views updated May 29 2018


Getting There
Getting Around
Public Safety
Health Care
Parks and Recreation
Performing Arts
Libraries and Museums
Holidays and Festivals
Famous Citizens
For Further Study

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, North America

Founded: 1867; Incorporated: April 6, 1886
Location: Southwestern British Columbia on the Pacific Coast of Canada
Flag: Green triangle (left) with yellow emblem; white field with blue waves.
Motto: "By Sea, Land and Air We Prosper."
Flower: Rose in all its forms (floribunda, hybrid tea, grandiflora and climbers) and of no specific color
Time Zone: 4 am Pacific Standard Time (PST) = noon Greenwich Mean Time
Ethnic Composition: 21% Chinese; 11% English; 4% East Indian; 72% of single origins; 28% of multiple origins (1991 est.)
Latitude and Longitude: 49°16N, 123°7W
Coastline: Bordered by the Pacific Ocean, Fraser River, and the Burrard Inlet
Climate: Winters are generally wet and mild while summers are warm and dry. The city's climate is influenced by the Pacific Ocean, which moderates the temperature and is responsible for precipitation.
Annual Mean Temperature: 11.0°C (51.8°F)
Seasonal Average Snowfall: 8.0 cm (3.1in)
Average Annual Precipitation (rainfall and melted snow): 94 cm (37 in)
Government: Mayor and ten-member council
Weights and Measures: Metric
Monetary Units: Canadian dollar (Can$)
Telephone Area Codes: 604

1. Introduction

Vancouver is located on the Pacific Coast in southwestern British Columbia. Covering 114 square kilometers (44 square miles), it is the second-smallest area of eight major Canadian cities. The metropolitan area of 2,787 square kilometers (1,076 square miles) is the third-largest metropolitan area in Canada. In March 1995, the city of Vancouver won a silver medal as the second-best city in the world.

Vancouver was incorporated in 1886 and named after Captain George Vancouver (175798), who first sailed round Vancouver, exploring and charting Burrard Inlet and adjacent waters.

Vancouver is known as one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Bordered by the Pacific Ocean, the Fraser River, the Burrard Inlet, and the Coast Mountains to the east, the city is surrounded by shimmering waters and towering trees.

With 44 percent of its population comprised of visible minorities, Vancouver is truly a multicultural city. It is home to Canada's largest Chinatown, its largest gay community, and boasts numerous ethnic neighborhoods, such as Little India and Little Italy. However, all Vancouver residents are called Vancouverites.

In 1986, the city played host to the World Expo. Since then, tourism has grown considerably and now draws more than five million visitors to the region each year.

The Port of Vancouver, a world-class port situated on Burrard Inlet, is one of the busiest in North America. The port situates Vancouver as Canada's gateway to Asia. By hosting the Asia-Pacific Economic Conference (APEC) in 1997, the city cemented its place in Pacific Rim trade.

2. Getting There

Vancouver is bordered by the Pacific Ocean to the west, the Fraser River to the south, and the Burrard Inlet to the north. It borders the city of Burnaby to the east, aptly separated by Boundary Road. It is accessible by land, sky, and water.


Two major highways lead to Vancouver: the Trans-Canada Highway, Highway 1, funnels drivers into the city from the east; Highway 99, which becomes I-5 at the United States-Canada border, brings in traffic from the south. Vancouver is a 12-hour drive from Calgary, Alberta's capital city, and a five-day drive from Montreal. Vancouver is only three hours north of Seattle, in Washington State.

Bus and Railroad Service

Pacific Central Station, the terminus for transcontinental passenger rail and bus service, is located at Main Street and Terminal Avenue in downtown Vancouver. VIA Rail, BC Rail, the Rocky Mountaineer, and Amtrak offer regularly scheduled passenger rail service to Vancouver. VIA Rail has transcontinental services from Toronto three times a week.

Vancouver Population Profile

City Proper

Population: 514,000
Area: 114 sq km (44 sq mi)
Ethnic composition: 21% Chinese; 11% English; 4% East Indian; 72% of single origins; 28% of multiple origins
Nicknames: Lotus Land; Hollywood North

Metropolitan Area

Population: 1,987,000
Description: Vancouver and surrounding communities
Area: 1,076 sq mi
World population rank 1: 166
Percentage of national population 2: 6.5%
Average yearly growth rate: 1.9%

  1. The Vancouver metropolitan area's rank among the world's urban areas.
  2. The percent of Canada's total population living in the Vancouver metropolitan area.

Greyhound Lines serves Vancouver from numerous cities in the United States and Canada. Also serving the market are International Stage Lines, Pacific Coach Lines, and Gray Line of Vancouver.


Vancouver International Airport serves both international and domestic airlines. Currently, 19 major carriers, 11 regional and local airlines, and several charter companies fly into Vancouver International Airport. Americans have a choice of 70 non-stop flights daily from 21 cities in the United States. Direct flights from the United Kingdom, Western Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and the Asia Pacific region (Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan) are offered.


Vancouver is accessible by water from Seattle, Victoria, the Gulf Islands, and parts of coastal British Columbia. Cruise ship facilities at Canada Place serve as a departure point for journeys to Alaska by major cruise lines. There are more than 250 cruises each year from May to early October.

