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 – A Great Cafe for a Crisp Autumn Day

Nothing’s better than a warm café on a crisp autumn day, and Platform 7 Coffee goes above and beyond the ordinary to offer your taste buds something special.

As soon as you step inside the doors, you’re struck by the décor, which looks like the inside of a train station. And in fact, it was modeled after a Belle Epoche Parisian train station. It’s fabulously whimsical, what with the metal girders arched across the ceiling, picturesque murals of the countryside, and a plethora of coffee-making paraphernalia strewn about.

From the outside, it’s equally pleasing, with a village shop look and outdoor tables. Sharing the building with the well-known Tanglewoods bookstore next door is an extra bonus.

Beyond the superb location and railway décor is Platform 7’s unique “Taster Flight,” where you choose three different single-origin beans, and they use the classic hario (pour-over) method for your three taster cups of coffee… a destination-cafe for any good coffee aficionado.

Location: 2300 Broadway (at Vine)

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https://www.tanglewoodbooks.ca/

Vancouver – The Crows

These strutting generals of the avian world are plentiful in Vancouver’s residential neighborhoods. And when dusk comes, you might see one of the  eeriest sights ever, as thousands upon thousands of these jet black birds fly towards their nightly rookery around Still Creek.

Vancouverites tend to have a love or hate relationship with crows. Not “love and hate”, but “love or hate”.

On the dark side, crows like eating songbird eggs for breakfast, which means fewer birdsong-filled mornings, and more squawking wake-up calls.

On the crow-lovers side of things, some locals have made entire documentaries lauding the intelligence of these birds that make and use tools and have facial recognition as a skill.

This however leads back to the dark side of crows—that being if they feel one of their brethren are threatened, for instance, by a passerby inadvertently strolling under a tree where a crow’s nest is housing some crow chicks, they’ll divebomb the person.

What exactly does this mean?

It means they fly at full-speed from behind and crash into your head, or perhaps a hairs-width from your scalp. And, remembering your face permanently, they and their family will forever see you as an enemy who deserves a good scare or an outright collision every time you pass by.

Many locals know someone who’s been on the wrong side of a crow. One local, a lifelong tennis player, found himself dealing with an onslaught of crows on his deck. So he got out his tennis racket and… well, he no longer has a crow problem. Game, set and match.

Another local, on the meeker end of the scale, has taken to carrying crackers in her pocket, hoping to appease the neighborhood crows. This, in addition to carrying an umbrella rain or shine.

Why?

Because she was divebombed and hit with such a powerful and unexpected thump, her neck went out. Not hard to see how this group of birds came to be known as a ‘murder of crows.’

You know anyone who’s had a run-in?

Welcome to Vancouver!

As a local Vancouver tourguide and tour director, I hear some of the very best insider stories about Vancouver. Sometimes these stories have been retold so many times by so  many different locals, that there’s more than one version of the truth floating around.

But without question, each new glimpse into the tales behind Vancouver’s multi-faceted veneer brings an increased sense of depth and vibrancy to the city I’ve called home since I was a teen, back when Vancouver was the hippie capital of Canada, and you could pay the rent on an old Victorian home with just a few nights busking (the term ‘busking’ being a local term referring to street performing).

Having picked up a wealth of fascinating insider info, as both a local Vancouverite and a tourguide, it seems only fair to share it all, so you too can get to know Vancouver better and to see what makes it one of the world’s “most livable cities.”