province of SW Canada, on the Pacific: 357,073 sq mi (924,815 sq km); cap. Victoria: abbrev. BC or B.C.
Origin of British Columbiaafter the Columbia River
A province of western Canada bordering on the Pacific Ocean. The Hudson's Bay Company established a British colony at Vancouver Island in 1849, and a separate colony, called British Columbia, was formed on the mainland in 1858, the year of the Fraser River gold rush. The two colonies merged in 1866 and were admitted as a single province in 1871. Victoria is the capital and Vancouver the largest city.