Archeologists believe that the area that is now British Columbia was inhabited as early as 8000 B.C., by prehistoric people whose ancestors had migrated from Asia at a time when a land bridge connected Asia and North America. When European explorers arrived in the region, the major Indian tribes were the Tsimshian in the north, the Haida along the coast, and the Kwakiutl on Vancouver Island. These tribes had advanced cultures, and prosperous economies based on hunting, fishing, whaling, and trade.

Important dates in British Columbia
1778 James Cook landed on Vancouver Island.
1790 The Nootka Convention gave the Spaniards and the British equal trading rights along the North Pacific Coast.
1792-1794 George Vancouver explored the coast.
1805-1808 Simon Fraser explored what is now British Columbia.
1843 The Hudson's Bay Company founded Fort Victoria.
1846 The Oregon Treaty set the boundary between British Columbia and the United States.
1849 The British established a colony on Vancouver Island.
1858 The British established the colony of British Columbia on the mainland during the gold rush to the Fraser River.
1861 The gold rush to the Cariboo District began.
1866 The British united the colonies of British Columbia and Vancouver Island.
1885 Canada's transcontinental railroad was completed.
1942 The Alaska Highway linked Dawson Creek with Yukon and Alaska.
1951 Major natural gas and oil fields were discovered near Fort St. John in the Peace River District.
1964 Canada and the United States reached final agreement on their 1961 treaty providing for development of the Columbia River in British Columbia and the state of Washington.
1972 The New Democratic Party became the first social-democratic party to form the provincial government. It remained in office until 1975.
1985 The province's Northeast B.C. Coal Project, the largest coal mining project in Canada, made its first shipment of coal.
2000 The Nisga'a Treaty, which settled land claims by the Nisga'a Indians of British Columbia, was ratified.