Read the topic 1 to 4 than answer the Assignment questions.Week 3
Topic 1: The peopling of British Columbia

Theories regarding how North America came to be settled by humans have developed a lot in
the past several decades. All in all, it is likely that people arrived in several different ways and
that there is no simply answer to how North America was originally settled. It was a complex

We are going to take a look at the dominant theories out there today.

Bering Land Bridge Theory
The first theory is that settlers came across the Bering Land Bridge. During the last ice age,
lower sea levels led to the establishment of a land bridge between Siberia and Alaska. Modern
humans dispersed from southern Siberia towards the land bridge as early as about 30,000 years
ago and further from the land bridge area into the Americas around 16,500 years ago. There is
genetic evidence that this was probably a single migration.

At the time, most of Canada was covered in ice sheets. Remember that the Fraser Glaciation
occurred 25,000 to 10,000 years ago, and that the glaciers had receded in most parts to their
present location around 6000 years ago. From archaeological evidence we know that the first
North Americans appeared south of the Canadian ice sheets by about 15,000 years ago.
Migrants could have walked from Siberia into Alaska and down into North America with relative
ease when the Bering Land Bridge existed. But there were challenges for would-be settlers.
How, for example, do you get south when there are large ice sheets covering most of Canada?

Take a look at the Bering Land Bridge GIF to see what the land bridge looked like during the last
ice age versus what the region looks like today.

Coastal Migration Hypothesis
Probably the most popular theory today is the coastal migration hypothesis, which theorizes
that people could have migrated along the coast, rather than over land. By about 16,000 years
ago the Pacific coast offered a linear migration route south. Recent climate reconstructions
suggest that rising sea levels at the time created a highly convoluted and island-rich coast along
the North pacific coast, conditions that would have been highly favourable to hunting and
gathering populations. Proponents of this theory argue that the kelp forest ecosystem of the
area created lots of marine life that these populations could have subsisted on in their journey.Week 3
Topic 4: The Fur Trade

Although David Thompson had found a navigable route to the coast via the Columbia River
drainage system, the Northwest Company could not find a practical water route to transport
furs to the Columbia. So, it created two fur trading districts:

1. New Caledonia: the upper Fraser and Peace Rivers area

• furs from this district were sent overland east to Montreal
2. Columbia: the drainage basin of the Columbia and Thompson Rivers

• furs from this district were transported southwest to the mouth of the Columbia

In 1821, the Northwest Company found itself on the verge of bankruptcy (thanks in part to all
the expeditions it had funded) and it was absorbed by its competitor, the Hudson Bay
Company. The Hudson Bay Company reorganized the fur trade in BC to focus entirely on the
Pacific. Their headquarters were located at Fort Vancouver on the Columbia River (at present
day Vancouver, Washington, USA). Furs were now transported between the upper Fraser
region to the Columbia via river and overland routes. The fur trade was now organized along
the North – South trend of the region’s topography.

The Hudson Bay Company operated within territory still largely controlled by First Nations
groups. So, how did it exert power and control in the region? There were two strategies of
white power used in the region:

1. Hudson Bay Company officers acted as representatives of the British Crown sent to the
territory. In this role they were claiming possession of the land in the name of a distant

2. Hudson Bay Company officers also acted as business managers of a fur trading
company. In this role they made no territorial claims or reference to an external
authority. They were largely about ‘good conduct’ to secure business relations with local

The Hudson Bay Company would do both at times.

Centres of power for the fur trade were located in and around the forts set up to facilitate
trade. These represent the earliest colonial settlements in BC. Populations varied from 6-50
people. These forts were islands of relative security for European settlers, which were
connected to each other and the outside world, but that had little interaction with their
surroundings aside from fur trade operations. Beyond the fort, the power exerted by the
Hudson Bay Company and the British Crown weakened significantly. Please read through the
link from the Royal BC Museum that discusses the relationship between First Nations and
Europeans during the colonial contact and fur trade eras

At this time, much of what is now British Columbia was territory shared by Britain and the USA.
The Treaty of 1818 called forWeek 3
Topic 2: First Nations Settlement and Culture

The first peoples to settle in British Columbia would have been nomadic hunters and gatherers.
It is only with climate stabilization following the last glaciation that we can see semi-nomadic
and sedentary lifestyles emerge. Once this happens, we get societal organizational structures, a
division of labour, elaborate art, religion, the building of longhouses and other longer term
shelters, and the development of socio-political institutions.

The following is a map showing First Nations cultural groups in British Columbia.

British Columbia was an exceptionally culturally diverse region pre-contact. There were about
50 different languages thought to be in use prior to colonial contact. Even today, about 60% of
Canada’s indigenous languages are spoken in British Columbia. Explore the culture and
settlement patterns of the indigenous populations of BC prior to contact via the interactive map
from the First Peoples of Canada research project website:

Pre-contact First nations were a highly nourished and healthy group who ate a varied diet
based on seafood, plants and animals. Settlement populations tended to be fairly small, but
there were numerous settlements throughout the province. Technology was highly
sophisticated and included different types of tools for construction, boat building, fishing and
other activities (see image below). Cedar was a particularly important material for coastal First
Nations and was used for all types of construction, and even clothing and baskets.

