VANCOUVER (British Columbia)
CITY OF NEIGHBORHOODS
You should know that the City of Vancouver is different from the Island of Vancouver. They are near each other, but the city is part of the mainland of British Columbia, in the Burrard Peninsula to be exact. Until 1885, the name "Vancouver" meant Vancouver Island. Actually, a lot of people still think that island is the city’s location.
The area covered by the city is 114 square kilometers or 44 square miles. There are over 603,000 people living in the city, with more than half of them from countries where English is not the first language. People from families with English, Irish or Scottish blood make up the city’s majority and also comprise a big portion of the Kerrisdale and South Granville neighborhoods. Immigrants from countries where English is not the main language have been increasing since the 1980s. Although they are still considered minority groups in the city, they are concentrated in their own distinct neighborhoods, earning Vancouver the title of the City of Neighborhoods. The majority of the residents do not have religious affiliations. Actually, there are more people in Vancouver who follow Buddhism than those who consider themselves Christians.
Vancouver has a temperate climate, with summer typically being dry with not much precipitation. The city is also called Hollywood North with many top films and television shows produced there. It is considered one of the top film centers in the entire North America next to LA and the city of New York. It only has Los Angeles to compete with in terms of television production locations.
HOW IT BEGAN
Vancouver City was founded in 1886, the same year that the terminus of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) was established in the city. Not long after that, the Great Vancouver Fire destroyed the whole city but it was rebuilt soon after.
The city's economy has long been dominated by big corporations like CPR. The city's location near the Pacific Ocean also made exports and manufacturing vital parts of Vancouver City's economy. However, the influence of corporations has always been checked by a vocal labor movement. Other social movements like those organized by feminist organizations and movements for moral reform have often been a part of the city's history.
In 1929, the city was merged with the communities of Point Grey and South Vancouver, increasing the population in the city and giving it its present boundaries.
YOU MIGHT WANT TO CHECK OUT...
╣Stanley Park. Opened in 1888, the park is located in the city's downtown area and covers an area of more than 400 hectares. About eight million people visit the park every year for its various recreational facilities, landscapes, and the 9 kilometers of paved seawall which goes around the park. A big portion of the park is forested, where some of the trees are over a hundred of years old.
╣Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Center. This is located at Stanley Park since its opening in the 1950s. It is the biggest of its kind in Canada and includes a wide collection of various marine animals, such as dolphins, seals, and sea lions. Among its popular attractions are the white beluga whales.
╣Vancouver Public Library's Library Square. Completed in 1995, it is composed of a nine-story rectangular building and a surrounding colonnaded elliptical wall. These two structures make the building's exterior resemble Rome's Colosseum. The two structures also enclose a long concourse with a glass roof.
╣Granville Island. It is a shopping area located at a peninsula in downtown Vancouver. Actually, the city was once known as Granville earlier on, when it was still a town. Now, Granville Island features a big public market, shops, a large marina for small boats and luxury watercraft, art galleries, theaters and a university for the arts.
╣Vancouver Art Gallery. Founded in 1931, it is one of the biggest art galleries in the whole country and covers about 41,500 square feet. It houses a collection of thousands of paintings, photographs and other artworks. The gallery also organizes regular touring exhibitions and programs for the public.
╣Robson Street located at the city's downtown area. It was once the center of German culture in the city after World War II, so don't be surprised if you hear it referred to as Robsonstrasse. Although the German communities there have lessened through the years, the street still remains famous for its numerous shops, restaurants and other commercial establishments.
╣Robson Square. It is a modernist style public plaza and civic center near the Vancouver Art Gallery in downtown Vancouver. It houses numerous courtrooms, government buildings and a wide public space. It also has man-made waterfalls located throughout the complex to provide a natural kind of air conditioning system.
╣English Bay. It is located at the western part of downtown Vancouver and is near its West End residential community. It is the area of some of the most popular beaches in the city, such as Jericho Beach and Sunset Beach. It is a popular destination for people who like to go swimming, sunbathing and watching the sun set. It is also the site for various annual celebrations, like the two-week Celebration of Light fireworks competition held during July.
╣Telus World of Science (formerly Science World). This is a science center located at the end of the city's False Creek area. It features numerous interactive displays and exhibits. It is famous for its large geodesic dome based on the Buckminsterfullerene molecule.
TOURISTS SHOULD KNOW
TransLink operates the public transportation system in the Vancouver metropolitan area. Its services includes buses, ferries for pedestrians as well as for bicycle riders, the SkyTrain rapid transit service, and the West Coast Express train rail transit.
Don't expect people in Vancouver to carry cash in large amounts. Most of them 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. There are a lot of ATMs in Vancouver, especially in the business district along Burrard, Pender, Georgia, and Granville Sts.
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 sales tax. Make sure to ask if these taxes are already included in the price of the things you bought or should still be added.