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Vancouver British Columbia

INTRODUCTION

Vancouver is a city located in the province of British Columbia. It is the largest metropolitan center in western Canada, and will be the location of the 2010 Winter Olympics.

HISTORY

The area of Vancouver was originally inhabited by First Nations people dating back almost 10,000 years. Spanish explorers first landed here in the late 1700s, but it was European fur trader and explorer Simon Fraser who claimed the land for the North West Company.

When gold was discovered in the early 1860’s, the population exploded with men eager to make a quick fortune. The first settlement was founded in the wake of this rush, on the Fraser River in 1862. There were more men than gold, and the overflow led to growth in other industries, most notably lumber related. Logging and lumber mills were active along the shore, and became the primary industries until the arrival of the Canadian Pacific Railway in the 1880s. Canadian lumber became so popular that even the Emperor of China purchased some for the construction of the Gate of Heavenly Peace, in the Forbidden City, Beijing.

By the late 1860s, the settlement became known as Gastown, after the owner of the first saloon in the region. In 1871, British Columbia joined the confederation, and the railway came to town. It was the railway president that suggested the settlement change its name from Gastown to Vancouver, since eastern Canadians knew where Vancouver Island was but had no idea where to find Gastown. Vancouver officially became a city in 1886.

That year, a fire destroyed most of the city, but it was quickly rebuilt. 1886 also saw the first locomotive cross the nation, arriving in Vancouver that summer. The arrival of the railway greatly improved Vancouver’s trade potential, and saw a rapid increase in the population. By the turn of the 20th century the residency had grown approximately 200 percent, with about 100,000 people living in the area.

In 1918, Vancouver elected its first woman to the provincial legislature, signaling long lasting social reform.

The growing global economy led to great advances in Vancouver’s international trade. Ballantyne Pier was developed in 1923, and was the most advanced port in the British Empire. Inevitably, this growth brought with it an unsavory element, but vice in Vancouver was kept mainly to the area surrounding Hogan’s Alley, better known as Park Lane.

Vancouver survived the depression era but the province suffered greatly. The result was an influx of unemployed looking for a brief respite from the trials of the depression. Slow on the recovery, Vancouver began taking strides to make life better. In an effort to boost the city’s spirits, a birthday celebration was planned for Vancouver that almost sent the city into bankruptcy. Fortunately, the event was a big success and plans were made for another to be held in 1939. The Second World War brought many changes, most notably an increase in economic standards. Military production brought many new jobs to the struggling city, but also brought a dark side. Shortly after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, Japanese Canadians were seen as potential spies and the Federal government invoked the War Measures Act, requiring that Japanese descendents be held in internment camps for the duration of the war. After the war, many Japanese citizens relocated within Canada or returned to Japan.

The last half of the 20th century saw Vancouver recover from social and financial hardships of the early years and become a world power. The city has become a driving force in economic and technological development, high academic standards, sporting events and entertainment, earning the region the nickname of “Hollywood North”. Vancouver plays host to major events from the Olympic Games and the last World’s Fair held in North America, in 1986. It is also a Mecca for arts and leisure, boasting a vibrant arts scene and one of the best harbors on the West Coast.

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO

There are many fascinating venues and areas to visit and explore. This melting pot of the West Coast of Canada is home to more than 500,000 people. The climate is variable throughout the year. The advantage of having the mountains as a backdrop lends itself to many breathtaking photo opportunities. Another plus is the Pacific Ocean is right at your feet; you literally can ski or snowboard in the morning, and go swimming in the ocean in the afternoon.

The downtown core is a business hub for many important corporations. This is where most tourists start their adventures, as this area is perfect for walking--comfortable shoes are a must! Public transportation is plentiful and easy on the wallet. You will have your choice of Bus, the Vancouver Sky Train, or the Vancouver Sea Bus. In addition, there are many private taxi companies and limousine services, most with Vancouver Airport runs.

ATTRACTIONS

For the fashionistas and shopaholics--world-class retailers will vie for your patronage at the following locations:

A walk of a few blocks down Granville towards the Mountains, will bring you to the Sea Bus Terminal where by catching the hovercraft type ferry you can get to theNorth Shore, it takes approximately about 20 minutes.

The Sea Bus Terminal at Lonsdale Quayhas an open market with fresh seafood and meats, flowers and goods of all kinds, a variety of shops on the upper Level, and a few very good restaurants. There is also a Hotel adjacent to the Market. All are good reasons to make a trip across to North Vancouver. There are good photo opportunities on board, and the view is amazing.

At the corner of Davie Street and Denman Street you will find English Bay Beach , and start to the Sea Wall right across the street. This is an excellent place to stop have a coffee or ice cream and just people watch.

RESTAURANTS

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