British Columbia Attractions
Top Tourist Attractions in British Columbia
British Columbia covers 9.4 per cent of the total area of Canada, making it the third largest province. The province is characterised mainly by the two mountain chains of the Canadian Cordilleras and the geologically deposited plateau.
The Coast Range Mountains are very rugged and carved up by fiords. The offshore islands, including Vancouver Island, are remains of another mountain chain, the Insular Mountains, and provide a unique form of landscape. Mount Waddington, at 4016 m (13,180 ft), is the highest in the Coast Range Mountains. The plateaux are 800-1200 m (2600-4000 ft) high, composed of Tertiary lava, ashes and freshwater deposits. The Rocky Mountains, forming the eastern border of the province of Alberta, are relatively young mountains, having folded in the Tertiary period, and based on sediment from the Triassic and Jurassic periods. During the Pleistocene Age British Columbia, like North and Central Europe, was completely covered in ice. Traces of the four Ice Ages can still be seen in the shape of numerous glaciers, for example in the Columbia Icefield near the border with Alberta, which covers an area of 389 sq. km (150 sq. mi.) and is still 1000 m (3300 ft) thick. The main ridge of the Rockies also forms the water-shed of Canada. Thus British Columbia is the only province which drains into the Pacific Ocean; by comparison, 66 per cent of Canada's land surface drains into the Arctic Ocean. The highest mountain in the Rockies is Mount Robson, 3954 m (12,977 ft) high. As a result of the mountain structure the river network is very ramified. The Fraser River is 1360 km (845 mi.) long and the Columbia 1840 km (1143 mi.).The individual mountain chains which make up the Canadian Cordilleras have a marked influence on the climate of British Columbia. On the western sides the rainfall is generally very heavy; for example, Prince Rupert has 2330 mm (91.7in.) per annum, Vancouver 1460 mm (57.5 in.). In the lee of the mountains, on the other hand, there are some very dry pockets, such as Kamloops with 268 mm (10.5 in.) per annum and Penticton with 300 mm (11.8 in.). Winters generally mean a lot of snow, up to 5 m (17 ft), although there are some valleys which see very little in the way of snow. In the interior of British Columbia, shielded by the mountains, the climate is quite continental, with short, very hot summers and long, extremely cold winters; Kamloops, for example, has an average January minimum of -10°C (14°F), and an average maximum in July of 29°C (83°F). The coast is blessed with the Kuro Schio, a warm ocean current producing really mild temperatures; Vancouver, for instance, has an average January minimum of 0°C (32°F) and an average maximum of 24°C (74°F) in July, while Prince Rupert's average January minimum is -1°C (31°F), July maximum 17°C (62°F).British Columbia's natural vegetation is determined largely by the high mountains. Coniferous forest predominates, changing to tundra and glaciated regions as one goes higher. The offshore islands, like the whole of the Pacific coast, are heavily wooded, mainly with coniferous trees. Here are still found large expanses of temperate coastal rain forest harbouring some of the oldest and largest fir trees in the world. These primeval woodlands, exceptionally valuable not only in resource terms but also from an ecological point of view, are today under threat from Canada's profit-orientated timber industry. The hot summers in the valleys and the low rainfall result in steppe-like vegetation where - with adequate irrigation (see The Okanagan) - even fruit such as peaches and apricots can be grown.In the 17th c. Spanish mariners sailed northwards up the Pacific coast and discovered British Columbia, which until then had for thousands of years been inhabited only by native Indians. In 1778 James Cook was the first white man to set foot on Vancouver Island. In that same year Capt. John Meares founded the first English settlement of Nootka, but this had to be ceded to Spain on the grounds of old claims held by the latter. In 1790 the Spaniards renounced their claims, however, and Capt. George Vancouver was able to take possession of the island for Great Britain. Alexander Mackenzie was the first white man to reach the Pacific by the land route in 1793, to be followed by Simon Fraser and David Thompson, after whom the largest rivers in the province are named.In British Columbia too the "49th parallel" was made the border between Canada and the United States, in accordance with the terms of the Oregon Treaty. In 1849 Vancouver Island was declared a Crown Colony. Seven years later important gold finds attracted large numbers of adventurers and settlers to Fraser Valley and Barkerville. In 1886 the mainland of British Columbia and Vancouver Island off the coast were merged and joined the Canadian Confederation in 1871. Victoria was made the capital of this new province. Between 1923 and 1926 organised immigration from Europe led to further settlements being established in the province. Following the Japanese occupation of the Aleutians during the Second World War the United States decided in 1942 to build a land route to Alaska, the present Alaskan Highway, which runs from Dawson Creek B.C. to Fairbanks, Alaska. The east-west link was improved in 1962 by the completion of the TransCanada Highway. In 1986 the World Exhibition was held in Vancouver.British Columbia has a relatively high population density compared with other areas of Canada. However, there is a marked fall in population as one moves northward, and the inhabitants are concentrated in a very few towns and centres, with half the population in the Vancouver conurbation alone. The original native inhabitants were basically of two types, the Salish and the Kutenai, who lived mainly from hunting in the interior. In contrast to the Indians in the north-west of British Columbia they are nomads. Those living on the coast - including the Tlingits and the Wakashans - rely mainly on the resources of the sea and live in permanent settlements. 