timeline

British Columbia

British Columbia is Canada's most westerly province, and is a mountainous area whose population is mainly clustered in its southwestern corner. BC is Canada’s third-largest province after Québec and Ontario, making up 10 per cent of Canada’s land surface.

Western Red Cedar Rainforest

April 25, 1858

Resources and Environment 

Fraser River Gold Rush

The first wave of miners from California arrived at Victoria, en route to the Fraser River Gold Rush. The Gold Rush caused a precipitous decline in the Native population and politically unified British Columbia.

April 26, 1858

People 

First Black Californians Arrive in BC

On the invitation of James Douglas, the governor of British Columbia, the first ship carrying Black Californians landed in Victoria on 26 April 1858. By summer's end, more than 800 Black settlers had arrived. While government legislation suggested that equality prevailed, in truth, convention and little enforcement allowed acceptance to give way to segregation.

May 30, 1858

People 

Hudson's Bay Co Charter Revoked

The Hudson's Bay Co charter to what is now mainland British Columbia was revoked.

August 02, 1858

People 

BC a Crown Colony

An imperial Act provided for the government of British Columbia as a Crown colony, to include the Queen Charlotte Islands but excluding Vancouver Island; Victoria was the new capital.

November 19, 1858

People 

Douglas Appointed Governor Of BC

At Fort Langley, Judge Matthew Begbie read aloud the Queen's commission making James Douglas the governor of the new colony of British Columbia.

June 08, 1859

People 

Supreme Court of British Columbia Established

The Supreme Court of British Columbia was established.

August 17, 1862

Resources and Environment 

Cariboo Gold Rush

Gold was discovered on Williams Creek in the Cariboo region of British Columbia, touching off the Cariboo Gold Rush.

August 06, 1866

People 

British Columbia Unites

An imperial statute established the political union of Vancouver Island and the mainland of BC as the colony of British Columbia.

July 20, 1871

People 

British Columbia Joins Confederation

British Columbia entered Confederation as the sixth province. The legislature met for the first time after Confederation on 15 February 1872.

May 14, 1880

Communication and Transportation 

CPR Enters British Columbia

Construction of the CPR began in BC under the direction of Andrew Onderdonk.

January 01, 1885

Communication and Transportation  People 

Chinese Labourers and the CPR

Some 15,000 Chinese labourers completed the British Columbia section of the CPR, with more than 600 of them perishing under adverse working conditions during this essential construction. Largely because of the trans-Canada railway, Chinese communities developed across the nation.

March 31, 1885

People 

Chinese Act Disallowed

The federal government disallowed the British Columbia Act restricting Chinese immigration.

January 01, 1886

Resources and Environment 

Glacier National Park Established

Glacier National Park was established in British Columbia. Glacier is famous for its black and grizzly bears, which find abundant forage on the park's avalanche slopes.

June 05, 1889

People 

Death of John Hamilton Gray

John Hamilton Gray, one of the Fathers of Confederation, died in Victoria, British Columbia. An early supporter of British North American union, Gray lost his seat in New Brunswick due to the province’s anti-Confederation sentiments. He was elected to the House of Commons in the first general election in the Dominion of Canada.

January 01, 1897

People 

First Sikhs in Canada

The first Sikhs came to Canada at the turn of the 20th century. Some came to Canada as part of the Hong Kong military contingent en route to Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee (1897) and the coronation of Edward VII (1902), and returned to Canada to establish themselves in British Columbia. More than 5,000 South Asians, more than 90 per cent of them Sikhs, came to British Columbia before their immigration was banned in 1908.

September 10, 1904

Communication and Transportation 

First Train Robbery in Canada

“Gentleman Bandit” Bill Miner and two accomplices were involved in Canada’s first train robbery. They robbed a Canadian Pacific Railway car near Mission, British Columbia, of $7,000.

May 08, 1906

Communication and Transportation 

Miner Strikes Again

“Gentleman Bandit” Bill Miner and his gang robbed a second Canadian Pacific Railway train, near Kamloops, British Columbia. RCMP officers captured the robbers days later. Miner was sentenced to 25 years but escaped prison the following year.

March 07, 1908

Sports and Culture 

UBC Founded

The University of British Columbia was founded. It began operations in 1915.

April 05, 1917

People 

BC Women Get Vote

British Columbia women (except Asians and Aboriginals) won the rights to vote and to hold provincial office.

July 09, 1917

People 

First Woman Judge in BC

Helen Gregory MacGill was appointed the first woman judge in British Columbia.

