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Canadian history, art and the Royal Family's relationship to the country

Queen Victoria, Queen of the United Kingdom (1819-1901)

Queen Victoria names British Columbia, 24 July 1858 24 - 24 Jul 1858

RCIN 5100111

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In 1858, Queen Victoria was approached by Sir Edward Bulwer-Lytton, Secretary of State for the Colonies, about the name for the new colony which was prospering on the Pacific coast of North America. This letter from the Royal Archives shows the queen’s response. It states that if the French were using the proposed name ‘New Caledonia’ for another colony (the archipelago in the South Pacific), perhaps it would be suitable for the territory to be named ‘British Columbia’, as ‘Columbia’ was the only name that already encompassed the entirety of its proposed extent on maps. The queen’s suggestion was accepted, and the colony of British Columbia was born.