We are so fortunate to be surrounded by such beauty. Our city, Vancouver, is located nestled between the Coastal Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. Ringed by snow-capped, forested mountains dropping down to miles of sandy beaches, Vancouver is renowned for it’s incomparable natural beauty and cultural diversity. This young city was once a wild, densely forested and mountainous coast area inhabited by First Nations people and wildlife. Now recognized as one of the world’s most livable and beautiful cities in the world, a city that has it all: natural beauty and cosmopolitan flair. Home to spectacular natural scenery and a bustling metropolitan core, Vancouver is the largest city in the province of British Colombia and the third-biggest in the whole Canada.
Our city has a brief but exciting history. With many strange and wonderful events that shaped its urban personality, from the local raiding of the biggest LSD factory in the world to our newfound reputation as “Hollywood North.” Yet the city yet retains its natural beauty, now set around a diverse urban core.
…… vast archaeological finds show that coastal Indians have been active in the Vancouver area by 500 B.C. but most likely the area was home to some of the earliest humans as they crossed the land bridge from Russia and made their way down the coast to South America. It all began with a couple of explorers who recognized the bountiful resources and spectacular potential of the area. A British explorer named Captain James Cook first arrived here in 1778. The natives in Nootka Sound mistook the captain and his raggedy crew for a boatful of strange, transformed salmon. It’s no wonder, really; the First Nations had lived undisturbed for thousands of years. The region’s temperate climate, coastal location and excellent food supply made it an ideal place for natives to subsist comfortably for most of the year. Many, including the Musqueam, Kwantlen and Squamish lived and thrived along the shorelines of Burrard Inlet. But then the white European settlers came and claimed the land as their own, altering years of relatively peaceful living. For thousands of years the First Nations people have called the area now known as Vancouver home. Their history and cultural traditions, upholding a deep respect for nature and humanity, are tightly woven into our city’s cultural fabric.
The city’s transformation began with explorers seeking the Northwest Passage, a sea route through northern America. In 1791, Spanish explorer Jose Maria Narvaez came through the waters but decided not to go ashore. In June of the following year, two more explorers showed up. England’s Captain George Vancouver led his ship, the sloop H.M.S. Discovery, into Burrard Inlet and later went on to chart the area’s waters. He exchanged information with Spanish explorer Dionisio Alcala Galiano, who showed Captain Vancouver maps he had already made of the area.
Though the British controlled the area, it wasn’t until 1808 that they sent Simon Fraser to set up trading posts in the region. The fur trade, which was followed by gold rush mania, would forever alter the region. In 1827, the Hudson’s Bay Company set up a trading post on the Fraser River,
Settlers thrived on fish, lumber, fur and farming. In 1858, gold was discovered on the Fraser River and, within weeks, nearly 30,000 Americans had flocked to the area in search of bounty. Fearing a takeover by the Americans, the British declared the mainland a British colony, thereby keeping the prosperity under its control. In 1859, New Westminster (once called Sapperton because British sappers were stationed there) was incorporated and declared the capital of the province.
Meanwhile, a talkative gentleman named John Deighton pulled his canoe into Burrard Inlet and decided to capitalize on the area’s industry. The village he founded was eventually named Gastown after him, the name derived from his loquacious nickname: “Gassy Jack.” Deighton opened up a successful saloon, serving hundreds of thirsty mill workers and prospectors in the budding town. Gastown began to fill up with small shops and services. Deighton was more than just a notorious saloon owner, though. Some historians say he was the founding father of Vancouver because he had faith in its potential before anyone else did.
As the population grew, people moved outward to settle in areas now known as Burnaby and Delta. The first newspaper went to the presses in 1861, and the first hospital was built the following year. In 1865, the first telegraph lines reached here, and the first message to travel along its wires announced the assassination of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln. Other urban staples appeared including a rudimentary postal system and a stagecoach line for transportation. Extensive logging soon cleared the area.