January 05, 1918

People 

Birth of Dal Richards

Beloved swing bandmaster Dal Richards was born in Vancouver, BC. The clarinetist, saxophonist, arranger and conductor was a fixture in the Vancouver-area music scene from the 1930s until the 2010s. Having famously performed New Year's Eve shows 79 years in a row until 2014, Richards died at 11:41 p.m. on New Year's Eve 2015.

January 01, 1922

Communication and Transportation 

British Columbia Switched to the Right Side of the Road

Drivers in British Columbia, having been accustomed to driving on the left side of the road, switched to driving on the right side at 2:00 a.m. There were no accidents.

February 26, 1942

People 

Japanese Relocation

The federal government announced that all people of Japanese origin living in the coastal regions of British Columbia would be relocated to the BC interior or inland farming areas.

April 01, 1949

People 

Japanese Canadians Enfranchised

Japanese Canadians were given the franchise and the legal restrictions used to control the movement of Japanese Canadians were removed. With their freedom re-established, some moved back to British Columbia, but due to the hardships suffered, most Japanese Canadians who were expelled from the coast did not return. With the extension of the federal franchise to Japanese Canadians, the last statutory disenfranchisement of Asians was removed.

December 12, 1949

People 

First Woman Speaker

Nancy Hodges was named Speaker of the BC Legislature, the first woman to hold the post of Speaker in the British Commonwealth.

September 24, 1950

Resources and Environment 

“Great Smoke Pall”

Drifting sulphur particles from British Columbia and Alberta forest fires caused the sun and moon to look blue or violet throughout areas of North America and Western Europe. The “great smoke pall” of September 1950 was unique in its scope and intensity.

July 18, 1958

Communication and Transportation 

BC Ferries Assume Passenger Service

Premier Bennett announced that the British Columbia Ferry Authority (BC Ferries) would assume passenger service from the islands to the mainland.

July 19, 1958

Indigenous Peoples 

Royal Totem Presented to Queen Mother

Kwakwaka'wakw Chief Mungo Martin (Naka'pankam) presented the Royal Totem to Her Majesty the Queen Mother in London, who accepted on behalf of Queen Elizabeth II, to mark the centennial of the creation of the colony of British Columbia.

May 08, 1961

Communication and Transportation 

Pattison Opens Car Dealership

Jim Pattison opened his first car dealership, Jim Pattison Ltd, located on Cambie Street in Vancouver. In 1987 Pattison was awarded the Order of Canada, and in 1990, the Order of British Columbia.

October 21, 1971

Sports and Culture 

BC Sports Hall of Fame Opens

The British Columbia Sports Hall of Fame opened in the BC Pavilion at the Pacific National Exhibition. It is currently located at BC Place, Vancouver.

October 01, 1972

Sports and Culture 

First Episode of The Beachcombers

CBC’s The Beachcombers, Canada’s longest-running television series, aired its first of nearly 400 episodes. Filmed and set on the coast of British Columbia, and syndicated around the world, the comedy-drama starred Bruno Gerussi, Pat John and Robert Clothier.

October 26, 1975

Indigenous Peoples 

First World Conference of Indigenous Peoples

Port Alberni, British Columbia, hosted the first World Conference of Indigenous Peoples. Several hundred representatives, from Canada and 18 other countries, attended. Topics under discussion included social, economic and political justice; the preservation of cultural identity; and natural resources and the environment.

April 01, 1980

Indigenous Peoples  Sports and Culture 

Reid’s The Raven and the First Men Dedicated

Haida artist Bill Reid’s sculpture The Raven and the First Men was unveiled and dedicated by His Royal Highness Prince Charles at the University of British Columbia’s Museum of Anthropology, where architect Arthur Erickson had designed a special place for it. The monumental yellow-cedar sculpture, which had to be lowered into place by crane through a skylight opening, depicts the Haida creation legend.

January 01, 1981

Sports and Culture 

Joy Kagawa’s Obasan Published

In 1981, Joy Kogawa’s Obasan, the first novel to trace the internment and dispersal of 20,000 Japanese Canadians from the West Coast during the Second World War is published. Kogawa was made a member of the Order of Canada in 1986. In 2006, her family's original Vancouver home was purchased by the Land Conservancy of British Columbia, and saved from imminent demolition, a testament to the significance of Kogawa's work for the history and culture of British Columbia.

April 21, 1989

People 

Order of British Columbia Created

The Order of British Columbia was established to honour people of great distinction who excel in any field of endeavour benefiting the people of BC.

April 21, 1995

People 

Gardom Appointed BC Lieutenant-Governor

The Honourable Garde Basil Gardom was installed as British Columbia's 26th lieutenant- governor.

December 08, 1995

Resources and Environment 

Tougher Emissions Standards

British Columbia announced new vehicle emissions standards - the toughest in Canada. As of 1998, all new cars sold in the province would have to meet tougher emission standards.

