British Columbia has undergone a major cultural shift since the late 18th century. A plethora of unique native cultures that were around for thousands of years have been supplanted by the European way. Explorers from Spain and England were drawn to the region, and life has been forever changed.


Europeans Sweep into British Columbia

Natural resources dominated the early settlement of British Columbia. Fur traders were the primary residents for the first half of the 19th century. Small forts and trading outposts were the population gathering points. Local native populations were encouraged to deal with the new economy, though skirmishes did occur.

The advertised discovery of gold in the 1850s led to several years of major gold rushes. European populations boomed as troves of people sought riches. The southwest corner of BC, especially Victoria, was the hub for most major activity. It grew from a city the size of just hundreds o to over 30,000 people in a few short months.

Promise of a completed transcontinental railroad was among the main reasons British Columbia joined the nation of Canada in 1871. Migrant laborers, from Asia especially, joined in the construction force and the railway was completed in 1885. Still, the vast majority of the 27,000 people living in Vancouver only 15 years after its settlement were European in descent. 

Christian morals dominated every facet of early British Columbia life. Laws were enacted to force First Nations tribes and Asian immigrants alike to adhere to unfamiliar ways of life. Customs defining community, let alone religious experiences, were deemed illegal and nonwhite populations were frequently isolated and constantly belittled in their existence.


Cultural Expansion

Abundant natural resources led to the expansion of extraction industries such as mining, logging, and fishing. Geographic isolation throughout BC meant that individual cities largely remained independent of one another. Southwestern sprawl around Vancouver and Victoria, where over half of the population of BC lives, is the exception rather than the rule.

Canadian laws have significantly expanded the rights of non-Europeans since the 1950s. Relaxation of strict civil considerations have led to the embracing of multiple cultures. Blanket equality for all groups still has a ways to go, but diversity between populations has become a point of national pride, rather than a splitting point.

Various forms of visual and performance art, lifestyle learning opportunities, and sports provide human focused entertainment. And a person would be remiss to forget the plethora of nature-centered entertainments available in BC. There is literally an option for everyone waiting to be discovered!