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Test your B.C. Day knowledge, Vancouver Island style

Do you know your provincial bird? And other trivia all Islanders should know
Clockwise from top left: Pamela Anderson, the Steller’s jay, Simon Fraser Tolmie, Cassie Sharpe, Rod Brind’Amour and a 70.5-pound chinook. (CP/Mike Benbow/VIFD file photos)

With no Easter eggs, Christmas trees, or turkey dinners — B.C. Day might be the least traditional of our statutory holidays.

Unless of course cold drinks, warm sun, cool water and backyard barbecues count as traditions.

Do you know when we first started celebrating B.C. Day?

It actually wasn’t that long ago. B.C. was the last province in Canada to implement a civic holiday on the first Monday in August, officially adopting it in it 1974.

Here is a collection of other B.C. trivia questions to occupy you as you sip a cold one on this warmest of holidays.

What is the oldest settlement on Vancouver Island?

UVic PhD student Alisha Gauvreau made waves in the academic world last year with discovery of a 14,000-year-old Heiltsuk village on B.C.’s central coast, about halfway between Vancouver Island and Haida Gwai, considered one of the oldest human settlements in North America. No settlements of that vintage have been uncovered on Vancouver Island yet, but there has been evidence of people living in the Broken Island group west of Port Alberni dating back more than 5,000 years. The colonial era arrived in 1778 when James Cook met the Mowachaht people of the Nootka Sound area at Yuquot, ironically in what is now one of the least-populated parts of the Island.

Where was the first colonial settlement on Vancouver Island?

Ever hear of Fort Albert? You might know it better by its current name of Victoria. Fort Albert was established by the Hudson’s Bay company in 1843, just a few hundred metres away from the current site of the Empress Hotel. After the Oregon Territory officially became American, the HBC relocated its headquarters west of the Rockies to Victoria, and the British Colonial office designated Vancouver Island an official Crown colony in 1849. The settlement began blooming about 10 years later due to in influx of people chasing the gold rush. Political and economic pressure led England to merge Vancouver Island and the Mainland colony of B.C. in 1866.

Where is the wettest place in B.C.?

Henderson Lake is not only the wettest place in B.C., it is the wettest place in all of North America. says the spot — located south of Sproat Lake, roughly halfway between Port Alberni and Ucluelet — receives nearly seven metres of annual precipitation on average and set an all-time Canadian record with in 1997 with 9,307 mm. Victoria receives about 583. The notoriety is so bad, the area is about to go undercover. In February, the B.C. Geographical Place Names Office announced a process is underway to change the lake’s name to Hucuktlis Lake. It has nothing to do with the rain, but is, instead, part of a treaty settlement with the Maa-nulth First Nation aimed at repatriating some area place names to their pre-colonial status.

What is the sunniest spot in B.C.?

Some say it might be Cranbrook. Others, Victoria. It depends on exactly how you define “sunniest”. According to the blog victoriaweatherandclimate, the city averaged 2,203 hours of sunshine between 1958 and 1988, when they stopped recording hours of sunshine at the Victoria Gonzales location. “The Olympic Mountain rainshadow, discussed earlier for its impact on precipitation in Victora, also affects the amount of sunshine. As winds flow down over the Olympics, the sinking air warms and dries, often resulting in a hole in the clouds. In fact this is so prevalent that airplane pilots often use this “hole in the clouds” as part of the visual navigation in the region around Victoria,” the blog reports. The Victoria Airport averages 2,109. Cranbrook, 2,191. Nanaimo and the Comox Valley score relatively well on the sunshine scale (1,940 and 1,926 hours, respectively). Tofino (1,688), Port Alberni (16,11) and Port Hardy (1,462) less so.

Who is the most famous Vancouver Islander in the world?

She’s not rocking the front pages of the tabloids or glamming it up on Entertainment Tonight the way she did in the ’90s, but the crown probably still belongs to Ladysmith’s centennial baby of 1967, Pamela Anderson. We say probably, because fame is fleeting and difficult to measure. But a team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology tried to do so with their Pantheon project. If fame translates to views of a Wikipedia page between 2008 and 2013 (the data period used by the project), then the most famous Canadian is Justin Bieber by a longshot. Anderson — whose childhood was spent between Ladysmith and Comox — ranks 12th on that list. Using the more complex methodology employed by the Pantheon project, the former Baywatch star ranks 21st among Canadians. Either way, her name shows up first among Vancouver Islanders.

Who was Vancouver Island’s first athlete to win individual gold at the Winter Olympics?

Canada seems to win Winter Olympic medals by the bucket full in recent games, so it may come as a surprise for some to learn that prior to 1992, the entire country combined for just five gold medals in individual Olympic sports. Rossland’s Nancy Greene became the first B.C. athlete to win Winter Games gold when she won the Giant Slalom ski race in 1968 in Grenoble France. And it took until this year for the first Vancouver Islander to match that performance. Cassie Sharpe, raised in Comox and on the slopes of Mount Washington broke the seal in February when she threw herself across the ski halfpipe course in Pyeongchang.

What NHL head coach and Stanley Cup winning captain was born on Vancouver Island?