February 15, 1996

Indigenous Peoples  People 

Nisga'a Land Claim Agreement

Federal and provincial officials signed an agreement of land claims with the Nishga'a in northwestern British Columbia. The Final Agreement calls for cash payments to the Nisga'a of approximately $190 million over a period of years, and recognizes the communal ownership and self-governance of about 2,000 km2 of Nisga’a lands in the Nass River Valley.

February 18, 1996

People 

Glen Clark Becomes Premier

Employment and Investment Minister Glen Clark won the leadership of the British Columbia NDP. He was sworn in as premier, replacing Mike Harcourt, on February 22.

May 28, 1996

People 

NDP Re-elected in BC

The NDP were re-elected in British Columbia with a 2-seat majority. Glen Clark remained premier.

March 02, 1999

People 

RCMP Raid Clark's Home

The RCMP raided the home of British Columbia premier Glen Clark as part of an investigation over possible improprieties in the application for a casino licence.

August 21, 1999

People 

Glen Clark Resigns

BC premier Glen Clark resigned one day after it was revealed that he was under investigation for exerting political influence to advance a friend's application for a casino licence. He was later cleared of all charges.

August 29, 2002

People 

Glen Clark Acquitted

Former BC premier Glen Clark was acquitted in a casino licensing scandal that had forced him from office. He was accused of receiving free home and cottage repairs.

January 01, 2010

Resources and Environment 

​Gulf Islands National Park Reserve Established

Gulf Islands National Park Reserve was established. The park reserve is located in the southern Gulf Islands between Vancouver Island and the British Columbia mainland.

April 01, 2011

Indigenous Peoples 

Maa-Nulth First Nations Settlement

The five Maa-Nulth First Nations in British Columbia settled their final agreement. The settlement area covered several regions on Vancouver Island. It included special rights pertaining to the fish, migratory birds and animal life used in ceremonies and social rituals. The community signatories negotiated commercial fishery licences separately, and these licences are not protected under the Constitution Act, 1982.

April 11, 2013

Indigenous Peoples 

Yale First Nation Final Agreement

After lengthy negotiations, the Yale First Nation Final Agreement was signed. The First Nation’s traditional lands are located within British Columbia’s Fraser Valley. The Agreement includes exclusive rights to use fish and plants for social rituals and ceremonies. It also gives special allotments of salmon for social and ceremonial events.

June 26, 2014

Indigenous Peoples 

Tsilhqot'in First Nation Granted Title Claim in Supreme Court Ruling

Tsilhqot’in First Nation was granted title to 1,700 km2 of land in British Columbia after a Supreme Court of Canada ruling, the first to grant a declaration of Aboriginal title to a First Nation.

December 03, 2015

People 

Death of Bill Bennett

Former British Columbia premier Bill Bennett died in his hometown of Kelowna, BC. He succeeded his father, W.A.C. Bennett, as Social Credit party leader and then premier, an office he held from 1975 to 1986. Known for his strong commitment to public service and his fiscally conservative policies, Bill Bennett has been credited with spearheading development that modernized the province. Some of his notable projects include the Lower Mainland's SkyTrain, the Coquihalla Highway and Expo 86.

December 31, 2015

People 

Death of Dal Richards

Beloved swing bandmaster Dal Richards died in Vancouver, BC, at age 97. The clarinetist, saxophonist, arranger and conductor was a fixture in the Vancouver-area music scene from the 1930s until the 2010s. Having famously performed New Year's Eve shows 79 years in a row until 2014, Richards died at 11:41 p.m. on New Year's Eve 2015.

January 29, 2016

Disasters 

Avalanche Kills Five Near McBride, BC

An avalanche killed five snowmobilers near McBride, British Columbia. Reports stated the disaster was human-triggered, though officials did not suspect any wrongdoing. In total, 17 people were caught in the avalanche.

February 11, 2016

Indigenous Peoples 

Last Fluent Nuchatlaht Speaker Dies

Alban Michael, the last fluent speaker of the Nuchatlaht language, died in Campbell River, British Columbia, at age 89. Raised on Nootka Island, Michael spoke only Nuchatlaht until he was forced to learn English at a residential school in Tofino as a child. He nevertheless maintained his fluency in Nuchatlaht so that he could speak with his mother, who did not speak English.

August 03, 2016

People 

Death of Mel Hurtig

Publisher and nationalist Mel Hurtig, who first published The Canadian Encyclopedia (1985 and 1988), died in Vancouver, British Columbia. The Edmonton native also co-founded the Council of Canadians and wrote a number of books on Canadian society and politics.

