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Weird & Wonderful Facts About Vancouver

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Learning unusual facts about a city before you visit can really enhance your stay and make it more interesting. With a sharp rise in visitors to Vancouver in the summer coupled with the fact that Vancouver is hosting a Travel Bloggers Conference in a few weeks, I figured the timing was right to put together a list of interesting facts about the city of Vancouver.

Here’s my list of 35 weird and wonderful facts about Vancouver.

"A view of downtown Vancouver from the Granville Bridge"

A view of downtown Vancouver from the Granville Bridge

  • Vancouver is named after Captain Vancouver, a morose sounding fellow who must have explored the area in a rainy summer. He hated the place.
  • In 1971, Greenpeace was born – in Vancouver. It’s, as you probably know, an organization known for its international environmental campaigns.
  • Vancouver ranks third in the world as the best city to live in – for quality of life.
  • Vancouver is tied with Montreal as the 10th cleanest city in the world. Calgary came in first place. Guess they didn’t visit the east side.
  • Vancouver aka Hollywood North, is second only to Los Angeles in TV production and third in North America for Feature Film production. That means there are occasionally high profile movie stars floating around. Lions Gate, Paramount and Bridge Studios have set up shop here.
  • Vancouver is Canada’s third largest city; Toronto and Montreal are bigger.
  • Vancouver has the fourth largest cruise ship terminal in the world. Cruise ships begin sailing in April. October 4th is the last cruise of the year in 2011. M0st of the cruises head for Alaska.
"Cruise ship leaving Vancouver"

Cruise ship leaving Vancouver

  • 35% of Vancouver’s population is foreign born. It has the highest proportion of Asians in any North American city. Try a visit to China Town.
  • Vancouver’s West End neighbourhood has the largest gay community in the west. Look for the Gay Pride Parade in August.
  • Three professional major league sports team call Vancouver home – the Vancouver Canucks for hockey (and they’re in the Stanley Cup Finals this year), the BC Lions for football and the Vancouver Whitecaps for soccer.
  • The population of greater Vancouver is approximately 2.1 million.
  • In an average year, Vancouver will see some sort of rainfall on 165 days in the year.
  • The best time to visit Vancouver is in the summer. It’s typically sunny and in fact often suffers from drought. The winter is dark, rainy and dreary.
  • On June 21st, the summer solstice, the sun rises at 5:07 am and sets at 9:21 pm. On December 21st, the winter solstice, sunrise is 8:04 am and sunset is 4:16 pm.
  • You can ski, golf, bike, sail and kayak in Vancouver – all on the same day.
"Sailing the waters off of West Vancouver"

Sailing the waters off of West Vancouver

  • There are three ski hills within a short drive of downtown Vancouver – Grouse Mountain, Cypress Mountain and Mount Seymour.
  • Vancouver’s Kitsilano salt water pool holds the title of Canada’s longest pool, measuring 137.5 meters (451 feet) almost the equivalent of 3 Olympic regulation size pools. This outdoor pool maintains a constant temperature of 25C (77F) so you will always be comfortable under the grimmest of outdoor conditions.
  • The Vancouver (YVR) airport has free WiFi.
  • There is a gas station to fill up you rental car, almost within spitting distance of dropping it off at the Vancouver airport. How thoughtful is that? Plus the gas prices are competitive, not predatory.
  • Vancouver has the highest real estate prices in Canada. The average price of a detached home in April 2011 was $1,204,587. Actually according to some, and depending on how you measure it, prices are higher than in London or New York City.
"Premier Vancouver waterfront property"

Premier Vancouver waterfront property

  • The British Properties in West Vancouver, originally owned by the Guiness Family, had covenants (that may still stand but be ignored) excluding Jews, Asians and blacks from owning property. Now you’re likely to find Iranians speaking Farsi and Chinese speaking Mandarin. Fortunately it’s become much more diverse.
  • There are no freeways in downtown Vancouver.
  • The Lion’s Gate Bridge, a suspension bridge over the Burrard Inlet, connecting the City of Vancouver to the north-shore communities of North and West Vancouver is 5,890 feet long. It opened to traffic on November 14, 1938. The bridge can be a traffic nightmare. Fortunately you can bike or walk over it, in dedicated lanes.
"GranFondo Whistler riders heading across Lions Gate Bridge"

GranFondo Whistler riders heading across Lions Gate Bridge

  • Vancouver could have a big earthquake at any time – 8.0 Richter big. The city sits on a major fault along with Seattle and Portland.
  • Liquor laws are still in the dark ages. You can’t buy beer or alcohol in the grocery store.
  • Famous people who were born or have lived much of their life in Vancouver include Bryan Adams, Michael Buble, Pamela Anderson, Jason Priestly, Margaret Trudeau, Joe Sakic, David Suzuki, Sarah McLachlan, Michael J. Fox, Raymond Burr, Douglas Coupland, Arthur Erickson and Nat Bailey.
  • Former rock star, Bob Geldof was the editor of the Georgia Strait in the 1960’s.
  • Vancouver – along with Victoria – has the mildest climate in Canada – though one of the rainiest.
  • Granville Island is Vancouver’s famous public market. It is open 7 days a week from 9am until 7pm.
"Inside Granville Island market"

Inside Granville Island market

  • Dolphins and whales are occasionally sighted in the waters close to the city. Last year there were two whale sightings in False Creek and numerous dolphin pod sightings in Howe Sound.
  • Stanley Park is a 1001 acre urban park, bordering the city. It is 10% bigger than New York City’s Central Park. A 5.5 mile path circles the seawall. It’s extensively used by walkers, runners, cyclists and roller bladers.
  • The Vancouver Aquarium ranks in the top 5 around the world.
"Beluga whale checking us out"

Beluga whale checking us out

  • Vancouver has played host to the 2010 Winter Olympics and the Expo’86 World Fair.
  • Tax on almost everything except food is 12%. Some things like gasoline have tax on tax.
  • Gasoline prices are about $Cdn1.36 per liter these days. There are 3.79 liters in a US gallon. That would make it $5.15 a US gallon!!!
Other posts you might find interesting:

Do you have any weird and wonderful facts about Vancouver you’d like to share?

Leigh McAdam

HikeBikeTravel

Photo credit: Granville Island, Vancouver

Author Hike Bike Travel

Avid world traveler. Craves adventure - & the odd wildly epic day. Gardener. Reader. Wine lover. Next big project - a book on 100 Canadian outdoor adventures.

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