British Columbia, Canada Genealogy

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Guide to British Columbia ancestry, family history and genealogy: birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, parish registers, and military records.

British Columbia Wiki Topics
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Beginning Research
Record Types
British Columbia Background
Cultural Groups
Local Research Resources


History[edit | edit source]

  • The area now known as British Columbia is home to First Nations groups that have a deep history with a significant number of indigenous languages. There are more than 200 First Nations in BC. Contact with Europeans brought a series of devastating epidemics of diseases from Europe the people had no immunity to.[38] The result was a dramatic population collapse, culminating in the 1862 Smallpox outbreak in Victoria that spread throughout the coast. First Nations were forcibly relocated onto reserves. By the 1930s, British Columbia had over 1500 reserves.
  • The arrival of Europeans began around the mid-18th century, as fur traders entered the area to harvest sea otters. The explorations of James Cook in 1778 and George Vancouver in 1792–93 established British jurisdiction over the coastal area north and west of the Columbia River. Because of the Napoleonic Wars, there was little British action on its claims in the region until later. The establishment of trading posts under the auspices of the North West Company and the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC), effectively established a permanent British presence in the region.
  • The westward extension of American exploration claimed the southern Columbia Basin (within present day Washington and Oregon). In 1846, the Oregon Treaty divided the territory with the area south of the 49th parallel transferred to sole American sovereignty.
  • The Colony of Vancouver Island was created in 1849, with Victoria designated as the capital. With the Fraser Canyon Gold Rush in 1858, the colonial office to designate the mainland as the Colony of British Columbia (1858-1866).
  • A series of gold rushes in various parts of the province followed, the largest being the Cariboo Gold Rush in 1862.
  • In 1866, the colony of British Columbia was amalgamated with the Colony of Vancouver Island to form the Colony of British Columbia (1866–71), which was, in turn, succeeded by the present day province of British Columbia following the Canadian Confederation of 1871.
  • Population in British Columbia continued to expand as the province's mining, forestry, agriculture, and fishing sectors were developed. Mining activity was particularly notable throughout the Mainland, particularly in the Boundary Country, in the Slocan, in the West Kootenay around Trail, the East Kootenay (the southeast corner of the province), the Fraser Canyon, the Cariboo, the Omineca and the Cassiar, so much so a common epithet for the Mainland, even after provincehood, was "the Gold Colony". Agriculture attracted settlers to the fertile Fraser Valley, and cattle ranchers and later fruit growers came to the drier grasslands of the Thompson River area, the Cariboo, the Chilcotin, and the Okanagan. Forestry drew workers to the lush temperate rainforests of the coast, which was also the locus of a growing fishery.

Getting Started[edit | edit source]

Getting Started with British Columbia Research

Links to articles on getting started with British Columbia research.

British Columbia Research Tools

Links to articles and websites that assist in British Columbia research.

Ask the FamilySearch Community

British Columbia Map[edit | edit source]

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British Columbia Counties[edit | edit source]

The counties are created for the administration of justice, and are not used in the administration of government. Local government is organized by municipalities and by regional districts. The counties are:

FamilySearch Resources[edit | edit source]

Below are FamilySearch resources that can assist you in researching your family.

Additional Resources[edit | edit source]