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Vancouver

Vancouver, Stanley Park and the North Shore
Vancouver is Canada's fastest-growing metropolis, and a city of magical contradictions - from rough-and-tumble Hastings Street, where timeworn brickwork still exudes a wild, beer-for-a-dime, seaport-town atmosphere, to trendy Robson Street, with its futuristic Japanese noodle houses and haute couture. Vancouver has long touted itself as Canada's gateway to the Pacific Rim, and for decades, waves of immigrants have broken on its shore.

Vancouver, its residents are fond of saying, is one of the few cities in the world where you can go skiing and sailing on the same day. How remarkable, then, that it should also be one of the few where, sitting outside a Neapolitan cafe, you can eavesdrop on an impassioned argument in Hungarian and see graffiti in Khmer. Most major cities have a mixed heritage, yet few can claim to have attracted a more diverse cross section of humanity than Vancouver. The city seems living proof that a benign environment will produce an easygoing disposition.

Not long ago, it used to be easy to distinguish Vancouver from its neighbours. Bridges spanned Burrard Inlet and the Fraser River to connect with communities to the north and south, while buffer zones of undeveloped land defined where the Big Smoke left off and all else to the east began. By the 1970s, such distinctions had blurred to the point where one hardly noticed a transition from one city to the next, particularly between Vancouver, Burnaby, New Westminster, and Port Moody.

Captain George Vancouver first sailed into English Bay and Burrard Inlet, finding a sheltered deep-water harbour, and writing of innumerable pleasing landscapes. At the time of his visit, First nations people lived in the Burrard inlet area mainly on a seasonal basis, their permanent villages being elsewhere. The Musqueams had their village on the North Arm of the Fraser River, as they do still, and the Squamish wintered in the Squamish and Cheakamus valleys. Once white settlement began around Burrard Inlet, more First Nations moved here permanently. The main Squamish village sites were around Stanley Park, Capilano River and Belcarra Regional Park. White settlement began in 1862 with discovery of coal in Coal Harbour, and by the time the 1880s came around, major development was underway, such as the Canadian Pacific Railway transcontinental line. However, it was 'Gassy' Jack Deighton who established a saloon in 1867, in what is today known as Gastown, who was the real pioneer of Vancouver.

About the only thing Vancouverites seem to enjoy doing more than being outside is complaining about the weather. If you can't take a joke, why live in the rain forest? As for the price residents pay to live here, it helps to think of Vancouver as a destination resort. Fortunately, one of the trade-offs for paying your dues in Lotus Land is the wonderful array of public gardens, parks, and beaches where residents and visitors alike frolic. You can always count on there being enough room for you to play somewhere around town.

To list all of Vancouver's attractions here is impossible to do - we can only provide a sampling of what's in store for the visitor to Vancouver. The unique charm and advantage of this city is the range of things for visitors to do and see…from dawn until dusk and through every successive season.

Urbanites can eat at world-class restaurants, attend the symphony, shop at exclusive boutiques along Robsonstrasse and never cast so much as glance at the surrounding sea and sky scape, and the incredible outdoor recreation available. Those with an appreciation for the outdoors can windsurf at dawn, get in a round of golf after lunch, and take in the city lights at night while skiing atop a North Shore mountain. Vancouver is clean, colourful and friendly, with the open cosmopolitan flair that West Coast cities are known for.

Travelling to other areas, via the B.C. Ferries facilities at Horseshoe Bay and Tsawwassen, or the International Airport south of Vancouver, is easily done. And visitors departing from Vancouver to explore the rest of B.C. have as many means of travel as they do destinations. Whether travelling by plane, train, ferry, helicopter, car or bus, Vancouver is a perfect place to begin your exploration of our beautiful British Columbia.

Population: 1,986,965

Location: Vancouver is located in the southwest corner of British Columbia, on the mainland of BC, 9 miles (15 km) north of Vancouver International Airport.

View maps of the area:
Map of Vancouver
Map of Vancouver Downtown
Map of Vancouver to Whistler Route

  • Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games: Vancouver was the host city for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games and Paralympic Games, the third Olympic Games hosted by Canada, and the first by the province of British Columbia. Previously, Canada hosted the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal and the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary. Vancouver 2010 events were held in venues around Vancouver, and on Cypress Mountain in North Vancouver. Downhill and sled events were held in Whistler and the Callaghan Valley.

