Vancouver – the city that combines both.

Vancouver – the city that combines both.

Canada is a quiet northern country with beautiful nature and high standard of living. Its eastern part is quite densely populated, with many big and famous cities: Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and others. On the west coast, however, there is only one megalopolis – but what a megalopolis! It has been in the top three cities to live in for years. Vancouver is cosmopolitan, laid-back, modern, but very “green”.


Downtown Vancouver is not worth driving, but just walking around. Unlike most North American cities, the city has everything you need to make walking comfortable. The main streets of downtown can be called George Street and Robson Street. At the beginning of Robson Street is the square of the same name and there are two notable landmarks. The first is the local courthouse, designed by renowned Canadian architect Arthur Erickson. The low seven-story building stands in stark contrast to the local skyscrapers, but still takes center stage on the square. A neoclassical building can also be seen on the square. It is the Vancouver Art Gallery where you can view the work of famous North American artists.

Vancouver is a city that combines the incongruous - Photo 2


From the square along Granville Mall, a pedestrian walkway lined with stores, you can walk to the tallest building in the city, the Harbor Centre Tower. It is a skyscraper on top of which there is an observation deck, reminiscent of a flying saucer. It offers stunning views of the city.

Also in the center of the city is the center of Science World. It is shaped like a ball decorated with a dinosaur skeleton on top. Inside is a state-of-the-art interactive science museum that both adults and children will enjoy.

Multicultural Vancouver

Many cities in Canada are cosmopolitan, but nowhere is this more evident than in Vancouver. Half of the city’s residents speak a language other than English! You can find people from all over the world in the city. There’s never any ethnic strife, and the crime rate is so low that you might as well consider it non-existent. In the center of the city on almost every corner you can come across a restaurant of some cuisine of the world, and in Vancouver are constantly held a variety of festivals.

The Chinese diaspora is the largest in Vancouver. Because of this, Vancouver is often called the most Asian city outside of Asia. The Chinese community lives in Chinatown. The local market is worth a visit for the fresh seafood, authentic Chinese food and the authentic silk and bamboo products for which China is so famous.

Vancouver - A City Where The Incongruous Goes Together - Photo 3

Multicultural Vancouver

On West Hastings Street is Centre A, where you can take a deep dive into Asian culture. There’s an exhibit of paintings, costumes and photographs from all over Asia.


Vancouver can be rightly considered the capital of the global environmental movement, because it was here that Greenpeace was founded. The locals are insanely reverent about nature. There are no major highways in the city, and there are parks and gardens everywhere. Here’s a list of the major ones:

  • Stanley Park, the city’s main park, is 10% larger than New York’s famous Central Park.
  • Capilano Park – here among the ancient forests is a canyon, which can be crossed by a hundred-meter suspension bridge.
  • Sun Yat-sen Garden – here you can enjoy the art of Chinese gardening and feel real peace.
  • Nitobe Memorial Garden – A fine example of Japanese gardening and landscape design.
  • Vanier Park – two interesting museums to visit: the Vancouver Museum and the Maritime Museum.
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Vancouver - A City Where The Incongruous Goes Together - Photo 4

Also Vancouver attracts tourists with its unusual geographical position. Near the coast you can sunbathe on the beach, and going a little east of it, you can find snow-capped mountains, which are located excellent ski resorts.

When the word “metropolis” many people think of a huge, crazy, noisy and dirty city, which is always in a hurry. Well, Vancouver is not like that at all. It’s quiet, peaceful, but also modern. The air and streets are always clean. Here you see people from all over the world living in harmony and adopting each other’s culture. It sounds like a fairy tale, but it is reality, this is Vancouver.


Vancouver is Canada’s fastest growing multi-cultural metropolis, with plenty of restaurants and boutiques and the unique opportunity to go sailing and skiing in the same day. Located in a magnificent bay and surrounded by tall green mountains, the sight is so beautiful that it causes thoughts of God, even amongst convinced atheists. Upon first meeting, Vancouver also captivates with its welcoming atmosphere, shaped by a combination of modern conveniences and proximity to nature. Developing steadily but less rapidly than other major Canadian cities such as Toronto and Calgary, Vancouver has never missed an opportunity to enjoy life.

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The first European to discover the area was Captain George Vancouver, who described a rugged coastline and harbour with “many pleasant views.” Before his arrival the area had been occasionally visited by the natives of the surrounding area.

