I end my articles about Vancouver with my favourite photographs of the city:
Vancouver (click on the pictures to enlarge them)
Stanley Park and Downtown. I like the contrast between the trees and the skyscrapers.
These newlyweds have their photograph taken on the beach of Steveston’s small harbour… between two container ships.
Stacked pebbles by the Seawall which is the path that goes along the sea around Stanley Park.
Dr Sun Yat-Sen Park. A picturesque Chinese garden in the middle of Chinatown.
West Vancouver and its waterfront houses.
Stanley Park at dusk
Reading another time this article, I realise that almost all the pictures I have selected show the sea. It’s not surprising because I think seasides are the most pleasant places in Vancouver.
Here is an article I have written for http://thezieglersblog.com, a blog (that is closed now) about the experiences of immigrants to Canada.
Even if we find the same clothing stores everywhere in the world, I have noticed that each country has its own trends regarding fashion. There are even local trends. Here is for example how many Vancouverites like to dress in summer:
seen on the Seawall in Vancouver
In brief, if you want to look like a Vancouver girl, wear a colorful T-shirt, shorts, flip-flops, nail polish of your favourite color on your toenails and a large smile. Also hold a cup of ice coffee while walking on the Seawall and admiring the scenery.
Vancouver men wear exactly the same outfit, except for the nail polish 😉
Vancouver is not covered in tags still street art is present there. The City Hall has a project that enables graffiti-artists to paint a few authorized walls. In Vancouver, you find the same kind of graffitis as in other big cities but there are a few graffitis that stand out because they are directly influenced by art created by First Nations of the Pacific Coast of Canada. You can recognize the stylized patterns typical of indigenous art. This article features a few of those Vancouverite graffitis. Tangled figures and fantastic animals tell First Nations legends. You can click on the pictures to enlarge them.
The first photo shows a abandoned shop window. The graffiti depicts a bird. I would say that it is an eagle from its curved beak. The drawing style and the choice of colors (white, black and red) are characteristic of the First Nations of the Pacific Northwest’s iconography. For them, the eagle represents power and wisdom.
Graffiti located at Broadway and Fraser Street
The left part and the right part of this other graffiti could represent the sun and the moon. The central part is truncated but you can recognize a fish. Its head is at the top and its tail at the bottom. I think it’s an orca because of its teeth. Native peoples see orca as the animal that reigns over the sea.
Graffiti located at Pacific Street and Seymour Street
photo Kyle Pearce (c) Creative Commons
The last graffiti which is situated under Granville Bridge is more difficult to decipher due to the tangle of the characters.
On the bottom right-hand corner, it is written “… and the raven brought the light into the world”. This sentence evokes a legend of the Haida people which tells that the raven has created the world but a dark world because it lacks light. Light belongs to an old man who keeps it locked up in a box. So the raven steals light to the old man and with this light he creates the sun, the moon and the stars.
We can see a big raven on the picture: its head is on the right and there is a bird’s foot at the bottom. However I am not able to find any trace of the sun. On the left there is a face that doesn’t look happy. Maybe it’s the old man, furious to have his light stolen?
Graffiti located under Granville Bridge at 4th Avenue
Don’t hesitate to leave a comment if you have difficulty spotting the characters… or if you find the sun on the last picture.
In this article, I have put what I would have liked to have known the first time I came to Vancouver, BC: practical information, ecological shops and useful links to visit without polluting.
A car is not necessary to visit Vancouver. You can go everywhere by public transit (bus, skytrain and seabus). Only if you are off-center, it can take time.
Bus schedules are available in public libraries and you can plan your itineraries using Google maps or Vancouver’s public transit website, Translink.
Cycling is another means of transport in Vancouver. There are several bike and skate rentals on Denman Street and elsewhere in the city. Their addresses are in the Canadian yellow pages.
Just remember that helmets are mandatory in Vancouver.
The city of Vancouver has published a map of the bicycle routes (downloadable in pdf format).
If you are in Vancouver on the last Friday of the month, you can join the critical mass, a monthly demonstration of cyclists to reclaim the streets.
In Vancouver, you can travel by bus or by bike or by both at the same time.
photo Stephen Rees (c) Creative Commons
You can find quite a bit of organic products, in supermarkets and in healthy food stores. I have made a list of health food stores in Vancouver on this blog. Organic products are labeled ‘certified organic’ with the name of the certification body. You need to be watchful because they are often mixed with some products that are more or less natural.
Earthsave association publishes a vegetarian directory that lists among others vegetarian-friendly restaurants.
