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.
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- Starbucks and Starbucks is a corner in the West End, and is perhaps the centre of vancouver's
- 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.
Well, universities, really. I mention them a lot, so:
- UBC / University of British Columbia
- SFU / Simon Fraser University
- langara college
- douglas college
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)
- 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)
- Horseshoe Bay (small town, home to a ferry terminal with connections to the Gulf Islands)
- Maple Ridge
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.
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
- 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.
- 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