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The West Beyond the West

The West Beyond the West: A History of British Columbia

Jean Barman
Copyright Date: 2007
Pages: 449
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  • Book Info
    The West Beyond the West
    Book Description:

    First published in 1991 and revised in 1996, this third edition ofThe West beyond the Westhas been supplemented by new material bringing the book up to date. Barman's deft scholarship is readily apparent and the book demands to be on the shelf of anyone with an interest in British Columbian or Canadian history.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8937-4
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Maps
    (pp. xi-2)
  6. 1 In Search of British Columbia
    (pp. 3-14)

    British Columbia presents an enigma. Its identity is elusive, yet images abound. Mountains and coastline offer powerful counterpoints. Sir John A. Macdonald’s ‘sea of mountains’ vies with Margaret Atwood’s ‘postcard mountains’ and George Woodcock’s ‘chains of mountains repeating each other time and again from the Rockies to the sea.’ Jack Hodgins termed British Columbia’s coast ‘the Ragged Green Edge of the World.’ Gwen Cash concluded that, ‘along this amazing coastline, despite human courage and puny encroachment, nature is still largely untouched.’¹

    The visual often overwhelms. Winston Churchill is said to have been so impressed that, after giving a lecture in...

  7. 2 First Encounters 1741–1825
    (pp. 15-33)

    British Columbia – the very name resonates with the authority of Britain and empire. Names can be deceiving. British Columbia was once a British colonial possession, initially two colonial possessions, but its history was not formed by Britain alone. During the first near century of contacts between indigenous peoples and newcomers, Russia, Spain, England, and the young United States were all interested in the area at one time or another. Yet no country, not even Britain, cared enough to draw the distant land mass into its imperial orbit through a firm, unequivocal assertion of sovereignty.

    The first encounters between seagoing explorers...

  8. 3 The Trade in Furs 1789–1849
    (pp. 34-54)

    Expansion into the Pacific Northwest by sea was soon complemented by penetration by land. About the time that maritime interest peaked, economically in the scramble for sea otter pelts and politically in the Nootka controversy, overland exploration began. This second phase would eventually have far greater impact on the Native peoples and on British Columbia’s development, but was at first as inconsequential as the seaborne exploitation. The Pacific Northwest as such occasioned little interest; its exploration was incidental to the search for better routes to provision an overland fur trade centred elsewhere. Only gradually was the area recognized as a...

  9. 4 Impetus to Settlement 1846–1858
    (pp. 55-74)

    Once the international boundary had been negotiated in 1846, Britain again disengaged from the Pacific Northwest. The territory that it retained was handed over to the Hudson’s Bay Company to administer. The company, now headquartered at Fort Victoria, oversaw not only the fur trade but also economic diversification and non-Native settlement of Vancouver Island, nominally a British colony. Population grew slowly, and it required an extraordinary event – a gold rush – to bring large numbers of men and women to the area. Britain was finally forced to assert direct control over a territory that had for two-thirds of a century been...

  10. 5 Distant Oversight 1858–1871
    (pp. 75-103)

    By the end of 1858 Britain had assumed effective control over the entirety of the Pacific Northwest where it held sovereignty. But Britain took few initiatives beyond immediate necessity. James Douglas exercised almost total authority over both Vancouver Island and British Columbia. By the time of his retirement in 1864, the gold rush had peaked and the long-term status of the colonies was put in doubt. Their union in 1866 as the single colony of British Columbia was an economy measure. Soon British indifference combined with economic recession to transform colonial into provincial status. In 1871 British Columbia entered the...

  11. 6 The Young Province 1871–1900
    (pp. 104-135)

    On 20 July 1871 British Columbia became a province of Canada. Of itself, entry into Confederation changed nothing; nor was there much reason for it to do so. The entity known as Canada was a long way away. The inhabitants of British descent, many of whom lived in Victoria, were quite satisfied with their domination of political, legal, and social structures. Men and women from other parts of Canada, living primarily on the Lower Mainland and throughout the southern interior, were still shut out from power.

    The economic and strategic priorities bringing British Columbia into Confederation obscured the new province’s...

  12. 7 Population Explosion 1886–1914
    (pp. 136-161)

    Between the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway and the beginning of the First World War in 1914 British Columbia underwent a demographic transformation. In less than three decades the province’s non-Native population expanded almost tenfold, even as the Indian population declined by one-third. From wherever new arrivals came, they brought with them pieces of lives left behind. A fragile settler society on the edge of the world became a self-confident political and social entity.

    The population explosion occurred in two overlapping stages. With the coming of the Canadian Pacific Railway, settlers poured in from Ontario and the Maritimes. The...

