Silvery totem poles peek through the mists of Haida Gwaii. An abandoned rail track meanders along a Kootenay mountain pass. In Gastown, the perfume of gin lingers in a former bootlegger’s haunt.
Traces of the past are all over British Columbia, if you know where to look. Luckily, B.C.’s 91 National Historic Sites, 10 Provincial Historic Sites and three UNESCO World Heritage Sites make it easy to journey back through the 150 years of Canada’s history in its westernmost province.
In 1867, British Columbia was still largely the home of indigenous peoples who had lived here for more than 13,000 years, but that was changing fast. It had been less than a century since Spanish Captain José María Narváez and British Captain George Vancouver became the first Europeans to truly explore this coast and already it was clear that nothing would be the same again.