How Queen Victoria named British Columbia -- and Queensland

"The Naming of British Columbia" has a special place in my affections, as I recall in an Afterword. The original article was published in 1979, in Albion, the journal associated with the Conference on British Studies in the United States (x, 257-263) It appears here in a slightly revised form that takes account of material that has become available over the past forty years.

Although apparently a trivial issue, the selection of a name for the gold-rush colony of British Columbia embarrassed Lord Derby's minority Conservative government and threatened to become the focus for a groundswell of opposition to the constitution  and even the very establishment of a new colony.[1]  The Colonial Secretary in Lord Derby's minority Conservative ministry of 1858-9 was Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton. New to office – his party was short of talent as well as numbers – in poor health and embarrassed by a disastrous marriage, Lytton did not project the image of a confident cabinet minister. He was better known as a novelist, remembered today, if with some derision, for coining the clichéd story-opening phrase, "it was a dark and stormy night".[2] Perhaps it was an innate streak of romantic creativity that led him to ask Queen Victoria to select the name for the new colony. Since legislation was to be introduced within a week, his loyal gesture caused problems.

Lytton's letter of 24 June 1858 informed the Queen that "in consequence of the recent discovery of Gold in the Neighbourhood of Fraser's River, on the Western Coast of British North America, rendering expedient the immediate establishment of Civil Government", the government had decided "to erect at once a New Colony there". Obviously, it was "desirable that the name of the new Colony shall be inserted in the Bill". In asking his sovereign to select that name, Lytton informed her that explorers had used the name "New Caledonia", but he did point out that the name had been used for "the chief island of the New Hebrides Group in the South Seas where the French have lately signified their intention to form an establishment". He added that the names New Cornwall and New Hanover had also been applied to parts of the coast by some mapmakers.[3] The monarchy retained a significant role in mid-nineteenth century government, but it was hardly equipped to act as a cartographical research institute for the Colonial Office. Nonetheless, the Queen – probably in consultation with her husband, Prince Albert – responded promptly, on 27 June informing her minister that she had settled on New Caledonia as the most generally accepted name.[4]  

At this stage, prospects for the new colony looked good. The Times lauded nearby Vancouver's Island as "without exception, the most desirable portion of the surface of the earth" and urged the government to take full control of the whole region from the Hudson's Bay Company before an influx of gold diggers brought Californian anarchy and possible repudiation of the international boundary established by the Oregon treaty. It seemed unlikely that anyone would challenge the bill for the Government of New Caledonia – a name which The Times greeted as "euphonious" and even "novel".[5]  On 8 July, however, during the second reading debate, Henry Labouchere, Lytton's Whig predecessor as Colonial Secretary, queried the choice of New Caledonia. He claimed to have spoken to "several gentlemen connected with the colony", none of whom seemed to recognise the name. Since there was "a large island in the neighbourhood of Australia belonging to France which bore that name already", he feared that "inconvenience and confusion might result from two colonies having the same name". Arthur Mills, a backbencher interested in colonial affairs, confessed that he had initially thought that parliament was being called upon to legislate for a French colony. Robert Lowe, a former Australian colonist, elaborated the charge of duplication, pointing out that Nova Scotia had much the same meaning, and urged Lytton to "hit upon some other name that was not quite so much used up." Members became anecdotal, displaying alarming signs of levity which suggested that the government was losing the respect of the House. Mills related the legend of a governor who had left England to take up his new appointment, only to return some months because he was later unable to find it. A Yorkshire manufacturer told of a letter addressed to his firm in Halifax which was sent to the capital of Nova Scotia. It was even suggested that the grateful inhabitants should call the colony after the Colonial Secretary himself.[6]   As The Times remarked, no one knew much "of these ultra-occidental regions".[7]

The parliamentary criticism of the choice of New Caledonia was not an isolated phenomenon. It was a common joke that the British public was ignorant of the world in general, and of colonial geography in particular, and much of the blame was put on confusing and imitative names. J.A. Roebuck, in 1849, had urged that colonies be given "really new, and thereby distinguishing names."[8]  Edward Wakefield, father of the emigration theorist, had offered similar advice to New Zealand colonists in 1843.  "The thing is to avoid common names, and never name a place the same as with us. Everybody is tired of 'New' – your New Yorks, New London, New Orleans, New Plymouth, etc. Before a place is named, examine a Gazeteer [sic] and avoid the same names as you find in it."[9] The Times even feared the creation of a catch question about the whereabouts of New Caledonia in the recently introduced and fearsome civil service examinations.[10]

