Vancouver – On the Waterfront

Built for Vancouver’s Expo ’86, the five two-pointed white sails of Canada Place represent our ten provinces.

And what exactly was Vancouver’s 1986 World Fair all about?

Well, it was a six-month long extravaganza, welcoming the nations of the world to come celebrate Vancouver’s 100th anniversary. Yes, just a hundred years old. We’re one of the youngest cities on earth.

Expo ’86 is often pointed to as the event that put Vancouver on the world map, our “coming out ball” so to speak. And while it certainly brought a whole new wave of developers to Vancouver, it wasn’t the first wave.

Almost since Vancouver’s inception, realtors and developers have been arriving on our shores.

From Britain, the Royal Engineers (very business-oriented engineers, at that) arrived in the 1800s and began parceling out land and naming streets for themselves. The rail executives of the Canadian Pacific Railroad also got into the action—big time—demanding massive parcels of land in exchange for their beneficence in bringing the railway terminus to Vancouver.

In fact, it was some of these executives who cajoled the government into turning an entire thousand acre parcel of land into Stanley Park, thus increasing the land value of their own property in the adjacent West End. Vancouver’s first mayor, too, was a realtor.

All of which is to say that yes, Expo ’86 brought a fresh wave of international interest to our oceanfront city. But it wasn’t the first—or the last—flush of land-happy realtors, speculators and developers to Vancouver.

To this day, real-estate is a topic that brings out the wildest passions in our otherwise tame West Coast hearts.

Vancouver – Not The Little Mermaid

 

She may look like a little mermaid, but she’s over 350 pounds of solid bronze.

And she’s not “The Little Mermaid.”

Not exactly.

A Vancouver sculptor wanted to replicate Denmark’s iconic statue, but was given an emphatic “no” to that request.

So what did our inventive sculptor do? He took what was basically his version of Denmark’s Little Mermaid, put some flippers on its feet, a pair of goggles atop its head, and named it “Girl in a Wetsuit.” Disingenuous!

If you come across it as you’re walking, jogging, or cycling around the Stanley Park Seawall (or driving for that matter), you’ll notice the “Girl in a Wetsuit” can also be a tide marker.

At high tide, the water rises to the bottom of her flipper. At low tide, the entire rock upon which she sits is exposed.

You can find her between Brockton Point and the Kid’s Waterpark on the North side of Stanley Park. Go for a visit and let me know if you think the sculptor copied Denmark’s Little Mermaid? Or was it really, as he claims, simply an homage to Vancouver’s watery environment.

Vancouver – The Bridge that Guinness Built

Lions Gate Bridge VancouverCalled the ‘Car Tangled Spanner’ by locals, this bridge once had a suicide lane. You see, it was built with three lanes, the middle one being a passing lane—for cars driving in both directions!

Today the 60,000 daily commuters who cross the Lion’s Gate have been saved this particularly ghoulish Russian Roulette, and we now have a counter-flow system. That is, traffic lights in the middle lane face both directions and are adjusted to smooth the flow of traffic, especially during rush hours.

 

As for how the Lion’s Gate Bridge got built, for that we can thank the Guinness family of Ireland, of beer and “Book of World Records” fame.

They put up about $6 million to build our bridge. After charging a twenty-five cent toll to drivers for a number of years, they made back their original $6 million dollar investment. And then sold the bridge to the city for another $6 million—doubling their money!

The luck of the Irish indeed.

* Excerpt from the upcoming book, “Vancouver Insider’s Guide.”

Vancouver – Amazing Laughter on English Bay

The fourteen hulking bronze statues that comprise “A-maze-ing Laughter” were making a world tour when they touched down in Vancouver at the corner of Denman and Davie. And we just loved them! But with a price tag of 1.5 million dollars, they were beyond our city’s budget. Lucky for us we have a local yoga-gear magnate by the name of Chip Wilson, one of the wealthiest men on earth and the founder of Lululemon—who rode in on a magical yoga mat with a check in hand.

What a guy!

It’s perhaps a gesture of gratitude to all us Vancouverites who live, breath, work, and of course practice yoga in his apparel. So far as I know, there’s only been one misstep in his yogic trajectory… that being the case of the overly transparent pants, which turned downward dogs everywhere into a case of “too much information.”

While this fabric oversight could have been overlooked as a simple sartorial error, his response raised the ire of many a local when he responded to this cheeky clothing item by saying “quite frankly, some women’s bodies just don’t work for it… it’s really about the rubbing through the thighs,” insinuating that women’s thighs are a little too big for his brand of yoga.

Politically charged yoga stories are not rare in this yoga-happy city, so it’s a good thing we have the A-maze-ing Laughter statues to remind us about the latest yoga craze… laughter yoga.

 

*If you want to know a little more about the artist of these statues, check out this article in the Vancouver Courier:

https://www.vancourier.com/news/meet-the-artist-behind-the-a-maze-ing-laughter-figures-1.21096941