When coal was discovered in the so aptly named Coal Harbour in 1862, construction began in the city, but Vancouver’s true pioneer is considered John Dayton, who built the first saloon here in 1867. The area where his establishment was located is now called Gastown.


The exceptional convenience of Vancouver’s location cannot be overstated. The city stretches along the shores of the enormous English Bay on one side, and on the other adjoins Burrard’s Bay, which was explored in 1792 on the sloop George Vancouver. The harbor and Cape Stanley Park separate downtown from the residential areas to the west and north. To see it all, use the two observation points.

Cross Burrard Cove over the Lion’s Gate Bridge and take Capilano Road to Skyride, the cable car to the top of Grouse Mountain. From here you have a great view of the city and the harbor. The northwest slope of the mountain, a favorite with skiers, faces Capilano Lake and Vancouver Island in the background. On the way back, turn sideways to walk over a shaky suspension bridge, 70 m above the stream rushing to the bottom of Capilano Canyon .

Back in downtown, head to the panoramic terrace atop the 50-story Vancouver Lookout Harbour Centre, 555 West Hastings Street. The mountain panorama of the city is breathtaking. On clear days, you can see Mount Baker in the U.S. state of Washington through a telescope.

For tourist information about the province, visit the Vancouver Visitor Center (200 Burrard Street) . There is also a tourist information center at Vancouver International Airport, and in general, there are more than a hundred across the province.

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Georgia Street and Robson Street are the two main arteries that stretch across the West End Peninsula to Stanley Park. Georgia Street runs through the park to the Lyons Gate Bridge. To avoid traffic, leave your car in the parking lot and walk around downtown. Start your walk in downtown Vancouver at Robson Square, where you’ll find the Courthouse, one of the masterpieces of modern North American architecture designed by Arthur Erickson. Typical of the Vancouver architect’s style, the Courthouse has only seven stories but occupies a central position on the square despite the towering skyscrapers above it. It lacks the marble columns and porticoes that traditionally adorn courthouses. Instead, it is divided into tiers of glazed galleries, offices, courtrooms, stores, and restaurants. The pool’s water cascades down spectacularly, surrounded by blooming rosebushes, orange trees, Japanese maples, and a miniature pine forest. An elaborate system of stairs and ramps, popular with roller skaters, connects the shopping centers and draws many people who gather here during city festivals.

Robson Square is also home to the Vancouver Art Gallery (open 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. daily, Tuesdays and Thudays until 9 p.m.). It occupies the old courthouse, a neoclassical temple restored by Erickson. Among the works of Canadian artists on display are those of Emily Carr (1871-1945) . Known among her Quackiutl Indian friends as “Klee Wyck” (“She Who Laughs”), this eccentric woman lived in Victoria, where she ran a boarding house and rode her pet monkey in a baby carriage. Living among Indians and working with the French Post-Impressionists shaped her unique artistic style: expressive landscapes and drawings of totems, painted in broad strokes, with swirls of bright colors. Note the dramatic paintings “The Great Crow” (1931) and “The Totem Forest” (1930) .

The stretch of Robson Street between Bute Street and Burrard Street is filled with Vietnamese, Japanese, Scandinavian, Italian, and French restaurants.

East of Robson Square, the pedestrian shopping area of Granville Mall takes you to the Harbor Centre and the waterfront. At the foot of Granville Street, take a cheap SeaBus ferry cruise across Burrard Bay to North Vancouver (12 minutes each way) . Beyond the panorama of the city and harbour, you can get an up-close look at the Canada Place complex, which looks like an ocean liner coming into the bay; its white “sails” are a reminder of the port’s history (laid out in the 19th century) . Originally the national pavilion for Expo ’86, it now houses the convention center and several modern hotels.

Pender Street’s Chinatown is home to Canada’s largest Chinese community, mostly descendants of immigrants who worked on the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway. Visit the fruit and vegetable market, fish stalls, spice and medicine stores, and boutiques selling silk and satin clothing and bamboo and lacquerware from Hong Kong, Taiwan and mainland China. The windows of countless restaurants display mouthwatering dishes of roast pork and poultry that invariably attract tourists.

Center A (Centre A; 2 West Hastings Street; open: Tues-Saturday 11 a.m.-6 p.m.) gives visitors an insight into Asian culture with an exhibition of contemporary paintings, costumes and photographs from China, Japan, India, Korea and Indonesia.