4.4 per cent of the population of British Columbia are the original native Indians, i.e. about a sixth of the total Canadian native population. While almost 80 per cent of the white population live in towns and cities only 40 per cent of the Indians do so, mainly as a result of the fact that their small settlements are well organised and are almost urban in character.British Columbia is one of Canada's richest provinces. The main branches of its economy are forestry, fishing, mining and tourism.In addition to the lumber industry, fishing is also of great importance. As well as five different species of salmon there is also herring, a large per cent of which is exported to Japan. Aquaculture is also important, breeding mainly salmon, but also trout, prawns and mussels.In contrast to the "prairie states", agriculture plays only a minor role. A small amount of corn is grown in the north-east near Peace River, and fruit and vine cultivation plays is quite important in the valleys to the south. The main mines are those producing coal, stretching from the south-east to the north-west of Alberta across British Columbia to the Yukon Territory. Hydro-electric power and natural gas provide the bulk of energy requirements, while crude oil has to be imported from Alberta. Its position on the Pacific means that British Columbia is ideally situated to trade with Asia and Australia. The varied leisure facilities make tourism an important economic factor for British Columbia.Its unspoiled mountains, extensive forests and numerous lakes make British Columbia a paradise for sports lovers of every ilk. Those keen on water-sports are catered for by numerous lakes and charming rivers, with paddling on lonely lakes to rafting on the rivers. The unique fiord-like coastline is ideal for sailing, while swimming in the Pacific is a question of taste, in spite of the warm ocean currents. In contrast, the hot sun raises the temperatures of the lakes further inland almost to those of a swimming-pool.For fishermen the salmon spawning season in August and September offers fantastic sport. Every conceivable variety of fish can be caught in the many lakes and rivers.The varied nature of the countryside makes British Columbia an ideal place for walking, especially in the national and provincial parks where North America's natural charms are there to be enjoyed. After a tiring day it is so refreshing to relax in a hot spring. For horse-lovers there are wonderful opportunities to hire a horse on a ranch. For anyone wishing to try their hand at golf Canada is the place, because equipment can be hired at any golf-club. In winter thousands of sports are available. The ski resort of Whistler 125 km (76 mi.) from Vancouver and home to the 2010 winter Olympics, offers ski-runs of varying degrees of difficulty. There are ample sports opportunities for visitors from Europe to enjoy, and the numerous tourist bureaux scattered throughout the province will be glad to assist in all matters relating to leisure pursuits.
Inside PassageFerry between Port Hardy (Vancouver Island) and Prince RupertDistance: 274 nautical miles (about 507 km / 315 mi)Time
taken: 15 hoursThe Inside Passage, a shipping route off the Canadian Pacific coast, in the lee of countless small islands, extends from Puget Sound in the south, near Seattle (Washington), through the Georgia and Queen Charlotte Straits, up towards the "Alaska Panhandle" (about 1500 km / 930 mi).There are cruises along the Inside Passage to Alaska, lasting about a week, from Seattle and Vancouver. The best time to go is from July to September, when according to the statistics there should be a greater number of sunny days. In fact the climate on the Canadian Pacific coast is relatively mild all year round, although the mainly westerly winds bring plenty of rain, because of the warm Japanese current.At Prince Rupert passengers can join the Alaska Marine Highway ferries and continue on through Ketchikan (a busy little fishing harbor, with impressive totem poles and historic Creek Street built on stilts), Wrangell, Petersburg, Juneau (capital of Alaska in the USA with excursions to Glacier Bay National Park) and Haines (for the Chilkat Indian Dancers and Chilkat State Park), to Skagway, the "Gateway to the Yukon", and Klondike Goldrush National Historical Park, the road to the Alaska Highway. The whole trip takes about 36 hours.
The Sunshine Coast off of the coast of British Columbia runs from Howe Sound to Desolation Sound. Some of the locations along here include Gambier Island, Keats Island, Gibsons, Roberts Creek, Sechelt, Halfmoon Bay, Thormanby Island, Secret Cove, Pender Harbour, Ruby Lake, Egmont, Earl's Cove, Nelson Island, Powell River, Lund, Texada Island, Savary Island, and Desolation Sound. Ferries connect the major destinations.
