On this day in 1871 the British Colony of British Columbia joined the Canadian Confederation, giving the fledgling nation access to the vast Pacific Ocean and its even vaster trade advantages; reciprocally, the outpost on the west coast would thus be given access to the civilizing influence of the older settlements back East - or at least would be as soon as the Canadian Pacific Railway managed to get its act together* and find enough Chinese for the highly dangerous job of laying the track over the Rocky Mountains.
The capital was established at Victoria, which had been the capital of the old Colony of Vancouver Island until 1866, when for a time the island and the mainland were formally known as the United Colonies of Vancouver Island and British Columbia; Vancouver (now the second most populous city in the region, after Seattle) was then just a glimmer in the eye of a Geordie saloon-keeper called "Gassy" Jack Deighton, a rough-and-tumble place called Gastown (or, more properly, Granville - named for the British colonial secretary Lord Granville).
The prime motivating force behind British Columbia's joining Canada was the Confederation League, led by such figures as Amor De Cosmos, John Robson, and Robert Beaven; the first premier was John Foster McCreight, who assumed the role at the request of Lieutenant-Governor Sir Joseph Trutch.
In the years since its founding, British Columbia has given the world such towering cultural figures as painter Emily Carr, architect Arthur Erickson, socialite Pat Buckley, artist Bill Reid, entertainer David Foster, and novelist Douglas Coupland.
*The route was finally completed in November 1888.
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