The first Monday of August is a Canadian public holiday and in the province of British Columbia we proudly call it B.C. Day.
On a national basis this holiday is commonly referred to as Civic Day or the August long weekend. The name “civic” holiday came about because it’s the holiday a city has the authority to declare itself.
The B.C. Day Holiday Weekend
Other than B.C., Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, the rest of the Canadian provinces and territories do not specifically acknowledge their provincial name for this holiday weekend. Poor Quebec, Newfoundland and Nunavut do not even have an August long weekend holiday – they will just conduct business as usual.
The August long weekend traditionally was one of the busiest day of the year on B.C. highways. The weekend had been the reason for tens of thousands of families to go camping, to cottages, on summer vacations, visit tourist destinations and attend festivals or special events. Things will be less busy and the choice of events may be different in 2020. The smart choices will be on a smaller scale and limited to family & friends “bubbles”.
B.C. Day in Beautiful B.C.
Situated on the far west coast of Canada, British Columbia is the third largest Canadian province. We have three main mountain ranges and two-thirds of the province is covered in forest. The Strait of Georgia that divides Vancouver Island from the mainland and Vancouver Island’s west coast is the Pacific Ocean. To the north of Vancouver Island sits Haida Gwaii (formerly the Queen Charlotte Islands) – a very special place indeed!
Where did the name British Columbia come from? “British” was used because BC was a British colony in 1858 and “Columbia” refers to the Columbia River. In 1871 BC was officially incorporated as a Canadian province. We are also a member of the Pacific Northwest, along with the U.S. States of Oregon and Washington.
B.C.’s Size is Impressive
British Columbia is one big province! With a total area of 952,263 square km (367,699 square mile) that makes us larger than any of the U.S. States (except Alaska), four times bigger than Great Britain and larger than France and Germany combined.
Only 30 countries in the world are larger than British Columbia. B.C. occupies about 10% of Canada’s land surface and Vancouver Island is the largest island on the West Coast of North America. At 32,137 square kilometers long, Vancouver Island is about the size of Belgium. (If anyone wants to count, we have about 40,000 islands throughout BC and our Pacific Ocean coastline (including islands) is approximately 27,200 km.)
BC shares a northern border with the Canadian territories; Yukon & Northwest Territories, and an eastern border with Alberta. (the Alberta border follows the Rocky Mountains north and south.) British Columbia also has two international borders; one with the American state of Alaska, and with the continental U.S. states of Washington, Idaho and Montana -“the 49th parallel”. Then of course there is Point Roberts, Washington – Americans have to drive through Canada to get there!
A Bird’s Eye View of Beautiful BC
B.C.’s Motto – ‘Splendor Sine Occasu’ – Splendor without Diminishment
#1 Natural Resource – Our People
With a population of just under 5 million people, approximately 75% reside in two major centres – the “Lower Mainland” (Vancouver and surrounding municipalities) and the southern part of Vancouver Island that is home to the provincial capital, Victoria.
British Columbia is proudly home to people of many different origins, cultural traditions, languages, ethnicity, and religions. The top 10 languages spoken in the province are English, Chinese (Cantonese & Mandarin), Punjabi, German, French, Tagalog, Korean, Spanish, Farsi, and Italian. BC’s Aboriginal people include approximately 200 First Nations, such as the Gitxsan, Haida, Nisga’a and Squamish.
B.C. is known around the world for its outstanding beauty and nature. Its 1,030 provincial parks, conservatories, protected areas and ecological reserves attract more than 20 million visitors each year.
Today, close to 15% of British Columbia’s land is protected – more than any other province in the country. B.C.’s terrain encompasses majestic mountains, ice fields, sun baked deserts, fertile valleys, alpine meadows, open ocean and inlets, rivers, lakes, dry pine forests and centuries old rainforests. No wonder British Columbia sits in for so many locations needed by “Hollywood North”.
B.C. has three UNESCO World Heritage Sites, seven National Parks and over 400 provincial parks, recreation and conservation areas.
Tourism is undoubtedly the province’s most important industry and over the last few years has surpassed the natural resources sector. Having said that, B.C. continues to be the 2nd largest producer of natural gas and the 2nd largest generator of hydroelectricity. This makes B.C. the provider of some of the lowest power costs in North America.
British Columbia has the largest trading port in Canada and supports a large shipping industry year-round through its ice-free, deep-water ports. The province exports a number of mined resources such as copper, coal, gold, silver, zinc, sulfur and asbestos. Other natural resource industries include forestry and fishing. The technology, manufacturing, and agriculture industries are increasing in importance.
British Columbia is frequently referred to as “Hollywood North”. Due to the province’s ecological diversity, BC is the 3rd largest film and television production centre in North America (after New York and Los Angeles).
Vancouver has a number of world class Film & TV studios. Pre-Covid, the city was home to approximately 65+ movies and 55+ TV series annually, as well as hundreds of other filming days for commercials, TV pilots and other features. Direct spending totaled more than $3.8 billion in 2017.
BC Day – Facts About The Great Province
- The Hudson Bay Company (The Bay / La Baie in French) is the oldest commercial corporation in North America and one of the oldest in the world. In the early days British Columbia was largely run by the Hudson’s Bay Company based out of the company headquarters at Fort Vancouver on the Columbia River.
- According to institutions like the United Nations, “BC is the best place in the world to learn, live and play”.
- B.C. receives the largest number of international students in Canada.
- B.C. is home to more than half of the Canada’s wildlife and fish species.
- The blue and black, smart and cheeky Steller’s Jay is the provincial bird of British Columbia.
- The world famous ghostly white “Spirit Bear” (Kermode Bear) is the official symbol of the province.
- 1 in 4 North American grizzly bears are found in B.C.
- Most of Canada’s bald eagle population is found along the Pacific coast of B.C.
- The Pacific Salmon (includes cutthroat trout, pink salmon, Chum salmon, Coho salmon, Steelhead, Sockeye and Chinook salmon) is the BC’s Fish Emblem.
- Mount Fairweather, is one of the world’s highest coastal mountains, and shares our border with Alaska.
- BC is the only province in Canada that can boast the “West Coast Special,” which means a person can ski and golf in the same day.
- The Western Red Cedar is the provincial tree but the Arbutus tree, found nowhere else in Canada, is the emblem of the south coast.
- BC has the largest trees in Canada and the “The Hanging Garden Tree” on Meares Island is estimated to be between 1,500 and 2,000 years old.
- Over eight times the height of Niagara, the Della Falls is the highest waterfall in Canada at 440 metres (about 1,444 feet)
- B.C. is one of the top three cranberry and blueberry producing regions in the world.