||British Columbia has a mixed economy. While high-tech and tourism related
businesses are of growing importance, logging and mining are still important. Forest based resources are being
managed with more care than they were in the past. For 150 years, the trees were being cut faster than they could
grow back. This practice has ended, and as time goes on, logging on steep slopes prone to erosion is happening
less. Heli-logging is becoming more common. All logged areas are replanted. There are deep-sea ports at Prince
Rupert, Nanaimo, Squamish, Vancouver and Victoria. While it is much declined from earlier years, BC has
considerable ship-building facilities.
Due to the terrain and an abundance of rivers, B. C. has many hydro-electric dams. Electricity is very
reasonably priced. BC Hydro is operated by the province, but private hydro-electric generation is encouraged.
There are some oil and natural gas wells in the Peace River corner of the province, and Alberta with its supplies
of oil and natural gas is right next door. Even though the price of petroleum products is effected by world
prices, supply is not a problem.
Tourism brings many dollars to the province. Whistler and Blackcomb, just an hour and a half north of
Vancouver, attract two million skiers each winter. Other less well known areas have their own charm and
excellent powder skiing. Heli-skiing, River Rafting and Whale Watching is also popular. The arrival of the railway
in BC in the 19th century opened up the province and made it a lot more accessible to easterners. As soon as the
trans-Canada railway was completed in the late 18th century, tourism brought many people to the spectacular
Canadian Rockies. Passenger travel on trains had declined in the latter half of the 20th century, but tourism is
providing a much needed boost to rail travel. Daytime train trips through the Rockies are very popular. The steam
locomotive Royal Hudson makes day trips from North Vancouver to Pemberton and back, with the option of returning
to North Vancouver by ship.
Vancouver is the largest city in B. C. Along with the surrounding communities, there are nearly three million
people in the lower mainland. The rest of the province is more thinly populated. An hour and a half away by ferry
is Vancouver Island, and Victoria, the capital city. Victoria and the nearby Gulf Islands receive less rain than
Vancouver in the winter months. Summer temperatures are around 20º C, and winter it hovers usually a few degrees
The province is divided up into several geographic zones. Off the coast are Vancouver Island and the more
northerly Queen Charlotte Islands. The lower mainland and Fraser Valley take in all the area around Vancouver at
the mouth of the Fraser River. To the east is the Okanagon Valley. The Okanagon is in a different climate zone. It
is much warmer in summer than Vancouver, with temperatures of around 25-30º C, and without the ocean to moderate
temperatures, much cooler in winter. The Okanagon receives much less rainfall than the coast.
Further east are the Kootenay Mountains and the Rocky Mountains, which stretch north-south the length of the
province, and for most of the province, form the border between BC and Alberta. To the north of Vancouver is the
Caribou - a large rolling plateau. Many people in the south think of Prince George as "northern BC," but there is
still half a province off to the north. The Peace River country forms the north-east corner of the province. It is
actually east of the Rockies.
The Kootenays are less warm than the Okanagon, and the Rocky Mountains which run the length of the eastern side
of the province swing through this corner of the province. Heading north from the Okanagon, the terrain is a
rolling plateau until past Prince George. The Coast Mountains run the entire length of the province. Vancouver
Island has a rib of mountains running its full length. The Gulf Islands have the most moderate temperatures.
Summer temperatures are usually 20-25º C, and winter daytime temperatures are around 5º C. Salt Spring Island, the
largest of the Gulf Islands, usually gets a dusting of snow several times through the winter.