation of Labour, was chosen the new leader of the NDP, which won a second term in 1996. More scandals dogged the party, most notably the Fast Ferry Scandal involving the province trying to develop the shipbuilding industry in British Columbia. An allegation (never substantiated) that the Premier had received a favour in return for granting a gaming licence led to Clark's resignation as Premier. He was succeeded on an interim basis by Dan Miller who was in turn followed by Ujjal Dosanjh following a leadership convention.

In the 2001 general election Gordon Campbell's BC Liberals defeated the NDP, gaining 77 out of 79 seats total seats in the provincial legislature. Campbell instituted various reforms and removed some of the NDP's policies including scrapping the "fast ferries" project, lowering income taxes, and the controversial sale of BC Rail to CN Rail. Campbell was also the subject of criticism after he was arrested for driving under the influence during a vacation in Hawaii. However, Campbell still managed to lead his party to victory in the 2005 general election, against a substantially strengthened NDP opposition. Campbell won a third term in the British Columbia general election, 2009, marking the first time in 23 years that a premier has been elected to a third term.

The province won a bid to host the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver and Whistler. As promised in his 2002 re-election campaign, Vancouver Mayor Larry Campbell staged a non-binding civic referendum regarding the hosting of the Olympics. In February 2003, Vancouver's residents voted in a referendum accepting the responsibilities of the host city should it win its bid. Sixty-four percent of residents voted in favour of hosting the games.

British Columbia has also been significantly affected by demographic changes within Canada and around the world. Vancouver (and to a lesser extent some other parts of British Columbia) was a major destination for many of the immigrants from Hong Kong who left the former UK colony (either temporarily or permanently) in the years immediately prior to its handover to the People's Republic of China. British Columbia has also been a significant destination for internal Canadian migrants. This has been the case throughout recent decades, because of its image of natural beauty, mild climate and relaxed lifestyle, but is particularly true during periods of economic growth. As a result, British Columbia has moved from approximately 10% of Canada's population in 1971 to approximately 13% in 2006. Trends of urbanization mean that the Greater Vancouver area now includes 51% of the Province's population, followed in second place by Greater Victoria with 8%. These two metropolitan regions have traditionally dominated the demographics of BC.

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