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Sun Yat-Sen Garden (Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden; open daily from May to mid-June and September. 10.00-18.00; mid-June-Aug. 9.30-19.00; Oct.-Apr. 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m.) at the corner of Carrol Street and Pender Street provides a rare opportunity to enjoy peace and quiet. The pavilion, with its glazed tile roof, wood carvings, and lattice windows, overlooks a courtyard with an exquisite rock garden and miniature landscaping. The microcosm of nature, reflecting the Taoist concept of yin and yang, was created by artists who came from Suzhou, the great center of Chinese garden culture. Light is balanced by shadow and the rough blocks of limestone (yang), chosen for their bumpy and sinuous surface, are balanced by the smoothness of the ponds and the quiet murmuring of the streams (yin) . The plants symbolize human dignity: pine, bamboo and winter cherry represent strength, grace and the renewal of life.

After resting and refreshing, head for the harbour and the Gastown marshalling yards between Water Street and Hastings Street, a revitalized area of red brick houses and cobblestone sidewalks that was the beginning of Vancouver. Today it’s brimming with boutiques, souvenir stores, bars, and restaurants, keeping its commercial nature intact while still retaining its original charm. Gastown owes its name to Gassy Jack Dayton, owner of the best saloon and self-proclaimed mayor. A former riverboat captain, he opened a bar near the sawmills, where drinking was forbidden. There is now a monument to Dayton in Maple Tree Square: he is pictured with a keg of whiskey, which, according to legend, helped convince the lumberjacks in 1867 to build the town.

At the west end of Water Street you’ll see the world’s first monumental steam clock that blows a loud whistle every 15 minutes.

If the courthouse in Robson Square has piqued your interest in Arthur Erickson’s architecture, drive or take public transportation to Mount Barnaby (“the mountain” is too grand a name for it because it’s only 400 meters tall) and the campus of Simon Fraser University. The center of student activity is the large alley of Academic Court – with a play of light and shadow among the stairs and terraces under a glass roof supported by steel trusses. On your way back downtown, check out BC Place, a huge concrete stadium with an oval dome where the BC Lions club plays its home games.

Stanley Park

Stanley Park, on a peninsula jutting out into English Bay, is one of North America’s best urban parks. The 450-hectare forest of Douglas-fir, cedar and Canadian spruce was once a government preserve, supplying building and mast timber to the Royal Navy. In 1899, the city leased it as a park and named it after Canada’s Lieutenant Governor Lord Stanley, the same man whose name carries the Stanley Hockey Cup.

In the early morning hours of December 15, 2006, a storm struck the ancient park. Thousands of trees were uprooted; the remarkable 8.8 km long promenade on the waterfront was also badly damaged. Even despite donations of $3.6 million, restoration work is still far from complete. Although the damage will be visible for years to come, Stanley Park remains a “must-see” place for visitors to the city.

Its alleys are always full of strollers, joggers, and bicycles (available for rent from the stores on nearby Denman Street). As you walk past the Brockton Oval, with its immaculately cut grass, you can see a game of cricket reminding you that this is British Columbia. Nearby the cricket field is a magnificent group of Haida and Kwakiutl totem poles, a reminder of the province’s other important cultural heritage. If you hear cannon fire on the way to Brockton Point, don’t be surprised if you hear it every night at 9 p.m., a tradition that once informed fishermen of curfews.

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Turning west, walking along the promenade, you pass a bronze statue with the funny name “Girl in a wetsuit”, the local answer to Copenhagen’s “Little Mermaid”.

Continue on to Prospect Point, where you have a good view of the oil tankers and grain carriers bound for Japan, China and Russia. The totem pole marks the spot where Captain Vancouver met members of the Squamish tribe.

Vancouver Aquarium’s main attraction (Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre; open: daily July-Aug. 9:30-19:00, September-June 9:30-17:00) is no doubt the dolphin and beluga whale show, accompanied by a sea lion show. See also the striped catfish that can bite a crab shell.

Signposted trails lead to scenic, freshwater Beaver Lake; the beavers that gave it its name were “deported” from here after nearly destroying the water system. The park’s sandy beaches on the west shore of the peninsula are among Vancouver’s most popular.

English Bay

After exploring downtown, take an excursion to Point Grey, where you can relax on the very comfortable beaches (Wreck Beach is clothing-free) . Nearby is the University of British Columbia campus with one of the most beautiful campuses in North America; the terraced Sidgwick Library and the Faculty Club Rosary are two gems in a superb setting of sea and mountains.

