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English Bay Beach

English Bay Beach

Vancouver is a coastal seaport city on the mainland of British Columbia. More than 600,000 people live in Vancouver, making it the eighth largest city in Canada. The city is the most densely populated Canadian municipality with 5,249 people per square kilometre or 13,590 per square mile. Fifty two per cent of Vancouver’s residents do not speak English as their first language. It is one of the most ethnically and linguistically diverse cities in Canada.

For more than a decade, Vancouver has been ranked as one of the most livable cities in the world. The city has hosted many international conferences and events, including the 1954 British Empire and Commonwealth Games, Expo 86, and the World Police and Fire Games in 1989 and 2009. The 2010 Winter Olympics and Winter Paralympics were held in Vancouver and Whistler.

Vancouver has more than 1,298 hectares (3,210 acres) of parks, of which, Stanley Park, at 404 hectares (1,000 acres), is the largest. Stanley Park is one of the largest urban parks in North America. The North Shore Mountains dominate the cityscape, and on a clear day, scenic vistas include the snow-capped volcano Mount Baker in the state of Washington to the southeast, Vancouver Island across the Strait of Georgia to the west and southwest, and Bowen Island to the northwest.

The city has several large beaches, many adjacent to one another, extending from the shoreline of Stanley Park around False Creek to the south side of English Bay, from Kitsilano to the University Endowment Lands. The 18 kilometres (11 miles) of beaches include Second and Third Beaches in Stanley Park, English Bay (First Beach), Sunset, Kitsilano Beach, Jericho, Locarno, Spanish Banks, Spanish Banks Extension, Spanish Banks West, and Wreck Beach, a clothing optional beach. There is also a beach at Trout Lake. The coastline provides for many types of water sport, and the city is a popular destination for boating enthusiasts.

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Coal Harbour


Vancouver is one of the warmest and wettest Canadian cities. The city’s climate is temperate by Canadian standards and summer months are typically dry, with an average of one in five days during July and August receiving precipitation. From November through March, precipitation falls during nearly half the days.

Winters in Vancouver are the fourth mildest of Canadian cities after Victoria, Nanaimo and Duncan. Vancouver’s growing season averages 221 days, from March 29 until November 5, longer than any other major city in Canada. On average, snow falls on eleven days per year, with three days receiving 6 cm (2.4 in) or more. Average yearly snowfall is 48.2 cm (19.0 in) but does not remain on the ground for long.

Lost Lagoon in Stanley Park

Lost Lagoon in Stanley Park

Ethnic Groups and Neighbourhoods

Vancouver has been called a “city of neighbourhoods.” Each of Vancouver’s 55 neighbourhoods has a distinct and welcoming personality. Visitors can spend several months in Vancouver and not experience all that this remarkable city has to offer. Vancouver was made for walking, and it is best to explore its diverse neighbourhoods on foot.

Historically, people of English, Irish and Scottish origins were the largest ethnic groups in Vancouver. Elements of British and Irish culture and society are visible in Kerrisdale and South Granville. Today the Chinese are the largest visible ethnic group, with a diverse Chinese-speaking community. Neighbourhoods with distinct ethnic commercial areas include Chinatown, Greektown, Little Italy and the Punjabi Market.

Other Asian ethnic groups include Cambodians, Filipino, Indonesians, Korean, Japanese and Vietnamese. The Latin American and black populations of Vancouver are small in comparison to other major Canadian cities. The neighbourhood of Strathcona was once home to a significant black community.

Prior to the 1990s, the largest non-British ethnic groups in the city were Irish and German, followed by Chinese, Italian, Scandinavian and Ukrainian. From the 1950s to 1980s, many Portuguese immigrants came to Vancouver and the city had the third-largest Portuguese population in Canada. Eastern Europeans, including Czechs, Hungarians, Poles, Romanians, Russians and Yugoslavs began immigrating to Vancouver after World War II.

Greek immigration increased from the 1960s to 1970s, with most Greeks settling in the Kitsilano area. Vancouver also has a significant Aboriginal community, and a large gay community in the West End and Yaletown areas.

