Becoming British Columbia
312 pages, 6 x 9
4 maps, 19 charts, and 26 tables
Paperback
Release Date:01 Jul 2009
ISBN:9780774815468
Hardcover
Release Date:10 Jan 2009
ISBN:9780774815451
PDF
Release Date:01 Jul 2009
ISBN:9780774815475
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Becoming British Columbia

A Population History

UBC Press

In the 240 years from contact to the present, British Columbia’s population has experienced transformations of a kind and magnitude witnessed nowhere else in North America. The introduction of exotic diseases changed the human landscape almost overnight, as did gold rushes, industrialization, two world wars, a baby boom, late twentieth-century immigration from Asia, and a grey wave.

Becoming British Columbia is the first comprehensive, demographic history of this province. Investigating critical moments in the demographic record and linking demographic patterns to larger social and political questions, it shows how biology, politics, and history conspired with sex, death, and migration to create a particular kind of society. John Belshaw overturns the widespread tendency to associate population growth with progress by examining how the province’s Aboriginal population of as much as half a million was reduced by disease to fewer than 30,000 people in less than a century. He reveals that the province has a long tradition of thinking and acting vigorously in ways meant to control and shape biological communities of humans, and suggests that imperialism, race, class, and gender have historically situated population issues at the centre of public consciousness in British Columbia.

Becoming British Columbia demystifies demographics in an accessible yet scholarly and provocative way. It will appeal to scholars and students in history, sociology, geography, and Canadian Studies, as well as to general readers interested in BC history.

Becoming British Columbia demystifies demographics in an accessible yet scholarly and provocative way. It will appeal to scholars and students in history, sociology, geography, and Canadian Studies, as well as to general readers interested in BC history.

The evidence presented...forces us to consider the important conclusion that British Columbia throughout its history has been ‘at the extremes of western world demographic trends.’ Becoming British Columbia deserves a wide readership. Robert A.J. MacDonald, University of British Columbia, Labour/Le Travail, 65
John Belshaw’s book is an important addition to the literature about British Columbia’s population history and should be read by all people who are interested in Canada’s demographic trends since the late 18th century. It is also an entertaining read. Bill Marr, Wilfrid Laurier University, Canadian Studies in Population, Vol 37.3-4 Fall/Winter
John Douglas Belshaw is a faculty member with Thompson Rivers University – Open Learning, a consultant to the post-secondary sector, a public scholar, and freelance writer. He is the author, co-author, or editor of five books on British Columbia history, including Becoming British Columbia (UBC Press, 2009).

Acknowledgments

1 Cradle to Grave: An Introduction

2 Weddings, Funerals, Anything: The British Columbian Demographic Narrative

3 The West We Have Lost: First Nations Depopulation

4 Girl Meets Boys: Sex Ratios and Nuptiality

5 Ahead By A Century: Fertility

6 Strangers in Paradise: Immigration and the Experience of Diversity

7 The Mourning After: Mortality

8 The British Columbia Clearances: Some Conclusions

Appendices

Notes

Suggested Reading

Index

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