3. Getting Around

Vancouver is a city that is easy to navigate. It is laid out on a grid system of avenues running east-west and streets running north-south. Main Street is the dividing line between the east and west parts of the city. Avenues, starting at False Creek, are numbered while both streets and avenues in downtown Vancouver are named. Both the city of Vancouver and Greater Vancouver are served by public transportation. Some routes are also served by ferry (Sea Bus) and monorail (Sky Train).

Numerous bridges span the numerous waterways that surround Vancouver. The Burrard Inlet, which separates North and West Vancouverboth part of Greater Vancouverfrom the city is spanned by the resplendent Lions Gate Bridge. Further east is the Second Narrows Bridge, connecting the eastern part of the city with North Vancouver. The Cambie Street Bridge, Burrard Street Bridge, and Granville Street Bridge all span False Creek. Crossing the Fraser River to the south are the Arthur Laing Bridge, the Oak Street Bridge, the Knight Street Bridge, the Alex Fraser Bridge, the Puttallo Bridge, and the Port Mann Bridge.

Bus, Commuter Rail, and Ferry Service

TransLink operates the public transit system in Greater Vancouver. Its network of buses, combined with the Sky Train and Sea Bus fleet, covers more than 1,800 square kilometers (695 square miles).

Greater Vancouver is divided into three fare zones, one of which is formed by the city of Vancouver. Major bus routes run from 5:00 am to 2:00 AM.

Most major bus routes in Vancouver run through the downtown core along Granville Street. Sky Train is a monorail system that moves passengers along a single line which runs back and forth from Surrey, a city just outside of Vancouver across the Fraser River, to the terminal located at the foot of Granville Street. From here, the Sea Bus, part of the TransLink network, moves passengers to and from North Vancouver across the Burrard Inlet from the terminal. Physically-challenged residents who have special transportation needs are served by the van-sized HandyDART buses. Aquabus, a smaller fleet of privately operated small walk-on ferries, transports shoppers from famous Granville Island to the downtown core.

City Fact Comparison
(United States)(Egypt)(Italy)(China)
Population of urban area11,987,00010,772,0002,688,00012,033,000
Date the city was founded1867AD 969753 BC723 BC
Daily costs to visit the city2
Hotel (single occupancy)$152$193$172$129
Meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner)$73$56$59$62
Incidentals (laundry, dry cleaning, etc.)$18$14$15$16
Total daily costs$243$173$246$207
Major Newspapers3
Number of newspapers serving the city2132011
Largest newspaperThe Vancouver SunAkhbar El Yom/Al AkhbarLa RepubblicaRenmin Ribao
Circulation of largest newspaper189,8231,159,450754,9303,000,000
Date largest newspaper was established1886194419761948
1United Nations population estimates for the year 2000.
2The maximum amount the U.S. Government reimburses its employees for business travel. The lodging portion of the allowance is based on the cost for a single room at a moderately-priced hotel. The meal portion is based on the costs of an average breakfast, lunch, and dinner including taxes, service charges, and customary tips. Incidental travel expenses include such things as laundry and dry cleaning.
3David Maddux, ed. Editor&Publisher International Year Book. New York: The Editor&Publisher Company, 1999.


Vancouver's four most popular attractions are Chinatown, Stanley Park, Granville Island, and Gastown. Chinatown is the largest of its kind in Canada and the third largest in North America. It is a vibrant and vital neighborhood, home to Asians of many different ethnic groups. With architecture dating back to the early 1900s, it is one of the oldest sections of Vancouver. Stanley Park, a 405-hectare (1,000-acre) park and forest that juts out into the Burrard Inlet, was once home to Vancouver's original inhabitants, the Coast Salish. Granville Island, which is a human-made island, was transformed from an industrial section of Vancouver into a fresh-food market and artisans' community by the federal government in the 1970s. Gastown, a historic site, later became the town of Granville, which then became the city of Vancouver.

4. People

The City of Vancouver was home to 514,000 residents in 1998, with Greater Vancouver supporting a population of 1.9 million. During the early 1990s, Greater Vancouver experienced a 14 percent growth in population. It is the third-largest city in Canada behind Toronto and Montreal. Some predict visible minorities will form the majority of the city's population during the first decade of the twenty-first century.

Truly a multicultural city, Vancouver residents find their origins in more than 40 different ethnic and cultural groups. More than 100 different languages are spoken. Almost half of the city's population, 44 percent, is of a visible minority.

In 1991, it was estimated that there were more citizens of Chinese ancestry living in the city than any other single cultural or ethnic group. Residents of Chinese descent first came to Vancouver during the gold rush in 1858. Later, immigrants from China's southern Guangdong province arrived as laborers to help build Canada's transcontinental railway. Today, the majority of Chinese immigrants are from Hong Kong.

Residents of English descent form the second largest ancestry group, and those of East Indian descent form the third largest group. Scottish, German, Filipino, Italian, and Irish account for the other major groups of ethnic ancestry.

Most religions and denominations are represented and practiced in Vancouver. Christian, Animist, and Pagan worshippers live a harmonious existence beside those who practice Asian or middle-eastern religions like Islam and Hindu.

