Oh Canada, you’ve sure come a long way in your incredibly young one hundred and fifty years.
Of course, the land on which you’ve formed has been around for much, much longer than that; a pristine wilderness with an abundance of life and mystical natural beauty – a rugged New World to the crowded Old World an ocean away. One it had to explore and eventually colonize, east to west to north, and sea to sea to sea.
In 1843, Victoria became the capital of the newly-established Colony of Vancouver Island. In 1866, Vancouver Island became part of the Colony of British Columbia, and in 1871, British Columbia became the 6th Canadian province, its name chosen by Queen Victoria herself.
The Aboriginal people of what is now Canada’s westernmost province have seen at least 10,000 years of this land. Through initial contact with early European settlers, the almost annihilating outbreaks of disease, rushes of gold and hopeful treaties, they’ve witnessed it all. Presently, more than 200 First Nations communities continue to bear witness, along with millions of ‘new’ Canadians.
Today, beautiful British Columbia is home to almost 5 million people, nearly half residing in Greater Vancouver alone, Canada’s third largest city. Even with such human encroachment, decades of trapping, logging and mining, more than 60% of the province remains forested and less than 5% of it arable. Its sprawling coastline spans almost 30,000 kms, dotted by nearly 6,000 islands, most uninhabited and as wild as ever.
Geographically, British Columbia has it all. From the temperate rainforest of Western Vancouver Island and the majestic peaks of the Rocky Mountains to the near desert-like conditions of the Interior Plateau and everything in between, there isn’t a province or territory more naturally diverse.
“As Canada continues to evolve, becoming more diverse and inclusive, we have a shared responsibility to carry on the conversation that started 150 years ago. Canada’s sesquicentennial is an opportunity to renew our care for our great land, to focus on reconciliation with our Indigenous peoples and to engage with youth about their vision for our nation’s future.” – Judith Guichon, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia
To get to know it intimately, there is simply no better way than by visiting its vast protected wilderness.
To help celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday, the federal government has made admission to all of Canada’s National Parks, Historic Sites and Marine Conservation Areas free for 2017, with the ever-popular Discovery Pass. Get ready, there is a lot to see!
British Columbia has 7 of Canada’s National Parks as well as many Provincial and Regional Parks. In addition, there are 141 Ecological Reserves, 35 Provincial Marine Parks, 7 Provincial Heritage Sites and 6 National Historic Sites of Canada to discover, explore and enjoy.
National Parks: Glacier National Park, Gulf Islands National Park Reserve, Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and Haida Heritage Site, Kootenay National Park, Mount Revelstoke National Park, Pacific Rim National Park Reserve and Yoho National Park.
If you aren’t the outdoorsy type, British Columbia is no less interesting. By all metrics, Vancouver is a thriving, world-class city and a worthy destination on its own. Ranking high annually as one of the world’s best cities to live in, the cosmopolitan metropolis has hosted the Commonwealth Games in 1954, Expo 86, and along with nearby Whistler, the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. In 2014, the popular TED conference moved its base to Vancouver from California, and for decades now, the city and province has been one of the largest film production centres in North America, earning it the nickname of ‘Hollywood North’.
Vancouver is also one of the most ethnically diverse of all Canadian cities, with more than half of Vancouver residents citing a language other than English as their first. With that, authentic eateries can be found everywhere, from proper sushi restaurants, a bustling Chinatown and Punjab Market to true-to-form Pho houses, Little Italy and more. This year’s birthday celebrations will be held throughout the year.
The warm and fertile Fraser and Okanagan Valleys are among Canada’s biggest agricultural producers and hold the country’s best wine making regions, respected worldwide. Tour the wineries and cider houses from Vernon to Osoyoos, or if on Vancouver Island, the Cowichan Valley.
Hike, surf, ski or climb; stumble upon a sacred totem pole, a pod of Orcas or the best Japanese restaurant this side of the Pacific Ocean. Immerse yourself in sacred Indigenous art or cutting edge music and film. Celebrate Canada’s harmony with nature in its greatest playground of all, British Columbia.
Have you heard? Canada has made almost everyone’s list as this year’s place to be. Let us help you celebrate British Columbia and the rest of Canada with amazing travel deals, from air and hotel options to car rentals and ski packages. Connect with us online, visit us in-store or reach us by calling 1877 967 5302 today.