1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Vancouver Island

VANCOUVER ISLAND, the largest of an archipelago of innumerable islands which fringes the Pacific coast of Canada, being at the same time the largest island on the west coast of North America. It forms part of British Columbia. It extends from 48° 20' to 51° N. and from 123° to 128° 30' W., and is thus 285 m. long and from 40 to 80 m. wide, with an area of about 20,000 sq. m., being nearly the size of Nova Scotia, which occupies a corresponding position on the Atlantic coast. It is bounded on the south by the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and is separated from the mainland of the province by the Strait of Georgia and Queen Charlotte Sound. A partially submerged range of mountains, which has been termed the Vancouver Range, runs parallel to the coast of British Columbia; a portion of this range forms Vancouver Island, and it again rises above the level of the sea farther north, forming the Queen Charlotte Islands. The coast-line is generally precipitous. The west coast is much broken by bays and inlets—the transverse valleys of the sunken range—which penetrate far inland. Among these may be mentioned the Alberni Canal, which is 20 m. long with a fine harbour at its head, the width of the inlet varying from a half to .one mile; Nootka Sound, 6 m. wide, and sending three arms inland which are from 40 to 160 fathoms deep, as well as Clayoquot, Esperanza, Kyuquot and Quatsino Sounds, which also penetrate deeply into the island. The general height of the mountain-range on Vancouver Island is from 2000 to 3000 ft.; some peaks are 6000 ft.; and Victoria Peak is 7484 ft. high. The island is composed largely of crystalline and metamorphic rocks, but contains some cretaceous areas which hold extensiveibeds of coal, especially on the east coast. These are mined at Nanaimo, Ladysmith and other points. The island is covered everywhere with an exceedingly dense forest, which makes its interior very difficult to traverse, so that there are still portions of the island which have not been thoroughly explored. These forests yield immense supplies of magnificent timber, which together with the coal-field and fisheries constitute the chief resources of the island. There are some level tracts on the south-east coast, as well as in the narrow, well-watered valleys of the interior, which afford excellent agricultural land on which cereals of all kinds, as well as all the fruits of the temperate zone, flourish, and which are also suitable for raising sheep and cattle; The climate of Vancouver Island, especially in the south, is wonderfully mild for the latitude—as mild as that of Great Britain, with dryer summers. The mean temperature of December at Victoria in the south of the island is about 41° Fahr., while that of July is about 60°. In the north and west the rainfall is greater than on the south and east coasts.  (F. D. A.)