Vancouver, BC

Information About Vancouver BC

Metro Vancouver is a coastal seaport city with a population of more than 2.3 million residents, making it the third biggest city in Canada.


Originally the town grew from the oldest part of Vancouver currently called Gastown.  A logging sawmill and tavern were established there in 1867 and eventually became known as Granville.  Eventually in 1886 the area was renamed Vancouver and incorporated as a city in 1886.  Soon the cross-country railway was extended to Vancouver and the city became a major trade route between Asia, the rest of Canada, and Europe.  Still the Port Metro Vancouver is the busiest and largest port in Canada.  And the most diversified port in North America.  Vancouver is one of the youngest cities in Canada.

There are several European explorers that explored the coastline of the Vancouver area, including Jose Maria Narvaez, Francis Drake, Simon Fraser, and George Vancouver.


The largest industry is still forestry, followed by tourism.  It has earned the nickname “Hollywood North”, as the third-largest film production centre in North America after Los Angeles and New York City.


Although Vancouver is sometimes ranked one of the least affordable cities in the world because of the cost of living and real estate, there is a reason for this.  It is always highly ranked as a very liveable city.  Vancouver has been ranked as having the 4th highest quality of living of any city on Earth.  In contrast, according to Forbes, Vancouver had the 6th most overpriced real estate market in the world and was second-highest in North America and Los Angeles in 2007.  Vancouver has also been ranked among Canada’s most expensive cities in which to live.  Forbes has also ranked Vancouver as the tenth cleanest city in the world. 

It has hosted many international events such as the 1954 Commonwealth Games, Expo 86, World Police and Fire Games in 1989 and 2009, and the recent 2010 Winter Olympics.  The 2010 Winter Olympics and 2010 Winter Paralympics were held in Vancouver and Whistler.  Whistler is a nearby world class ski resort 125km north of Vancouver.

Aboriginal People

The native aboriginal people have been in the Vancouver area for over 10,000 years.  The city is located in the traditional territories of several tribes of the Coast Salish group, including the Squamish people.  They had villages in various parts of present day Vancouver, such as Stanley Park, False Creek, Point Grey, Kitsilano, and near the mouth of the Fraser River.

Geographic Location

Vancouver lies between Burrard Inlet to the north and the Fraser River to the south.  The Strait of Georgia to the west is shielded from the Pacific Ocean by Vancouver Island.  The city has both flat and very hilly ground and is in the Pacific Time Zone (UTC -8).  A common misunderstanding is between the City of Vancouver and Vancouver Island.  Victoria, the capital of British Columbia, is located on Vancouver Island, which is a 1.5 hour ferry ride from the City of Vancouver.


Stanley Park is a large urban park, which covers over 1000 acres.  The North Shore Mountains can be seen to the north and on a clear day you can see the snow-capped volcano Mount Baker in Washington to the southeast.

The forest in the Vancouver area is temperate rain forest, consisting of mainly conifers such as Western redw cedar, Douglas fir, and Western hemlock.  There is also some Bigleaf maple, alder, and cottonwood.  Some of the largest trees on the British Columbia coast were found in the Vancouver region.  The forest in Stanley Park was actually logged between the 1860’s and 1880’s.  The majority of the trees we see now in Stanley Park are second growth trees.


Vancouver has a mild climate compared to the rest of Canada, so many exotic plants are able to grow in the area such as the monkey puzzle tree, the Japanese Maple, magnolias, azaleas, rhododendrons, Japanese cherry trees, flowering chestnuts, and other decorative trees.  Vancouver’s climate is even mild enough in the winter to allow Windmill palm trees to grow there.

Vancouver is one of the warmest Canadian cities and is very temperate by Canadian standards.  The summer months are typically dry, with an average of only one in five days during July and August receiving precipitation.  However, precipitation falls during half the days from November to March!  Annual precipitation measured at Canada Place in downtown Vancouver is 1589mm (63 in).  The daily maximum averages 22 °C (72 °F) in July and August, with highs rarely reaching 30 °C (86 °F).  The highest temperature ever recorded was 34.4 °C (93.9 °F) on July 30, 2009.  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 typically does not remain on the ground for long.

Downtown Buildings

The Vancouver Art Gallery downtown is housed in the former courthouse built in 1906.  Another prominent building is the giant tent-frame Canada Place.  Usedas the Canada Pavilion during the 1986 World Exposition, it is now part of the Convention Centre, the Pan Pacific Hotel and the cruise ship terminal.  The cruise ship terminal is one of the main departure places for cruise ships bound for Alaska.


Vancouver has many distinct neighbourhoods with a different character and ethnic mix.  Today the Chinese are the largest visible ethnic group in the city.  In the 1980’s an influx of immigrants from Hong Kong in anticipation of the transfer of sovereignty from the United Kingdom to China, combined with an increase in immigrants from mainland China and previous immigrants from Taiwan, established in Vancouver one of the highest concentrations of ethnic Chinese residents in North America.  Other significant Asian ethnic groups in Vancouver are South Asian (mostly Punjabi) usually referred to as Indo-Canadian (5.7%), Filipino (5.0%), Japanese (1.7%), Korean (1.5%), as well as sizable communities of Vietnamese, Indonesians, and Cambodians.  The black population of Vancouver is rather scant in comparison to other Canadian major cities, making up 0.9% of the city.


City councils in the 1970s and 1980s prohibited the construction of freeways as part of a long term plan.  As a result, the only major freeway within city limits isHighway 1, which passes through the north-eastern corner of the city. While the number of cars in Vancouver proper has been steadily rising with population growth, the rate of car ownership and the average distance driven by daily commuters have fallen since the early 1990s.  Vancouver is the only major Canadian city with these trends.  Despite the fact that the journey time per vehicle has increased by one-third and growing traffic mass, there are 7% fewer cars making trips into the downtown core.  Residents have been more inclined to live in areas closer to their interests, or use more energy-efficient means of travel, such as mass transit and cycling. This is, in part, the result of a push by city planners for a solution to traffic problems and pro-environment campaigns.  Transportation demand management policies have imposed restrictions on drivers making it more difficult and expensive to commute while introducing more benefits for non-drivers.

Vancouver is served by Vancouver International Airport (YVR), located in the City of Richmond, immediately south of Vancouver.  Vancouver’s airport is Canada’s second-busiest airport, and the second-largest gateway on the west coast of North America for international passengers.

  • Distance from Seattle:  227 kms (141 miles), Driving time to Seattle:  3 hours
  • Distance from Whistler:  125 kms (78 miles), Driving time to Whistler:  2 hours

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