5. Neighborhoods

Vancouver is one of Canada's most expensive cities in which to live. At the turn of the twenty-first century, modest single-family houses on the less expensive east side of the city hovered around the $300,000 mark. On the west side of Vancouver, the median price for a single-family home was around $500,000. Consequently, condominiums and loft developments with moderate mortgages sprung up throughout the city during the 1990s. In 1997 there were close to 4,000 condos sold on Vancouver's west side. In 1998, near the end of the condo boom, this figure decreased to 2,500. In 1998, Vancouver's apartment vacancy rate hovered just below three percent.

There are a number of neighborhoods in the city whose names are often associated with the cultural or ethnic identity of their residents. Main Street between Forty-ninth Avenue and Fifty-first Avenue is the center of Indo-Pakistani Punjabi culture. In "Little India" one can find many shops, bazaars, and restaurants catering to East Indian residents. "Little Italy" on Commercial Drive is home to many of Vancouver's Italian Canadians. Chinatown is home the third-largest Chinatown in North America.

Kitsilano, a middle-class neighborhood in the early 1900s, is bordered by Alma Street to the west and Arbutus Street to the east. At its most northern point lies one of Vancouver's most famous beaches, Kits Beach, where sports enthusiasts and sun-worshippers gather during the summer months. The West End, which borders Stanley Park and English Bay, is home to Vancouver's gay community, the largest of its type in Canada.

6. History

The Coast Salish, a First Nations people, lived in what is now known as Greater Vancouver for more than 5,000 years. In the latter part of the 1700s, their main settlements were in Stanley Park, along the shores of the Burrard Inlet, along the Fraser River to the south, and at Larcarno Beach. In 1820, there were 25,000 Salish living on the banks of the Fraser River. The Salish had a highly developed culture and were known for their carpentry skill and canoe-making ability.

The first European to arrive in the area was José Maria Narváez, who sailed into the Burrard Inlet in 1791. However, in 1792 Capt. George Vancouver, in search of a northwest passage to Asia, stepped ashore and claimed the land for Britain. Although he only spent one day on the site, the city was later named after Capt. Vancouver.

A fur trader named Simon Fraser (17761862) was the first explorer to make it to Vancouver by an inland route. In 1808, Fraser navigated the treacherous Fraser River, which spills into the Pacific Ocean at Vancouver.

The first settlement in the area was 48 kilometers (30 miles) east of Vancouver. Fort Langley, as it is still known today, was an outpost for the Hudson's Bay Company, a fur trading company whose original charter from the English Crown stated they were to control all land whose rivers and streams drained into Hudson's Bay.

The next wave of settlers arrived with the gold rush of 1858 when gold deposits were found in the sandy banks of the Fraser River east of Vancouver. Dreams of riches brought 300,000 prospectors to the area in search of wealth.

In 1862 the first sawmill in the area was established at a site then called Moodyville. Three years later, the Hastings Mill was built in Chinatown to process the abundant fir, spruce, and cedar trees that filled the surrounding landscape.

John Deighton, nicknamed "Gassy Jack" for his talkative nature, built a saloon near Hastings Mill. The community that grew around the saloon became known as Gastown. It was incorporated as the town of Granville in 1869, named after the British Duke of Granville, and today is one of Vancouver's oldest neighborhoods.

In 1886, the town of Granville became the city of Vancouver. The name was suggested by William Van Horne, vice president of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR), in honor of the English explorer Capt. George Vancouver, who charted Burrard Inlet and adjacent waters in 1792. That Van Horne was able to name the new city illustrates the power the railway enjoyed during Vancouver's formative years. The Vancouver Incorporation Act made Vancouver unique among British Columbia's cities as it was granted its own charter rather than being governed by the Municipal Act.

The second momentous occasion for the new city occurred in 1886 when a forest fire swept through the city and burned it to the ground. It was during this year that the city leased 405 hectares (1,000 acres) of land from the federal government for Stanley Park, Vancouver's most famous landmark.

One year later, the Canadian Pacific Railway made its way to the city, making Vancouver the last stop on Canada's transcontinental railway. Its arrival was to have a dramatic affect. Still a small town with a modest 12,000 residents in 1886, Vancouver's population boomed to over 120,000 by 1911.

At the turn of the twentieth century, the city's focus began to shift from Gastown to the rail yards at the foot of Granville Street. Stone banks and department stores soon sprang up in the area to serve residents, many of whom still relied on forestry and fishing for their livelihood.

The 1930s were a difficult period for Vancouver. Between 1932 and 1933, 15 percent of the population was living on relief or unemployment benefits. Cargo shipped from the port had been reduced by 30 percent from levels experienced in the roaring twenties. Just two years later, the city was on the verge of bankruptcy. Fortunately, the worst of the depression was over, and Vancouver soon experienced an upturn in its economy.

Vancouver's population grew rapidly after the end of World War II (193945). By 1951, the city was home to 345,000 residents. Cargo shipments from the port finally surpassed the highs experienced in the 1920s, and Vancouver began a period of rapid economic growth.

7. Government

Vancouver has a mayor and ten council members elected at-large. The municipal government is ruled by the powers and responsibilities set out by provincial legislation in the form of the Vancouver Charter. Including the police and parks staff, Vancouver has more than 5,100 full-time and 3,000 part-time staff with an annual municipal budget of over $500 million.

There are nine trustees elected to the Vancouver School Board, which is responsible for setting policy for the city's primary and secondary schools and adult education programs. The Board of Parks and Recreation members oversee 169 parks and public recreation programs in Vancouver. Mayor, councilors, trustees, and board members are elected and serve three-year terms.

