Vancouver is _the_ city in Canada. (It is also a city in the US, both of them named after Captain George Vancouver.) No others can properly be called cities - some are villages, some are slums, a few are mixed-up maple syrup refineries, while most are painted cardboard mock-ups made for the recent film industry boom.

To the phreaks and reformed wareZ d00ds among us, note that Vancouver's area code is 604, a number which was intractably associated with echomail networks TABNet and PsychoNet and ANSi art groups MiSTiGRiS and Integrity back in the BBS days (sigh) (and also more recently, along with "Van-City" jargon representing our fair city to the hip-hop nation.) The frequent fliers among us may also be well-acquainted with our dazzling airport at YVR, often the last or first glimpse of the benefits of Western Civilization for air travellers to and from Asia. For comprehensivity's sake, Society for Creative Anachronism lifestylers know us better as the Barony of Lion's Gate, located inside the Kingdom of An Tir.

UBC is one of the many fine post-secondary institutions in and around Greater Vancouver, a catch-name encompassing the City of Vancouver proper and all 21 of its associated and adjoining suburbs. This neck of the woods is a bit of a literary oasis in the Canadian cultural map - some renowned local novelists past and present include William Gibson, Douglas Coupland, Nick Bantock, Spider Robinson, W. P. Kinsella and Malcolm Lowry. We have also brought more than our fair share of poets-you've-never-heard-of to the national literary stage including bill bissett, Sharon Thesen and 2000 International Slam Poetry Champion Shane Koyczan. We also produce playwrights (regrettably so obscure that even the immaculately informed I can only name Morris Paynch as a start to their ranks...)

According to Douglas Adams' The Meaning of Liff, Vancouver is a noun denoting

    The technical name for one of those huge trucks with whirling brushes on the bottom used to clean streets.
And there you have it.

Well, for a much further in-depth look at this locale, check out urban geography of Vancouver, BC.

I was born and raised in Vancouver, BC, and while I'm obviously somewhat biased, I feel it is one of the most beautiful cities to live in in the world. There are trees everywhere, there is the ocean on one side and mountains on all sides, the people are diverse and friendly, it is in Canada, land of socialized medicine, and it has one of the mildest climates in Canada. You should know we have rain. Rain is not something you can separate from the experience of Vancouver.

I thought, since I'm here and you're not, that I'd tell you a little something about my town. There are a lot of links - you can follow almost all of them for more information. I'm working on the ones that don't exist - yet. This isn't trying to be a metanode - just things I personally know about and can comment on.

events:
- We get a lot of rain. We have an average of 300 days of precipitation each year. But it's beautiful, beautiful rain.
- Pseudo_Intellectual is one of the head organizers of a cool, hippy-dippy celebration of local artists and performers called the Living Closet. It's held every few months, admission is by donation, and it's really cool.
- Word on the Street is an annual festival of literature held in September on a Sunday at the central branch of the Vancouver Public Library. It features booksellers, poetry readings, performers, poetry slams, book readings, information booths on local publishers, libraries and other groups, and seemingly random displays of other local talent. A beautiful mess of words.
- Each year in late July and August, Vancouver plays host to the (recently renamed) Celebration of Light, a big-ass four-night fireworks festival. Jeeves, visiting from Arizona, told us it beat the pants of anything he'd ever seen in the US for the 4th of July.
- Each summer, at Vanier Park, there is Bard on the Beach, Shakespeare performed in a big tent by the shore.
- Also each summer in Vanier Park is the Children's Festival, another tent camp featuring many wonderful children's performers from around the world. Music, drama, stories, crafts, it's a big fun thing.
- At Jericho Beach each year there is the three-day Vancouver International Folk Festival, featuring locals and not so locals and absolutely everyone from around the world.
- Last summer we had an everything meet: the Pacific Northwest TabNet / Everything Pit-of-Doom-Sacrifice and Retinal Scarring (tm). Maybe we'll do it again.

