Victoria History - The Sea & the Mountains

BC has a rainforst stretching along its Pacific Coast The continental drift of the Pacific Ocean plate towards the North American continent created the wrinkles on the west coast called mountains. In fact, over three quarters of BC lies over 1,000 metres above sea level. There are actually three ranges of mountains in the West: from the coast moving east: the Coast Mountains, the Columbia Mountains (which includes the Purcell, Selkirk, and Monashee Range, famed for their deep powder heli-skiing), and finally the Rocky Mountains along the border with Alberta.

BC's highest mountain, 4,663 metre (15,388 feet) Fairweather Mountain, is in the northwest corner of the province, just south of the Alaskan border. The Rockies' highest mountain, Mount Robson (3,954 metres, on BC's eastern edge, close to Jasper, Alberta, is the source of the Fraser River. The Fraser is Canada's third longest river, which ends up in the Pacific Ocean (technically, in the Georgia Strait) at Vancouver. The Rockies' largest glacier, the Columbia Icefield (over a mile thick in places, straddling the Albert/BC border) is the source of the Columbia River, which winds its way through British Columbia, and reaches the Pacific at Portland Oregon.

Vancouver Island--and the Gulf Islands--are also mountains, just with their bases under the ocean. Vancouver Island is the largest North American island in the Pacific Ocean. There are 6,500 islands off the BC coast, with a total coastline stretching 27,000 kilometres.

The west side of the mountains that make up the spine of Vancouver Island create a rugged rainforest atmosphere unique on this continent. The east slope of the mountains have gentle slopes down to the Straits.

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