British Columbia History

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Canada > British Columbia > British Columbia History

You will need some understanding of the historical events that affected your family and the records about them. Learning about wars, governments, laws, migrations, and religious trends may help you understand political boundaries, family movements, and settlement patterns. Records of these events, such as land and military documents, may mention your family.

Your ancestors’ lives will be more interesting if you learn about the history they may have been part of. For example, in a history you might learn about the events that occurred the year your great-grandparents were married.

Timeline

Some of the significant events for British Columbia include:

*1778: Captain James Cook claimed the coast for the British Isles.

*1788: East India Company built a trading post at Nootka.

*1789: A Spanish party settled in Nootka.

*1795: Spain renounced claims to the area.

*1843: The Hudson’s Bay Company founded Fort Victoria.

*1846: The 49th Parallel Treaty was created.

*1849: Vancouver Island became a Crown colony, with Victoria as the capital.

*1858: The mainland became a Crown colony, with New Westminster as the capital.

*1860: The Cariboo gold rush began.

*1866: The colonies of Vancouver Island and British Columbia were united.

*1869: Victoria became the capital of both former colonies.

*1871: The Province of British Columbia was formed on 20 July 1871.

*1885: The Canadian Pacific Railway line was completed to the coast.

Historical Sources

The Family History Library has some published national, provincial, and local histories. See the Locality Search of the Family History Library Catalog Surname Search under:

CANADA - HISTORY [PROVINCE] - HISTORY
[PROVINCE], [COUNTY] - HISTORY
[PROVINCE], [COUNTY], [CITY] - HISTORY
[PROVINCE], [CITY] - HISTORY
  • A Short History of Canada [1]
  • The Atlantic Provinces: The Emergence of Colonial Society, 1712–1857 [2]

Canadian Sources

Encyclopedias also include excellent articles on the history of Canada. Many books and articles on Canadian history are listed in these annotated bibliographies:

  • A Reader's Guide to Canadian History. I. Beginnings to Confederation. [3]
  • A Reader's Guide to Canadian History. II. Confederation to the Present. [4]

Local Histories

Local histories are some of the most valuable sources for family history research. They describe the settlement of the area and the founding of churches, schools, and businesses. You can also find lists of early settlers, soldiers, and civil officials. Even if your ancestor is not listed, information on other relatives may provide important clues for locating your ancestor. A local history may also suggest other records to search.

Published histories of towns, counties, districts or other municipalities, and provinces often contain accounts of families. Many district, county, and town histories include sections or volumes of biographical information. These may give information on as many as half of the families in the area. A county history is also the best source of information about a county’s origin.

The Family History Library has about 300 district histories from the Prairie Provinces and fewer township and county histories from the rest of Canada. Similar histories are often at major Canadian public and university libraries and archives.

Bibliographies that list histories for some provinces are in the Locality Search of the Family History Library Catalog under:

[PROVINCE] - BIBLIOGRAPHY
[PROVINCE] - HISTORY - BIBLIOGRAPHY

Sources

  1. Morton, Desmond. A Short History of Canada. Edmonton: Hurtig Publishers, 1983. FHL book 971 H2md.)
  2. MacNutt, W. S. The Atlantic Provinces: The Emergence of Colonial Society, 1712–1857. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1965. (FHL book 971.5 H2mws.)
  3. Muise, D. A., ed. A Reader's Guide to Canadian History. I. Beginnings to Confederation. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1982. (FHL book 971 H23r v. 1)
  4. Granatstein, J. L., and Paul Stevens, eds. A Reader's Guide to Canadian History. II. Confederation to the Present. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1982. (FHL book 971 H23r v. 2)