Vancouver is the largest city in Western Canada, and third largest in Canada. Located at the southwestern corner of the coastal province of British Columbia. It is well known for its majestic natural beauty, as it is nestled between the coastal mountains and the Pacific ocean. It is frequently ranked as one of the “best cities to live in” and is certainly a beautiful destination to visit.
While Vancouver is a comparatively young city, at just over 100 years, its history begins long before. The indigenous peoples (First Nations) have lived in the area for thousands of years, and Vancouver’s namesake Captain George Vancouver sailed through the First Narrows in 1792. The first settlement on the downtown peninsula was Granville, located on the spot of today’s Gastown. In the year of Canada’s confederation a saloon was built on this site and gave birth to a small shantytown of bars and stores adjacent to the original mill on the south shore of what is now the city’s harbour. A seemingly endless supply of high quality lumber was logged and sold through the ports of Gastown and Moodyville, across the inlet. Some of trees were gigantic beams which were was shipped to China to construct Beijing’s Imperial Palace), and one account maintains that the world’s windjammer fleets could not have been built without the trees of Burrard Inlet. Vancouver proper was signed into existence in 1886. The first City Hall was little more than a hand painted sign nailed to a wooden tent post. The arrival of the transcontinental railway a few years later spurred growth even more and by 1892 the area had over 20,000 residents; eighteen years later this figure was over 100,000.
Factor in constant growth every year since (many in the double digits), and Greater Vancouver today is Canada’s largest metropolitan area west of Toronto with well over 2,000,000 residents, roughly half of British Columbia’s population as a whole. It is also the fastest growing part of Canada. Greater Vancouver is one of the most ethnically diverse metropolitan areas in the world and is home to the second largest Chinatown in the world.
The city truly arrived in 1986 when Vancouver “hosted the world” with the Expo 86 World Fair. Media attention from around the world was consistently positive, and many considered it the most successful World’s Fair to date. Vancouver has been awarded the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, and this event will no doubt cast Vancouver into the world spotlight once again. It will be the largest city ever to host the winter games, and interestingly, the only city at sea level to host them.
Vancouver is perhaps best known for its scenic beauty, and the opportunities afforded by its natural environment. Vancouver is one of those rare places where you can ski in the mountains, windsurf in the ocean, and play a round of golf all in the same day. Surrounded by water on three sides, and crowned by the North Shore mountains, Vancouver is a great destination in itself, as well a a great starting point for discovering the area’s many outdoor activities.
Vancouver is a major sea port on the Pacific Ocean, and a base for many Alaska Cruise Ships in the summer.
Landmarks/Points of Interest
Canada Place Venture over to the cruise boats ready to depart and you can converse with the lucky passengers about to embark on ‘inside passage’ tours through Alaska. CP has an IMAX theatre as well. CP is located adjacent to the Pan Pacific Hotel.
The Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden is the first full-sized classical Chinese garden outside China. It is located in China town on the edge of downtown Vancouver.
International Buddhist Temple is the most authentic example of traditional palatial Chinese architecture in North America. It is an edifice straight out of the Chinese past, as it resembles any authentic temple that can be found along the banks of the Yangtze River, where one of the world’s oldest civilizations originated. Come explore traditional Chinese art, culture, and the Buddhist philosophy inside this magnificent place. Free admission.
University of British Columbia This Campus has streets lined with trees and stretching over an area encompassing a small city, the UBC campus offers much to see and much to do. You can attend free lectures, relax at clothes-optional Wreck Beach , or see a show at the Chan Centre for Performing Arts . The UBC Libraries form the second largest library collection in all of Canada (second only to University of Toronto). A must for cash-strapped visitors: UBC often hosts free events, such as seminars, theatrical performances or student concerts.
Granville Island is Vancouver’s famous public market. Along with the large market there are also numorus local art galleries, restaurants and even a brewery.
Gastown is Vancouver’s historic district, there are many tourist shops, restaurants and pubs in this area. This is also where Storyeum is located.
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