Seven places that will make you want to move to Vancouver
By Zoë Dawes
17th February 2016
There are only a few cities in the world that, on first sight, I think, “Oh I could live here.” Vancouver is one of them. It’s got it all: interesting architecture, waterfront setting, lovely parks and gardens, good public transport, excellent places to eat and drink, year-long calendar of multi-cultural events, vibrant arts scene, plenty of sports facilities and easy access to the great outdoors and the rest of Canada.
To help convey what it is that makes this city so special to me, here is my list of seven special places that will make anybody want to move to Vancouver.
1. Stanley Park
This gorgeous park represents the history and people of Vancouver throughout its vast area (1000 acres) of gardens, beaches, forest, an aquarium and other attractions. The Totem Poles, carved from cedar wood, with figures of frogs, bears, salmon, eagles and other Canadian wildlife, are emblematic of Vancouver’s cultural heritage and a must-see for all visitors.
A statue to ‘Gassy Jack’ Deighton stands in Maple Square in historic Gastown. He sold whisky to the 19th century loggers who were working in the burgeoning town. This area was the site of the first development in Vancouver, linked to the fur trade and timber industry. Now it’s a trendy place of bars, eateries and boutiques, where old buildings have been tastefully renovated and the Steam Clock hisses out the hours 24/7. If you want to get to grips with hip Vancouver culture with a dash of history, Gastown’s the place.
3. The Marine Building
With a great port and increasing trade with the rest of North America and the world, Vancouver grew quickly and its buildings reflect this expansion. Started in 1929, (ironically the year of the Wall Street Crash), the Marine Building is a superb example of Art Deco, with its intricately carved images of sea life, shipping and transport decorating walls and doors inside and out. It’s a working office block but you can go through the revolving doors and admire its artistic glory, said be influenced by a Mayan temple, during working hours. Don’t miss the quirky clock with sea creatures instead of numbers.
4. Museum of Anthropology
Set in the campus of the University of British Columbia, this splendid museum has an excellent collection of aboriginal artefacts, showcasing the history of the Native Peoples of North America. As well the iconic Totems, there are comprehensive collections of masks, costumes, weapons, everyday objects and tribal regalia. There are also objects from Asia, Africa and Europe plus regular exhibitions all year round. The museum’s most famous piece is the yellow cedar sculpture The Raven and the First Men by Bill Reid, depicted on the Canadian $20 bill from 2004 to 2012.
The 3rd biggest Chinatown in North America, this area has a historic past, when Chinese labourers were brought over to help build the railroads and wagon routes. Nowadays it is a pungent, lively place of little shops and market stalls selling Asian vegetables, live chickens, frogs and snakes, traditional medicines, colorful clothes and souvenirs. Restaurants serve everything from dim sum and full-on Chinese banquets. Take time to sit in the Dr Sun-Yat Sen Classical Chinese Garden and watch the carp and turtles circling the pretty pool.
6. Roedde House Museum
If you want to get a feel for city life in Victorian times, drop by Roedde House. Now restored to its heyday of 1890s, the house was originally built for a local book-binder, Gustav Roedde, who must have been doing very nicely for himself if the décor of the house is anything to go by. Every detail, from the impressive furniture and lavish carpets and curtains, to the photographs, letters, games and jewellery, is there to create a long-gone world of middle-class Vancouver elegance and refinement.
7. Explore the public Art Trail
Vancouver is a city of street art, outdoor performance culture and a vibrant music scene. You can’t go more than a few metres without seeing a quirky sculpture, a busker or some colourful graffiti. I went on a cycle tour to explore some of the public art, which included innocuous benches that actually revolved 390 degrees in 24 hours, a ‘wooden’ shack overlooking the harbour that was actually made from aluminium and a large stone structure on a beach that represents an Innuit deity.
This list only scratches the surface of this wonderful city. From the arty delights of Granville Island to the uber-cool bars of Yaletown, via bustling Canada Place and popular theatres and stadium, public artworks and friendly cafes, Vancouver has an atmosphere to entrance everyone who visits. I hope you’ll love it just as much as I do.
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