Travel Guides Crafted by Experienced Archaeologists & Historians

British Columbia
Art, History & Archaeology Sites & Museums

Stretching along Canada’s west coast, British Columbia became a province in 1871. Indigenous groups living in the region include the Haida, Coast Salish, and Kwakwaka’wakw. These Pacific Northwest peoples are known across the world for their distinctive artistic traditions, especially the totem pole – the world’s tallest still stands here in Alert Bay. European explorers first encountered the region in the late 18th century before beginning to settle in the 19th. They were accompanied by many East Asians, with the province now having Canada’s oldest Chinatown. The provincial capital, Victoria, is named for the 19th-century British queen, while another of British Columbia’s cities, Vancouver, is Canada’s third largest by population size.

Archaeology & History Sites in British Columbia

Barkerville Historic Town and Park

Located on the western edge of the Cariboo Mountains, Barkerville played a seminal role in the Cariboo Gold Rush of the 1860s. Today, many of the 19th century structures still survive in situ, allowing visitors the chance to appreciate what Barkerville looked like in its heyday. As well as European settlers, Barkerville became home to sizeable numbers of Chinese people and is home to Canada’s oldest Chee Kung Tong building. As well as serving as a tourist attraction, with many places where visitors can stay, Barkerville remains home to small local community.

Fort Langley

Erected on land formerly inhabited by the Sto:lo people, Fort Langley was built in the 1820s as a fur trading base for the Hudson’s Bay Company. It remained in the company’s possession until the 1880s and by the 1920s only one of its historic buildings survived. In the mid-20th century, much of the timber fort was recreated, enabling the National Historic Site to become a heritage attraction. Re-enactors dressed in period costume help visitors to immerse themselves in the past while First Nations storytellers give greater depth to the landscape and its heritage.

Museums & Art Galleries in British Columbia

Museum of Anthropology, Vancouver

Founded in 1947, the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia is internationally renowned for its collections from around the world, including Asia, Europe, Africa, and the South Pacific. Although primarily an ethnographic museum, the university’s collection also possesses over five hundred thousand archaeological artefacts, many from the Pacific Northwest coast of Canada, making this a must-see destination for those interested in the region. The museum is set in a sensitively landscaped garden that contains many indigenous plants as well as two Haida houses and totem poles.

Museum of Vancouver

Those interested in the history of British Columbia’s most populous city can delve deeper at the Museum of Vancouver. Founded in 1894, it is the city’s oldest museum and now occupies a purpose built structure designed by the architect Gerald Hamilton and erected in 1967. The museum’s collection is diverse and includes a range of materials linked to the indigenous peoples of British Columbia. The museum collection also includes objects pertaining to natural history as well as to ancient Egypt, East Asia, and to the modern history of Vancouver itself.