8. Public Safety

The Vancouver Police Department is responsible for most law enforcement issues in the city. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police also serve a role in law enforcement. There are 1,149 police members, 273 civilian members, 18 custodial guards, and eight police nurses on the force.

The police are governed by the Vancouver Police Board under the authority of the British Columbia Police Act. The Police Board, which meets monthly, consists of the mayor and six other representative citizens of the city.

The majority of policing carried out by the force is related to property theft, accounting for 87.2 percent of all crimes. Violent crime only accounted for eight-and-a-half percent.

9. Economy

Forestry, fishing, mines, and minerals have been Vancouver's dominant resource-based industries for decades. Today, the city's world-class port and proximity to Asia situates Vancouver as Canada's gateway for goods imported from Asia. Vancouver has been the leader in British Columbia's focus on trade with Pacific Rim nations. Its lead role was set in stone when the city hosted the Asia-Pacific Economic Conference (APEC) in 1997.

The port is one of North America's busiest in terms of volume of foreign cargo. It exports more than 64 million metric tons (70 million tons) and imports more than nine million metric tons (10 million tons) each year. The harbor is also the leading dry-cargo port on the Pacific Coast shipping grain, coal, potash, sulfur, asbestos, metals, and other Western Canadian materials, such as wood and wood by-products.

Tourism, the world's fastest growing industry, has become a major force in the economy since Vancouver hosted the World Expo in 1986. Now, millions of visitors from all over the world flock to the city each year to enjoy its vibrant culture and natural beauty.

Most head offices for province-wide business activity, and financial institutions are located in Vancouver. Vancouver is also home to a thriving motion picture business, which has earned the nickname of Hollywood North.

Vancouver's high technology sector is strong but lags behind that of other major Canadian cities. Greater Vancouver is the largest manufacturing center in British Columbia.

10. Environment

Greater Vancouver was once lush with flora, fauna, and minerals. The North West Company, founded in Montreal in 1784, was the first to exploit the area's animal life through its lucrative fur trade. The company was taken over by the Hudson's Bay Company in 1827. An outpost was established by the company in Fort Langley, some 48 kilometers (30 miles) from the city of Vancouver.

When gold was discovered in the bed of the Fraser River just outside Greater Vancouver in 1858, the area experienced its first real growth. In 1865, Hastings Mill was built in Chinatown to process the harvest of abundant fir and cedar logs that forested the mountains around the city. For the past 150 years, Vancouver has benefited from and relied on the forests of British Columbia to drive its economy.

Vancouver's natural harbor and the arrival of the railway by 1890 proved beneficial to the city in its role not only as a processing center but as a hub of export for British Columbia's natural resources.

The abundance of the Pacific Ocean fishery was a resource that benefited the Coast Salish in Vancouver long before the Europeans arrived and provided stable employment harvesting shellfish, salmon, halibut, red snapper, and other sea foods. Today the thriving fishery has all but vanished from the city.

Industry in Vancouver has been tied to the natural resources of its surrounding environment since it was first settled. Industry prospered by harvesting the rich forests and the plentiful food fishery in the Pacific Ocean.

The city's ability to transport goods to markets around the world has led to the development of the region's industrial base, the largest in British Columbia.

Since the forestry industry is an export-based economy, Vancouver continues to play a pivotal role. The Port of Vancouver provides the western provinces with access to major markets in the United States and Pacific Rim countries.

11. Shopping

The heart of Vancouver's shopping district is its downtown core. The Pacific Centre and the Vancouver Centre are two conjoined underground malls with more than 300 hundred stores, including the Bay, Canada's major department store. Above ground is Robson Street, a major retail strip that is home to many upscale shops bustling with shoppers from morning to night.

Historic Gastown caters to tourists in the market for Vancouver souvenirs and First Nations art and crafts.

Along Commercial Drive in East Vancouver, shoppers will find a mix of cultures and funky stores aimed at more adventurous tourists.

Granville Island, in the False Creek neighborhood, is home to artisan studios and a famous market often featuring free live entertainment that reflects the multicultural tastes of Vancouverites. Potters, glass blowers, sculptors, print makers, and a variety of other artisans work in their studios on the island, and many of their wares are available for sale.

12. Education

The Vancouver School Board, overseeing the largest school district in British Columbia, is responsible for the operation and administration of the city's primary and secondary schools, as well as its adult education programs. Children over the age of seven and under the age of 15 are required to attend school. The school year begins the day after Labour Day for primary, junior, and senior high schools. A school day usually runs from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm. Monday through Friday.

Vancouver's first public school, Granville School, opened on the shores of the Burrard Inlet in 1872. Today, there are more than 56,000 students enrolled in Vancouver's 73 elementary schools, 18 primary annexes, and 18 secondary schools.

The board has a yearly operating budget of over $350 million and employs more than 3,200 teachers. Reflecting the multicultural make-up of the city, Vancouver schools have the highest percentage of English as a Second Language (ESL) students in the province, who represent more than 100 different language groups. Continuing education programs administered by the board are attended by more than 80,000 adults each year.

