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Scots in BC

The story of the Scottish presence in British Columbia is an ongoing one. We hope you enjoy reading and perhaps contributing to this story!

In March, 1778, Captain James Cook's ship, HMS Resolution, dropped anchor at the location now known as Nootka Sound on Vancouver Island. It was the first European landing in present day British Columbia and the first encounter between Europeans and the First Nations people of the area. Among Cook's crew were a number of individuals of Scottish descent (indeed, Cook himself was Scottish on his father's side). Over the next several hundred years, Scots would come to play a disproportionate role in the history of British Columbia. Scots like Simon McTavish and John Fraser ran the fur-trading companies that commissioned fellow Scots like Alexander Mackenzie and Simon Fraser to explore and map the west in hopes of finding a navigable route to the Pacific Ocean - First Nations people proved essential during these ventures. Later, many Scots men and women settled in British Columbia and were prominent in the fields of politics and education. The first governor of BC, James Douglas, was of Scottish origin, as was the first mayor of Vancouver, M.A. Maclean. Scottish entrepreneurs in lumber, mining, fisheries and canning also left their mark on the province, as did the many unknown men and women working in these industries.

This "Scots in BC" website, created by the Centre for Scottish Studies at Simon Fraser University, aims to provide an overview of the many and varied connections between Scotland and British Columbia, recovering this important history as well as situating it within the context of later immigration by other groups to British Columbia.