Geography: Lecture 8
March 12, 2014
• British Columbia is mainly located in the Cordillera
• The northeastern part of the province is located in the
Interior Plains physiographic region.
• The mountain ranges in B.C are aligned on a
northwest to southeast axis.
• Central plateau lands are found between
• The Insular Mountains are located just off the coast of
B.C. and form the backbone of Haida Gwaii (Queen
Charlotte Islands) and Vancouver Island.
• Temperate rainforests are found along the coast, desert-like conditions in parts of the
interior, and tundra at high elevations.
• B.C can be divided into 7 regions.
Region: Vancouver Island-Coast
• Coast mountain range is the most prominent physical feature.
• Valleys and fjords are found along the coast.
• Climate is moderated by the Pacific Ocean.
• This area has the warmest winters in Canada.
• Industries include forestry, fishing, and government services (Victoria).
Region: Lower Mainland-Southwest
• Contains alluvial (ancient soil deposited by water) soil with a high nutrient content.
• Major agricultural area of the province.
• It is home to the Vancouver CMA and the majority of B.C's population. Region: Thompson-Okanagan
• Kamloops and Kelowna are located in this region in the B.C. interior.
• Relatively dry area with sunny, warm summers.
• The land is a mix of open range, cattle grazing, forest, and some cropland.
• Tourism is an important industry in the area around Lake Okanagan.
• Transportation corridors pass through the region (roads and rails follow along the
• Communities include Nelson, Cranbrook, Fernie.
• Rocky Mountains are found in this region.
• The Continental Divide separates the Kootenay region from Alberta.
• Economy is driven by tourism, mining, and hydroelectric power.
Region: Caribou-Prince George
• Prince George is a regional service centre for the surrounding area.
• Forestry, mining, ranching, pulp and paper mills are all found in this region.
• The University of Northern British Columbia was established in Prince George in 1990.
Region: Skeena-North Coast
• This is an isolated area bordering Alaska.
• Economy is driven by fishing, mining, aluminum smelters, and hydroelectric power.
• Prince Rupert is the second busiest port in B.C.
• The highway connecting Yukon and Alaska to southern Canada passes through this
• Small towns service traffic and truck transport along this corridor.
• The population in B.C. is relatively fast growing (especially Vancouver); many
immigrants arrive from Asia. • The province has four main exports: lumber, pulp, natural gas, coal.
• Vancouver has become a popular location for filming Hollywood movies.
• Imports from China, Japan and South Korea flow through Vancouver to markets across
• Rocky Mountains can act as more than just a physical divide (social divide).
• Throughout its history, many residents of B.C. have felt a disconnection from the rest of
• One expression of this is the concept of Cascadia:
This is the name proposed for an independent sovereign state uniting B.C.,
Washington, and Oregon.
Physical Geography of Canada
Climate Zones of British Columbia
• The varied topography creates many microclimates.
• Because Victoria is in the rain shadow of the Insular Mountains, it receives 40% less rain
than Vancouver. • The Pineapple Express is a wintertime flow of warm air originating in Hawaii that keeps
B.C. mild but also very wet.
• Summers in Vancouver and Victoria are mild and relatively dry.
• Sustainable resource use is necessary to maintain the natural resources of British
• A challenge has resulted from the practice of clear cutting in the forest industry.
• Logging companies prefer clear-cutting to selective-cutting due to the reduced cost.
• Clear cutting creates soil erosion and increased sediment can impact salmon spawning
• In recent years, the B.C. forest industry has been impacted by large forest fires and the
mountain pine beetle.
• The Okanagan Valley is prone to dry summers, high winds and occasional lightning.
These are all ingredients for forest fires.
Mountain Pine Beetle
• The beetle has destroyed vast areas of forest in the B.C. interior.
• Warmer winters due to climate change are allowing the beetle to spread at a rapid rate.
• Beetles are the size of a grain of rice and bore into the bark of Lodgepole pine trees .
Historical Geography of B.C
• Early exploration of the land was by Spanish, Russians, and British. Spain surrendered
its claim to the Pacific coast north of 42°N.
• Britain was concerned about many Americans arriving on the coast along the Oregon
• The U.S/Britain boundary was drawn at 49°N.
• B.C became the 6th Canadian province in 1871.
• In the mid-1800s there was an influx of Americans during gold rushes.
• The British government established the colony of B.C in 1858 to ensure British rule over
• After Confederation, Ottawa aimed to lure B.C. into Canada by promising to build a
railroad to the Pacific Ocean within 10 years of B.C. joining. • After completion of the Canadian Pacific railway, towns and cities developed along the
• Vancouver quickly grew as a transshipment point for lumber and coal produced in B.C.
as well as for grain produced in the Prairies.
• Immigration increased through the mid 1900s.
• The 2010 Winter Olympics put B.C on the world stage and are a high point in its history.