The University of British Columbia, only 30 minutes from downtown Vancouver, is home to the Museum of Anthropology, the Chan Centre for the Arts, and the UBC Botanical Garden. The university opened its doors in 1915 with three faculties: Arts and Science, Applied Science, and Agriculture. Enrollment has grown from a meager 379 students in 1915 to 51,227 in 1998. Simon Fraser University serves 17,000 students with more than 100 programs. The main campus is located on top of Burnaby Mountain, only 13 kilometers (eight miles) from Vancouver, with a satellite campus at Harbour Centre in downtown Vancouver. In addition, there are numerous private schools, colleges, and universities in the Greater Vancouver region.

13. Health Care

Like all Canadian citizens, Vancouver residents enjoy a government subsidized health care program. In Vancouver, health care services are administered by the Vancouver-Richmond Health Board, a number of hospital boards, health centers, other health service groups, and community health groups. Vancouver is also where many medical associations, such as the British Columbia (B.C.) College of Physicians and Surgeons, locate their head offices.

British Columbia's Children's Hospital and B.C. Women's Hospital are two facilities providing services that cater to the specialized needs their patients.

Research facilities at the University of British Columbia and the B.C. Cancer Research Centre continue to secure British Columbia's role as a leader in health care research in Canada.

14. Media

Vancouver is home to a thriving publishing industry. Two major newspapersThe Province, a tabloid format, and The Vancouver Sun are published daily. A free, weekly entertainment guide, The Georgia Straight, is distributed every Thursday. In 1997, there were 42 publications serving Vancouver's ethnic communities. There are 15 major radio stations in the Greater Vancouver market. While Vancouver has access to as many as 70 television stations, only eight originate in Greater Vancouver; three of the eight have their offices in the city of Vancouver.

15. Sports

Vancouver's most famous sporting event took place on August 7, 1954, when runners Roger Bannister and John Landy competed during the British Empire Games (an inter-Empire sports meet now known as the British Commonwealth Games). This was the first time two men had broken the four-minute mile in the same race.

Vancouver, a sporting town, is home to a number of professional sports teams. The Vancouver Canucks have played in the National Hockey League since 1968. The team draws crowds of up to 18,000 fans. The team came close to winning the Stanley Cup in 1994 when the series against the New York Rangers went to seven games.

The B.C. Lions have won three Grey Cups since joining the Canadian Football League in 1954. The Vancouver 86ers, the city's soccer team, compete in the American Professional Soccer League. The team has won the North American title once.

Annually during the last weekend in August, Pacific Boulevard in downtown Vancouver is turned into a Formula One racetrack while the city plays host to the Molson Indy Vancouver. Cars reach speeds upwards of 306 kilometers (190 miles) per hour during the two-hour, 290-kilometer (180-mile) race.

The Vancouver Grizzlies joined the ranks of the National Basketball Association (NBA) in the 199596 season as part of the league's expansion into Canada. Vancouver and Toronto became the first non-U.S. cities to join the league since 194647, when the Toronto Huskies were one-year members of the NBA's forerunner, the Basketball Association of America. After being officially accepted into the fold by the NBA's Board of Governors on April 27, 1994, Vancouver became the league's twenty-ninth franchise.

16. Parks and Recreation

Stanley Park is the most famous park in Vancouver. Its 405 hectares (1,000 acres) of parkland were leased from the federal government in 1886. Named after Lord Stanley, Governor General of Canada when the park opened in 1888, it plays host to an estimated eight million people each year. Tourists enjoy the park's lush forest, pitch and putt golf course, many beaches, heated ocean-side swimming pool, 8.85-kilometer (5.5-mile) seawall walk that circles the perimeter of the park, and the Vancouver Aquarium. Lost Lagoon, another popular area in the park, is a freshwater pond, home to many resident and migratory birds throughout the year.

The 53-hectare (130-acre) Queen Elizabeth Park is one of the most beautifully maintained public parks in the world. It receives nearly six million visitors a year. It is known for its lush gardens and view of the city. There are 169 parks and public recreation programs in Vancouver.

17. Performing Arts

Vancouver is renowned for its rich cultural fabric. The performing arts are an integral part of the quality of life enjoyed by Vancouver residents and tourists alike.

In Greater Vancouver there are 670 non-profit cultural organizations, 120 theatres, 110 motion picture production and studio companies, 91 dance schools, 90 music schools, 24 theatre schools, 21 municipally-owned cultural centers/art studios, 15 television production companies, and eight television stations.

Studies indicate that as many as 80 percent of the region's adult residents attend cultural events each year. Many travel from within the region to Vancouver where major events are held in the city's numerous venues.

The Orpheum, built in 1927, is home of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra and several choirs. Performances entertain 400,000 patrons, 200 nights every year.

The Ford Centre for Performing Arts, which opened in 1995, features large touring productions, such as the Phantom of the Opera, Ragtime, and Riverdance.

The Queen Elizabeth Theatre and Playhouse is where smaller touring Broadway musicals, opera, and dance performances are staged. It also is home to the Vancouver Playhouse Theatre Company.

18. Libraries and Museums

The Vancouver Public Library, located downtown at 350 West Georgia has more than eight million volumes in its collection. This translates to almost 16 volumes per resident. It is the second-largest collection in Canada, with 20 library branches scattered throughout the city.

Vancouver's favorite museum, the Museum of Anthropology, located on the University of British Columbia grounds, houses artifacts from all over the world with a focus on the art of First Nations peoples.

