SURREY (British Columbia)
CITY OF PARKS
Surrey is located southeast of the city of Vancouver in the province of British Columbia. The city is part of the Vancouver metropolitan area and the regional district of Greater Vancouver. The majority of the city is made up of flatlands and hills and is located near the Pacific Ocean and Canada's border with the United States. The city is also known for having vast areas designated as park lands, unlike other cities which usually have large tracts reserved for malls and other commercial areas.
The city spans a total of 316 square kilometers and has a population 468,251 in 2011, more than half of which is white. South Asians makes up more than a quarter of the population. About 60 percent of the city's residents are Christians with about one fifth of the population professing to be Sikhs. Surrey has an inter-coastal climate with heavy rainfall usually occurring during the winter season. Summertime is usually sunny and mild while the days during autumn are cool.
HOW IT BEGAN
Surrey was incorporated as a town in 1879 and was named after a county in England. The influx of European settlers increased when the Patullo Bridge opened in 1937 to make transportation easier between the city and the Vancouver city.
The city experienced rapid growth from the 1980s to the 1990s with the coming of immigrants from various Asian countries as well as residents from other places in Canada. Surrey is still growing because of these and is projected to exceed the population in larger cities in British Columbia in the near future.
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╣WinterFest. It is an annual event held every February in the city's Central Plaza. It features live music performances, food, sporting activities, and a fireworks display. The event is also famous in other countries with thousands of visitors coming for this celebration every year.
╣Surrey Children's Festival. This is an annual event filled with live performances that mean to make the young people appreciate the richness of the country's diverse culture. The festival also features art programs and hands-on classes for children.
╣Surrey Canada Day. It is considered by many as the biggest celebration of the country's birthday in Western Canada. Thousands of people of all ages come to Surrey every year just for this celebration. It features numerous activities for the whole family, live music performances, eat-all-you-can buffets everywhere, and a fireworks display to finish it all off.
╣Cloverdale Rodeo and Country Fair. This is a cowboy-themed annual event held in the city's Cloverdale Fairgrounds during May. It features entertainment for the whole family to enjoy, as well as an agriculture exhibit, a parade, and trade show.
╣Peace Arch. This is a gigantic monument erected exactly where Canada meets the United States, in this case, where Surrey meets Blaine in Washington state. The monument was built in 1921 and stands 20.5 meters or 67 feet. It is built in Peace Arch Park which spans both Surrey and Blaine.
╣Surrey Art Gallery. Open since 1975, the gallery showcases contemporary artwork by local and international artists. It also organizes workshops and lectures led by artists, as well as talks and other programs for educators and students.
╣Bear Creek Park Train in Bear Creek Park. This park is open all year round. The train is a miniature steam and diesel engine that takes travelers through the park's forest and its display tunnel.
╣Historic Stewart Farm. It is an old-fashioned farm set near the Nicomekl River. It is open from February to December. It features a 19th century farmhouse and barn, complete with heirloom gardens. Regular tours are conducted by guides wearing period costume and lets you sample of woodstove cooking, making heritage crafts and participate in old-fashioned games. Visitors can have a picnic in the premises or take a stroll on its walking trails.
╣Blackie Spit Park. This park is located at the Crescent Beach borough at the southwest part of the city. It has several beaches and walking trails, but the park is best known as an ideal spot for birdwatching. Hundreds of species of migratory birds go to the area each year during spring and fall.
╣Darts Hill Garden Park. This is a park dedicated to horticulture and is made up of an extensive garden covering a total area of 7.5 acres. It features a wide range of native and rare varieties of plants, trees and shrubs. The park is known worldwide, and so is visited by many gardeners and horticulturists from other countries, amateur and professional alike. The park was a gift to the city from the Darts family. The Darts Hill Garden Conservancy Trust currently maintains the garden with a small fee from the park's visitors.
╣Serpentine Fen Bird Sanctuary and Wildlife Area. The intriguing name of this place derives from the river near where it is located. The wetlands at the park's center are a favorite place for birds to live in or as a stop-over on their migration routes. The park has extensive walking trails and three lookout points. Thousands of migratory birds go to this area during spring and fall.
TOURISTS SHOULD KNOW
Surrey is connected to Vancouver City by the TransLink public transit system. However, there are few buses connecting Surrey to neighboring municipalities. People going to Vancouver can also use the SkyTrain Expo Line, which has stops along the cities of New Westminster and Burnaby.
Most Surrey residents rely on electronic transactions such as ATMs, debit cards, and credit cards. Interbank exchange rates for ATMs are usually lower than the rates given for traveler's checks. ATM fees in Canada are usually low, but check your home bank if they will charge additional fees.
Remember that there is a five percent federal GST for almost all services and goods bought in Canada. This is in addition to the province's seven percent mandated sales tax. Make sure to ask the vendors if these taxes are already included in the price of the things you bought or should still be added.