local attractions / local disgraces:
- Housed in a big silver geodesic dome left over from Expo 86 (the world's fair that Vancouver hosted in 1986), Science World is a big fun science centre with cool exhibits for kids and a huge Imax theatre.
- Granville Island is a little district located underneath the Granville St. Bridge in False Creek. It's a weird mixture of shops, restaurants, arts establishments (theatres, schools, galleries..), and.. heavy industry. Yes, nestled among the public market and the parks is a big concrete factory. It's a weird but fun place. Tourists flock to it. Don't even think about trying to find a parking space - take the bus or walk.
- Granville Island Brewing Company is a popular microbrewer located in said Granville Island. I don't drink myself, but their reputation around here is pretty good.
- The H.R. MacMillan Planetarium, located near Vanier Park, is, well, a planetarium. It features both conventional star shows and, late at night, very popurock and roll laser shows to try to recoup the costs of operation. The building also houses the Pacific Space Centre, and the excellent Vancouver Museum. Outside the building is a groovy metal statue of a crab.
- The Giant Paperclip is a cool statue located in Vanier Park. Don't tell anyone, but if you hit it with something, it sounds like a huge gong.
- Stanley Park is a huge park near downtown Vancouver. It's crammed full of stuff to do. Check out my node about it.
- Gastown is a small district in Downtown Vancouver, home to the steam clock and a few other monuments of dubious interest. Largely it houses expensive shops geared to tourists and, at night, strip clubs and drug dealers. You will find it in all the tourists guides, but I'd avoid it if I were you - there are much more interesting places to visit in town.
-Commercial Drive, also called "The Drive" is an area in East Vancouver with a lot of neat shops and cafés. It is famous as a hotbed of political activism, multiculturalism, and as a place where hippies, dykes, and italian gun and pasta merchants live together in peace.
- Pacific Spirit Park is the official name for what are commonly called the University Endowment Lands. This is a HUGE forested park at the University of British Columbia. There are many many trails for pedestrians and bikes, including some interesting marked nature walks. Pick up a map at the entrance - it's very very easy to get lost. I once wandered for three hours before finding an exiting trail. It's beautiful.
- Harbour Centre is a tall building in downtown Vancouver, home to part of the campus of SFU, a glass elevator with a view of the city that you can ride in for a stiff fee, and a revolving restaurant. I went there once. Not too exciting. Of course, I've seen the skyline of the city many times from less expensive venues.
- The Bowmac Sign, a huge red and blue monstrosity on Broadway, for many years the marker of the Bowell-MacLean used car lot, was for many years a beloved landmark. (or something.) Now, in a weird compromise between redevelopment and heritage, it has a grille laid over it and a big toys'r'us neon sign laid overtop, which is perhaps the only thing that could have happened to make it uglier.
- The Vancouver Aquarium, located in the middle of Stanley Park, is a great trip for families. It's most famous for its killer whale, Bjossa, but also houses extensive exhibits of both tropical fish and local sealife. It's great. Two octopuses - what more can you ask? It's a bit pricy - $12 or something admission - but you can spend hours wandering around. (update: Bjossa was moved to SeaWorld in San Diego to have the company of other whales since Finna, her mate, died a few years back, and sadly she died a few months after getting there of an infection that she'd had on and off for years.)
- Vancouver's Chinatown is the second largest in North America, after San Francisco's. Amid the scummy heritage buildings are many interesting spots to visit - the Sun-Yat Sen classical gardens, the Jack Chow building, which is only 3 feet wide (but houses a functional insurance dealer), the multitude of little shops and restaurants, and in the summer there's a night market on the weekends.
- The central branch of the Vancouver Public Library is a really cool building. Built in 1995 after a design contest, it is built to look like the Collosseum. It's big and it's cool. There's a self-guided architectural tour you can take.
- Wreck beach is our local nude beach, located past UBC. Home to naked hippies, naked old men, naked québecois backpackers, naked engineers, and other assorted naked locals. It's at the bottom of a really steep stairwell, and protected by dense forest.
- Vanier Park is a park located in False Creek. It's very popular with local kite enthusiasts. On any windy day you'll find dozens of kites flying, sometimes very elaborately constructed or doing tricks.
- Starbucks and Starbucks is a corner in the West End, and is perhaps the centre of vancouver's yuppy karma.
- Splashdown Park is a waterslide park in Tsawwassen. Kids like it.
- The Playhouse is a play house located downtown in the same building as the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. They put on 5 generally excellently done plays each year.
- The Museum of Anthropology is located on the grounds of UBC. It has a fascinating collection of chiefly first nations artifacts, totem poles, and more. It houses a large collection of sculptures and carvings by Bill Reid, a famous BC artist. Definitely worth a visit.
- Purdy's Chocolates is a local chocolatier. They make pretty good chocolate. They have a factory on Kingsway that you can tour.

