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.
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.
She may look like a little mermaid, but she’s over 350 pounds of solid bronze.
And she’s not “The Little Mermaid.”
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.
Called 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.”