Vacation Corner: Vancouver
Vancouver is the biggest city of British Columbia, Canada and the third largest city in the country of a maple leaf. Presumably, it is the world’s most popular city of winter 2010 as it was the host of Winter Olympic Games. Vancouver is a true treasure of Western Canada with mild climate, breathtaking views and amazing architecture. I have had the luck to be there twice; and now, I would like to get more people familiar with this beautiful city.
Vancouver got its name after a captain who landed here in 1792. The city was designated on the 6th of April 1886, and its development was strictly connected with the completion of the Canadian Pacifi c Railway in 1884. The harbor at the end of the railway’s tracks was to become one of Canada’s pearls for example because of its spectacular setting with its ocean and mountain views.
The Northwest coast of the North American continent was the last one to be explored by the European settlers. In 1858, thousands of American and British people led the gold rush on the Fraser River, and that was the spark that initiated the birth of British Columbia province, which in 1871 joined Canada (established in 1867). Canadian Pacifi c Railway manager, William Van Horne, foresaw the harbor to be destined to become a great city; and after a fi re in July 1886, which turned a major part of the city into ashes, he–as the main creator of Canada’s Rocky Mountain national parks– decided that Vancouver ought to be rebuilt and designed as an international tourist attraction. The city is ethnically diverse with over half of its population having other native language than English. I will try to do my best to come back to Vancouver any time it is possible. I’ve been charmed by the city’s atmosphere, its multicultural countenance and unique architecture. At fi rst glance, Vancouver, with its sky, scrapers looks just like most of North American metropolis but once you look closer, you will spot the unbelievable care for urban architecture. Everything seems to be exactly planned not to disturb the city’s design and its harmony, countless trees, plants, glassy sky skyscrapers being the mirror refl ections to the neighboring buildings. It’s all breathtaking and overwhelming. Let me tell you what made the biggest impression on me while I was staying in Vancouver, Canada.
Situated near the Waterfront train station, Canada Place is one of the most characteristic elements of the Vancouver skyline. It is an exhibition and convention center, a hotel, a World Trade Center and the home of the world’s fi rst ever IMX cinema. As a cruise ship terminal, the building logically has been designed in the shape of sails, becoming one of the absolutely astonishing trademarks of the city’s landscape. It also reminds you of the famous Sydney Opera House building. Canada Place was Canada’s Expo pavilion in 1986.
My favorite part of Vancouver’s downtown is Gastown a city’s historic part hidden among glassand- metal sky scrapers. The atmosphere of the district is truly unique. You can sit down with a cup of great coff ee and enjoy 19th century paved street and stylish lamp posts. Gastown took its name after a seaman Jack “Gassy” Deighton, a steamboat captain who arrived in the area in 1867 and opened there the fi rst saloon in the neighborhood. In 1886, the town was incorporated as part of the City of Vancouver and was burned down in the great fi re soon afterwards. After rebuilding, it served as the city’s main production and distribution center just to become Vancouver’s drinking life center in the times of Great Depression. It wasn’t until 1960’s that the governors of the city became concerned with preserving the fallen part of the downtown and Gastown was declared a historical district in 1971, which made it possible to gain money for restoring it. In 2009, Gastown was designated a national historic site of Canada. One of the most famous and recognizable parts of Gastown is a steam-powered clock located near the intersection of Cambie and Water Streets. What is interesting, is it was built to cover a steam grate to prevent people from slipping into the whole of steam-heating system. It is, by no means, a steam clock however, it was not perfectly built and so it also uses the help of electrical mechanism. It is Gastown’s major tourist attraction. It whistles every 15 minutes and gathers tourists waiting to record the characteristic melody and chime. The area of Gastown is very charming and is an absolute must-see for all tourists coming to Vancouver.
Capilano Suspension Bridge
Capilano is a park where you can learn a lot about Vancouver’s origins, the Native Americans who used to inhabit the area (there are dozens of totems and statues of the First Nation people everywhere), and fi nd out a lot about British Columbia fl ora. One of the most characteristic and truly thrilling attractions of the park is the suspension bridge. Hung above the river Capilano, it connects the restaurant and service part of the park with its forest park where you can admire 300-year-old ciders and take a tree-top walk (“A Treetop Adventure,” a system of wooden stairs and passages allowing you to climb higher around trees). The bridge is 136 meters long and hangs 70 meters above the river. Around 1 million people a year come to visit this place. The park has a private owner, thus a fee is charged whenever you want to enter it. Crossing the bridge can be quite uncomfortable for people with vertigo. Not only is it settled in an open space with an abyss beneath it, but it also swings a bit, so it can be quite stressful to cross it. However, the views and the area are so spectacular that it is worth to overcome the fear and enjoy this unforgettable experience.