He may not be the first name out people’s mouths when they talk about Vancouver Island athletes, but not many have enjoyed as much success as Rod Brind’Amour — and in Canada’s most high-profile sport to boot. Raised in Campbell River — the city’s arena now bears his name - Brind’Amour played 21 seasons and nearly 1,500 games in the National Hockey League. He was twice named the league’s best defensive forward and his 1,184 points ranks 48th all-time, ahead of such legends as Bobby Hull and Sidney Crosby. But the pinnacle of his career was in 2006 when he captained the Carolina Hurricanes to a Stanley Cup championship. After seven years as an assistant, he was named the Hurricanes head coach on May 8.

What is the biggest salmon ever caught off Vancouver Island?

The legendary Tyee Club of Campbell River is an Island tradition dating back to 1924, where anglers returned annually in rowboats to the Tyee Pool, bidding to join the club by snagging a 30-plus-pound chinook. In 1968, with the aid of fishing guide Tom McGregor, Walter Shutts reeled in an immense 71-pound beauty that remains the largest in club history. The record for the largest-ever sport-caught salmon was set in 1985 by Les Anderson who landed a 97-pounder from the Kenai River in Alaska.

Who was the first Islander to become B.C. premier?

It took 32 years for a native British Columbian to be elected premier. That happened when New Westminster native Richard McBride was voted into office in 1901. It took another 27 years before a Vancouver Islander took office. Born in Victoria before it became part of Canada, Simon Fraser Tolmie was elected in 1928 and served until 1933. A Conservative MLA for Saanich, Tolmie was known for an unemployment rate that hit 28% midway through his stint and for the disintegration of the B.C. Conservative Party under his watch, which never again returned to power. Other Island-born premiers include Victoria-born Byron “Boss” Johnson 1947 to 1952, Nanaimo-born Glen Clark 1996 to 1999, Port Alice-born Dan Miller 1999 to 2000, and current premier John Horgan, who is from Victoria.

Which if these Vancouver Island communities was named after a B.C. premier: Youbou, Bowser, Tofino or Duncan?

It’s not Tofino, which was named after a public official, but not an elected official, nor a British Columbian. Don Vincente Tofino was a rear admiral in the Spanish navy and is one of several explorers to lend his name to Island geography. Nor was a William Chalmers Duncan, a farmer whose property was chosen as the Cowichan River station for the new Vancouver Island railway. Youbou is an amalgamation of the Yount and Boulton, the manager and president, respectively of the Empire Logging company, which built a sawmill at the townsite. The correct answer is Bowser, names for William John Bowser, one of B.C.’s more obscure premiers. He was in office for less than a year, did little deemed worthy of uploading to the internet, and, apparently, no one knows were he was buried.

What is B.C.’s oldest park?

The largest mountain on Vancouver Island is the Golden Hinde, at 2,198 metres. It sits pretty much at the dead centre of the Island in the heart of Strathcona Park, the Island’s biggest and B.C.’s oldest provincial park. It is made up of more than 250,000 hectares of mostly untouched high country, lakes and a glacier, perfect for hiking and other forms of remote back-country adventure. Founded in 1911, it is located west of Courtenay and Campbell River, northeast of Tofino and southeast of Gold River. According to researcher Paula Young, “the B.C. government funded an “exploratory survey trip” to the Buttle Lake-Crown Mountain region of central Vancouver Island to assess its suitability for British Columbia’s first provincial park. Upon his return, the expedition leader proclaimed his support for the establishment of a park, arguing: “Switzerland gets millions sterling yearly from the thousands of tourists who go to see the Alps. We have right at our doors a natural asset as great as the Alps are to Switzerland.”

Where is Canada’s highest waterfall?

If you guessed Strathcona Park, you are absolutely right. Probably. Like so many things of a record-setting nature, “highest waterfall” is open to interpretation. Other falls may travel a further distance from top to bottom, but Della Falls’ 444-metre drop is considered to be the largest vertical plunge. Named for the wife of a prospector, Della Falls is one of the must-hike destinations for serious VI backpackers. It can be accessed by taking a boat along the length of Great Central lake, north of Port Alberni, followed by a 15-kilometre hike to the base of the falls.

Where is B.C.’s biggest tree?

According to the UBC Faculty of Forestry — which maintains the BC Big Tree Registry — the largest tree in the province is a giant Coastal Douglas fir sitting on Crown land near Port Renfrew. Located in the Red Creek area, the tree stands 74 metres tall and has a circumference of 13-28 metres. Not far away is its more celebrated — but slightly smaller — cousin, Big Lonely Doug, which is becoming a tourist destination.

What are B.C.’s provincial symbols?

According to the government website, there are six, in addition to the provincial flag, coat of arms and tartan: a flower, a bird, a mammal, a fish, a gemstone and a tree. They are: the dogwood flower (adopted in 1956), the Steller’s jay (adopted in 1987), the spirit bear (adopted in 2006), the Pacific salmon (adopted in 2013), jade (adopted in 1968), and the Western Red Cedar (adopted in 1988).

John McKinley

About the Author: John McKinley

I have been a Black Press Media journalist for more than 30 years and today coordinate digital news content across our network.
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