VANCOUVER, CANADA: A DESTINATION FOR ALL SEASONS
It is not possible to talk of Canada without speak of the beautiful west coast city of Vancouver. Being one of the most famous Canadian cities, it draws millions of tourists to British Columbia each year. With a population of 2.5 million and an area over 31,000 square kilometres, it has the highest population density in the entire country, but there is plenty of natural space to explore and enjoy a bit of sightseeing. This is especially true of the north shore, but more on that later!
WHAT MAKES VANCOUVER AMAZING?
There’s a lot to cover when it comes to counting all the things that make Vancouver such an amazing city. Any quick search of online tools like Tripadvisor will give any number of great jumping-off points. To start off, Vancouver is one of the most diverse cities in North America, both linguistically as well as ethnically with over 52% of the residents being non-native English speakers. In total, more than 50% of the residents belong to visible minority groups while more than 48% are native speakers of neither English of French. All this diversity makes it seem like one of the best places to meet new people and experience different cultures.
If you are an outdoor person, then Tourism Vancouver will have plenty of options to suggest to you. Not only can you take a walk along 30km of seawall surrounding the city, but cross over into North Vancouver and you can go for hikes deep into coastal rainforest or take a gondola up Grouse Mountain. In terms of outdoor activities, Vancouver will never cease to amaze. Ranging from skiing to kayaking, and ziplining to paddle boarding there is something for everyone.
THE DIVERSE REGIONS OF VANCOUVER
The city of Vancouver isn’t just one homogenous urban centre. It has many neighbourhoods and suburban areas that give a unique flavour to the city. Some of the better know areas are:
Yaletown – an upscale neighbourhood in the downtown core where trendsetting boutiques and natural health play centre stage.
The West End – the historic hub of Vancouver’s LGBTQ+ community and encompasses the shopping district of Robson Street.
False Creek – a newer revitalised area with the iconic attractions like Science World and the Granville Island Public Market.
Richmond – a suburb that is a diverse community of many Asian cultures all coming together in one area.
Point Grey – the site of some of the most expensive real estate in the city and home to world-class university, UBC.
INDIGENOUS VANCOUVER: PAST & PRESENT
While Vancouver might be a relatively young city, its Indigenous history stretches back thousands of years. The Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh, and Musqueam established villages in the Vancouver area from at least 8,000 years ago. Their villages have now been swallowed up by the city that the European city, and in many cases deliberately destroyed to claim the area, but over the last few years, reconciliation efforts have been made to honour the original inhabitants of the region. And this goes beyond erecting totem poles in Stanley Park.
Place names are one of the most prominent gestures made by the city. Right in the heart of the downtown core is the Vancouver Art Gallery. In recent years the square on the north side of the building was renamed to šxʷƛ̓ənəq Xwtl’e7énḵ Square. It is a mixture of two of the local languages. Likewise, if you take a weekend getaway out of Metro Vancouver and head to Whistler, you will notice along the highway are many signs announcing the traditional names of sites along the way.
VANCOUVER'S COLONIAL ERA
Canada was a Britsh colony, but the British weren’t the only European explorers to make it to Vancouver. In the 18th century the Spanish sent ships to explore the west coast and reached as far into Vancouver as Burrard Inlet. These expeditions are marked with place names of their own. Spanish Banks near UBC and the San Juan Island near Victoria bear Spanish names.
The Gold Rush of 1858 was another turning point for Vancouver. It brought over 25,000 men to New Westminster. All of these people, hungry for gold, had to pass through the city on their way up the Fraser River. Many of them returned to Vancouver and settled there instead of returning to their homes.
Vancouver saw its fair share of events that helped to shape the city’s modern history. These include:
1903 – railway employees strike against CP Rail for Union Recognition.
1918 – Canada saw its first province-wide strike due to increasing industrial tension.
1935 – the city saw a peak in strikes with unemployed men flooding the streets to protest against the conditions in relief camps.
Other social movements such as moral reforms, first-wave feminists, the temperance movement, and many others played their part in reforming the modern development of Vancouver and turning it into a beacon of progressive attitudes that it is known as today.
Currently, the city is so exceptionally managed that in terms of quality of life and livability, it is constantly named among the top 5 cities in the world. And for ten consecutive years, Vancouver was ranked first as the world’s most livable cities by the Economist Intelligence Unit.
WHAT BRINGS IN THE TOURISTS
There are numerous tourist attractions that bring tourists from around the globe. Tourism Vancouver is the main body helping to promote the city’s tourism industry, and with millions arriving each year by cruise ship and planes alike, it is doing something right. Some of the top attractions are:
Stanley Park – a huge forest park with the Vancouver Aquarium and many walking trails surrounded by English Bay and Burrard Inlet.
Grouse Mountain – great to be visited in both, summer and winter.
Museum of Anthropology – part of UBC’s Point Grey campus with an emphasis on the First Nations of BC.
Kitsilano Beach – the perfect place for a drink on a warm summer’s day and home to the Museum of Vancouver.
Gastown – the oldest part of the Downtown Vancouver.
Canada Place – enjoy the views of the north shore mountains and walk the Canada Trail.
Chinatown – the historic neighbourhood where Vancouver’ Chinese immigrants called home.
Capilano Suspension Bridge – an attraction in North Vancouver, not for the faint of heart.
Vancouver Public Library – a Roman-inspired building that has been featured in many of the city’s film and tv productions.
The beautiful and festive city of Vancouver, Canada has a deep history, beautiful natural landscape, and many attractions for the millions of visitors that explore it each year; so it doesn’t come as a surprise that Vancouver tourism is a thriving industry. Whether you are able to make it to Vancouver in-person or are exploring it virtually with The VR Voyage, there is something of interest for everyone!