In the mid-1800s, western industrial development had scarcely touched the colony of British Columbia.
The land was home to diverse Indigenous nations and a handful of newcomers, mostly Hudson’s Bay Company employees still working in the fur trade, dabbling in agriculture, or exporting salmon, cranberries, or raw materials such as coal and cedar.
After Confederation in 1871, government, settlers, and industry wanted infrastructure for the new province and engineers played an important role. The Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) was completed in 1885. A masterpiece of early engineering, the CPR established its western headquarters in Vancouver and the demand for resident civil and mechanical engineers jumped.