schools:
Well, universities, really. I mention them a lot, so:
- UBC / University of British Columbia
- SFU / Simon Fraser University
- BCIT
- langara college
- douglas college

suburbs:
These are all towns in Greater Vancouver, the area immediately surrounding Vancouver:
- Burnaby (home to Metrotown and SFU)
- Surrey (the suburb everyone likes to pick on)
- Langley
- West Vancouver (where all the rich people hide)
- North Vancouver (on a big hill and home to some beautiful scenery)
- New Westminster (historic and scummy in parts. was once the capital of BC.)
- Delta (general area encompassing White Rock, Tsawwassen, Ladner, and parts of Surrey.)
- White Rock
- Tsawwassen (pronounced "Tah-WAH-Sen", has a ferry terminal with connections to Victoria)
- Port Moody
- Port Coquitlam
- Richmond (home of the Vancouver International Airport)
- Coquitlam
- Horseshoe Bay (small town, home to a ferry terminal with connections to the Gulf Islands)
- Ladner
- Maple Ridge
- Aldergrove
- Abbotsford

good or interesting eats:
Vancouver has a lot of excellent restaurants. Here is a tiny list of a few I like. Pick up a Georgia Straight (a free local paper) while you're in town, check out the restaurant listing, and pick one randomly. You'll probably be pleasantly surprised.
- Monsoon has amazing east-west fusion food, focusing on Asian cuisine. It's impossible to describe. The atmosphere is cool, the food is.. incredible. Try the masala fries with banana ketchup. I'm serious.
- Bishop's is famous as the best and most expensive food in town. Both are true.
- Lumière I have never actually eaten here. It's french food and it's also very expensive. Still, people keep raving about it and it wins a lot of awards.
- the Naam is a hippy vegetarian restaurant. It's been around as long as hippies have been in Vancouver. The food is pretty good, the atmosphere is very earthy, the service is terrible. It's an experience. Try the thai noodles, the miso gravy, or the creepy-sounding dragon bowls.
- Habibi's is a small, cheap lebanese restaurant. It's very very good food, and it's all vegetarian. Try the shinkleesh. And the lebneh. And the foule. And the soup of the day. And, and, everything.
- the Casa Gelato is an ice cream parlour nestled in the semi-industrial Strathcona neighbourhood. They have literally hundreds of flavours of ice cream - everything from Vanilla to Wasabi to p_i's favourite: Bleu Cheese, Pear, and Gorgonzola. I like the rootbeer sorbetto. Try it out - be sure to get a triple cone with three different flavours.
- the Buddhist Vegetarian Restaurant in chinatown serves cheap vegan chinese food. Their dim sum is terrific. Their "meat" dishes are.. disturbingly deceptive. Avoid the fake fish. Try the dumplings. Turnip cakes, sweet and sour veggie pork, and fake shrimp dumplings are my favourites. P_I likes the nuts fried rice and the (very) hot and sour soup.