You can find local products in Granville Market that is Vancouver’s market. In the summer, some local producers sell their products in several farmers markets.
Organic stall in Granville Market
MEC (130 West Broadway) is a outdoor and sport equipment store. It’s a retail co-operative so when you buy something there for the first time, you will be asked a few dollars to become a member. MEC has a sustainable development policy and donates 1% of its annual gross sales to environmental causes.
The shops of 10 000 villages association sell fair trade handicrafts.
There’s quite a lot of thrift stores in Vancouver. Just if you buy second-hand clothes, I advise you to wash them at high temperatures to avoid to bringing bedbugs home. There are garage sales too.
The city of Vancouver provides recycling collection service.
Electronic store like FutureShop, BestBuy or London Drugs collect batteries and electroning waste. Recycling Council of British Columbia tells where to recycle some other materials.
When you buy a bottle or a can in a shop, you pay a recycling fee and a deposit (between 5 and 20 cents). You receive a full deposit refund if you return the empty container to the shop.
A few things to do
Vancouver is a good destination if you like outdoor activities. From renting a canoe in Deep Cove to snowshoeing or hiking, there are many options. You can find descriptions of some Vancouver hiking trails on Vancouver trails.
Some hikes require the use of a car but others are accessible by public transit. It’s worth walking because there are magnificent landscapes to discover in British Columbia.
Vancouver has a number of nice parks and gardens. Walking or cycling around the seawall of Stanley Park, which is the city’s most famous park, is a must-do when you visit Vancouver. The inside of the park is also interesting and includes a Nature House that organises ecological activities and the prospect of seeing raccoons or beavers.
Queen Elizabeth Park has nice flowery gardens where recent graduates and newlyweds have their photograph taken.
Like Stanley Park, Pacific Spirit Park runs alongside the sea but in a wilder environment. This is also the location of Vancouver’s nude beach.
On the city of Vancouver website, you can see a map of Community Gardens. I went for a Community Gardens discovery walk in the Mount Pleasant neighbourhood and besides admiring the gardens, we were lucky to meet gardeners who were happy to discuss their small patch of land.
A community garden in Vancouver
Those are my best green tips for visiting Vancouver. Feel free to share yours in the comments section to complete this guide.
In Vancouver BC, you find organic products in supermarkets and in health food stores. Certified organic products are often mixed with some products that are more or less natural.
Organic products are labeled “certified organic” with the name of the certification body but there is no official organic logo.
Vancouver is sprawling and health food stores are difficult to locate when you don’t know the city so I have had the idea to share here my good shops to get organic products. Below are a map followed by a list of health food store in Vancouver classified by neighbourhood:
Click here to see a larger map
Choices Market (Yaletown)
1202 Richards Street
Capers – Whole Foods Market (Robson)
1675 Robson Street
Choices Market (Kitsilano)
2627 West 16th Avenue
Capers – Whole Foods Market (Kitsilano)
2285 West 4th Avenue
Choices Market (Cambie)
3493 Cambie Street
Whole Foods Market (Cambie)
510 West 8th Avenue
I have written a review of this store: http://fr.apolliner.com/2010/01/whole-foods-market-supermarche-bio/
Choices Market (Kerrisdale)
1888 West 57th Avenue
4348 Main Street
2342 East Hastings Street
1045 Commercial Drive
East End Food Co-op
1034 Commercial Drive
Whole Foods Market
925 Main Street
Other places where you can find organic food
You can find local products in Granville Market that is Vancouver’s market. There is in particular a stall called Organic Acres Market that sells organic fruits and vegetables .
In the summer, some local producers sell their products in several farmers markets.
This guide is not exhaustive. I have just written down the shops I know. Feel free to share your organic good shops in Vancouver too in the comments section.
Another article about ethical consumerism in Vancouver on this blog:
Vancouver eco-friendly travel tips
Vélib Station in Paris. photo Martin Tod (c) Creative Commons
After Velib in Paris and Bixi in Montréal, it’s Vancouver’s turn to be interested in a bicycle sharing system. With such a system, you pay a daily or yearly subscription and you can take a bike from one station and return it to another station on the other side of the city. Stations are distributed throughout the city so that you can go wherever you want. You pay the rental according to the time but the first 30 minutes are generally free.
