and grizzlies, aye
Story : Penny Newton
Invading images of maple syrup, grizzly bears, novelty hats with felt
moose horns attached and lots of snow sabotage my good intentions to
set out for Canada with a blank internal mind map. And Canadians say
“aye” at the end of every sentence don’t they?
British Columbia comes to the rescue As a result most local’s everyday attire also attracts young professionals and artists and
and banishes my preconceptions with is sweats, lycra running suits, and well-trod it clearly fosters its artistic side with masses of
clean multicultural cities, a tourism industry but very trendy sneakers, accessorised with modern art on display.
flourishing alongside green ethics, sublime obligatory giant panting dog in toe. In addition These sculptures, one of which resembles a
scenery and not a moose horn hat in sight. to its fitness culture, Vancouver is obsessed large dog kennel balancing disconcertingly on
Located in southwest British Columbia, with canine companionship. So for those that it’s roof, were part of the international Sculpture
Vancouver is a city with a pulse of outdoorsy prefer their travel chums walk on four legs it Biennale; an effort from 22 artists around the
yin and metropolitan yang. Backed by soaring caters well beyond the ‘Pets OK’ to a scale of world to celebrate open spaces and beautiful
mountains on one side and a deep harbour on decadence unfamiliar to us in the southern natural surroundings as well as to form a
the other, with rushing rivers, dense forests and hemisphere. Judging by the amount of doggy cultural bridge with other nations.
the ski slopes of Whistler all within easy reach, hotels, canine bakeries, personal trainers (not Probably the best by-product of
there aren’t many cities in the world that tender dog walkers), and dog yoga studios it appears Vancouver’s diversity is the superfluity of
Vancouver’s combination of big-city lifestyle owning a dog is as Canadian as using maple ethnic eateries and world-class restaurants.
and outdoor fun in such handy proximity. syrup on pancakes. Many hotels offer pampered My preview of the best waterside restaurants
It’s a city that celebrates the outdoors, and pooch packages which provide four-legged proves the chefs here are an experimental
for good reason. Riming the northern edge is friends with the gourmet food, a doggy lot, with multicultural fusions evident in
the sparkling Coast Mountain Ranges and not toothbrush post meal and a doggie television preparation, ingredients and presentation.
only do they provide Vancouver’s incredible to while the hours away. Salmon lovers can rest assured the world’s best
scenery backdrop, they also host well groomed Vancouver is still a city of new immigrants; salmon, caught off these shores, is done justice,
ski slopes in winter and endless wilderness wander the streets and least a dozen different nearly always cooked to perfection. But when
trails and parks in summer. These mountains languages will be heard. Add to this mix a my palette for fine dining and rich exciting food
allow Vancouverites to boast that they ski in the constant infusion of US culture and a plethora grows weary, respite is found in the many Asian
morning and play golf in the afternoon. of traditions established by migrants, and the and ethnic restaurants; the choice and quality
Kayaking, cross-country skiing, windsurfing, result is a thriving multicultural society. The city is downright spectacular. And this was how I
rock-climbing, hiking, parasailing - these are the
activities urbanites engage in on weekends, Caption
after work, first thing in the morning, or
whenever they can get away from the business
of pretending they live in the city.
Gastown Steam Clock
manage to gain 3kg in five days.
Pounding the pavements, or kilometres of
lush green park areas, is a great way to see this
city and work off an expanding middle-belly.
Stanley Park is the lungs of the city and
possibly the envy of every city planner in the
world. It’s unique as a city park, not only for
its size, over 1,000 acres, and its closeness to
downtown but also for its beauty and the
variety of amenities it offers from the forest-like
interior snaked with walking trails, to ocean
beaches, kids’ playgrounds and the built-up
area of the world-famed Aquarium. North
America’s third-largest urban forest draws
eight million visitors each year, many of whom
may skate or walk the seawall - a scenic, nine
kilometre path running along the water on
the park’s perimeter. It’s here that members of
the Chinese community fish at dawn before
heading to the buzzing, squirming, slippery life
of lively Chinatown.
The third largest in North America, the
streets of Chinatown throng with strange sights
and smells. This is the place to pick up Chinese
herbal remedies, jade, silk or even 100-year-old
duck eggs that look like highly polished marble.
The scene of violent racism a century ago,
Chinatown is now one of the city’s liveliest areas
for locals and tourists alike.
Close by is the long forgotten but recently Caption
rediscovered historical suburb of Gastown.
This was once the location of old warehouses,
prostitutes, grogshops and seedy hotels, but a
complete heritage-style Victorian renovation,
in the early l970s, has turned it into a trendy
shopping district with art galleries, souvenir
shops, fine furniture stores, and a variety of
restaurants and bars lining the cobblestone
Stanley Park, shot at dawn facing Coal Harbour & downtown Vancouver
Parliament Building, Victoria at sunset
After all this walking my legs wobble from theatre groups, making Vancouver an interesting We glide past a great blue heron standing
weariness, so we jump on a ferry to Granville centre for performing arts. ceremoniously motionless on a tidal rock. A
Island. The heart of the Island, or perhaps While the sophistication and newfound harbour seal surfaces and scrutinizes us with
the stomach, is the big, always crowded, glamour of Vancouver are reason enough to visit big, brown, limpid eyes. Meanwhile, cormorants
Public Market with dozens of stands selling BC, it would be a shame to miss the grace and call overheard as they take flight.
fresh vegetables, meat, fish and the like, and colour of Vancouver Island and its colonial capital It’s no surprise that Vancouver has
ready-to-eat goodies. Not long ago it was a Victoria. Remaining the most British of cities in consistently been voted one of the best travel
dilapidated and ugly industrial region in the North America, Victoria is blessed with stately old destinations in the world, and one of the
middle of Vancouver but thanks to a federal buildings and beautiful Butchart Gardens. Bursts best places to live based on the categories of
government scheme the island, which was of colour from public and private gardens dot ambience, friendliness, culture, restaurants,
originally nothing more than a sandbar that the landscape and in the inner harbour hundreds lodging, and shopping. This is a city blessed
disappeared at high tide, has been transformed. of pleasure craft, yachts, seaplanes, sailboats and with everything except grizzly bears and
Granville Island is also the seat for several kayakers sparkle. novelty hats with felt moose horns.
Photography bY: Tom Ryan
The Fairmont Empress,
Street sax player