transportation:
We're a hippie town, basically. Take the bus or bike or walk. It's more fun.
- SkyTrain is our above-ground subway system. We're currently building a new line, due to open in mid 2002. If you're bored, ride it from end to end for a few neat views and maybe some crazy people.
- Coast Mountain Bus Company is the bus system in town, run by
- Translink, which is not to be confused with
- BC Transit.
- seabus is a commuter ferry that runs between downtown and North Vancouver.
- critical mass vancouver is a big bike event held each month where bicyclists take over traffic.

people:
- Tabnet (What is tabnet?) - we're a local group of modemmers and geeks. If you're going to be in town, come meet us! We're friendly. Contact p_i or me or check out bonk.dynip.com.
- Nardwuar (the human serviette) is a local punk rocker and character. He's famous for his insane interviews. He once asked Mikhail Gorbachev, having snuck in to a press conference with his student radio (CiTR - UBC's station) credentials, which world leader that he'd met had the biggest pants. If you can catch his band, The Evaporators, in one of their rare shows, you are in for a treat.
- Spider Robinson, the sci-fi guy, lives in Vancouver. I don't expect you'll see him (though he occasionally does readings, or sometimes even plays the guitar), but we're proud of him. (William Gibson also lives here. Rumour has it that they hate each other.)
- Douglas Coupland, author of Generation X, lives here and occasionally writes for local magazines. His feelings towards William Gibson are unknown.
- Greenpeace is a local extreme environmental activist group, and perhaps the most famous of all the many, many activist groups in town. These are the guys who chain themselves to trees, walk the fine line between protest and slander, and whose boat was sunk by the government of france. Teehee.
- Brian "Godzilla" Salmi is a local pseudo-politician, out to subvert the political process, often by legally changing his name before running. His middle name is really Godzilla. In the past he has run for office as "Sa Tan", which campaign involved advertising a victory party with orgies and virgin sacrifices.
- Jack the Bear, a crazy guy who wanders the streets handing out what he calls "beads of power" and trying to collect lapel pins from people. He claims to have been a wrestling major at SFU. He's crazy but more or less harmless. If you wander around granville island or downtown long enough, he will at some point try to talk to you.
- The Malchiks are a groovy local ska band.
- The Vancouver Canucks are our local hockey team. They lose a lot most of the time, but they do a hell of a lot better than our basketball team. They got to the finals of the Stanley Cup a few years back. When they lost there was a riot. Well, we mean well.
- Sarah McLachlan - well, I doubt you'll meet her here either, but we're also very proud of her.
- pseudo intellectual - he's a local character too. he's big and hairy and has buttons on his head. he's friendly too.
- The Everything People Registry : Canada : British Columbia - check it out.

miscellaneous related stuff:
- British Columbia - the province Vancouver is in.
- Fraser River - a large body of water that passes through Vancouver.
- British Columbia Political Parties - a large body of petty scandals that pass through Vancouver.
- Address to Malkin Bowl - p_i in an inspired moment at a living closet.
- Vancouver used to be called Terminal City because it was the end of the line for the railroad. Over the years, various publications, tv shows, clubs, pubs, and shops have commandeered the name.
- vancouver's sunset - they are glorious when it's not cloudy. it's mostly cloudy, but ooh..
- vancouver parking - see granville island.
two poems about vancouver:
- Found Paean to Vancouver
- The Lions of Vancouver
and, finally, a rant I wrote about a dry spell here. I feel it's a good note to end on; Vancouver is incomplete without the rain. Come visit us. Bring an umbrella.
- time does not exist without rain

Vancouver ... at 32 I finally found my way home. Although I had never been here, as soon as I saw Stanley Park and the city lights going North over the hill on 37th street I knew I was here to stay.

They say homes are just like a twin, there is one for everyone. Something about me picked Vancouver, BC. Coming from the Melting Pot that is the U.S.A. I was gladdened to see that Vancouver was not that way. The first thing I noticed was contrary to the U.S.A. is that, though there are several races that call Vancouver home, they do not necessarily melt together. It is like someone said in the US "Come into our country and figure out how to fit in with the social norm and the status quo" but it seemed to me in Vancouver that they were saying "Come into our country and figure out how to get along with your differences"

The first time I went into T&T Market I experienced a very wierd feeling of trespassing. T&T's is an Asian specialty market. It felt disconcerting to be such an obvious minority. =] I shop in there a lot now and the feeling has lessened but not disappeared, but I have gotten used to it. (Their mousses are wonderful!)

