British Columbia Day

1870 BC Colonial flag BC Day is a statuary holiday and happens every year on the first monday of August. Everyone heads out to the country and has a roaring time enjoying this wonderful province.

Just for the fun of it, let me fill you in on a bit of BC history. First, our name hasn’t always been British Columbia. We actually started out as New Caledonia.

New Caledonia was the name given to a district of the Hudson’s Bay Company that comprised the territory which was largely the same as our province. It was part of the British claim to North America, but not a British colony.

New Caledonia continued to be administered by the HBC with the govenour of Vancouver Island, James Douglas, as the chief executive. There were only about 100 people in the area, but when the Fraser Canyon Gold Rush started at Yale, there suddenly came an influx of over twenty thousand people, mostly American. This compelled Douglas to exert British sovereignty by placing a gunboat at the mouth of the Fraser River in order to obtain licence fees from prospectors. The British colonial office was thus prompted to pass legislation designating New Caledonia as a crown colony on August 2, 1858 – and that’s when we got our new, and current, name. However, it wasn’t until 20 July 1871 that British Columbia became a Province of the Dominion of Canada.

The history of our flag, or flags, is also interesting. It wasn’t until 20 July 1960 that we got the “wavy white and blue with rising sun” that we have now. In fact there were several flags. Part of the history of our crest, upon which our flag is based, is quite amusing.

When British Columbia became a province of Canada, its first proposal for a coat-of-arms and flag was a half-sun in the top half and a Union Jack in the bottom half. When the design was sent to the heralds in the United Kingdom for approval, they became appalled when they realized that the design could be interpreted as “the sun setting on the British Empire.” The design was quickly reversed so the sun was on the bottom like we see today. There are still a few examples of the original faux pas around. A stained glass window in the Provincial Parliament Buildings is one.

When we became a province in 1871 the flag one would have seen on any vessels operated by the Province of British Columbia would have been the Blue Ensign with the badge of the Dominion of Canada. The problem in those days was that we didn’t yet have and official flag. Therefore the earlier flags always looked a bit contrived. The flag at the beginning of this article is the 1870 colonial flag. The one below, is the one we got in 1960.

1960 BC Flag So, a lot of water has gone under the bridge, and here we are with a new name, a new flag, and a couple of days off work. Life is good. Enjoy your holiday!