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Vancouver Travel Guide

The eighth-largest city in Canada, Vancouver has a population of 603,000 – rising to 2.3 million when you include the wider Metro Vancouver region. A model of diversity, almost 50 per cent of the population considers English as its mother tongue, while the most recent census (2011) also revealed that 25 per cent consider Chinese as their first language – Tagalog, Punjabi and Vietnamese were the next most-popular first languages among locals. The census also revealed that the city’s population was almost equally divided between immigrants and non-immigrants. Age-wise, the age groups 20 to 39 and 40 to 64 are tied at 34.5 per cent each of the total population.

Locals work in a wide variety of jobs and while heavy industries have seen a decline in recent years, there has been a sharp rise in new jobs in personal and business services. This includes jobs in areas like computing, law, accounting, management consulting, advertising, architecture and engineering. The number of these jobs has more than doubled in the past 20 years. This city’s major employers include Telus Corporation, Jim Pattison Group, Air Canada and the University of British Columbia.

Where is Vancouver?

Almost exactly halfway between Europe and the Asia Pacific region, Vancouver is on the west coast mainland of North America. It is in the southwest corner of British Columbia – the westernmost of Canada’s 10 provinces and three territories. An easy hop by car, train or plane, it is only 38 kilometres (24 miles) north of the US border and 96 kilometres (60 miles) northeast of Victoria – the B.C. capital, located across the Strait of Georgia on the southern tip of Vancouver Island. Metro Vancouver, covering 2,930 square kilometres (1,130 square miles) and home to more than two million residents, comprises 24 local authorities, one of which is the City of Vancouver. Others include Burnaby, New Westminster, Richmond and Surrey. Across the Burrard Inlet, the North Shore area includes the communities of North Vancouver and West Vancouver.

Helpful Maps

A History of Vancouver

Surprisingly, the city’s name derives indirectly from the Dutch – British Royal Navy Captain George Vancouver’s ancestors hailed from Coeverden in northeast Holland. His grandfather was John Jasper van Coeverden. In Dutch, Coeverden means “cow crossing.” Here, in a nutshell, are the some of the other “moo-ving” highlights of the region’s rich history.

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Architecture of Vancouver

The Vancouver Art Gallery is housed downtown in the neoclassical former courthouse built in 1906. The courthouse building was designed by Francis Rattenbury, who also designed the British Columbia Parliament Buildings and the Empress Hotel in Victoria, and the lavishly decorated second Hotel Vancouver. The 556-room Hotel Vancouver, opened in 1939 and the third by that name, is across the street with its copper roof. The Gothic-style Christ Church Cathedral, across from the hotel, opened in 1894 and was declared a heritage building in 1976.

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Outdoor Activities in Vancouver

Suggested Activities in Vancouver include: Vancouver Neighbourhood Stories Ten Unofficial Reasons to Visit Vancouver Ten Great Vancouver Adventures Ten Freebie Vancouver Activities Ten Things to Do on a Rainy Day in Vancouver Ten Romantic Things to Do in Vancouver Ten Family Friendly Vancouver Activities Ten Vancouver Activities for Mature Travelers Ten Green Ways to Experience Vancouver Ten Quirky Things to Do in Vancouver Attraction Stories Top Ten Attraction Gems in Metro Vancouver Parks and Gardens Unique Vancouver Stories

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Festivals in Vancouver

Prominent theatre companies in Vancouver include the Arts Club Theatre Company on Granville Island, and Bard on the Beach. Smaller companies include Touchstone Theatre, and Studio 58. The Cultch, The Firehall Arts Centre, United Players, and The Pacific and Metro Theatres, all run continuous theatre seasons. Theatre Under the Stars produces shows in the summer at Malkin Bowl in Stanley Park. Annual festivals that are held in Vancouver include the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival in January and the Vancouver Fringe Festivalin September.

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Sports in Vancouver

Metro Vancouver is an outdoor paradise for the active-minded, with hundreds of accessible options ranging from snowshoeing to scuba diving, kayaking to rock climbing, hiking to biking and skiing to boating. Alternatively, if you prefer to sit around and watch, the city is also an ideal destination for travelling spectators. There’s an NHL hockey team, as well as professional football, soccer and baseball teams here

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Cuisine in Vancouver

At the top table of Canadian dining cities, Vancouver serves a rich and diverse menu for travelling foodies. From arguably the best Chinese and Japanese dining outside Asia to a taste-tripping dedication to local ingredients that encompasses everything from delectable seafood to carefully cultivated fruits and vegetables, visitors are spoilt for choice when it comes to experiencing local flavours.

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Shopping and Spas in Vancouver

From First Nations artworks to smoked salmon and quirky clothing designed by the city’s up-and-coming fashionistas, Vancouver has a basket full of tempting and original shopping options for visitors. And it’s not just souvenirs that will fill your suitcase; the city is divided into several distinctive shopping areas, each with their own specialities. And once you’ve finished scratching your shopping itch, Vancouver’s spas offer a relaxing way to wind-down and contemplate your upcoming credit card bill.

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Nightlife in Vancouver

Vancouver has a vibrant nightlife scene, whether it be food and dining, or bars and nightclubs. The Granville Entertainment District has the city’s highest concentration of bars and nightclubs with closing times of 3am, in addition to various after-hours clubs open until late morning on weekends. The street can attract large crowds on weekends and is closed to traffic on such nights. Gastown is also a popular area for nightlife with many upscale restaurants and nightclubs, as well as the Davie Village which is centre to the city’s LGBT community.

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Aboriginal Culture in Vancouver

Vancouver has a long and enduring First Nations culture, a fact that was cele-brated at the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games when local Indige-nous peoples were recognized as official hosting partners for the first time in Olympic history. When visiting Vancouver, there are several ways to immerse yourself in the region’s rich Aboriginal heritage and traditions.

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