When the committee stage of the bill began on 12 July, there were suggestions of "Pacifica" (by analogy with Australia) and of reviving Sir Francis Drake's "New Albion", while Roebuck "recommended that the Indian name should be sought out and adopted in a translated shape" – an enlightened sentiment, but one that assumed a common Aboriginal culture across a vast region. Lytton expressed no enthusiasm for these alternatives, although he promised to give "[r]espectful consideration" to the possibility of a change.[11]  In fact, there were signs that the contentious name was gradually becoming accepted. When the Commons resumed its committee meetings on 19 July, Labouchere, Gladstone, and Lord John Russell all spoke of New Caledonia without any recorded hint of disdain. Unfortunately for Lytton, by then, there were also disquieting signs of an attack building over wider issues than the mere name of the new colony. Colonial issues lent themselves to domestic party battles, and criticism of the planned refusal of elective institutions in New Caledonia could be the excuse needed to unite Whigs and Peelites against the vulnerable Conservative ministry. Gladstone, in particular, attacked the arbitrary form of government which Lytton proposed for the new colony.[12] Yet pressure of time alone meant that Lytton could accept little more than cosmetic changes to his bill. One obvious change was the abandonment of the name New Caledonia, which would help rid the measure of its aura of amateurishness, thereby removing a possible focus for criticism.

Unfortunately, a change of name would require not only the consent of the Queen, but also her tacit acceptance that she had made a bad choice in the first place. In broaching this delicate subject, Lytton laid much stress on reported objections from the French government (not otherwise mentioned at this time), passing over the unwittingly disloyal sentiments of MPs. The Queen was asked if she would graciously select a less confusing name – "such as 'New Cornwall' which was the old geographical Designation – or whatever other name might suggest itself to your Majesty." Once again, the schedule was inconveniently short:  the bill was to be introduced into the House of Lords in three days time, and it would be convenient for the government to announce the change then. The Queen was at Osborne House, her holiday home on the Isle of Wight, where she may not have had access to a full library of reference books. Once again, her prompt reply was probably the product of Albert's careful brain. It pointed out that although New Hanover, New Cornwall and New Georgia all appeared on maps of the region, "the only name which is given to the whole territory in every map the Queen has consulted is 'Columbia'." However, there was already "a Columbia [sic] in South America and the Citizens of the United States call their country also Columbia at least in poetry". Accordingly, the Queen suggested "British Columbia", thereby tactfully rescuing the government from artificial novelties. Lytton gratefully seized upon the royal brainwave, revealingly suggesting that "great additional popularity would be given to the Colony itself" as a result of its new designation. To protect ministers against possible attack for indecision, he asked special permission for his Under-Secretary, Lord Carnarvon, "to state that the name now substituted was graciously selected, or sanctioned, by your Majesty."  Specifying only that she assumed the prime minister had been consulted, the Queen assented to the announcement.[13]  Lytton had apparently already written to Derby, summing up the argument for involving the Queen in support of British Columbia: "By stating it as the choice of the Queen all objection will cease. By not stating it, plenty of objections may be made – which it would be more respectful to her Majesty to prevent if possible." The prime minister evidently agreed.[14]

Lytton was wise to engage in damage limitation. On the morning of the Lords debate, The Times reversed its earlier welcome for the new colony, complaining that it viewed "with very little satisfaction" the prospect of governing anarchic goldfields with the probable complication of frontier wars against indigenous peoples. (This was a rare acknowledgement of their existence: the preamble to the act creating the colony described the region as "wild and unoccupied".) Unease about this new venture in colonial expansion was obviously building up, and needed only a focus to explode. That focus was not hard to find. "Strife waits upon the birth of this unsought accession to our dominions", wrote The Times, "and we begin to quarrel about its very name . . . . Why perplex geographers … by creating this most superfluous ambiguity, as repugnant to good taste as it is to common sense?" There followed the familiar objection to labelling "portions of the earth's surface at least as ancient as our own [with British names] qualified by the inappropriate epithet of 'new'."[15]

