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Some Useless Facts about Vancouver:

 

Vancouver is Canada's 3rd largest city (Toronto is 1st and Montreal 2nd) with an area population of just under 3 million. (depending on what you consider suburbs).  It has the mildest climate (along with Victoria) in Canada. Unlike most Canadian Cities, Vancouver is divided into several self-governing municipalities. (Vancouver city itself only has a population of about 565,000). The generic term for Vancouver and its environs is the "Lower Mainland" or "Greater Vancouver". I figure the maximum population that the city can support and keep its "close to nature" lifestyle is about 3 to 4 million. Some experts predict Vancouver will be Canada's largest city by 2040 with a population of over 10 million. I personally think (and hope) this is an overestimation. It was based in part, on expectation of a large exodus from Hong Kong, which hasn't materialised. A more realistic figure is probably around 4 million.

-Despite claims by Toronto & Montreal that they are the most multicultural cities in the country, 35% of Vancouver's population is foreign born, the highest figure in the world. This makes the city technically even more multicultural than New York, although maybe its not so obvious, probably since we have heavier concentrations of 2 or 3 ethic groups rather than a wide cross-section as is the case with Toronto or New York..

-Vancouver is North America's second largest Port (in tonnage & physical size - after New York) and one of the worlds major cruise ship ports. I believe it is the 4th largest cruise ship terminus in the world.

-Vancouver has the highest proportion (per capita) of Asians of any North American city. This makes for a great selection of Oriental restaurants. It has one of the largest and oldest Chinatowns in North America.

-Related to the above, Vancouverites dine out more than in any other North American city. Its a great place to start a restaurant. We also tip well. See the Restaurant Guides in my Eating Out section. I also have a link to Vegetarian establishments there.

-Vancouver is the second or third largest film production centre in North America. It is second to LA in Television production & third behind LA & NYC in Feature film production. This is due to favourable tax concessions to the industry, the year round mild climate, and Vancouver's wide variety of locales. There are currently 3 film Studios (Lions Gate, Bridge and Paramount) and another large one is in the planning stage. The city is, or has been, home to about 20 TV series, including X-Files (until 1998), Millennium, Stargate, Outer Limits, Police Academy, Viper, Sentinel, V, Cold Squad, Da Vinci's Inquest, First Wave, The Net, and numerous others. 20 to 30 full length feature films and 50 TV Movies are also filmed here each year. There is also a growing animation industry, producing such shows as "Reboot". Oddly enough, most productions are American. Toronto is still the centre for Canadian film and TV production. If your interested in the film industry or want to find out what is being filmed, check out the movie industry links on my main Vancouver Page.

-The common term "Skid Row" used to describe the seedier areas of a large city possibly originated here in Vancouver, in the 1800's. The area currently occupied by the city of Vancouver was largely forest at that time. Wooden skids were constructed in the area, now currently East Hastings, to allow logs to be dumped into Burrard Inlet so they could be floated to the Mill. Hence the term "Skid Row". This area is in fact the seediest area of downtown Vancouver today. The origin of the term is also claimed by Seattle & the Adirondack region of New York. My source is National Geographic, others sources support the other claims. Who knows?

-Vancouver has 3 professional major league sport teams, all of them lousy. The BC Lions ( CFL Football), Vancouver Canucks ( NHL Ice Hockey), and the Vancouver Whitecaps WhitecapsFC (Soccer).

-Vancouver has over 1 million automobiles, almost one for every 2 people. Combine this with the fact downtown is essentially an island, and you have one of the worst traffic nightmares in North America.

-Vancouver has an extensive bus system and a growing rapid transit system (three lines, but others planned). There is also a commuter train service up the Fraser Valley.

-Vancouver contains the wealthiest neighbourhoods in Canada. The wealthiest is West Vancouver where the "average" annual household income is over $60,000. This is an average, the area has tons of millionaires. Most corporate executives, movie stars. etc. seem to live here. Vancouver's most expensive homes are found here, strung along the waterfront. Vancouver as a whole has the highest real estate prices in Canada, and is generally the most expensive city in which to live.

-The West End of Vancouver is the most densely populated area in North America. That's actually kind of a stupid statement since it only covers about 20 square blocks. A British travel show once made a big deal of it, which is why it drew attention. Its actually quite a pleasant area.