  • Brockton Point, along the Stanley Park Seawall in Vancouver
    The centrepiece and green heart of Vancouver is the 1,000-acre Stanley Park, the city's most famous landmark, and one of the largest parks in any urban centre in North America. There are wooded trails, open playing fields, secluded lakes, gorgeous gardens, and the Vancouver Aquarium, the largest in Canada. A seawall walkway meanders along the park's perimeter, with beautiful views of the city skyline, the harbour, beaches, and the spectacular North Shore Mountains.
  • Visit the Lookout Tower, an observation deck 33 floors high atop Harbour Centre - a 360-degree view sweeps across the Lower Mainland, from the mountains in the north to the valleys in the south. Located only two blocks from the cruiseship terminal, at the entrance to historic Gastown.
  • Gastown was founded in 1867 and named after 'Gassy' Jack Deighton, a colourful character who operated a saloon here in the late 1800s. Gastown is a charming mix of old and new, with cobbled streets, quaint heritage buildings, and the unique Gastown Steam Clock that sounds the Westminster chimes every fifteen minutes. Victorian architecture and a unique tangle of mews, courtyards and passages houses boutiques, collectibles, antiques, fashions and several prominent galleries representing a fine selection of Native art and sculpture.
  • Chinatown is rich in culture and history, with the streets bustling with colour and energy all day and night. The sights, sounds, exotic medicines, curious foodstuffs spilling onto the sidewalks, and bright red pagoda-roofed phone booths make Chinatown distinctive. A 'must-see' is the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, the only classic Chinese Garden outside of China, and fashioned in Ming Dynasty style.
  • The magnificent white sails of Canada Place are one of Vancouver's most prominent landmarks, housing the IMAX Theatre, the Vancouver Trade & Convention Centre, the World Trade Centre, the Vancouver Board of Trade, cruise ship facilities, a five-star hotel, and restaurants offices and shops. Begin your visit with a scenic stroll and self-guided Promenade into History tour of landmarks rimming the inner harbour.
  • Cruise Ship Terminal: The Port of Vancouver is the home port for cruise ships operating cruises from Vancouver to Alaska, one of the world's most popular vacation cruises. Every year, more than one million passengers pass through the Port of Vancouver's Canada Place, and Ballantyne cruise ship facilities.

  • Lions Gate Bridge, Vancouver BC
    The Lions Gate Bridge, built by the Guiness Family, opened Vancouver's North Shore to vehicle traffic in 1938. Its lights were turned on in 1986, celebrating 50 years from the start of its construction, and the 100th birthday of Vancouver. Watch for Cruise Ships entering Burrard Inlet as the you cross the bridge, named after the two mountain peaks that look like sleeping lions
  • Granville Island, once an industrial wasteland, is a thriving hub for Vancouverites and visitors alike. You'll find artists' studios, galleries, theatres, nightclubs, restaurants, and Granville Island Brewing. In summer, wandering buskers and street performers delight the crowds. Stop by the Granville Island Public Market for freshly picked produce, seafood straight off the boats, gourmet foods, and tasty delights from the bakeries. The best way to get to Granville Island is aboard the Aquabus, from the ferry dock on the seawall at the south end of Hornby Street, or the south foot of Drake Street in Downtown Vancouver.
  • Marvel at new marine adventures and wonders at the Vancouver Aquarium in Stanley Park. Discover the wonders of the West Coast, explore the secrets of the steamy tropical Amazon, and delight in the unexpected richness of the Canadian Arctic. Experience Beluga whale and dolphin shows, shark dives and sea otter feeds.
  • Playland Amusement Park at PNE Fairgrounds on East Hastings Street is a seasonal amusement park offering a collection of 28 rides and attractions, midway games, and a variety of food venues. Popular attractions include the historic wooden roller coaster, a spectacular woodie that has been operating since 1958, the Corkscrew upside down roller coaster, the Wild Mouse, and the 90-foot-tall giant Westcoast Wheel. Visitors can also take a spin on one of a number of flat rides.
  • The Museum of Anthropology, located on the cliffs of point Grey at the University of British Columbia, features one of the world's finest displays of Northwest Coast First Nations art and artifacts. See totem poles, feast dishes, and canoes of the Kwakwaka'wakw, Nisga'a, Gitksan, Haida, Coast Salish, and other Northwest Coast peoples in the museum's Great Hall. Explore the unique galleries, where more than 15,000 objects from around the world are easily visible, and stroll through the grounds of the museum, where two Haida houses and ten poles capture the dramatic beauty of traditional architecture and design.
  • Travel back in time at the Vancouver Museum. View recreated rooms from Vancouver in the 1900s, an 1800s trading post, a nineteenth century ship's passenger berth, First Nations artifacts, and much more. Also in Vanier Park at the south end of the Burrard Bridge, is the H.R. MacMillan Planetarium, which will take you out of this world with leading-edge astronomy and space themed shows, plus fabulous Laser Light shows.
  • The Maritime Museum is a special place by the sea, about the sea, with lots to see and do, for landlubbers and old salts alike. Thrill to the disasters and discoveries of the Shipwreck exhibition, including real pieces of the Titanic. Set young sailors loose in Pirates Cove and the Children's Maritime Discovery Centre. Located at Vanier Park.


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