Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Epistle to Dumb Yanks - Part VI - British Columbia

This entry is the sixth part of a series. To read the whole series (recommended), click: Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, Part VII. I also recommend reading them in chronological order.
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Since the Rocky Mountains extend down through the USA, this one should be easy to explain: Long story short, populations do not accumulate in great numbers on ragged mountain tops.

Here's a few of maps of British Columbia that show the topography and the locales among the mountains where heavy populations can (and have) accumulate(d):

Map 1 (Scroll down a bit.) The yellow parts are where the dense populations are. And guess what? They are adjacent to rivers and snuggled between rugged mountain ranges. These rivers are responsible for the creation of broad, fertile valleys in the southern part of the province where climate (generally warmer than other parts of the country, and certainly warmer than more northerly reaches) is hospitable.  Sorry, but the location of the population has nothing to do with proximity to the international border.

Map 2 (Night-time map showing the same thing.)

Map 3  (The westernmost area of the Fraser River delta together with Burrard Inlet, and the population centers along side them.)

Map 4 (Similar to Map 3, this one shows suburban communities close to Vancouver)

Population figures for some of these communities are as follows:

Vancouver (pop: 603,502)
Burnaby (pop. 223,218)
Richmond (pop. 190,473)
North Vancouver Metropolitan region (pop. 84,412)
Surrey (pop. 468,251)
Abbotsford (pop. 133,497)
Coquitlam (pop. 126,456)
Langley (pop. 104,177)
Delta (pop. 99,780)
Chilliwack (pop. 77,936)
Port Coquitlam (pop. 52,687)
New Westminster (pop. 65,976)

This region of British Columbia is far and away the most densely populated. Note the predominance of waterways. This is also the delta region of the Fraser River and is right next door to the ports that lead to the Pacific Ocean and ultimately, Asia.

Those are factors that have driven the population of this region to make it a rival to the Quebec City-Windsor Corridor.  Other, earlier, factors involved in the formation of these settlements include the fur trade and the gold rush of 1858. Indeed, the river (and a host of other things) is named after an early explorer/fur trader, Simon Fraser.  Proximity to the USA border has nothing to do with it.

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3 Comments:

Anonymous ebt said...

Not sure I can agree with you here. Both Vancouver and Victoria are where they are because they were intended to be as close as possible to the US border. That's why the original site of Vancouver was on the original US border, viz., the Columbia River. Today it's Vancouver, Washington, across the river from Portland. When the border moved, the city moved with it.

BC is indeed the sole example in Canada of settlement deliberately close to the border. It's the exception that proves your rule.

June 15, 2012 3:56 pm  
Blogger Louise said...

"Both Vancouver and Victoria are where they are because they were intended to be as close as possible to the US border."

Considering the proximity of rugged mountains all around the Greater Van area, I suspect the Frazer River Valley was/is the only place in southern BC where large populations/urban centres could develop, though.

Once established, an urban centre such as Vancouver attracts/spurs the development of nearby urban centres and the breadth of the Frazer delta made that possible. So, the "as close as possible" principle was predetermined by geological forces and necessity as much as, if not more so, than proximity to the border. That and climate.

June 15, 2012 6:37 pm  
Blogger Louise said...

And besides, I thought Vancouver, Washington and Vancouver, BC were both named after the explorer, George Vancouver.

June 16, 2012 12:55 am  

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