For François-Xavier Gagnon, there is no doubt that the west coast allows him to enjoy green spaces. Originally from Quebec, the adventure guide settled here after an expedition to Mount Denali, Alaska, at the age of 20.
There is really an opportunity for outdoor activities (…) you can ski in the morning and go mountain biking and swimming in the afternoon, He explains.
With breathtaking landscapes, a way of life borrowing from different cultures and a temperate climate, the west coast seduces many travelers and Canadians who visit it.
The adventure guide believes that those who embody a "west coast" way of life also appreciate the material relationship in the West, a report he considers different from the one he experienced on the east coast.
(In the east) the way of life is very: work subway dodo, the house, to buy an espresso machine that is expensive here, unless you are very wealthy, (materialism) does not really important.
François-Xavier thinks that in the smaller communities of the province, the place of work is different.
By living in Revelstoke, I quickly realized that it's not really important what you did as an education or what your career is. But it's more, what are your aspirations, what is your passion, at the level of sport for example, He says.
This difference is particularly noticeable when he returns to visit his friends in his native province.
An active place
François-Xavier is not the only British Columbian to have an active lifestyle. The city of Vancouver is one of the cities in North America where people use the most bicycles to get to work. It is in this coastal city that is the bike path most borrowed in North America.
The Burrard Bridge Trail is used by 1.13 million cyclists annually, or a daily average of 3100 cyclists. In comparison, the Laurier Street of Montreal sees 1635 followers of the pedal daily.
Vancouver's proximity to outdoor locations may partly explain this difference, believes François-Xavier. A Vancouverite has only to travel fifteen kilometers to access the mountains on its north shore. A Montrealer has to travel more than 60 kilometers to find an equivalent mountain.
Cascadia: the utopia of an independent west coast
In the course of history, some groups have even proposed to transform northwestern North America into an independent republic. They would have changed the Cascadie bioregion into a sovereign state.
Cascadia was a pro-independence project that brought together the province of British Columbia and the states of Washington and Oregon. These beginnings date back to the 18th century when it was proposed to form an independent territory west of the Rockies.
The idea was then put back to taste by the utopian novel Ecotopia author William Weston published in 1975. This novel proposed a place where the relationship to nature much more intimate and a decentralization of powers to the benefit of communities.
The story behind these differences
The difference between the way of life on both coasts could be explained from a historical point of view, believes Allan Smith, professor of history at the University of British Columbia (UBC). Historically, Western Canada has developed ties with both eastern Canada and explorers from eastern Canada to Pacific Canada and Asian cultures.
The region was (historically) shared between East and West (…) we can still see this phenomenon today with the history of the pipeline with Alberta
In addition, recent waves of immigration may partly explain a way of life borrowed from Eastern cultures, explains the professor. At the 2016 census, British Columbia had more than 186,000 immigrants from Asia, including 66,000 from Mainland China and 24,000 from Hong Kong.
As well, 16.6% of Canada's aboriginal people live in British Columbia.
Allan Smith says that the different relationship with First Nations may be part of the answer to the distinction between East and West. He recalls that very few treaties have been signed with the First Nations, which modifies the dynamics with them.