Kootenay National Park is located in the Rocky Mountains and borders with both Banff and Yoho National Parks. Rugged peaks, glaciers, and gorges characterize the scenery.
Yoho National Park is home to some of the most spectacular scenery in the Rocky Mountains. High mountains, glaciers, rivers, and forests, provide outstanding terrain for hiking and other outdoor pursuits.
The Crowsnest Highway runs east-west in southern Alberta and British Columbia, over the Crowsnest Pass. The diverse scenery ranges from mountains and forest, to hills and pasture land.
Glacier National Park is located in the Selkirk Range of the Columbia Mountains and is an area of rugged mountains and dramatic scenery. The TransCanada Highway runs through the park, off of which are numerous hiking trails.
The Yellowhead Highway runs from Winnipeg in central Canada to Prince Rupert on the Pacific Coast.
The Stewart Cassiar Highway runs from the Yellowhead Highway north to join the Alaska Highway. This scenic stretch is very remote with few facilities along the way.
The Columbia River flows through several mountain ranges to the western edge of the Rockies. It provides hydro-electric power due to a number of dams created to harness its power.
33 km (20 mi.) east of Wells along a gravel road brings the visitor to Bowron Lake Provincial Park. This magnificent region, mainly an untamed
wilderness, covers an area of 1231 sq. km (475 sq. mi.). Ever popular are canoe tours on the eleven lakes in the park covering a total of 116 km (72 mi.) and lasting eight to ten days; linked one with the other by five rivers, these lakes are surrounded by the massive peaks of the Cariboo Mountains rising to heights of up to 2530 m (8300 ft). There are only seven occasions when the pleasure of canoeing has to be interrupted by the need to convey the canoe to the next stretch of water, the maximum length to carry it being 3 km (2 mi.); mosquitoes can be a nuisance.Most of the time is spent paddling along still or gently flowing waters. There are 45 places where overnight stays can be made in small tents equipped with bear-proof platforms in order to keep food stocks safe, simple toilet facilities and some with cooking shelters. Canoes can be hired at two lodges at the park entrance; information and maps can be obtained from the Nature House at the northern end of Bowron Lake, where those going on a canoe tour must sign themselves in and out. Outward-bound experience, physical fitness and suitable equipment are essential.In summer the number of permits issued for the total round trip is limited a certain number per day. Bowron Lake and the straggling Spectacle Lakes are suitable for shorter boat trips - without the need to carry the boat across land.
Address: BC Parks Cariboo Region, 400-640 Borland Street, Williams Lake, BC V2G4T1, Canada
Northern Woods and Water RouteThe start of the 2400 km / 1419 mi. Northern Woods and Water Route - 300 km (186 mi.) of it over graveled roads - is Dawson Creek, in British Columbia. It leads through virtually unpopulated territory towards Winnipeg, and there is the possibility of catching a quick fish or seeing game from the road on the way. Service stations are a day's journey apart.Highway 2, west of Athabasca, becomes part of this route, dubbed the Northern Woods and Water Route in 1974, and opening up the northern districts of Canada's four western provinces.This route from Dawson Creek through the north of Alberta and Saskatchewan to Winnipeg in Manitoba gives access to a chain of lakes and rivers, and to delightful, but little visited, provincial parks. At the northern edge of the settlement cornfields and grazing meadows, villages and lonely farmsteads alternate with great expanses of timberland.
In Cache Creek, which exists mainly on income from through traffic and tourism, the Caribou Highway 97 branches off to the north. This road then enters truly unspoilt regions of territory, providing relatively quick access to the Yellowhead region and to Alaska. In Ashcroft-Cache Creek there is much that is reminiscent of the old west of Canada. Many cattle farms in the region take in paying guests. The barren hills nearby are becoming increasingly popular with hang-gliders.Cache Creek, lying 670 m (2200 ft) above sea-level and with a population of 1000, was at one time a busy center for freight going north or east. From here "Bernard's Express", a stage-coach service, ran for 50 years; it could reach Barkerville in four days.
Historic Hat Creek Ranch
Historic Hat Creek Ranch is home to more than 20 historic structures that were constructed from 1863-1915. Located on a section of the Cariboo Waggon Road, the Hat Creek Ranch features a Shuswap village, a blacksmith shop and a collection of pioneer agricultural machinery. Costumed interpreters lead visitors through the ranch offering explanations on the history of the area and details of the time period.The Native Village offers insight into the history and culture of the Shuswap Nation. It is also possible to take a stage coach ride along the famous Cariboo Waggon Road.
