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40 Interesting facts about British Columbia Canada

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We love British Columbia. It’s a beautiful place to visit, but it can be hard to find information about the amazing attractions in BC. We all know that Vancouver is one of the most beautiful cities in North America, and Victoria is an amazing capital city on an island by itself. But what else is there? What are some interesting facts about British Columbia?

Well, our travel guide will help you learn more fun facts about BC. So keep reading!

40 Interesting facts about British Columbia Canada

1.British Columbia is the third largest and most westerly Canadian province

British Columbia is the third largest and most westerly province in Canada. This area is four times the size of Great Britain. 

View of Victoria BC from above
View of Victoria BC from above

It is bordered by Northwest Territories, the Yukon and Alaska to the north, Alberta to the east, and the U.S. to the south (states of Washington, Idaho, and Montana). 

The length of the province’s coastline is over 27,000 kilometers (over 16,000 miles).

2.Provincial symbols of British Columbia

The province boasts nine official symbols:

  • the provincial flag (adopted in 1960),
  • the coat of arms (adopted in 1895),
  • Pacific dogwood (official flower, adopted in 1956),
  • jade (official gemstone, adopted in 1968),
  • the Stellar’s jay (official bird, adopted in 1987),
  • western red cedar (official tree, adopted in 1988),
  • the spirit bear (official mammal, adopted in 2003),
  • original British Columbia pattern (the official tartan, adopted in 1974)
  • Pacific salmon (official fish, adopted in 2013).

3. The province’s flag features a rendition of the Royal Union Flag and a setting sun and King Edward Crown

In 1960, the provincial flag of British Columbia was adopted through public competition for children from grades 7-12.

British Columbia Flag
British Columbia Flag

It features the Royal Union Flag and a setting sun that represents the west of the province. The crown in the centre of the Union Jack is King Edward’s Crown and represents the Royal Family. 

It was King Edward who had approved the first provincial Coat of Arms.

The setting sun also helps to remember that British Columbia is on the left or western side of Canada from Ontario, which is on the right or eastern side.

4. The colony of British Columbia was founded in the mid 19th century

B.C. was founded on the mainland by Richard Clement Moody and the Royal Engineers of Columbia Detachment, in response to the Fraser Canyon Gold Rush. It later joined with the colony of Vancouver Island to form Canada’s most western province.

History of BC: BC Museum
History of BC: BC Museum

5. In 1871 British Columbia became a part of Canada

B.C. was a British colony until 1871. Thereafter with the introduction of railways, the Canadian Pacific Railway connected the country and the province from east to west. 

This in turn also increased trade and the movement of people and resources from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean.

6. Victoria is the capital city of British Columbia

Victoria is the capital city of BC, it was named after Queen Victoria, who reigned over the British Empire at the time of Confederation. Victoria is one of the prettiest Canadian cities and is located on an island.

Read about Victoria and other Interesting facts about British Columbia
Victoria: Interesting facts about British Columbia

7. Vancouver is the largest city in British Columbia

Did you know that half of all British Columbians live in the metropolitan area of Vancouver? It’s true! And it is the largest city in BC. The other major centers are Victoria, Surrey, Burnaby, Coquitlam, Richmond, Abbotsford, and Mission.

Vancouver is the third-largest city across Canada as a whole.

The second-largest city in BC is Victoria with 335,696 residents, followed by Kelowna at 151,957 people (2016 census).

8. Canada hosted Winter Olympics twice (including once in BC)

Canada hosted the Olympic Games twice – once in 1988 in Calgary, and then in 2010 during which BC hosted events in Whistler and Vancouver. 

Whistler's Olympics: Interesting facts about British Columbia
Whistler Olympic Rings Plaza: Interesting facts about British Columbia

9. World’s largest blue whale skeleton is in BC

The Royal British Columbia Museum in Victoria is home to the world’s largest blue whale skeleton! You should visit if you’re ever in town and plan a trip around seeing it. It’s an amazing place.

10. The world’s largest hockey stick is in BC

Did you know that the world’s largest hockey stick is in BC?! It was built for BC’s Expo 86 World’s Fair and was later acquired by the city of Duncan, where it is on display today.

This huge hockey stick is forty times the size of a regular hockey stick (about 62.48 metres long and weighs 28.12 tonnes).

11. The oldest Chinatown in Canada is in BC

Victoria is home to the oldest Chinatown in Canada, and this is also the second oldest in the whole of North America (after San Francisco USA). 

12. British Columbia is home to 7 of Canada’s National Parks

BC has seven national parks. Out of the seven, two are on Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands. They are Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, and Haida Heritage Site. 

Lake Emerald Yoho NP
Lake Emerald Yoho NP

The remaining five national parks are Kootenay, Yoho, Jasper, Mount Revelstoke, and Glacier National Parks.

