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Canada: Banff, Jasper, Montreal, Niagara Falls, Niagara Falls (Visit 2), Niagara-on-the-Lake, Niagara on the Lake (Visit 2), Quebec City, Toronto, Toronto (Visit 2), Vancouver, Victoria
Vancouver, Canada: British at heart
by Prakash Bang, Editor in Chief
We left the hotel at 7:30 AM in Jasper and commenced our drive to Edmonton. Earlier on, while driving from Banff to Jasper we couldn't find any gas station on the way. I later realised that was the case because we were passing through the two national parks. Since our driving distance from Jasper to Edmonton was 370 kms, I was worried if I need to fill up the tank in Jasper itself. However, that was not the case. We would be out of the national park jurisdiction, and there would be gas stations on the way as we pass along the towns of Hinton and Edson on highway 16.
We took a 30-minute break at Edson. It was coffee time at McDonalds situated in the premises of Walmart. By 12 noon we were at Edmonton airport. We returned our car at Avis and were ready to board our flight to Vancouver, British Columbia, BC in short. The flight was at 3:25 in the afternoon. As we were flying west, we reached almost at the same time despite being in air for a few hours.
At the airport we realised, that BC doesn't have Uber. There was no option but to depend on metered taxis. We were booked at Westin Grand on Robson Street, downtown Vancouver. The hotel would be our home for the next 3 nights. After spending $36 and 60 minutes, we were in our room. It was a sunny evening, encouraging us, as always, to explore the neighbourhood.
The City of Vancouver was incorporated on April 6, 1886. The city takes its name from George Vancouver, who explored the inner harbour of Burrard Inlet in 1792 and gave various places British names. The explorer's ancestors came to England "from Coevorden", which is the origin of the name that eventually became "Vancouver".
With its scenic views, mild climate, and friendly people, Vancouver is known around the world as both a popular tourist attraction and one of the best places to live. Vancouver is also one of the most ethnically and linguistically diverse cities in Canada with 52 percent of the population speaking a first language other than English. The city has hosted many international conferences and events, including the 2010 Winter Olympics and 2010 Winter Paralympics.
Walking along Robson Street and crossing Robson Square and then taking a right on Burrad Street, we headed straight down to the waterfront. Took us about 25 minutes. Along the way we crossed the historic Christ Church Cathedral. Since we were in the middle of the business district, we were shadowed by tall skyscrapers with fancy and creative facades.
Sandwiched between Burrad Inlet and Coal Harbour is the beautiful Vancouver waterfront. On one end is the Canada Place and on the other is the seaplane terminal. And in between are a series of restaurants, the convention centre and green spaces.
Canada Place is an iconic national landmark welcoming local residents, visitors and ships to the West Coast. Canada Place is a multi-use facility that includes FlyOver Canada, Vancouver Convention Centre East, Pan Pacific Hotel, Port Metro Vancouver cruise ship terminal, World Trade Centre office tower and VINCI Park.
As we walked along the harbour, we could see dozens of seaplanes either taking off or landing. Travelers wishing to make a quick trip to Victoria, Whistler, Nanaimo, Saltspring Island, Comox and other destinations can catch a seaplane at Coal Harbour. What otherwise could have taken hours and hours to reach, these seaplanes make the journey a matter of minutes.
For our return journey to the hotel, we took the Granville Street that runs parallel to Burrad Street. Dinner that evening was at a pizzeria, just across our hotel. Made sense to call it a day... after all it was a long one.
Vancouver is one of the wettest Canadian cities. We got the proof the next morning. It was raining and we were told that situation may not improve for the day. With sunken spirits we just waited in our room. When the rain drops were bearable, we decided to walk on Robson and check out shops and malls. Of course, we have no intention of emptying our purse, rather it was more to kill time.
Thankfully, at 2 in the afternoon, the rain stopped and the sun was playing hide and seek. We took our chances and as advised earlier by the hotel's concierge, we took the complimentary shuttle bus that departed every 20 minutes from the corner of Vancouver Public Library, a block away from our hotel. The destination was Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, one of Vancouver's major attraction. It was a 30-minute ride through busy downtown streets, the Stanley Park and over the Lions Gate Bridge.
The Capilano Suspension Bridge is a simple suspension bridge crossing the Capilano River.The current bridge is 140 metres long and 70 metres above the river.
The name capilano is actually a First Nations name belonging to the Squamish Nation and originally spelled Kia’palano, meaning “beautiful river”. Kia’palano was the name of a great Squamish chief who lived in this area in the early part of the 1800s. Over time “Kia’palano” was anglicized into “Capilano”: a word that has become the namesake of the bridge and park as well as the river and surrounding area.
The bridge was originally built in 1889 by George Grant Mackay, a Scottish civil engineer and park commissioner for Vancouver. It was originally made of hemp ropes with a deck of cedar planks, and was replaced with a wire cable bridge in 1903. In 1910 Edward Mahon purchased the Capilano Suspension Bridge. "Mac" MacEachran purchased the Bridge from Mahon in 1935 and invited local natives to place their totem poles in the park, adding a native theme. In 1945, he sold the bridge to Henri Aubeneau.
The bridge was completely rebuilt in 1956. The park was sold to Nancy Stibbard, the current owner, in 1983. In May 2004, Treetops Adventures was opened, consisting of seven footbridges suspended between old-growth Douglas Fir trees on the west side of the canyon, forming a walkway up to 30 metres above the forest floor.
The park also features rain forest ecotours, gardens, nature trails, North America's largest private collection of First Nations totem poles, period decor and costumes, and exhibits highlighting the park's history and the surrounding temperate rain forest. In June 2011, a new attraction called Cliff Walk was added to the park.
The entrance to the park costs $57 per person. It’s indeed steep but then that’s the price of thrills. Going all the way to Vancouver and missing a visit is surely not a good idea.
On our way back, we requested the shuttle drive to drop us at a stop that would be near the Stanley Park – Vancouver’s another great attraction for locals as well as tourists.
Stanley Park is a magnificent green oasis in the midst of the urban landscape of Vancouver.
The park has a long history and was one of the first areas to be explored in the city. The land was originally used by Indigenous peoples for thousands of years before British Columbia was colonized by the British during the 1858 Fraser Canyon Gold Rush. For many years after colonization, the future park with its abundant resources would also be home to Non-Indigenous settlers. The land was later turned into Vancouver's first park when the city incorporated in 1886. It was named after Lord Stanley, 16th Earl of Derby, a British politician who had recently been appointed Governor General.
Unlike other large urban parks, Stanley Park is not the creation of a landscape architect, but rather the evolution of a forest and urban space over many years. Most of the manmade structures present in the park were built between 1911 and 1937 under the influence of then superintendent W.S. Rawlings. Additional attractions, such as a polar bear exhibit, aquarium, and miniature train, were added in the post-war period.
The park has miles and miles of paved and dirt tracks. It would surely take days to explore every part of the park. However, it would be nice to walk the 'seawall' around the periphery. It's about 8 kms and would need at least 2-hours to complete the loop. The walk offers excellent views of the city, the bridges and the harbour. We walked half the loop. From the aquarium we called for a taxi to take us back to the hotel.
Dinner that evening was at an Indian restaurant, a block away. Tomorrow, it would be another long day… a day trip to Victoria.
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