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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A regional study of southeastern Vancouver Island, B.C. Farley, Albert Leonard

Abstract

Vancouver Island forms one of the border ranges of the North American Cordillera, and is separated from the mainland of British Columbia by a submerged depression, the Strait of Georgia. In extent, Vancouver Island is some 280 miles long and 50 to 80 miles wide, with an estimated area of 13,000 square miles. A central, strongly dissected mountainous backbone comprises most of the Island and forms its main axis, lying in a N.W. — S.E. direction. On the east, the backbone is bordered by a relatively narrow coastal plain which slopes gently to the Strait of Georgia. Southeastern Vancouver Island as considered in this study, is that portion of the Island lying south and east of a line from the mouth of Muir Creek to the southern end of Saanich Inlet, thence following the Inlet to the northern tip of Saanich Peninsula. Southeastern Vancouver Island presents a varied picture to the geographer. The upland topography of the west and southwest, on the one hand, is characterized by forest industry, with attendant sparse population and relatively few roads. Inland, scattered areas of suitable soils are occupied by general farms, while along the coast, the many bays and harbours are centres of fishing activity. On the other hand, extensive areas of modified glacial tills in the central and northern portions are widely developed for a variety of agricultural pursuits. Population is concentrated here and transportation routes show a dense, rectangular pattern. An urban area has developed in response to the natural harbour and its agricultural hinterland. The present day hinterland of this urban area extends far beyond the regional boundaries so that it now includes most of Vancouver Island. Though not well endowed with metallic minerals, the region has extensive reserves of non-mettalics in the form of sands, gravels and clays. These glacial deposits are being exploited for use in local construction. Fishing is well developed along the ocean littoral and exploits several fishes of which the Pacific salmon are the most important. The most valuable primary industries are agriculture and forestry. Agriculture is favoured by the long frostless season, absence of extreme temperatures, and dry, relatively sunny summers. Berry culture, bulb and seed production are thriving operations on the glacially derived soils, Forestry utilizes the steep slopes and non-arable soils of the maturely dissected upland area in the west and southwest. Though ouch of the forest area has been out over, climatic and edaphic conditions are optimum for reforestation of Douglas fir, the most valuable species. Secondary industry in Southeastern Vanoouvor Island ie favored by presence of forest and soil resources and a ready source of labour, but is hindered by limited markets and energy supplies. At present, manufacturing is restricted to simple processing. A great variety of tertiary industries centred in the urban area of Victoria serve the large residential zone. Tourism is one of these industries which has been particularly successful, capitalizing the local climate and scenery, the recreational facilities and "British" atmosphere. The region's greatest potential rests on its soil and forest resources. Ultimately, the cultivated land could be approximately doubled. The non-arable soils and upland areas now supporting various stages of second growth forest, are well suited to sustained yield forestry. The expansion of local population and secondary industries would probably parallel increased development of these basic industries, thereby adding considerably to the regional wealth.

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