The city's nautical past is explored in the Vancouver Maritime Museum. The museum's highlight is a completely restored two-masted schooner, the 1928 St. Roch, the first ship to sail the difficult and deadly Northwest Passage. The voyage took the crew two years to complete. The museum also houses original maps from Capt. George Vancouver's journeys.

The Vancouver Museum, another major museum, celebrates the cultural heritage and natural history of the Lower Mainland.

The Pacific Space Centre is where Vancouver reaches to the stars and explores the solar system and space flight.

19. Tourism

Tourism is becoming the backbone of Vancouver's economy. Tourists added $2.5 billion in spending to the city's economy in 1998.

Since the world discovered Vancouver during the 1986 World Expo, the number of tourists coming to the city each year hovers around the six million mark. In fact, in the year prior to hosting the World Expo, Greater Vancouver played host to about 3.8 million tourists. During 1986 and since, the number of visitors has not fallen below 5.7 million.

The city has also capitalized on its proximity to America to the south and the low Canadian dollar (U.S.$0.65 = Can$1 in 1999), drawing American tourists with bargain prices.

The city is well situated to funnel tourists heading to popular destinations, like the Gulf Islands and Vancouver Island to the west. With two ski mountains just minutes from the city and two world-class resorts just hours away, Vancouver also enjoys a brisk winter tourist season.

The bulk of tourist activity, however, is during the spring, summer, and fall months when precipitation is minimal, and temperatures are comfortable. A walking tour of Gastown, Chinatown, and the smaller Japantown highlights the early history of Vancouver. On route in Gastown is a statue of John Deighton, nicknamed "Gassy Jack" for his talkative nature and for whom the neighborhood of Gastown is named.

Also of interest is Gallery Row, between Sixth Avenue and Fifteenth Avenue on Granville Street where a number of private galleries show internationally celebrated local artists.

The Vancouver Art Gallery in the heart of downtown Vancouver houses a permanent collection that celebrates the art of famous British Columbia artists such as Emily Carr (18711945), a contemporary of Canada's famous Group of Seven (a group of artists that believed Canadian art must be truly inspired by Canada itself). The building, once Vancouver's courthouse, was built in 1911 and transformed into an art gallery in 1983.

20. Holidays and Festivals

Polar Bear Swim
Chinese New Year
Women in View Festival

Spring Home Show
Groundhog Day

B.C. Great Outdoors Show
Vancouver Storytelling Festival
St. Patrick's Day

The Vancouver Sun Fun Run
The Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival

Victoria Day, third Monday in May
Vancouver International Children's Festival
Vancouver International Marathon

International Dragon Boat Festival
Vancouver International Jazz Festival
Bard on the Beach

Canada Day
Symphony of Fire
Vancouver Chamber Music Festival
Vancouver Early Music Festival
Theatre Under the Stars

British Columbia Day
Vancouver Folk Music Festival
Vancouver International Comedy Festival
Greater Vancouver Open

Labour Day
Molson Indy Vancouver
Terry Fox Run

Vancouver International Film Festival
Vancouver Writers and Readers Festival

Annual Antique Show
All Saints Day

Christmas Carol Ship Parade
VanDusen Garden's Festival of Lights

21. Famous Citizens

Brian Adams (b. 1959), rock star.

Kim Campbell (b. 1947), Canada's first female Prime Minister.

Glen Clark (premier 199699), former Premier of British Columbia.

Bill Reid (192098), world-renowned native artist.

22. For Further Study


City of Vancouver. [Online] Available (accessed December 13, 1999).

DiscoverVancouver. [Online] Available (accessed December 13, 1999).

Greater Vancouver Regional District. [Online] Available (accessed December 13, 1999).

TourismVancouver. [Online] Available (accessed December 13, 1999).

Vancouver Convention and Exhibition Centre. [Online] Available (accessed December 13, 1999).

Government Offices

City of Vancouver
453 W. 12th Ave.
Vancouver, British Columbia V5Y 1V4
604 8737011

Economic Development Commission
608 West Cordova
Vancouver, British Columbia V6B 5A7
604 6329668
fax: 604 6329788

Greater Vancouver Regional District
4330 Kingsway
Burnaby, British Columbia V5H 4G8
604 4326200

Tourist and Convention Bureaus

Tourism Vancouver
The Greater Vancouver Convention and

Visitors Bureau
200 Burrard Street, Suite 210
Vancouver, British Columbia V6C 3L6
Tel: 604.682.2222
Fax: 604.682.1717

Vancouver Convention and Exhibition Centre
999 Canada Place, Suite 200
Vancouver, British Columbia V6C 3C1
Tel: (604) 689-8232,
Fax: (604) 647-7232

Vancouver Tourist Info Centre
200 Burrard Street, Plaza Level
Vancouver, British Columbia V6C 3L6
Tel: 604.683.2000
Fax: 604.682.6839


The Province
200 Granville Street
Vancouver, B.C. V6C 3N3
604 6052222

Vancouver (magazine)
555 W12th Ave
Vancouver, B.C. V5Z 4L4
604 8777732

T he Vancouver Sun
200 Granville Street
Vancouver, B.C. V6C 3N3
604 6052111


The Arts in Vancouver: A Multi-million-dollar Industry. Vancouver: Community Arts Council of Vancouver, 1976.