In Vancouver, one obstacle to a bike share system is the helmet law, otherwise this is a means of transportation well suited to the city for many reasons:
- Cycling is developing slowly but surely in Vancouver
- There is room to install the bike stations
- This is the ideal way for tourists to pleasantly discover the city
- I think there would be less vandalism than in Paris
- You can drop the bike off at the nearest station and finish your journey by bus in case of sudden shower
- The city’s size and terrain are well suited to bike trips
I believe the city of Vancouver is up for implementing a public bike system but the financing has yet to be found.
Meanwhile, in Canada the Montreal Bixi is a success and Toronto plans to launch its bike sharing scheme sometime within 2011.
Young woman on a Vélib in Paris
In Canada, your license plate shows the province you live in. Sometimes a motto of the province is also printed. Thus British Columbian plates say ‘Beautiful British Columbia’.
I agree with this statement because there are breathtaking landscapes in this province. To give you an idea, here is a picture of a deserted beach in Vancouver Island :
A special license plate has been issued for the Olympic Games. It says a new motto for British Columbia: ‘The Best Place on Earth’.
This other slogan is more pretentious and also more arguable. Is British Columbia the best place on earth? It depends on whom you ask. It’s true that I have met peaple saying that British Columbia is a paradise. But I have also talked to people who are eager to leave this province. I have made up my mind about this, after a few months in Vancouver: British Columbia is no El Dorado but it’s liveable (otherwise I would already have left 😉 )
In Vancouver, a streetcar operates between Granville Island and Olympic Village during the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
When I was living in Paris region, I had the opportunity to take a streetcar for a few months and it had convinced me of the streetcar’s usefulness in a city. To my mind, streetcar combines subway’s reliability with bus’ friendliness.
The Vancouver Olympic line is free until March 21 2010. At the height of the Olympic Games, there was a long line at each station but I was able to take it when it was less busy. My opinion is lukewarm: the streetcar is slow and noisy, seats are uncomfortable and interior space is not optimized. But those defects can be corrected.
The real bad news is that the streetcar won’t last longer than the Paralympic Games in the absence of funding. I finds it is a little sadistic: we get used to a convenient and not much polluting mode of transport and then it will be suddenly suppressed.
The Olympic Organizing Committee (VANOC) has invited Indigenous people to participate in the organization of the Vancouver Olympic and Paralympic Games.
This partnership is interested : the Olympic Games take place on Indigenous lands and VANOC was fearing an anti-Olympic movement. They prefered collaborating with the First Nations by funding new facilities and educational and cultural projects.
The aboriginal artistic influence can be seen in the Olympic logo (which depicts an inukshuk, a pile of stones built by Inuits), in the traditional patterns etched on the Olympic medals and in the opening ceremony that featured Aboriginal dancers.
An Aboriginal Pavilion was temporarily located in Downtown to promote the Aboriginal cultures during the Olympic Games.
The Aboriginal Pavilion was topped with a dome. A 360° movie was screened inside the dome. It showed images of the First Nations blending past and present, maybe to demonstrate that Aborigines belong to modern society. Other animations were organized such as dance performances.
The Aboriginal Pavilion by day ( (c) Ray Van Eng ) and by night ( (c) Susan Gittins )
A wood totem pole stood outside the pavilion. Totem poles are a Western Canadian First Nations’ tradition. Made up of stacked figures, a totem pole tells a story. You can recognize on the Pavilion’s totem pole, from top to bottom, a Thunderbird with spread wings, a whale (whose dorsal fin shows up in the middle of the totem pole), four faces representing four races of people and down, a bear.
By the Aboriginal Pavilion, steel and glass panels designed by artist Carey Newman combine contemporary materials with patterns inspired by some traditional indigenous motifs. He proves that you can come from a very ancient culture and at the same time be very modern.
The Aboriginal Pavilion gave a preview of Indigenous peoples’ cultural wealth. Even if it doesn’t change the fact that those peoples have to deal with a lot of problems (alcool, unemployment, high youth suicide rate…), Olympic Games have at least given a positive image of First Nations.
Those days in Vancouver red and white are fashionable. Indeed Canadians are patriotic and they are not embarrassed to wear their country’s colors.
Fashionable women are satisfied with a small touch of red and white: they wear a scarf or the famous olympic mittens. The official mittens are certainly the most popular Olympic collectibles. They are red with a maple leaf (symbol of Canada) on one side and the Olympic rings on the other side.
You can see many red jackets but also caps, hockey jerseys, flags…
A Canadian supporter from the Mountains
Some supporters with Team Canada Hockey Jerseys and a Canadian flag
There are a few supporters of other countries but most fans are here to support Canada. I have only taken pictures of few people but you must imagine nearly half the people on the street wearing red clothes. It is quite impressive.