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 – 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.”