Westerly winds carrying moist air from the ocean drop upward of 430 cm of precipitation a year on the mountains. The exposed slopes are among the rainiest places in N America, nurturing rapid growth of coniferous forests.
Numerous Northwest Coast Native peoples have long inhabited the coastal edge of the mountains. The first European known to traverse the mountains was Alexander MACKENZIE (1793). Roads now cross mountains at 8 points, including Hwy 99 between Squamish and Lillooet (mostly following the BC Rail route), Hwy 20 between Anahim Lk and Bella Coola, Hwy 37 between Kitimat and Terrace, Hwy 16 between Prince Rupert and Terrace (also the route of the CN), Hwy 37A between Stewart and Meziaden, Hwy 2 between Skagway and Carcross, Alaska and Hwy 7 from Haines, Alaska up the Chilkoot R.
Great mineral wealth has come from the margins of the mountains. Former sites include the Britannia Beach copper mine near Squamish (museum); gold mines along Bralorne, in the Chilcotin Ranges; the Anyox copper mine and smelter on Observatory Inlet and the Granduc copper mine near Stewart, another in the Taku R area and a granite quarry near Squamish. The aluminum smelter at Kitimat is one of the largest manufacturing plants on the Pacific coast.
Logging is extensive along accessible regions of the coast; logs are boomed or barged great distances to tidewater mills. Pulp mills operate at Port Mellon and Woodfibre, in Howe Sound. Powell River has a huge pulp and paper complex. On the N coast there are pulp mills at Kitimat and Port Edward. A pulp and paper mill operated for decades at Ocean Falls, on the mid-coast. The E side of the mountains are much drier and more accessible, and truck logging has become extensive in lower-elevation spruce-pine-fir forests.
In the 1990s the BC government created several large protected areas in the mountains, notably Ts'yl-os Prov Pk (233 240 ha) around Chilko Lk, the 317 291 ha Kitlope Valley, S of Kitimat and the 44 902 ha Khutzeymateen Valley near Prince Rupert, Canada's first GRIZZLY BEAR sanctuary.
Author PETER GRANT
Links to Other Sites
The B.C. Museum of Mining
This online collection of old newsletters and photographs provides a glimpse into local mining operations and community life. Also offers an extensive teacher’s resource guide and a summary of lingering environmental issues related to past mining activity.
An extensive information source about the geological history, human settlement patterns, earth and water resources, and natural hazards found in locations across the country. Click on the red symbols on the interactive map of Canada to explore aerial landscapes, maps, photos, colourful online posters, and more. A Geoscape Canada website from Natural Resources Canada.
The Alpine Club of Canada - Vancouver Section
See online copies of the "Avalanche Echoes" newsletter. Great photographs and updates of club activites on local mountains.
Khutzeymateen/K'tzim-a-Deen Grizzly Sanctuary Provincial Park
An information page about Canada's only grizzly bear sanctuary, currently under the joint management of the province of British Columbia and the Tsimshian Nation.
A photograph of Keyhole Falls, located at the head of Lillooet Canyon in British Columbia. From Natural Resources Canada.
Where Do Landslides Occur?
View a map of areas in British Columbia that are more susceptible to landslides than others because of unique geological conditions. A Province of British Columbia website.
Shawnadithit grew anxious waiting for her uncle, Longnon, to return to camp at the junction of Badger Brook and the Exploits River, deep in the wilds of Newfoundland...