Canada was confederated in 1867, and the sweeping effects of this change were felt almost immediately in Vancouver. One of the pivotal moments in the history of the city was the extension of the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1884. The railroad now reached clear across the country and brought thousands of people to the area to do business and settle. People could now take advantage of the large natural seaport, which soon became a vital link in a trade route between the Orient, Eastern Canada and London. Port Metro Vancouver is now the busiest and largest in Canada, as well as the fourth largest port (by tonnage) in North America. Rapid development began, and the population grew from 400 to 13,000 in four years.
In 1886, the city of Vancouver—population 1,000—was officially incorporated. Two months later, the Great Fire of 1886, driven by strong winds, destroyed virtually the entire downtown area in just 20 minutes. That same day, after the smoke had cleared, with just half-a-dozen buildings left standing, the citizens of Vancouver began to rebuild. Buildings erected that year still stand today. One of the most significant changes brought by the fire was the transformation of the town’s military reserve into the now famous Stanley Park. Stanley Park, city’s oasis was named for Lord Stanley, former Gorernor General of Canadathe and was officially opened in 1888. The opening of the Panama Canal, which facilitated travel, imports and exports to and from Europe, spurred growth of the city’s port, located in one of the world’s finest natural, year-round harbors.
By 1928, the Lower Mainland’s population had reached more than 150,000. Many memorable mayors governed the growing city; these included Gerry McGreer. McGreer was an enthusiastic politician who came into office in the 1930s with election guns blazing. He promised to eradicate gambling, white slavery, corruption and other issues important to the city’s wealthy residents. He promised the impossible, but he did succeed in building the Art Deco Vancouver City Hall in 1936.
Like everywhere else, the Great Depression took a toll on the city. Some growth, however, did occur in the 1930s, including the creation of the Vancouver Art Gallery and opening of a steel plant in Burnaby.
World War Two pulled the city out of its economic lull: shipyards, factories, parts exporting and real estate boomed. Human rights also got a positive injection when East Indian and Chinese-Canadian citizens finally got the provincial vote in 1947. Japanese-Canadians and First Nations people, however, had to wait until 1949 for the same right.
The 1950s was an era of rapid growth and prosperity, including the extensive development of suburban Vancouver. The population rose to 800,000 by 1961. The 1960s saw many additions to the city’s physical and cultural portfolio: the B.C. Lion’s won the Canadian Football League’s Grey Cup, the Vancouver Canucks debuted in the National Hockey League, and Simon Fraser University, the Second Narrows Bridge, 401 Freeway, and the world-class Whistler Ski Resort were built.
Today our city is renowned for its innovative programs in the areas of sustainability, accessibility and inclusivity. In February 2009, Mayor Gregor Robertson launched the Greenest City Initiative with a goal to map out how we can earn the title of becoming the greenest city by 2020.
In February and March 2010, Vancouver hosted the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games with great enthusiasm. The benefits of hosting the world will continue with memories to last a lifetime, but also leave Vancouver with Olympic-quality sports facilities, public transit, green buildings and arts and culture – legacies that residents and visitors alike will enjoy and appreciate for many years to come.
Vancouver is a playground for residents and visitors, catering to any interest throughout the year. Indulge in the award-winning restaurants and eateries. Stroll down the streets of one of the many trendy fashionable clothing areas of the city. Visit some of the best antique stores, museums, art galleries, sporting events, outstanding live entertainment and theatres in the world. Some of Vancouver’s most popular destinations are its public parks like our world famous Stanley Park, sandy beaches like Kitsilano beach and natural splendour like the grouse mountain or Capilano Suspension Bridge that are all easily accessible from Vancouver.
Vancouver also has one of the mildest climates in Canada where temperatures average 3 C in January and 18 C in July. It does rain quite a bit in Vancouver in winter but this also adds to the high quality skiing in the surrounding mountains, some as close as a 20 minute drive from downtown.
With quick and easy access to Whistler Resort, the Canadian Rockies, Victoria, Vancouver Island and of course, endless year round water and land sports, whether it’s extreme sport or family fun, you will find your personal adventure here ……….. all waiting for you in our beautiful city Vancouver, where everything is within reach.
“You’re gorgeous, baby, you’re sophisticated, you live well …. Vancouver is Manhattan with mountains. It’s a liquid city, a tomorrow city, equal parts India, China, England, France and the Pacific Northwest. It’s the cool North American sibling.” – The New York Times