The 55 neighbourhoods are as follows:

  • Arbutus
  • Cedar Cottage
  • Champlain Heights
  • Chinatown
  • Coal Harbour
  • Collingwood
  • Commercial Drive
  • Creekside
  • Downtown
  • Downtown Eastside
  • Dunbar
  • Fairview
  • False Creek North
  • False Creek South
  • Fraser
  • Fraserview
  • Gastown
  • Grandview
  • Granville Island
  • Hastings
  • Hastings Crossing
  • Hastings East
  • Hillcrest
  • Kensington
  • Kerrisdale
  • Killarney
  • Kitsilano
  • Knight
  • Langara
  • Little Mountain
  • MacKenzie Heights
  • Main
  • Marpole
  • Mole Hill
  • Mount Pleasant
  • Musqueam
  • Oakridge
  • Point Grey
  • Quilchena
  • Renfrew-Collingwood
  • Riley Park
  • Shaughnessy
  • South Cambie
  • South Granville
  • South Hill
  • South Vancouver
  • Southlands
  • Southwest Marine
  • Strathcona
  • Sunrise
  • Sunset
  • West Broadway
  • West End
  • Woodland
  • Yaletown

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Lions Gate Bridge


In 1791, José María Narváez of Spain, was the first European to explore the coast of present-day Point Grey and parts of Burrard Inlet. Captain George Vancouver explored the inner harbour of Burrard Inlet in 1792, and gave various areas British names.

Simon Fraser, an explorer and North West Company trader, and his crew were the first known Europeans to set foot on the site of Vancouver. In 1808, they travelled from the east down the Fraser River as far as Point Grey. Simon Fraser University is named after Fraser.

The Fraser Gold Rush of 1858 brought more than 25,000 men to nearby New Westminster on their way to the Fraser Canyon. In 1862, the first European settlement was built at McLeery’s Farm on the Fraser River, just east of the ancient village of Musqueam in what is now Marpole.

Coal Harbour, Vancouver

Coal Harbour


In 1863, a sawmill was established at Moodyville, which is now North Vancouver. Captain Edward Stamp quickly followed by building mills on the south shore of the Burrard Inlet. Captain Stamp first attempted to run a mill at Brockton Point in what is now Stanley Park, but difficult currents and reefs forced the relocation of the operation in 1867 to a location near the foot of Gore Street. This mill, known as the Hastings Mill, became the centre around which Vancouver was formed. Although the mill remained important to the local economy until it closed in the 1920s, its role in the city declined after the arrival of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) in the 1880s.

In 1867, the original settlement of Vancouver was called Gastown. The settlement of Gastown grew around the Hastings Mill and Globe Saloon, a nearby tavern established by Englishman “Gassy” Jack Deighton. Gastown was named after Gassy Jack. Deighton was known as Gassy Jack because of his talkative nature and penchant for storytelling.

In 1870, the colonial government surveyed the settlement of Gastown and laid out a townsite that was renamed Granville in honour of the then-British Secretary of State for the Colonies, Lord Granville. The townsite of Granville was selected in 1884 as the terminus for the railroad, and renamed Vancouver. Vancouver was incorporated as a city in 1886. Today, the name Granville survives in Vancouver with Granville Street and Granville Island. Vancouver was named after Captain George Vancouver.

Vancouver merchants outfitted prospectors bound for the Klondike Gold Rush in 1898. One of those merchants, Charles Woodward, opened the first Woodward’s store at Abbott and Cordova Streets in 1892 and, along with Spencer’s and the Hudson’s Bay department stores, formed the core of the city’s retail sector for decades.

The economy of early Vancouver was dominated by large companies such as the CPR, which fueled economic activity and led to the rapid development of the new city. The CPR was the main real estate owner and housing developer in the city. While some manufacturing did develop, natural resources became the basis for Vancouver’s economy. The resource sector was initially based on logging and later on exports moving through the seaport, where commercial traffic constituted the largest economic sector in Vancouver by the 1930s.

The City of Vancouver was incorporated on April 6, 1886, the same year that the first transcontinental train arrived. CPR president William Van Horne arrived in Port Moody to establish the CPR terminus recommended by Henry John Cambie, and gave the city its name in honour of Captain George Vancouver. The Great Vancouver Fire on June 13, 1886, razed the entire city. The Vancouver Fire Department was established that year and the city quickly rebuilt. Vancouver’s population grew from a settlement of 1,000 people in 1881 to more than 20,000 by the turn of the century and 100,000 by 1911.

Indigenous peoples

Archaeological records indicate the presence of Aboriginal people in the Vancouver area from 8,000 to 10,000 years ago. Vancouver is situated in the traditional territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tseil-Waututh (Burrard) peoples of the Coast Salish group. They had villages in False Creek, Kitsilano, Point Grey, Stanley Park and near the mouth of the Fraser River.

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Totem Poles in Stanley Park

Port Authority

Port Metro Vancouver was established by the Government of Canada in January 2008. It is the principal authority for shipping and port-related land and sea use in the Metro Vancouver region. The port operates within the traditional territories of several Coast Salish First Nations. Today, Port Metro Vancouver is the most diversified port in North America and a major economic engine for Canada, trading $75 billion in goods with more than 130 trading economies each year.

Port Metro Vancouver

Port Metro Vancouver

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