Another astonishing building is a sphere-like Science World. This architecture wonder is the home for all known modern inventions displayed in countless interactive exhibitions. It is a place where you can experience most of today’s known innovations, such as a telescope, or get familiar with ancient discoveries (an ancient-Chinese seismograph might be a good example). You can experience all sorts of technology tricks or take a closer look on how we can use physics innovations, like laser, in everyday lives.
Over 10% larger than New York’s Central Park and twice as big as London’s Richmond Park, Stanley Park is one of the top Vancouver a t t r a c t i o n s . Full of totems s y m b o l i z i n g C a n a d a ’ s appre c i a t i o n for the Native Nations, it draws about 10 million visitors a year, both tourists and local people. C o u n t l e s s cedars, which remind about r a i n f o r e s t s that used to grow there, k i l o m e t e r s of paths and bike routes and dozens of statues are the trademarks of this magnifi cent cult of nature. Left on its own, the nature shows an astonishing ability to regenerate; and trees growing out of stomps are a regular view in Stanley Park. Among animals inhabiting the area there are grey squirrels, beavers and countless species of birds. You can see the whole city center area from the Stanley Park, and the view is, believe me, astonishing as you can see the clash of modern North American metropolis and the wild nature that the Canadians embrace and cherish.
The heart of the 2010 Winter Olympics was not the great Vancouver area as such but a ski resort Whistler situated in the Coast Mountains. The place is a paradise for sport lovers of dozens of disciplines, like skiing, snowboarding and, in summer time, mountain biking, climbing and mountain hiking. The center for most of those attractions is Whistler Mountain with a monumental statue of Inukshuk, an Inuit1 symbol of friendship. When I was in Whistler in 2007, I was overwhelmed by the amount of chairlifts around each mountain; and it is worth to mention that the rebuilding and development of the whole skiing infrastructure was just beginning. Last year, a new tri-cable gondola lift, called Peak 2 Peak, was introduced, which allows you to travel between the mountain tops as it joins two side-by-side mountains. The distance is 4.4 kilometers and it takes about 10 minutes to get from one peak to the other. Once you enjoy walking on glazier surfaces in the middle of summer, you can spend pleasant time in one of hundreds of Whistler’s The heart of the 2010 Winter Olympics was not the great Vancouver area as such but a ski resort Whistler situated in the Coast Mountains. The place is a paradise for sport lovers of dozens of disciplines, like skiing, snowboarding and, in summer time, mountain biking, climbing and mountain hiking. The center for most of those attractions is Whistler Mountain with a monumental statue of Inukshuk, an Inuit1 symbol of friendship. When I was in Whistler in 2007, I was overwhelmed by the amount of chairlifts around each mountain; and it is worth to mention that the rebuilding and development of the whole skiing cafes, pubs and restaurants situated in a town under the mountains or go shopping in countless boutiques and souvenir shops.
In case my article has not convinced you to see Vancouver on your own, maybe some miscellaneous information that I have gathered about the pearl of British Columbia will catch your attention.
- One of the most popular TV series in the history of television, The X Files, was entirely filmed in Vancouver and the city’s area. Among films made in Vancouver are, for example, 2012, Blade Trilogy, Catwoman, The Day the Earth Stood Still, Fantastic Four, Final Destination, Insomnia, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, Juno, Jumanji, Liar, Liar, The X-Files: I Want To Believe.
- Vancouver has been in the top ten list of the most livable cities in the world for more than a decade; and in 2007, Forbes ranked Vancouver as the 10th cleanest city in the world.
- Nickelback, one of Canadian most popular rock bands in the world, is from Vancouver.
- Vancouver is the hometown of Vancouver Canuck, an NHL ice hockey team; the team plays on the rank of BC Place Stadium, gigantic sports center visible from almost every corner of downtown.
- Celebrities born in Vancouver: Pamela Anderson, Bryan Adams, Hayden Christensen, Michael J. Fox, Joshua Jackson, Sarah McLachlan, Leslie Nielsen, Ryan Reynolds.
- The capital city of British Columbia is Victoria, situated on the Vancouver Island. Singer Nelly Furtado and NBA’s star Steve Nash come from Victoria.
If you ever get a chance to visit North America I highly recommend visiting Vancouver. The views are spectacular, the climate is mild and it is a city that allows you to trek in the mountains, go biking in the woods and play beach volleyball on the same day. You WILL fall in love with it, trust me.
After reading task – optional choice for class exercise.
As tour guides, in a group of 2-4 people, plan and organize a trip to a city of your choosing. Decide what you are going to see, where you are going to stay and what the most important information you should know about the place is. Imagine you are to make a speech about your tour to a group of people who are interested; explain to them all the details and tell them what items are necessary for them to take, for example a map, a passport, a camera, etc. Gather as much information about your city as possible, and share it with the rest of your class.