Later that day, Lord Carnarvon announced that the Queen had been "pleased to order" the change of name to British Columbia, although he offered a formal defence of the original choice. The Duke of Newcastle, another former Colonial Secretary, did not think British Columbia was "either very felicitous or very original", but the matter was not pursued and the bill quickly passed its remaining stages, securing the royal assent on 2 August.[16]  The preamble to the act showed clear signs of the scissors-and-paste approach, referring to "Territories on the North-west Coast of British America, commonly known by the Designation of New Caledonia, and from and after the passing of this Act to be named British Columbia". It is not altogether surprising that The Times should have absent-mindedly referred to "New Columbia" a few weeks later.[17]

Despite this initial ambivalence, a year later, British Columbia stood high in public favour, with The Times once again reversing its position, noting that "the young establishment on the Pacific coast" had become "quite a favourite" since the discovery of gold, and had even supplanted New Zealand in the minds of educated Englishmen planning to emigrate".[18] However, there remained one blot which affronted the Colonial Secretary. The newly appointed Lieutenant-Governor, Colonel Moody of the Royal Engineers, had laid out the site of a mainland capital, and christened it "Queensborough". For some reason, Lytton reacted violently to the name, damning it as "prosaic [and] the quintessence of vulgarity".[19] Once again, he turned to Queen Victoria, writing to her on 7 April 1859 with the request that she select a replacement. He did not mention the offending "temporary name", but expressed his confidence that the Queen would agree that it was "capable of amendment in point of significance and dignity". Lytton was sure that "British Columbia will become one of the most important possessions of the Crown", and an asset to Great Britain: "Its capital may thus become of no ordinary mark in the future history of the World" and "its very name" could become a symbol of the vast progress made during Queen Victoria's reign. In the same letter, he also asked her to select a name for the new Australian colony which was to be formed by detaching the Moreton Bay district from New South Wales, suggesting – perhaps somewhat inconsistently – that a name "directly associated with your Majesty's person" would be popular.[20]  Subsequently, he seems to have recognised that problems might be avoided if he sought to limit the Queen's choice to a short-list approved and safe options. Two weeks after his initial approach, he submitted three names that might replace Queensborough. First came Regina – "the word is so easily pronounced, and its meaning so familiarly known that its latinity may be forgiven".[21] An alternative was Augusta, which had "an imperial signification [and was] also the poetical name for London". Last on the list came New Westminster. Lytton believed there was no town of that name either in the United States or the colonies, "and as being at once familiar to English associations, and transplanting to new shores the name of the most antient [sic], the most historical and, so to speak, the most regal district of the Metropolis, it may not be unworthy of Consideration".

In this follow-up missive, he reminded her of the need to choose a name for the new Moreton Bay colony, but here he made no suggestions: this was a tactical mistake.  It was also unhelpful to his sovereign, who had many other responsibilities and worries: in late April and early May 1859, her attention was focused on the outcome of a British general election. Lord Derby's Conservative party was gaining seats, but not enough to support a majority government, raising the concern that the divided opposition would not be able to form an alternative administration.  Even more alarming was the developing crisis of the Risorgimento in Italy, which threatened to trigger a European war. Queen Victoria was a good deal more concerned about the downfall of the Grand Duke of Modena than the future of Moreton Bay. "So much to do & to read & write", she wrote in her journal on 3 May 1859.[22] Nonetheless, she discharged her duty in determining a new name for the British Columbian capital, perhaps making the best of what may have seemed a bad job by choosing New Westminster. For the new Australian colony, she offered the alternatives of "Queen's Land" or "Saxon Land".[23]  Lytton put the best face on the outcome that he could manage, assuring her that both suggestions were excellent, but expressing his belief that "the Colonists would find a peculiar pride in those associations which are conveyed by the name of Queen's Land". After his specific request for a regal name, he had little alternative. At one stroke Queensborough was expunged on one side of the Pacific, while Queensland was inscribed on the other.[24] Perhaps it was merely coincidence, but on the same day Lytton tried, for the third time in a year, to be allowed to resign on grounds of ill health.[25]

The naming of British Columbia hardly throws much light on the political role of the monarchy in nineteenth-century British politics, but it does illustrate the careless and hasty manner in which the new Pacific colony was created. The Queen was given less than a week to select New Caledonia, and three days to think of a substitute when it proved unpopular. No one seemed to notice that the name British Columbia would saddle the new colony with the archaic initials, BC. New Westminster, chosen from an indifferent short-list, flouted the general distaste for combinations of "New".  For many, the royal associations of Westminster were probably counter-balanced by those of parliament – hardly a tactful choice for a colony which was initially refused representative institutions. Nonetheless, a century and a half later, the names of the new colony and its short-lived capital, however casually chosen, remain as the legacy of a Queen and her minister.

