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 1800's in British Columbia were notable for trade and expansion. In this era, British Columbia went from being a trading outpost to a newly formed province of Canada. The Northwest Company and Hudson's Bay Company established a number of trading posts and forts throughout British Columbia, including Fort St. John, Fort George and Fort Langley. The two companies eventually merged. James Douglas, of Scottish and Guyanese origins, became British Columbia's first colonial Governor.
In 1803, Maquinna, chief of the Nuu-chah-nulth people of Nootka Sound, led an attack on the American trading vessel, the Boston.
In 1808, Simon Fraser began an expedition of the present day Fraser River.
In 1821, the North West Company and Hudson's Bay Company merged, creating three new trading regions, New Caledonia, Thompson River Watershed and Columbia District.
In 1846, the British handed-over any claim to territory south of the 49th parallel in signing the Oregon Treaty.
In 1847, the discovery of gold on the Fraser River attracted over 30,000 miners and dreamers starting the Gold Rush.
In 1858, James Douglas became Governor of the newly formed colony of British Columbia.
In 1871, British Columbia became the sixth province to enter the confederation of Canada.
In 1885, Canadian Pacific completed the transcontinental railway from Montreal to Port Moody.
Although the 1848 discovery of gold in California was the first bonanza to trigger an invasion of migrants to North America's Pacific Coast, it was relatively short-lived. Soon, grander findings farther north led to an even greater influx of gold hunters. In 1851, a twenty-seven-ounce gold nugget was found on Haida Gwaii, ushering in fifty years of gold fever that brought a wave of Californians to the Fraser River and then farther inland to the gold-laden creeks of the Cariboo.
Epic Wanderer , the first full-length biography of David Thompson, is set in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries against a broad canvas of dramatic rivalries -- between the United States and British North America, between the Hudson's Bay Company and its Montreal-based rival, the North West Co.
James Douglas's story is one of high adventure in pre-Confederation Canada. It weaves through the heart of Canadian and Pacific Northwest history when British Columbia was a wild land, Vancouver didn't exist, and Victoria was a muddy village.