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COLUMBIA, Canada's westernmost province, harbors Pacific beaches,
forested islands, year-round skiing, world-class fishing-a wealth
of outdoor action and beauty. The people of the province are a
similarly heterogeneous mix: descendants of the original Native
American peoples and 19th-century British and European settlers
and more recent immigrants from Asia and Eastern Europe. From
Anglophile Victoria to the recreated Native American village of
'Ksan, B.C.'s towns reflect the vigor of its inhabitants.
Canada's third-largest province (only Quebec and Ontario are bigger),
British Columbia occupies almost 10 % of Canada's total surface
area, stretching from the Pacific Ocean eastward to the province
of Alberta, and from the U.S. border north to the Yukon and Northwest
Territories. It spans more than 360,000 square miles, making it
larger than every American state except Alaska.
size alone doesn't account for British Columbia's popularity.
Even easterners, content in the fact that Ontario and Quebec form
the industrial heartland of Canada, admit that British Columbia
is the most spectacular part of the nation, with salmon-rich waters,
abundant coastal scenery, and stretches of snow-capped peaks.
region's natural splendor has ironically become the source of
conflict. For more than a century, logging companies have depended
on the abundant supply of British Columbia timber, and whole towns
are still centered on the industry. But environmentalists and
many residents see the logging industry as a threat to the natural
surroundings. Compromises have been achieved in recent years,
but the issue is far from resolved.
province used to be very British and predictable, reflecting its
colonial heritage; but no longer. Vancouver, for example, has
become an international city whose relaxed lifestyle is spiced
by a rich and varied cultural scene embracing large Chinese, Japanese,
Italian, and Greek communities. Even Vancouver Island's Victoria,
which clings with restrained passion to British traditions and
lifestyles, has undergone an international metamorphosis in recent
matter how modern the province may appear, evidence remains of
the earliest settlers: Pacific Coast natives (Haida, Kwakiutl,
Nootka, Salish, and others) who occupied the land for more than
12,000 years before the first Europeans arrived en masse in the
late 19th century.
native residents often face social barriers that have kept them
from the mainstream of the province's rich economy. Although some
have gained university educations and have fashioned careers,
many are just now beginning to make demands on the normative population.
dispute are thousands of square miles of land claimed as aboriginal
territory, some of which is within such major cities as Vancouver,
Prince George, and Prince Rupert. Although the issue of ownership
re- mains undecided, British Columbia's roots show throughout
the province, from such native arts as wood-carved objects and
etched-sil- ver jewelry in small-town boutiques to authentic culinary
delights from traditional recipes in big-city dining establishments.