British Columbia: Homesteading in Canada

Canada's British Columbia is a paradise on the pacific, ideal for creating a homestead in Canada.

| September/October 1970

Here's why the Pacific Northwest has such a wide divergence of climate: Warm, moist ocean air moving inland cools, turns to fog and releases moisture as it rises over the obstructing mountains. The dry air then has very little precipitation to deposit on the mountains' eastern slopes, leaving that region semi-arid.Thus, within only a few miles, the character of the land changes rapidly from a forested, mild coast to sub-artic plains and bush, making homesteading in Canada an ideal situation.   

Another Garden

Long before Europeans came to spoil and pillage this North American Continent, Nootka, Salish, Kwakuitl, Haisla, Tsimshian, Makah, Bella Coola, and Skokomish "Indians" led a rich, full life among the bountiful nature of the Northwest Coast. Their elaborate tribal societies flourished in the abundance of natural game, berries and fishes. Their "status structure" was based on giving. The more generous a man, the more costly his gifts, the more bountiful his feast table . . . the higher his status in the community. In this land of plenty, of gentle rain and mild climate, civilization had reached a pinnacle of generosity.

Of course this was not a mythical idyllic paradise. There were frequent wars among tribes, but these were usually wars of acquisition, not annihilation. The chieftal powers were very weak, and when the social structure was threatened—by the arrival of aggressive, mercenary colonists—it rapidly collapsed. Little is left of those original inhabitants, or their culture, and most of what remains is generally misinterpreted and totally misunderstood. (For a totally empathetic and realistic view of this fantastic culture and others of the North and Central Americas I suggest reading Man's Rise to Civilization, Peter Farb, the source of the preceding material.)

Much of the natural abundance of the great West Coast has changed too, of course, with the growing of great industrial ports and the gross exploitation (such as lumber and fishing) of the natural resources. Technology and pollution have decreed that salmon will no longer cram the rivers so thickly that "you could step across their backs to the other side (of the river) without getting your feet wet." But all is certainly not lost. We have abused the land but vast areas along the beautiful coast have never yet felt the foot of man or the scars of super-highways.

The Northern Jungle

If you were asked to identify a photo taken of the forests along the west coast of British Columbia, Canada, you would probably first associate the lush, green, fern-infested jungle with a tropical rain forest.

It seems unbelievable that the combination of high moisture and mild temperatures could produce a treble-layered forest at latitude of 60°–40° north. Only a bright green light filters through the first layers of giant conifers and the middle layers of broad-leafed trees to the bushes and ferns that blanket the floor. Although the forest teems with life—deer, squirrels, birds, bears, etc.—catching the animals is practically impossible due to the extreme density of the vegetation. Visibility is limited to a few feet. The rain forest also contains a "false floor" composed of dead and rotting trees. This floor is often 10 feet above the real ground and it's possible to fall through the layer of downed trees and become trapped below.

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