Exploiting natural resources in the west
Fur, gold and mines
British Columbia, in addition to having a favourable climate and being located by the sea, was a province rich in natural resources. In the early years, as in the early days of New France, people came in search of furs. Then came the Gold Rush. But these resources were soon depleted. People then starting looking for other natural resources to exploit, and eventually, prospectors discovered silver and copper. Ore also became a widely-used resource.
The timber trade
Let’s not forget about the forest industry. The huge trees in the forests of the West were exploited right from the very beginning of the colony. Trees were cut for construction as well as for pulp and paper production. British Columbia was famous around the world for the quality of its wood.
Fish were another natural resource. Fishing was very profitable, especially because the species of fish in the Pacific Ocean are different from those in the Atlantic Ocean. The next time you eat a can of salmon, read the label. It might have come from across the country.
Agriculture was another important economic activity. In British Columbia, unlike in the Prairies, grain was not grown. Instead, farmers specialized in growing tobacco, fruits and vegetables. In the maritime climate of the West, the growing season is long and the climate is mild, which allows fruit trees like cherry and peach to grow. To this day, the Okanagan Valley is known for its orchards and vineyards.
Author: Service national du Récit de l’univers social
See also – Traces of the Past: