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Distributed for University of British Columbia Press

Becoming British Columbia

A Population History

Becoming British Columbia is the first comprehensive, demographic history of British Columbia. Investigating critical moments in the demographic record and linking demographic patterns to larger social and political questions, it shows how biology, politics, and history conspired with sex, death, and migration to create a particular kind of society. John Belshaw overturns the widespread tendency to associate population growth with progress. 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 centre of public consciousness in British Columbia.

300 pages

Table of Contents


1 Cradle to Grave: An Introduction

2 Weddings, Funerals, Anything: The British Columbian Demographic Narrative

3 The West We Have Lost: First Nations Depopulation

4 Girl Meets Boys: Sex Ratios and Nuptiality

5 Ahead By A Century: Fertility

6 Strangers in Paradise: Immigration and the Experience of Diversity

7 The Mourning After: Mortality

8 The British Columbia Clearances: Some Conclusions



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