Baker, Carol. Essential Vancouver and British Columbia. Basingstoke, Hampshire: AA Publishing, 1996.

Garber, Anne, John T. D. Keyes, Lorraine Gannon. Exploring Ethnic Vancouver. Burnaby: Serious Publishing, 1995.

Hacking, Norman R. History of the Port of Vancouver. Vancouver: Port of Vancouver, 1977.

Hull, Raymond, Gordon Soules, Christine Soules. Vancouver's Past. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1974.

Kloppenborg, Anne, Alice Niwinski, Eve Johnson. Vancouver's First Century. Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre, 1985.

Lees, Judi, Terri Wershler. Vancouver, The Ultimate Guide. Vancouver: Greystone Books, 1999.

Longus, Pierre, Paul-Eric Dumontier, François Rémillard. Vancouver. Ulysses Travel Publications, 1998.

McDonald, Robert A. J., Jean Barman. Vancouver Past, Essays in Social History. Vancouver: UBC Press, 1986.

Paterson, T. W. Disaster: Tales of Heroes and Hardship in the Face of Catastrophe. Burnaby: Solitaire Publications, 1973.

Robson, Reginald A. H. Ethnic Conflict in Vancouver. Vancouver: B.C. Civil Liberties Assoc., 1985.


views updated May 23 2018


VANCOUVER , city in British Columbia and largest in Western Canada, with a population of nearly 2 million in 2001, including a Jewish community of 22,590.

Jewish life in Vancouver began in the early 1880s, when a small number of pioneers arrived at the town site of the future metropolis, drawn by the prospects of its deep-sea harbor on the Pacific Ocean and impending status as the terminus of the trans-Canada railway. One of the city's most prominent early builders was David Oppenheimer (1834–1897), a Jewish resident of German origins who served as Vancouver's second mayor from 1887 to 1891. During his term in office, Oppenheimer opened foreign trade and initiated the construction of Vancouver's water supply, sidewalks, bridges, transit, and lighting. He also donated large tracts of his personal property for civic facilities and the promotion of local industry. Oppenheimer was popularly known as the "father of Vancouver," and his bust still stands at the entrance of Stanley Park, the world-famous green space that he procured for the city in 1888.

Until the beginning of the 20th century, Vancouver's Jewish population remained below 200, split between a small congregation (Temple Emanuel) of acculturated West European Jews living in the west end and an increasing number of East European newcomers. Most of the latter concentrated initially in Vancouver's immigrant district in the Strathcona and Chinatown areas, many working in the clothing trade or secondhand goods. By 1911, the East Europeans had swelled the Jewish community to 1,024, becoming the dominant element. In 1907 the Orthodox congregation B'nai Yehuda (Sons of Israel) was established under the presidency of Zebulon Franks (1864–1926), a merchant in whose store and home the first Orthodox services in Vancouver had been held 20 years earlier. The congregation opened its first synagogue in 1911 and changed its name to Schara Tzedeck (Gates of Righteousness) in 1917, building a much larger synagogue in 1921, when Vancouver's Jewish population had reached 1,376. For the next three decades Schara Tzedeck was led, for the most part, by Nathan Mayer Pastinsky (1887–1948), a qualified shoḥet who became the religious leader for the Jewish community, universally respected for his citywide welfare work and spiritual leadership.

As the Jewish community grew to 2,440 by 1931, a vigorous organizational life became the hallmark of Vancouver Jewry. The first secular group to form was a B'nai B'rith lodge in 1910. During the 1930s to 1950s, the lodge sponsored a highly successful interfaith "Goodwill Dinner" each year, honoring leading representatives from different areas of public life. A Zionist and Social Society was founded in 1913, the official beginning of the community's long history of support of a Jewish state. The first of numerous Hadassah chapters was organized in 1920, and for many years the group ran the largest annual bazaar in the city. The National Council of Jewish Women has also been very prominent in Vancouver since 1924, initiating a number of innovative social programs for children and the elderly. A women's B'nai B'rith section was formed in 1927 and Pioneer Women in 1933. Among the community's youth groups during these years were Young Judaea and Aleph Zadik Aleph, and slightly later, Hillel and one of the most active Habonim chapters in North America.

Early mutual aid organizations included a Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, a Hebrew Free Loan Association, and an Achduth Society (credit union) established in 1927. A Jewish Community Chest was founded in 1924 to centralize the community's fundraising, later serving as the model for the Vancouver-wide Community Chest. In 1928, a Jewish community center was opened and began publishing a weekly newssheet, the precursor to the Jewish Western Bulletin, which has served as the community's newspaper since 1930. To coordinate these new institutions and organizations, a Jewish Administrative Council was established in 1932, superseded by an enlarged representative body in 1950, the Jewish Community Council and Fund. Internal community welfare work was also strengthened through the 1936 creation of a Jewish Family Service Agency, run for many years by social worker Jessie Allman, and the 1946 founding of the Louis Brier Home for the Aged.

