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British Columbia

British Columbia
Salt Spring Island
Vancouver Island
Maple Ridge
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  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 20 C, and winter it hovers usually a few degrees above freezing.

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 25-30 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 20-25 C, and winter daytime temperatures are around 5 C. Salt Spring Island, the largest of the Gulf Islands, usually gets a dusting of snow several times through the winter.


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