13. Kasugai Garden is a Japanese garden located in Kelowna

The Kasugai Garden was built to celebrate the friendship and union between Kelowna and its sister city Kasugai in Japan.

14. “The Hanging Garden Tree” is one of the oldest known Western Red Cedar trees

As its name suggests, the Hanging Garden Tree is a Western Red Cedar that hangs over the edge of a bank. It’s estimated to have been around for 1,500 years! It is located on Meares Island, close to Tofino.

The Hanging Garden Tree, with a circumference of 18.3 metres, was once also considered the largest tree of its kind in Canada.

15. BC has had different flags since 1870

The first provincial flag was adopted in 1870, but it had no official status. It had the Union Jack and an emblem on it that was meant to represent Queen Victoria, but it was not recognized by the province. The flag did not last long. The second flag was adopted in 1871, but it also didn’t have official status or recognition.

The third flag was designed in 1906 for the visit of Edward VII to British Columbia. The union jack is said to represent British connection, while the maple leaf was meant to show Canada.

The fourth and the current flag was adopted in 1960 for the visit of Elizabeth II. It also has the Union Jack, with the setting sun, and wavy blue lines represent the province’s three mountain ranges: the Rocky Mountains, Columbia Mountains, and Coastal Mountains; while it also has two white areas that represent its seacoast and inland waters.

16. The world’s largest totem pole is in BC

The world’s largest totem pole is in Alert Bay. It stands at a height of 41 meters and was carved by Mungo Martin.

17. The PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola in Whistler BC is an engineering feat 

The PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola in Whistler BC takes you from the valley floor up to the top of Whistler and Blackcomb mountains. 

PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola: Interesting facts about British Columbia

It holds two records: one is that it’s North America’s longest free span between towers at 3,024 feet (937m), and the other is that it has the greatest vertical rise of any cable car system in the world at 436 m (1,427 ft).

PEAK 2 PEAK is also the world’s longest continuous lift system, connecting two high-speed chair lifts and one gondola.

In short, it is the longest and highest lift in the world – so don’t forget to add this to your BC bucket list.

18. There are 5 UNESCO Heritage Sites in BC

There are five UNESCO World Heritage Sites in B.C. They are Burgess Shale in Yoho National Park, the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks, Tatshenshini-Alsek Provincial Park, Clayoquot Sound Biosphere Reserve on Vancouver Island, and SGang Gwaay Llnagaay in the Haida Gwaii archipelago.

19. BC has more than 400 provincial parks 

There are more than 400 provincial parks, recreational and conservation areas in British Columbia.

Falls in Whistler BC
Nature and parks in British Columbia fun facts and more

If you like to spend time outdoors there is no shortage of activities in BC – hiking in the mountains or on coastal beaches, biking, rock climbing, kayaking or canoeing, fishing or hunting, bird watching, star gazing, camping in the forest, or on lakeshores.

20. British Columbia is home to many beaches

You can pick your favorite spot – whether you like walking along a white sanded beach, swimming in a freshwater lake or river, strolling along a rocky coastline, or snorkeling in clear waters – B.C. is home to many beaches.

21. The Haida Gwaii rock formations are like nothing else on Earth

The  Haida Gwaii or ‘Islands of the People’ rock formations are like nothing else on Earth. They have formed over 50 million years ago and makeup part of an ancient microcontinent called “Laurasia.” 

These islands are made up of igneous granite rocks, which is what you will see when standing atop them.

22. Canada’s only Grizzly Bear Sanctuary is in BC

Khutzeymateen Provincial Park is Canada’s only grizzly bear sanctuary. It was established in August 1994. To get to the park, you have to hop on a floatplane and take off from Prince Rupert, BC for a 20-minute flight over mountains and inlets to arrive in Khutzeymateen.

23. There is 961 km of the Trans-Canada Highway in BC 

The Trans-Canada Highway extends from Victoria to just east of Port Alberni and is 961 km long. It was built over the course of three years and opened in 1962 for the province’s centennial year.

24. Sea to Sky Highway is one of the most scenic drives in the world

The Sea to Sky Highway that connects Vancouver to Whistler is one of the most scenic highways in the world. It is a treat for anyone who likes spectacular vistas and mountain peaks towering above deep valleys.

Sea to Sky highway British Columbia interesting facts
Sea to Sky Highway

The 110 km long highway offers visitors a variety of outdoor experiences – hot springs, waterfalls, lakes, rivers, and glaciers!

25. The Malahat Drive is the most dangerous in BC

With its steep cliffs, narrow curves, and blind corners the Malahat Drive is a challenging route to drive in BC.

Mahalat Highway in Goldstream Provincial Park, just north of Langford, and takes a famously winding and steep route over the 356-meter (1,156-feet) Malahat Summit and ends at the south of Mill Bay.