  13. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  14. 8 Disregard of Native Peoples 1858–1945
    (pp. 162-188)

    The difficulties of discussing the Aboriginal peoples’ role in a changing British Columbia are almost as great as understanding their lives at the time of initial contacts with outsiders. The written record long continued to come largely from a single perspective, that of Europeans, who viewed indigenous populations from a predetermined set of assumptions. Nonetheless, just as ships’ logs contain useful observations, so outside accounts are often more revealing than originally intended. Brought together and disentangled, these sources show the fundamental change British Columbia’s first peoples underwent as a consequence of the intrusion of newcomers. They also demonstrate the tenacity...

  15. 9 Growing Self-Confidence 1900–1918
    (pp. 189-215)

    As the nineteenth century became the twentieth, British Columbians whose memories went back to the 1860s had reason to be amazed by the transition that had occurred in the three decades since entering Confederation. The first years of the new century would bring even greater change. A new dynamism was unleashed. Self-confidence grew. Governance stabilized with the introduction of parties. An individual far more able as a politician than had been his predecessors acceded to power. Economic good times helped to give the office of premier new importance during the tenure of Richard McBride. The provincial government intervened in the...

  16. 10 Reform and Its Limits 1871–1929
    (pp. 216-251)

    The tremendous expansion of capitalism in Canada during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries had an enormous impact upon the lives of British Columbians. Some became wealthier, but others were pushed to the margin, shut out of an expanding economy. Changing patterns of employment and residence heightened inequalities in conditions of work, remuneration, and the quality of life. As enterprises grew larger, so did the distance, both actual and psychological, between employer and employee. Urbanization of the province’s southwestern corner made the poor more visible. The population explosion of early century heightened perceptions of differences between ethnic and racial...

  17. 11 The Best and Worst of Times 1918–1945
    (pp. 252-285)

    The three decades between the ends of the First and the Second World Wars brought the best and the worst of times to British Columbia. The province’s economy continued to rely on staples and the uncertainties of the international marketplace, which inhibited long-term planning. Yet expectations rose unrealistically during periods of prosperity, as were the mid and late 1920s. Much like the boom years of the early century, men and women wanted to believe that the good times would go on forever. In consequence the effects of the Great Depression were compounded.

    The First World War had spurred industrialization but...

  18. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  19. 12 The Good Life 1945–1972
    (pp. 286-314)

    As the Second World War drew to a close, many British Columbians feared a recession similar to that which followed victory in 1918. But their concerns proved groundless; Canada entered a period of economic stability which, with a brief recessionary break from 1958 to 1962, extended into the 1970s. British Columbia was transformed. Badly needed physical infrastructure as well as major hydroelectric projects was built across the province. As never before, economic expansion was directed towards ameliorating regional disparities. While earlier booms had benefited different parts of the province, no comparable attempt had been made previously to link profit-making from...

  20. 13 Equality Revolution 1945–1980
    (pp. 315-344)

    The changes occurring in British Columbia during the postwar years and into the 1970s went far beyond economic growth and regional expansion. A fundamental shift in attitudes occurred. The Depression had made clear the necessity for the state to take a more active role in ensuring minimum standards of life for all Canadians. The war challenged many longstanding prejudices. The consequence was an equality revolution that transformed British Columbia just as it did much of the western world. Equality of treatment, of opportunity, of access, of experience, of acceptance – all acquired credibility as the way things ought to be.


  21. 14 The Challenges of Leadership 1972–2006
    (pp. 345-369)

    W.A.C. Bennett’s defeat in the autumn of 1972 marked a watershed for British Columbia.¹ Bennett and the Social Credit party had overseen the province’s transformation into a cohesive social and economic entity, and now British Columbians were ready to move on. The continuity that marked Bennett’s two decades in charge gave way to a revolving door of premiers and of political and economic directions. Eight men and one woman held office over the next third of a century. Only Bennett’s son William and then Gordon Campbell, who became premier at the cusp of the twenty-first century, survived more than a...

  22. 15 A New Dynamic 1980–2006
    (pp. 370-398)

    A new dynamic took hold in British Columbia during the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. In 1980 the province was a Canadian backwater; a quarter of a century later the world rather than Canada was its stage. As North America turned towards Asia, British Columbia’s location on the edge of the continent went from being a liability to becoming an asset. The economy remained dependent on the export of staples, but the products the province had to offer gained in appeal, especially in Asia. The growing worldwide emphasis on environmentalism made the province’s striking natural beauty and opportunities for...

  23. 16 The British Columbian Identity
    (pp. 399-420)

    British Columbia has been home to indigenous peoples for countless generations, to non-Natives for two centuries. Out of their experiences a British Columbian sense of self emerges. British Columbians are not bound together by geographic coherence. Nor can they be so, given the province’s size, topography, and the differing character of its ten regions. But a cohesive physical entity need not exist for there to be a distinct identity. Shared attitudes also draw people together. So do strong visual images that strike residents and visitors alike. British Columbia is not so much a place as a state of mind. Whether...

  24. Tables
    (pp. 421-444)
  25. Notes
    (pp. 445-472)
  26. References
    (pp. 473-496)
  27. Illustration Credits
    (pp. 497-498)
  28. Index
    (pp. 499-539)