Afterword, 2022: "The Naming of British Columbia" has a special place in my affections. It is the only article that I wrote during my publishing career to have been rejected by an academic journal. While undertaking research for a much wider project, I discovered material in the Royal Archives which threw entertaining light upon the imbroglio of choosing a name for the new colony. Thinking that the story might be of interest in western Canada, I worked it into a short article which was submitted to a regional studies publication. Back it came, with a flat refusal to publish, accompanied by a highly negative reader's report. I do not now recall the reasons for its rejection, beyond a condemnation of its "sophomoric humour". The article was published shortly afterwards, unchanged, in Albion, a journal with a wider North American remit. This edited version is slightly revised to take account of the passage of time, but no attempts at levity have been identified or removed.

Looking back after forty years at the establishment of British Columbia, one central issue must be the calm assumption of the colonisers that they possessed the right to impose their own institutions and even their own European-style name upon a "wild and unoccupied" region. The goldfields in the Fraser Canyon certainly had potential for wildness, to which a responsible imperial power had a duty to respond, but the huge territory (casually enlarged during the parliamentary process) was by no means unoccupied. The belated recognition of the Indigenous  presence, mentioned in passing in the nineteen-seventies, now poses major challenges to the self-image of the province's majority community. Across much of Canada, First Nations were prevailed upon to sign treaties with the incoming colonial authorities. Nobody would now assume that these agreements were entirely freely negotiated, but they did at least recognise some form of indigenous rights to the land, and the defined legal obligations in terms that have opened the way to litigation and political adjustment. In British Columbia, with a few marginal exceptions, there were no treaties. Although the colony was created without representative institutions, it was not long before local self-government – that is, settler self-government – took root, and white politicians simply ignored Native title to the land. In 1874, the Governor-General, Lord Dufferin, regretted that "British Columbia is hardly a large enough community to have developed a conscience" in dealing with its First Nations.[26] But that insensitivity had formed part of the founding strategy adopted by the Olympian legislators of the historic Westminster in 1858. The naming process formed part of that imperial self-confidence that prided itself on the confrontation and solution of distant problems, on its own terms and even within its own nomenclature.

At a more prosaic level, the naming of British Columbia provides a surprisingly rare instance of a paper trail that explains how and why a particular designation was selected. Explorers and administrators rarely gave reasons for the names they spread across their maps: we have no idea why the east coast of New Holland reminded Captain Cook of South Wales, but his cartographic whimsy has become embedded in the nomenclature of Australian history. In some cases, nobody seems even to have asked how a name was adopted. Canada's largest province, by population, Ontario, is a case in point. Confederation in 1867 involved the re-division of the existing union of Upper and Lower Canada. Since Canada was the favoured name for the new Dominion, the component parts could hardly revert to their earlier designations. For Lower Canada, there was the obvious option of reviving its eighteenth century designation, Quebec. In the Colonial Office, it was assumed that this would be balanced by calling the upper province by the name of its principal city, Toronto. This was probably unacceptable to John A. Macdonald, a key draftsman of the legislation and a loyal citizen of the rival town of Kingston. All we know is that, in a very late draft of the Confederation legislation, the name "Ontario" manifested itself out of nowhere, to become a central term in Canadian political vocabulary.[27]

It is also worth noting the durability – indeed, the flexibility – of the word "British" in the name of Canada's third province. Parallel examples elsewhere in the world have largely disappeared: British Guiana, British Honduras, British North Borneo and British Somaliland have all passed into history as their inhabitants claimed the right of independence and self-definition. The British Indian Ocean Territory, as the Chagos Islands were renamed in 1965, proves the point: its inhabitant were deported to make way for a strategic air base, a scandal that will one day dictate the kind of stern retribution that has brought justice to First Nations through the much-delayed modern treaty-making process in British Columbia. Similarly, the British Antarctic Territory has no permanent residents at all. Across the wider British imperial experience, the name British Columbia is unique in having achieved a kind of internal fusion, where the adjective is experienced as referring to the province, not the distant colonial power.[28]