In addition to a strong tendency toward institutional affiliation, since the end of World War ii rapid growth has become a dominant feature of Vancouver's Jewish community. In 1951 the population was 5,467, and by 1971 it was 10,145. Although the majority of newcomers were Jews from other parts of Canada, particularly the prairie provinces, there were also several hundred Holocaust survivors and, later, refugees from Hungary and the Soviet bloc. Vancouver's generally high level of postwar prosperity allowed for considerable upward mobility and economic diversification in the Jewish community, marked by a residential shift away from the east end to the more affluent Oak Street corridor in the south-west part of the city. In 1948, a Talmud Torah day school was built in the area, as was the Schara Tzedeck's new synagogue. The Beth Israel, a Conservative congregation that had been incorporated in 1932, also opened a new Oak Street synagogue in 1948, eventually surpassing Schara Tzedeck in membership. Further cultural and religious diversity emerged with the revival of a Reform group in the 1960s, the incorporation of a Sephardi congregation in 1973, and the arrival of Lubavitch in 1974.

In the midst of this rapid expansion, the 1962 opening of an ambitious new Vancouver Jewish Community Centre created a focal point for communal activities, housing many of the Jewish community's organizations as well as providing cultural and athletic facilities. The Pacific Region of the Canadian Jewish Congress (cjc), which had become its own branch in 1949, also assumed a leading role in community public relations, advocacy for Israel, and a number of educational initiatives. Although antisemitism in Vancouver was never a serious threat, the cjc was particularly active in calling for anti-discrimination legislation, co-founding the Vancouver Civic Unity Council for this purpose during the 1950s. Congress also sponsored a number of Christian-Jewish dialogues in the 1970s, and during the 1980s helped found an umbrella organization known as the Committee for Racial Justice. Longtime Pacific Region Executive Director Morris Saltzman (1918–1988) was especially active in inter-ethnic outreach, and in tandem with Lou Zimmerman (1911–1987), the first and longest-serving Jewish community civil servant in Vancouver, provided much of the organizational leadership throughout the postwar decades.

In addition to several programs and facilities for the religious education of youth and adults, most recently the Community Kollel and the Pacific Torah Institute, a Vancouver Peretz Centre has been providing secular, humanist Jewish education since 1945, also maintaining a small Yiddish presence. Other Jewish cultural initiatives in Vancouver have included the establishment of a Judaica library and a program of Jewish Studies at the University of British Columbia. A Vancouver-based Jewish Historical Society of B.C. has been in operation since 1971, with a museum devoted to local Jewish history scheduled to open. The very successful annual Jewish Film Festival and Jewish Festival of the Arts have also become part of the community calendar. Since the mid-1970s, Holocaust awareness has taken on increasing prominence as a vehicle for education, most notably through the 1976 inception of an annual symposium for high school students and the 1995 opening of a Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre.

Vancouver now has the third largest Jewish community in Canada, with its 2001 Jewish population of 22,590 just over 1% of the total population of the city. Although the Oak Street corridor remains home to approximately half of the city's Jews, considerable expansion has taken place into the suburbs, with new synagogues and Jewish community centers in Richmond, Burnaby/Coquitlam, North Vancouver, and Surrey. There are more than a dozen congregations across the metropolitan area, with affiliations ranging from Egalitarian to Chabad. To provide services to this increasingly dispersed community, a Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver was established in 1987, assuming responsibility for the Combined Jewish Appeal campaign, which supports over 30 local agencies as well as Israeli and overseas Jewish causes. A Shalom b.c. welcoming center also provides newcomers with information about local Jewish life.

There have been many Vancouver Jews to have an important impact on both the Jewish and non-Jewish communities. Businessman Jack *Diamond (1910–2001) was an extremely prominent leader and benefactor, helping to found several major charities such as the local Variety Club, the B.C. Heart Foundation, and the Diamond Foundation. He also served as chancellor of Simon Fraser University (sfu), as did prominent businessman and philanthropist Joseph Segal (1925– ). Morris Wosk (1917–2002) was one of sfu's greatest benefactors, particularly in the establishment of the downtown Harbour Centre campus. Judge Nathan *Nemetz (1913–1997) was the first Jewish chancellor of the University of British Columbia as well as the first Jewish chief justice of the B.C. Supreme Court and B.C. Court of Appeals. The first Jewish judge in Canada, Samuel *Schultz (1865–1917), was also a Vancouver resident. In politics, Dave *Barret (1930– ) served as the provincial premier in 1972–75, while Harry Rankin (1920–2002) served on the Vancouver City Council for over 20 years and journalist Simma Holt (1922– ) was the first Jewish woman to serve as a member of Parliament, representing the Vancouver-Kingsway district. Between 1969 and 1983, Muni Evers (1914–2002) was re-elected seven times as the mayor of New Westminster, part of Greater Vancouver.

[Barbara Schober (2nd ed.)]


views updated Jun 27 2018

Vancouver City on the s shore of Burrard Inlet, s British Columbia, Canada. It is Canada's third-largest city and principal Pacific port. The area was first explored (1792) by British Captain George Vancouver. The building of the Canadian Pacific Railway allowed it to grow into the largest city on Canada's w coast. Its excellent sea and air links make it one of North America's leading centres for transport and communication with countries of the Pacific Rim. Vancouver's beautiful harbour setting, pleasant climate, and terminus of both trans-Canadian railroads make it a magnet for tourists. The city has two universities: British Columbia (1908) and Simon Fraser University (1963). Industries: tourism, timber, oil refining, shipbuilding, fish-processing. Pop. (2001) 545,671 (metropolitan 1,986,965).

About this article

Vancouver (United States)

All Sources -
Updated Aug 18 2018 About content Print Topic