On Marine Drive at Point Gray is the Museum of Anthropology (open: mid-May to mid-Oct. daily 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tues. to 9 p.m.; mid-Oct. – Mid-May Wed-Sun 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Tues to 9 p.m.) , the pride of the university. In 1972 Arthur Erickson designed this stately building of glass and concrete beams to commemorate the “long tepees” of the Northwest Coast Indians, made of poles and wooden beams. A remarkable group of totem poles and two cedar houses built in the 1930s by Haida Indians adorn the lawn.

In the museum, among artifacts from other Pacific civilizations, the rich culture of the Haida, Kwakiutl, Salish, Tlingit, and Tsimshian Indian coastal tribes is displayed in a beautifully lit exhibit under a clear glass roof. Note the cedar canoes built for trade off the Pacific coast.

The many sculptures you will see have been incorporated into the structure of the building as columns and cross beams. One giant quackyutl, accompanied by two slaves symbolizing the power and prestige of the master, once supported a massive central ceiling beam. Other exhibits represent totem animals, such as a bear protecting a human child. Prehistoric examples of stone carvings demonstrate the continuity of totemic styles. Some of the smaller figures, carved from soft black argillite, were made in the 19th century by Haida Indians specifically for European tourists, who found their own caricatured images in them. Note the large bathtub-sized wooden holiday dishes used to distribute food at “potlatch” ceremonies, when tribes declared their greatness with generous charity. An important part of the collection is devoted to gold, silver and copper jewelry, wooden masks and ritual rattles. Many of these are stored in Galleries 6 and 7, the former storage rooms.

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The so-called visible storage system is a major innovation, making thousands of art objects from the museum’s storerooms accessible. Take advantage of this system to make your own discoveries, compare works of culture from around the world, or simply marvel at the richness of so-called primitive art.

Nitobe Memorial Gardens; open daily mid-March to mid-Oct. 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; mid-Oct. – mid-March Mon-Fri 10 a.m.-2:30 p.m.) south of the museum is a wonderful example of classic Japanese landscape design. Garden paths with stone lamps lead across ponds with humpback bridges to a traditional tea pavilion among Japanese maples and azaleas.

Head back downtown on Point Gray Road and stop at the Old Hastings Mill Store Museum; 1575 Alma Street; open: mid-June-Mid-September 1-4 p.m.; mid-Sept. – mid-June Sat. 1-4 p.m.) near Jericho Beach. The building was moved here by barge in the 1930s and is the only remnant of the old Gastown after a fire in 1886. It first housed a post office, then a department store, and now a museum that recreates the late 19th and early 20th century setting. Vancouver’s first bohemian neighbourhood was Kitsilano. These days, students and artists are more likely to hang out on Commercial Drive .

In Vanier Park, next to the Burrard Bridge, are the Pacific Space Center, including the HR MacMillan Space Center; open daily July-Aug. 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; September-June Tues-Sun) , and two small but interesting museums. One, the Vancouver Museum (open: Mon-Fri 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Thu-9 p.m.), is devoted to local history and anthropology. Another, the Maritime Museum (Martime Museum; open: May-Aug. daily 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sept. – Mid-May Tues-Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sun 12 p.m.-5 p.m.) , presents the history of the Pacific harbor. Its main exhibit is the Arctic schooner Saint-Roch. This Royal Mounted Police vessel sailed around North America through the Panama Canal and Arctic Ocean in search of the famous Northwest Passage, hunting for German U-boats along the way.

The area where English Bay narrows into Falls Creek reflects Vancouver’s taste for the good life. The once miserable wasteland of dilapidated warehouses, sawmills, factories and marshalling yards has been transformed into a fashionable shopping district with elegant residences.

On Granville Island, under the bridge of the same name (actually a triangular peninsula formed from a junkyard), you’ll find a colorful mix of markets, cafes, boutiques, galleries, and theaters. Kids love it, not only because of the toys at the Children’s Market (open daily: 10 a.m.-6 p.m.), but also because there’s a big water park with a water slide.

Falls Creek (False Bay) gave its name to a neighborhood with houses of original architecture surrounded by gardens and terraces. The EXPO-86 exhibition was held in the eastern part of the cove, a reminder of which is the huge geodesic dome of the Expo Center. Now there is an IMAX cinema with a huge screen and the Science World applied science center, open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., where you can see everything from a pickled cucumber light bulb to the interior of a beaver hut.

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