The Vancouver Public Library has extensive primary and secondary resources on the history of British Columbia. This guide is designed to help you begin your research on this topic and use library resources effectively.
The BC Archives is the archives of the Government of British Columbia, and provides research access to records of enduring value to the province for both the provincial government and public researchers.
Museum of Anthropology, a place of world arts and cultures with a special emphasis on the First Nations peoples and other cultural communities of British Columbia, Canada. The Museum is built on traditional, ancestral, unceded land of the Musqueam people and it is fitting that the first artworks and words you encounter outside the Museum are a welcome from our generous First Nations hosts.
Use the following VPL resources to find historical photographs of Vancouver and BC; research names and city streets; listen to reminiscences about the West End; find articles and stories on BC history; learn about the history of the Vancouver Public Library; or dip into a lively, short-lived weekly newspaper from the early twentieth century.
Northwest History Index
This card index in Special Collection provides access to the Northwest History Collection, a heritage collection covering the early history and exploration of British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest.
The collection includes:
magazine and newspaper articles
chapters in books
many other resources
As of August 1998, no new material has been added to the Northwest History Index. It is continued by the British Columbia Index.
The 1900's were a remarkable period of social change in British Columbia. Fishing, farming, forestry and mining dominated economic activity. It was also a troubled period of racial and social divisions, most notable the residential school system, race riots, and the internment of Canadian born citizens of Japanese descent.
The 1900's also marked a very colourful political period for the citizens of B.C. Struggles for civil rights were hard fought. British Columbians participated in and witnessed two world wars. It was also a period of outstanding achievement. Many disenfranchised groups finally won the right to vote. Terry Fox embarked upon his Marathon of Hope, and Vancouver hosted Expo 86.
In 1903, a formal agreement was signed to define the border between Alaska and British Columbia.
In 1907, an anti-immigration group called the Asiatic Exclusion League marched through Vancouver's Chinatown, leaving much damage in their wake. The group clashed with Japanese and Chinese business owners. A riot ensued.
In 1914, the Komagata Maru sailed from Hong Kong to Vancouver with 376 passengers from the Punjab region of India. Despite the passengers being British subjects, many who had served in the British army, the ship was forced to return to India with 352 passengers aboard.
In 1917, after a successful referendum, women of British Columbia won the right to vote.
In 1941, after the bombing of Pearl Harbour, British Columbia citizens of Japanese descent were sent to camps in the Interior, many losing their homes, businesses and livelihoods.
In 1971, the Trans-Canada Highway traversing Canada from St. John's, Newfoundland to Victoria, B.C. was completed.
In 1980, Terry Fox embarked upon his Marathon of Hope to raise awareness and money for cancer research.
In 1986, Vancouver hosted the 1986 World Exposition, transforming the city forever.
As a child during WWII, Joy Kogawa was interned with her family and thousands of other Japanese Canadians by the Canadian government. Set in Vancouver and Toronto, the outposts of Slocan and Coaldale, the streets of Nagasaki and the high mountains of Shikoku, Japan, it is an account of a remarkable life.
It has often been observed that the First World War jolted Canada into nationhood, and as Mark Forsythe and Greg Dickson show in this compelling book, no province participated more eagerly in that transformation or felt the aftershock more harshly than British Columbia.
This new and expanded edition offers the most thoroughly researched account of the notorious Komagata Maru incident. The event centres on the ship's nearly four hundred Punjabi passengers, who sought entry into Canada at Vancouver in the summer of 1914, only to be chased away by a Canadian warship.
From the 1920s to 1952, George and Else Seel lived about sixty kilometres south of Burns Lake near the small farming settlement of Wistaria on the western shore of Ootsa Lake. Like many early twentieth century settlers who migrated to BC's central interior, the Seels came in search of opportunity and prosperity, but the harsh environment posed challenges they could not have imagined.
Mod 'n Lavender is the account of a teen's voyage into adulthood on Salt Spring Island, the trendy hub of the Counter-culture during what was arguably the most tumultuous decade in modern history, the '60's.