Mahalat Drive is all of 25 kilometres, part of the Trans Canada Highway 1 running along the west side of Saanich Inlet and to the region near it.

26. BC is home to the longest running movie theatre in Canada 

BC is home to Powell River’s Patricia Theatre, which has been operating since 1913, making it the longest-running movie theatre in all of Canada.

27. The great sport of Bathtub Racing was started in Nanaimo, BC

The first official Nanaimo to Victoria bathtub race happened on August 5th, 1969, and is the oldest annual long-distance swim in the world.

The Great International World Championship Bathtub Race has been a summer tradition in Nanaimo for more than half a century! It takes place in July every year.

28. BC produces a little over half of Canada’s total wine production

Almost 20% of all wineries in Canada are located in BC. There are five wine-producing regions in the province: Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands, Fraser Valley, Okanagan Valley, and Similkameen Valley.

Vineyard overlooking a subdivision Okanagan Lake Kelowna British Columbia Canada in the fall
Vineyard overlooking a subdivision Okanagan Lake Kelowna British Columbia

29. Icewine is produced in BC

BC produces ice wine, which is Canada’s most popular form of dessert wine. It got this name because grapes are left on the vine to freeze and then pressed while still frozen. The resulting juice is much sweeter than grapes that were harvested before frost.

30. One-third of the population living in BC has an Asian heritage

British Columbia has one of the highest concentrations of people with Asian heritages than any other province or territory. In fact, about one-third of the entire population living in BC has Asian heritage.

31. BC is home to the largest cultivator of blueberries 

British Columbia is one of the largest highbush blueberry-growing regions in the world. It produces about 96% of Canada’s cultivated blueberries. They are commercially grown in both wild and cultivated varieties.

32. BC has a wide range of cultural communities from around the world

British Columbia’s cultural diversity is reflected in its landscape through a rich variety of foods, celebrations, and festivals. The province has a population of almost 5.071 million people, which includes around 270,585 aboriginal people (2019 census).

33. British Columbia has a strong and diversified economy

It is the third-largest in Canada with a GDP of C$ 183 billion. Mining, forestry, manufacturing, and tourism are the main economic drivers for the province.

BC has an advanced knowledge-based economy offering diverse opportunities in sectors such as digital media, film and television production, high-tech industries, and clean technology. In fact, BC is home to Canada’s largest video game development industry.

34. British Columbia is home to some of Canada’s top universities

According to the QS World University Rankings, UBC was ranked 23rd globally. SFU came in 46th place and UVic in 151st place. BC also has a number of community colleges that provide hands-on experience and training toward careers in trades, health care, business, and technology.

35. Vancouver is the most expensive city in Canada

According to Mercer’s annual Cost of Living Survey, Vancouver is the most expensive city in all of Canada. The average house price here is 1,270,488 Canadian dollars. 

Vancouver is one of the expensive cities - Interesting facts about British Columbia
Vancouver: Interesting facts about British Columbia

If you compare this to other cities like Edmonton ($357,400) or Saskatoon ($307,100 ), you’ll see that housing prices in Vancouver really are through the roof.

36. One of Canada’s beloved artists was born in BC

Emily Carr is well known for her depictions of First Nations villages, monumental art, and of forests and landscapes of British Columbia. She was born in Victoria and lived there most of her life.

37. Canada’s Centennial Baby was born in British Columbia

Hollywood actress Pamela Anderson was the first child to be born in Canada on the 100th celebration of Canada Day. She was born in Ladysmith, British Columbia, and is named Canada’s ‘Centennial Baby’.

38. Rainiest places in Canada are in British Columbia

Abbotsford in British Columbia tops the list of rainiest cities in the country with an average of 1538 millimeters of precipitation annually, which is 179 days of rain per year.

Ocean Falls is noted for its abundance of rain too, about 4,390 millimetres (172.8 in) annually, is also located in BC.

On the other hand, Henderson Lake on Vancouver Island receives more rainfall throughout the year than any other place in North America at 7296 millimetres of precipitation annually with over 23 feet of rainfall.

39. One of the mildest winters

BC experiences milder winters as compared to the east or the Prairies in Canada. The areas along the south coast have a mild climate year-round where summers are warm, with daytime temperatures around 20°C.

B.C.’s coastal regions have the mildest winters in all of Canada, and temperatures rarely drop below freezing point.

40. The highest waterfalls in Canada are in BC

Della Falls located in Strathcona Provincial Park on Vancouver Island constitute the highest waterfalls in Canada.

All in all, British Columbia is one of the most beautiful places on earth with amazing people. We hope this post has helped you learn more about this stunning Canadian province and that if you ever get a chance to visit it’s something you’ll do!

Whether for business or pleasure, we’re sure there are many reasons why your time spent here will be memorable.

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