-Vancouver has one of the highest crime rates in Canada, but still well below most American cities. It does, however, have one of the highest property crime rates in North America (house break-ins and car thefts). This is largely due to the high population of drug addicts. It is still an exceptionally safe city, however. The city usually has less than 50 murders a year, a large number of which are criminals killing other criminals.

-Vancouver is one of the few North American cities with no freeways downtown. Any attempt to build one has met with fierce opposition.

-Vancouver is probably the only place in the world where it is possible to ski, play golf, and go sailing all in the same day.

-Vancouver sits atop one of the worlds most dangerous faults (As does Seattle and Portland as well). An earthquake greater than 8 on the Richter scale is expected eventually. Quakes are not as frequent as in California, but when they happen, they are biggies. Here is a link to more info Current Earthquake Information for British Columbia and Western Canada. There is also a sizable active volcano (Mt. Baker) close the city, but it would not create a threat if it erupted.

-BC has the wackiest politics in Canada (except for Quebec of course, but they're French, so what can I say). Every government this century , left or right, have been caught in several scandals.

-Some Famous Vancouverites: Jason Priestly, Yvonne de Carlo, James Doohan (Scotty on Star Trek), John Ireland. We will also claim Raymond Burr, Pamela Anderson, Michael Buble & Michael J Fox. Raymond Burr was born in a Vancouver suburb, Michael Fox grew up here and Pamela Anderson is from Vancouver Island. (not Victoria Island, as Americans seem to call it) For a complete list check out Well Known Canadians . This can be very depressing if you're American as you discover most of your best known entertainers and others are actually Canadian.

-Rock Star turned activist Bob Geldof (Band Aid, Live Aid), used to be the editor of the "Georgia Straight", a local underground newspaper, in the 60's.

-The concept of Open Line radio originated in Vancouver in the 50's with the late Pat Burns (who had a copyright on the term "hotline"). It also had the first rock'n'roll radio station in Canada (CKWX) in the early 50's and the first rock FM station (CKLG) in 1967.

-Howard Hughes, the famous reclusive billionaire, spent a couple of years in the early 70's secluded away in a suite in the Bayshore Hotel at the entrance to Stanley Park. He moved here after having the pants scared off him by the devastating earthquake in Managua, Nicaragua in the 70's. (I was there in June 99, its still a mess) Probably just as well he left, the corruption following that quake helped precipitate the Sandinista revolution and the downfall of the generational Somoza (of "he may be a bastard, but at least he's our bastard-Roosevelt" fame) dictatorship. I suspect a mega-rich American might not have been too welcome at that time.

-Errol Flynn, the swashbuckling actor and heartthrob from the early days of film, died in a West End Apartment in the 60's. It was rumoured he was broke. It is also rumoured he stashed away a fortune somewhere in Vancouver, that has never been found, and is likely a myth.

-Vancouver hosted the Worlds Fair in 1986. The theme was transportation. Unlike a couple of previous flops elsewhere, it turned out to be one of the most successful ever. Contrary to the fears of some, it did not leave the city with a huge tax bill, and prompted the construction of the rapid transit system, which opened at the same time. Vancouver hosted the Winter Olympics in 2010. It turned out to be one of the warmest winters on record and we actually had to truck in snow. The preceding & following winters were very snowy. Murphy's Law.

-You cannot buy alcohol in a grocery store as is the case in most parts of the world. Alcoholic beverages have to be purchased in a Government Liquor store or a few private ones. Beer and wine can be purchased in licensed beer and wine stores. Not all restaurants are allowed to serve liquor. Liquor taxes are high in Canada.

-Smokers may have a rough time here. You cannot smoke in Restaurants & Bars and other indoor locations. Some restaurants & bars may have outdoor patios where it is allowed.

-Rock Groups from Vancouver- The Collectors later Chilliwack (60's psychedelic), Bachmann Turner Overdrive (70's, 80's), Moist, Bryan Adams, Heart (70's), Loverboy (70's), 54-40. I'm sure I've missed a lot of them, but those are some of the best known.

-Despite Vancouver's reputation as a "wet" city, it actually has a lower average rainfall than Boston, Mass. (Thanks to Doug Dyman of One Bag for this one).

-Vancouver is the birthplace of the one of the worlds largest environmental organizations - Greenpeace

The laser was not invented in Vancouver, but its inventor now lives here, so we'll take credit for it.

(If any Vancouverites know of any other unusual facts about Vancouver, please E-Mail me, so I can add them) them.)