Address: Box 878, Cache Creek, BC V0K1H0, Canada
Opening hours: May 1 to Jun 30: 9am-5pm
Jul 1 to Aug 31: 9am-6pm
Sep 1 to Oct 15: 9am-5pm
Jul 1 to Aug 31: 9am-6pm
Sep 1 to Oct 15: 9am-5pm
Entrance fee in CAD: Family $20.00, Adult $9.00, Group discounts $8.00, Senior over 65 $8.00, Child 6-12 $6.00
Situated on the exceptionally attractive Harrison Lake some 6 km / 4 mi north of Agassiz, Harrison Hot Springs (13 m / 43 ft above sea level; population 700) has a public thermal pool and a 3 km /2 mi long sandy beach (excellent for sunbathing in summer).Boats run trips to Port Douglas at the northern end of the 70 km (43 mi.) lake.The Sasquatch Provincial Park, 10 km / 6 mi further north from Harrison Hot Springs, is a favorite leisure area for local people (sailing, windsurfing, water-skiing, canoeing, etc.). Canoes and paddles can be hired.From Harrison Hot Springs follow the Fraser River eastwards for another 33 km / 20 mi, rejoining TransCanada Highway 1 about 3 km / 2 mi north of Hope.
Open from the end of May, the Trans-Canada Waterslides offer five swimming-pools with water-chutes, including the gigantict hot tub.Some of the other facilities here are a mini golf course, large picnicking site, snack bar, and camping area. Trans-Canada Waterslides is a very family oriented water park. Everything you need, including items you may have forgotten can be purchased on site.
Address: 53790 Popkum Road South, Bridal Falls, BC V0X1X0, Canada
Opening hours: May 20 to Jun 16: 10am-6pm; Closed: Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri
Jun 17 to Sep 4: 10am-7pm
Jun 17 to Sep 4: 10am-7pm
Entrance fee: FREE
Useful tips: Reduced price in the afternoon.
From Lytton the TransCanada Highway follows the Thompson River. As a result of the dry conditions the rocky slopes are relatively devoid of vegetation. The main trees found along the Thompson River are Ponderosa pine or the "sagebrush" so typical of the arid regions of America and cacti which, of course, also thrive in relatively dry conditions. For the most part, crops can be grown only with the aid of artificial irrigation.In the narrow river-valley between Lytton and Spences Bridge there was often scarcely sufficient room for the modern highway to be built by the side of the railway lines, so frequently the road was constructed on steel girders directly above the Thompson River.
To get to the Othello-Quintette Tunnels, in Coquihalla Canyon Recreation Area at Coquihalla Canyon Provincial Park, take the Kawkawa Lake road and the Othello road. The tunnel in the Coquihalla Canyon for the Kettle Valley Railway (closed in 1959) will give the visitor the feeling of being back in the good old days of steam, when the Canadian Pacific line was laid between 1911 and 1918 linking the Kootenays with the Pacific.The old railway bridges between the Othello-Quintette Tunnels were replaced with hair-raising foot bridges in the 1960s. Anyone wanting to follow the tunnel trail should definitely take a good torch!
Rossland Historical Museum is home to an outdoor history park and the Le Roi mine. The museum displays information on mining, mining equipment, as well as rock and minerals. It also discusses Rossland's history as it relates to mining and the development of the town.The outdoor park features some hands on experiences, including gold panning.For the more adventurous underground tours are offered of the hard-rock gold mine, providing insight into the mining operation. The tours are guided and last about 45 minutes.
With its long sandy beaches on the tranquil Georgia Strait, Parksville is a favorite summer holiday resort.The area between Parksville and nearby Qualicum Beach has numerous beach side resorts and other forms of accommodation. This has also become a popular winter destination with retirees from other parts of Canada. Over the past two decades the population has grown considerably.
Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park
Among Rathtrevor Provincial Park's many attractions this much-visited park, about 3 k (2 mi.) south of Parksville, has a level sandy beach over 2 km (11/4 mi.) long. At the Park office information can be obtained about guided tours of the "Horne Lake Caves" situated some 20 km (12 mi.) to the north (there are many more caves than those so far open to the public).Nature trails at Rathtrevor Provincial Park provide a nice area for walking and bird watching, particularly in the spring when sea birds take advantage of the herring spawning.The park has campsites and day use areas for visitors.
Address: c/o BC Parks - Strathcona District, Box 1479, Parksville, BC V9P2H4, Canada
Useful tips: This park is open year-round.
Englishman River Falls Provincial Park
Englishman River Falls Provincial Park near Parksville is known for the falls and canyon that cuts through the park. There are numerous hiking trails through the forest of old growth cedars, arbutus, firs, and maples. There is also camping within the park.
Map of British Columbia Attractions