When I first became a student of Canada in the late nineteen-sixties, I recall encountering a suggestion that its westernmost province should be renamed La Colombie canadienne, but the idea seemed to fade away and perhaps never represented more than a patriotic nineteen-sixties speculation. However, that may be changing. In 2021, a polling organisation found that 24 percent of British Columbians favoured changing the name of their province. In round terms, one quarter of respondents wanted a new name, while three-fifths were opposed, while as many as two-thirds thought the question relatively unimportant. While the poll's methodology was professional, too much emphasis should not be placed upon the findings.  The sample, of 800 people, was not very large, and there is little indication that the poll was preceded by any extended and informed public debate. There would also be two major obstacles to changing the existing name. First, those who favoured change tended to prefer an indigenous name, the suggestion that J.A. Roebuck advanced in 1858. The problem here is that the boundaries of British Columbia are imposed and artificial. The province spans the territories of many First Nations, who speak very different tongues, which belong to sharply distinct language groups.  With no Queen Victoria to peruse the evidence and make a selection, it would be very difficult to agree upon an acceptable alternative name. Second, of course, changing the name of the province would not only be divisive but it would also prove a massively complicated and expensive process. However, the 2021 survey found that younger respondents were more likely to support the idea – as is the case in most opinion surveys – which suggests either that it may grow in popularity in future decades, or that those who currently feel uneasy about its provenance may come to accept its familiarity as their lives unfold.[29] However, for some time ahead, Canada's potlatch province will probably continue to be known by the name that was coined by Queen Victoria during a vacation on the Isle of Wight.


[1] Margaret A. Ormsby, British Columbia: a History (Toronto, 1958), 148-151; J. Barman, The West beyond the West … (Toronto, 1991), 61-71.

[2] A. Brown, "Lytton, Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer [formerly Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer], first Baron Lytton", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Lytton used various permutations of his names: as a novelist, he is generally known as Bulwer Lytton, sometimes hyphenated. He also coined the more memorable phrase: "The pen is mightier than the sword."

[3] Royal Archives, Windsor Castle, RA/B17/13, Lytton to Queen Victoria, 24 June 1858. Material from The Royal Archives is published by gracious permission of H.M. The Queen. The government's decision to create the new colony was in fact compelled by the decision of the Governor of the adjoining colony of Vancouver Island, James Douglas, to extend his authority to the mainland on an emergency basis in response to the Fraser valley gold-rush. M.A. Ormsby, "Douglas, Sir James", Dictionary of Canadian Biography, x. France had annexed New Caledonia in the south Pacific in 1853. European settlement was slow until the establishment of a penal colony in 1864.

[4] Hertfordshire County Record Office, Lytton Papers, D/EK 027, Queen Victoria to Lytton, 27 June 1858. "Much to read & write", the Queen noted in her journal for 27 June: She was in residence at Buckingham Palace.

[5] The Times, 28 June, 9 July 1858. A small colony had been established on Vancouver Island in 1849, but the Crown did not formally take control of the island itself until 1859. In 1866, the Vancouver Island colony was merged into British Columbia: as a consolation, its seat of government, Victoria, became capital of the joint colony.

[6] Hansard, cli, 8 July 1858, 1096-1121. A small settlement at the confluence of Thompson and Fraser Rivers bears the name Lytton. No MP ventured to suggest how the Colonial Secretary's name might be adapted to name the colony.

[7] The Times, 9 July 1858.

[8] J .A. Roebuck, The Colonies of England (London 1849), p. 119n. Castlereagh was alleged to have given up Java in 1815 because he did not know where it was, but did not like to admit it. Palmerston, according to legend, asked a Colonial Office clerk to "show me where these places are".  The Duke of Cambridge, asked to locate Fernando Po, replied "How the deuce should I know?" The Times, 10 July 1858; J.A. Froude, Oceana (London, 1886), 11-12; D. Thomas, Charge! Hurrah! Hurrah! A Life of Cardigan of Balaclava (London, 1976), 334-335.

[9] Mitchell Library, Sydney, Wakefield Correspondence (typescript), A3094E. Wakefield to W. Wakefield, 30 October 1853.

[10] The Times, 9 July 1858.

[11] Hansard, cli, 12 July 1858, 1347-8.

