British Columbia Coast

Howe Sound, along British Columbia's South Coast.

The British Columbia Coast or BC Coast is Canada's western continental coastline on the North Pacific Ocean. The usage is synonymous with the term West Coast of Canada.

In a sense excluding the urban Lower Mainland area adjacent to the Canada–United States border, which is considered "The Coast," the British Columbia Coast refers to one of British Columbia's three main regions, the others being the Lower Mainland and The Interior.

The aerial distance from Victoria on the Strait of Juan de Fuca to Stewart, British Columbia on the Alaska border at the head of the Portland Canal is 965 kilometres (600 mi) in length. However, because of its many deep inlets and complicated island shorelines—and 40,000 islands of varying sizes, including Vancouver Island and Haida Gwaii —the total length of the British Columbia Coast is over 25,725 kilometres (15,985 mi), making up about 10% of the Canadian coastline at 243,042 kilometres (151,019 mi).[1][citation needed] The coastline's geography, which is shared with Southeast Alaska and adjoining parts of northwest Washington, is most comparable to that of Norway and its heavily indented coastline of fjords,[2] a landscape also found in southern Chile. The dominant landforms of the BC Coast are the Insular Mountains, comprising most of Vancouver Island and Haida Gwaii, and the Coast Mountains, which extend beyond into Alaska and the Yukon.

The British Columbia Coast is mostly part of the Pacific temperate rain forests ecoregion as defined by the World Wide Fund for Nature. In the system used by Environment Canada, established by the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC), the area is defined as the Pacific Maritime Ecozone. In the geoclimatic zones system used by the British Columbia Ministry of Forests the bulk of the region comprises the Coastal Western Hemlock biogeoclimatic zone, although small areas flanking the Strait of Georgia at the coast's southern extremity are classed in the Coastal Douglas-fir zone.

History

Research from the 1990s has indicated that the Ice Age-era coastline of the British Columbia Coast was lower by about 100 metres (330 ft). The effect of the waterlevel on the coastline was such that the Queen Charlotte Strait, which is between Haida Gwaii and the northern end of Vancouver Island, was a coastal plain, as were all the straits inland from it, except for those that were mountain valleys.

Underwater archaeology has shown the presence of permanent human habitations and other activity at the 100-metre (330 ft) contour, and the Ice Age existence of such a coastal plain has put a new light on Ice Age populations in North America as well as on the strong likelihood of this area having been the major migration route from (and perhaps to) Asia.

The heavy indentation and mild climate of the British Columbia Coast have led to inevitable comparisons with the geography's predisposition to encouraging increased human settlement and movement as well as cultural foment and population growth in the Aegean, the Irish Sea/Hebrides and in the Danish Archipelago and adjoining Scandinavian coasts.

The natural fecundity of the environment—rich in seafood, game and greenery—combined with the ease of travel (by water) is seen in all cases (British Columbia, Denmark, Greece) to have generated a dynamic and gifted civilization. And there are comparisons to be made between the artistic and political and social level of the Pacific Northwest Peoples and those of pre-Conversion pagan Scandinavia, Ireland and Archaic-Era Greece.