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Becoming British Columbia: A Population History

John Douglas Belshaw
Language: English
Format: Paperback
Text Content Territories: Indigenous Canadian;
Status: Available
Grade Levels: University/College;
Other Categories: Indigenous Studies, Communities
Authentic Canadian Content

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 conspire 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 center 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.

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