Trade and warfare were common among groups. Groups aggressively defended their territories
and often had extremely warlike relations with neighbours. Slavery was known to happen as a
result of trade and warfare. It occurred among coastal peoples from Alaska down to the
Columbia River. However, most scholars debate around how important it was to their culture
and society. The ethnographic records available to us today are largely from a time of great
change and devastation to First Nations culture (the 1880s) so there are gaps in the record,
which makes it hard to know how important to society it was or how prevalent it was.

Health focused not only on physical well-being but also spiritual. Two types of ailments were
recognized, physical and spiritual. Sweatlodges, a fire-heated lodge where a person would go to
sweat and become purified, were an important element of spiritual healing as well as physical
healing. Shamanism was also practiced. Shamans were individuals, usually male, with the ability
to deal with a supernatural being, and thus were an important element of spiritual healing.

Forms of spirituality also involved a lot of myths and spirits that dwell in landscape features,
animals and plants. Creation myths were common and animals and plants would often have Week 3
Topic 3: Colonial Contact and Early Exploration

For this topic, we will be exploring the Historical Atlas of Canada’s Online Learning portal
IT_08_EFW_21/UNIT_08_frame_EFW21.htm). Please open it up and follow along as you read
this document.

Zoom in on the map so that you can enlarge the BC coast a bit but so that you still have most of
the province in the frame, particularly the coastal region. Turn on the layer for primary
exploration routes 1741-1784. Europeans had been visiting the west coast of British Columbia
for almost a century prior to the establishment of colonies. As you can see, early exploration
was from the sea and was mostly undertaken by Russian and Spanish explorers. The Russians
had been exploring the north coast near Alaska from about the mid-1700s. The Spanish also
began exploring from their colonies to the south (in present day California and Mexico) in the
late 1700s.

British exploration also began in the late 1700s, you will notice Captain James Cook’s expedition
route from 1778-9 on this layer too. Captain James Cook was really responsible for putting BC
on the map and the reason why we are British Columbia. He came to the BC coast searching for
the western entrance to the Northwest Passage, a northern route connecting Europe to East
Asia. His ships took refuge in Nootka Sound. There he traded local First Nations for sea otter
pelts and found they fetched a good price and were sought after in China. Sea otter pelts were
a key early driver of exploration of the BC coast as they became a key trade commodity both in
China and Europe. This also led to struggles for colonial territory in the region.

Territory: combines geographic space with political control (sovereignty) over that space

After Cook left the coast, the Spanish returned and claimed it as part of their territorial
extension from California. The Spanish actually set up a fort in Friendly Cove in Nootka Sound
for a while. This led to a dispute between Britain and Spain over claims to Nootka Sound which
culminated in 1789 in a British officer being taken at sword point and British Ships confiscated
by the Spanish, an incident known as the Nootka Sound Incident.

As you can see on the following page, not much was known regarding the shape of the
coastline of British Columbia at this time.

Chart of the North West Coast of America and the North East Coast of Asia, 1778 & 1779, by Captain James Cook

© Public Domain

Source: National Library of Canada / C-148345

European knowledge of the BC coast improved in the 1790s. Fuelled by Spain’s assertion of
terGeog 105


This week we begin our exploration of the processes and patterns of settlement in British Columbia. This assignment will take this theme in a new direction, by examining one of the key data sources geographers use to understand population patterns and processes, the Census. In Canada, Statistics Canada collects census data every 5 years. This data provides a portrait of our country at a particular time. We can also look at historical censes for comparison purposes to see how our population has changed over time.

Canada’s population growth is shifting westward, as the latest census results show the Prairie region and British Columbia lead the country in growth. For a population to increase there must be more births than deaths and/or greater immigration than emigration. How a country, region or city grows and changes over time can be graphically represented in a population pyramid. A growing population is shaped like a triangle with a wide bottom and a narrow top – indicating that there are a lot of young people with high reproductive potential and fewer older people, often due to high death rates. Historically, most countries were growing – hence the description of this graph as a “pyramid”. Over time, we have seen the shape of the graph in economically advancing countries shift to reflect a stable population – little growth results in a pyramid shaped more like a column in which the number of people in each age cohort is relatively equal and both birth rates and death rates are low. A declining population has a pyramid that is shaped like an inverted triangle with a larger number of people in the older age cohorts than in the younger cohorts. A population that has a declining population pyramid may actually be beginning to diminish in size – perhaps due to war or disease increasing the death rate or due to a significant decline in the birth rate.
We will be working with an interactive population pyramid from Statistics Canada We will be working with 2016 data.

At this link you should begin by choosing “Canada” in both of the selection boxes and then pressing submit. You will see a more “columnar” pyramid than many other countries, reflecting our stable population growth. Notably, you’ll see a bulge in the population cohorts between the ages of 50-70 years; this is the post WW2 baby boom. To see the impacts of the war itself, see the taper of the elderly males in comparison to the same cohort females. You are likely part of the “echo” (also known as Generation Y or Millennials), or the generation born to the Baby Boomers. This echo is not as big as the baby boom originally was because our average family size has fallen in the intervening years.

Use the interactive feature of this graph to answer the following questions:

1. Change the first selectio

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