British Columbia

   The westernmost province of Canada, initially an object of European interest when Juan Perez Herdandez explored the Pacific Coast of North America for Spain in 1774. British and Russian traders also became active on the coast in the late eighteenth century, and British interests, in the form of the North West Company and the Hudson’s Bay Company, became dominant in the early nineteenth century - especially after the two companies merged into the Bay Company in 1821, and the new company established a dominant position in the lucrative fur trade west of the Rocky Mountains. Britain’s position on the west coast of North America, however, was contested by the arrival of American settlers and commerce in the Oregon Territory in the 1830s. The loss of Oregon to the United States confined the Hudsons Bay Company to the northern half of its Pacific territory, and in 1849 Vancouver Island was made a British crown colony.
   In response to an influx of American miners during the gold rush of the late 1850s, London sought to preserve British authority by creating the mainland colony of British Columbia in 1858. The Vancouver and mainland colonies were joined in 1866, but British Columbia considered annexation to the United States until its was persuaded to join the new Dominion of the Canada Confederation in 1871 by the promise of the construction of a transcontinental railway within two years. In any event, the Canadian Pacific Railway did not link British Columbia to Montreal in the eastern province of Quebec until 1886.
   See also <>.
   FURTHER READING:
    Galbraith, John S. The Hudsons Bay Company as and Imperial Factor, 1821-1869. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1957;
    Rich, E. E. Hudsons Bay Company, 1670-1870. New York: Macmillan, 1960;
    Robinson, J. Lewis. British Columbia. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1973.
   CARL CAVANAGH HODGE

Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.

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