Five clearly defined terranes, comprising from northeast to southwest, Ancestral North America, Slide Mountain, Quesnellia, Cache Creek, and Stikinia, are the dominant tectonic elements of north-central British Columbia. Stratigraphic, sedimentological, plutonic, metamorphic, and structural data show that the Slide Mountain Terrane evolved as a subduction, accretion, and island-arc complex during Permian time. Sedimentological data hint at the demise of the Slide Mountain and Cache Creek oceanic environments in the Permian or Early Triassic and Late Triassic, respectively. Subduction led to the development of volcanic–plutonic island arcs on Stikinia, Quesnellia, and locally on the Cache Creek Terrane in Late Triassic to Middle Jurassic time. Marked inter- and intra-terrane contraction in the Middle Jurassic resulted in the south westward thrusting of the Cache Creek Terrane onto Stikinia, the subsequent development of the Bowser Basin on Stikinia, and possible coeval culmination of the emplacement of Quesnellia and the Slide Mountain Terrane onto Ancestral North America. Deformation, metamorphism, and plutonism along the western margin of Ancestral North America closely followed these events. Contraction was succeeded by a dextral strike-slip regime during the mid-Cretaceous accompanied by the intrusion of voluminous potassic, silica-rich granitic rocks in Ancestral North America. The emplacement of Early to mid-Cretaceous plutons postdated the development of broad, open, regional anticlinoria and synclinoria, perhaps during Early Cretaceous time. The plutonic episode coincided approximately with initiation of the Sustut Basin. Dextral strike-slip faulting further disrupted Ancestral North America until post-Eocene time.