September 14, 2016

Sports and Culture 

Chernove Wins Gold at Rio Paralympics

At the 2016 Paralympic Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, cyclist Tristen Chernove won gold in the road time trial with a time of 27:43.16. The Cranbrook, British Columbia resident would finish the Games with additional silver and bronze medals in track cycling events.

September 16, 2016

People 

Death of W.P. Kinsella

Writer W.P. Kinsella died in Hope, British Columbia, at age 81. Kinsella was known for his baseball stories — particularly the 1982 novel Shoeless Joe — and humorous fiction set on the Ermineskin Reserve. His collection Dance Me Outside was made into a film of the same name by Bruce McDonald, and it eventually inspired the CBC television series The Rez (1996). While Kinsella defended his freedom to write about any subject, some critics have objected to his appropriation of Indigenous culture and his use of stereotypes.

September 17, 2016

Sports and Culture 

Stillwell Finishes Rio Paralympics with Two Gold Medals

At the 2016 Paralympic Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, wheelchair racer Michelle Stillwell completed the 100 m race in a world record–setting time of 19:42. It was her second gold medal of the Games after winning the 400 m race a week earlier. A native of Winnipeg, Manitoba, and a serving MLA in British Columbia, Stillwell previously earned a gold medal for wheelchair basketball in 2000.

October 04, 2016

People 

Death of Bing Thom

Architect Bing Thom died on a trip to Hong Kong, the city of his birth, at age 75. As a child, Thom immigrated to Canada and went on to study architecture at the University of British Columbia and the University of California at Berkeley. He founded his own firm in Vancouver in 1982 and designed many acclaimed commissions around the world in the decades that followed. His projects in the Vancouver area include the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts at UBC, the Surrey City Centre Library and the Guildford Aquatic Centre. Thom was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada in 1995 and received many other honours and awards for his work.

November 14, 2016

People 

Death of Janet Wright

Actor and director Janet Wright died in Vancouver, British Columbia, at age 71. Born in England and raised in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Wright built a successful career in theatre, film and TV, with notable roles at The Stratford Festival, in feature films such as McCabe and Mrs. Miller and The Perfect Storm, and in TV series such as CTV’s Corner Gas.

January 03, 2017

People 

Death of Peter Pollen

Peter Pollen, mayor of Victoria, BC, from 1971 to 1975 and again from 1981 to 1985, died at the age of 89.

May 09, 2017

People 

BC Elects First Minority Government Since 1952

The 2017 election in British Columbia resulted in the province’s first minority government since 1952. In the initial outcome, Premier Christy Clark’s Liberals held onto power with 43 seats, while the NDP won 41 and the Green Party, 3. Later that month, however, Green Party leader Andrew Weaver and NDP leader John Horgan jointly announced that the Greens would support the NDP on any confidence motion. Finally, on 29 June, the Liberals lost a confidence motion put forward by the NDP, and Lieutenant-Governor Judith Guichon asked the NDP to form a government under the leadership of Horgan.

May 24, 2017

People 

Death of Grace McCarthy

Trailblazing Social Credit politician Grace McCarthy died at the age of 89. McCarthy was a cabinet minister in British Columbia under Bill Bennett (1975–86) and Bill Vander Zalm (1986–88).

May 24, 2017

People 

Death of Grace McCarthy

Trailblazing Social Credit politician Grace McCarthy died at the age of 89. McCarthy was a cabinet minister in British Columbia under Bill Bennett (1975–86) and Bill Vander Zalm (1986–88).

June 29, 2017

People 

BC Liberals Toppled by Vote of Non-Confidence

After the 2017 provincial election in British Columbia resulted in a minority government, the NDP put forward a confidence motion that, with the support of the Green Party, overthrew Christy Clark’s Liberals. Lieutenant-Governor Judith Guichon asked the NDP to form a government under the leadership of John Horgan.

August 04, 2017

People 

Christy Clark Retires from Public Life

Weeks after her minority government was toppled by a vote of non-confidence, Christy Clark stepped down as leader of British Columbia’s Liberal Party and as an MLA. Having spent six years as premier and more than two decades in politics, she stated that she was “done with public life.”

October 01, 2017

People 

Four Canadians Killed in Las Vegas Mass Shooting

Among at least 59 people killed in the mass shooting perpetrated by Stephen Paddock at a music festival in Las Vegas, Nevada, were four Canadians: Jordan McIldoon of Maple Ridge, British Columbia; Jessica Klymchuck of Valleyview, Alberta; Calla Medig of Jasper, Alberta; and Tara Roe of Okotoks, Alberta. Several Canadians were among the more than 500 people injured in the attack, which was described as the largest mass shooting in modern United States history.