The first time I went to Wreck Beach however I felt immediately at ease =D . There are not many differences to be thought of when you are nekkid. Funny that, eh?


on a later note:
I wanted to thank all the people that put the softlinks on the bottom of this page.... Some of the info has been really helpful and has led to some interesting outtings for me and my 2 daughters. Keep up the great softlinks!

Just some quick comments/clarifications/opinions on the points raised here (and yes, I am a Vancouverite as well):

  • Terminal City, run by the inestimable Brian "Godzilla" Salmi, has recently started up again after a lengthy hiatus.
  • Under the heading of local disgraces, the city was run for what seems like generations by the so-called "Non-Partisan Association" -- a breeding ground for a number of conservative, anti-intellectual politicians (and, as of January 2003, drunk drivers) such as our current Premier, Gordon Campbell.
  • One bemoaned aspect of Vancouver that recently got the residents in a flap was the fact that the place now has a reputation as "the City of No Fun": the NPA had to strike a committee to look into it. Inevitably, this became known as the "No Fun Committee". See below for more details.
  • Vancouver, and British Columbia in general, has suffered from a particularly bad bout of class war for some time now.
  • We do like our BC Bud. Speaking from personal experience only, I can say that it is generally of a consistently higher quality than just about any other pot on the planet. Blunt Bros. is a very laid-back cafe that welcomes cannabis users from all over the world.
  • Vancouver was featured in urban planning textbooks as the worst-planned metropolitan area in North America.
  • BC Transit could almost be called adequate, given the challenge of having an enormous area to cover. It was given a "Best of America" award in 1995/6, which amused Vancouver residents to no end while waiting (and waiting, and waiting) in the rain. This organisation also spent C$22m refitting transit buses with expensive electronic fare boxes that still do not even make change from paper or coins, and had the chutzpah to debate charging for printed bus schedules.
  • ShadowNode's piece on BC Transit referred above offers insight on the "No Fun" rap listed earlier. Twenty years of anti-drinking and driving campaigns have resulted in the public transit stopping at inconvenient hours -- specifically, just at the same time as bars' typical closing.
  • Despite the poor reputation otherwise, Vancouver is justifiably famous for its West End: it boasts urban densities amongst the highest on Earth, just behind the Netherlands, Hong Kong, Japan, and Manhattan, and does so in a particularly livable and intelligent way.
  • The Vancouver Grizzlies pro basketball team is no longer. They moved to America, after the owners tried just about everything to milk the city of support, moral and financial. They were, I believe, at one point the lowest-scoring team in the NBA. Good riddance.
  • Greenpeace: Not to steal thunder from the node, but the organisation actually did begin in Vancouver itself.
  • .. as did Adbusters.

Sadly, for all of Vancouver's extremely beautiful features and wonderful reasons to live here, there is a very dark side to the city.

Vancouver has the highest incidence of AIDS in all of Canada, almost exclusively located in a neighborhood alternately known as "skid row" and the "downtown eastside". This area of town is perennially in the grips of crushing poverty, and junkies, prostitutes, and the homeless flock there in ever-greater numbers each year. The last official estimate stated that 51% of all residents of this neighborhood were infected with AIDS or HIV; a problem seemingly without solution, given the rampant heroin trade there; a problem even the police station in the middle of the slum can do little to curtail.

Perhaps even more unsettling is that Vancouver's primary tourist locale, Gastown, is just two blocks away from Skid Row, and it's easy for an unwary tourist to stray from the squakky-clean red-brick roads of this venerable location to the worst place in the country. Tourists visiting Vancouver would be well-advised to ask locals where this neighborhood is, so they can steer well clear of it.

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