[12] Hansard, cli, 19 July 1858, 1762-70. Gladstone briefly noted his concerns over the bill in his diary. An editorial note identifies the Pacific island, explaining that "New Caledonia was a persistent centre of British-French missionary wrangling": H.C.G. Matthew, ed., The Gladstone Diaries, v (Oxford, 1978), 311. Thus Queen Victoria's awkward choice has continued to cause confusion into recent times.

[13] The correspondence, between 23 and 26 July 1858, is in the Royal Archives, RA/B17/54-7 and Hertfordshire County Record Office, D/EK 027.

[14] Lytton to Derby, "Saturday morning" (24 July 1858), Derby Papers, 162/1. In the mid-1970s, the papers of the

14th Earl of Derby were on loan to the distinguished historian, Lord Blake, Provost of Queen's College Oxford, who kindly gave me access to them. They are now (2022) held in their permanent home, the Liverpool Record Office.

[15] The Times, 26 July 1858.

[16] Hansard, cli, 26 July 1858, 2097-2103, and royal assent, 2 August 1858, 359.

[17] 21 & 22 Vic., cap. xcix, preamble; The Times, 28 August 1858. The London correspondent of the Melbourne Age (11 October 1858) thought the revised name "perhaps rather a clumsy appellation", but another Australian newspaper thought it "a rather happy combination of the two ideas of British sovereignty and American contiguity and population". South Australian Advertiser, 12 October 1858.

[18] The Times, 1 April 1859.

[19] Ormsby, British Columbia, 174-5; M.A. Ormsby, "Moody, Richard Clement", Dictionary of Canadian Biography, xi. Bizarrely, the issue of the name had been referred to the Colonial Office because of a local dispute over whether its name should be "Queensborough" or "Queenborough". There was a Queenborough in Kent, named in honour of Edward III's consort, Philippa of Hainault, in 1366 or 1367. 

[20] Royal Archives, RA/P22/52, Lytton to Queen Victoria, 7 April 1859.

[21] In 1882, Regina was adopted as the name for the administrative centre for the North-West Territories, replacing the less dignified Pile O' Bones Creek. It is now the provincial capital of Saskatchewan.

[22] The Queen was at Windsor Castle at the time:

[23] Royal Archives, RA/P22/53, Lytton to Queen Victoria, 24 April 1859, and undated note by the Queen. Colonel Moody proclaimed the name as the Queen's choice on 22 July 1859. In Canadian History: Pre-Confederation (part of the B.C. Open Textbook project), John Douglas Belshaw notes that New Westminster occupies the site of the Kwantlen village of Sxwoyimelth: ( New Westminster ceased to be the capital in 1866, and now forms part of the Vancouver conurbation. A correspondent of the Victoria British Colonist, 27 July 1859, speculated that "perhaps the prefix 'new' is intended as a guide to some benighted traveller who has lost his way, and is in danger of mistaking the Westminster of British

Columbia, for the Westminster of England".

[24] Lytton to Queen Victoria, 3 May 1859, Royal Archives, RA/P22/54. Dr John Douglas Belshaw points out to me that a district of New Westminster is known as Queensborough. The name appears to have been revived after 1889 when the municipality annexed a former military reserve used by the Royal Engineers, whose commander, Colonel Moody, had named the original Queensborough. 

[25] Derby Papers, 162/1, Lytton to Derby, 3 May 1859. It is not clear whether the Queen knew that Queensborough was the offending temporary name: had she chosen Queensland deliberately to snub Lytton for perceived impertinence. She had apparently approved the renaming of the Cove of Cork as Queenstown in 1849. (The town was later again renamed, and is now known as Cobh.) A. C. Benson and Lord Esher, eds, The Letters of Queen Victoria (1837-1861) (3 vols, London, 1908), ii, 225.

[26] Quoted, Ged Martin, "Canada, 1815-1914" in A. Porter and A. Low, eds, Oxford History of the British Empire, iii (Oxford, 1999), 527.


[28] Thanks to the mild winter climate of Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland, the rest of Canada tends to view British Columbia as a kind of lotus land. The internal fusion of the name is echoed in a derisive nickname, "British California".

[29], Opposition to the existing name was slightly stronger in northern British Columbia, where the Aboriginal presence is more evident. But northern BC rarely manages to impose its wishes upon the Lower Mainland. Some of the unease about the name relates not to the adjective "British", but to the implied derivation from Christopher Columbus, seen by many as having unleashed genocide upon the peoples of the New World. The name was in fact chosen in reference to the Columbia River, but this flows predominantly through the United States.