Vancouver Travel Guide

Understand

While Vancouver is a comparatively young city, at just over 125 years, its history begins long before. The Coast Salish indigenous peoples (First Nations) have lived in the area for at least 6000 years, and Vancouver's namesake Captain George Vancouver sailed through the First Narrows in 1792. The first settlement on the downtown peninsula was Granville, located on the spot of today's Gastown. In the year of Canada's confederation a saloon was built on this site and gave birth to a small shantytown of bars and stores adjacent to the original mill on the south shore of what is now the city's harbour. A seemingly endless supply of high quality lumber was logged and sold through the ports of Gastown and Moodyville, across the inlet. Some of the trees were gigantic beams which were shipped to China to construct Beijing's Imperial Palace, and one account maintains that the world's windjammer fleets could not have been built without the trees of Burrard Inlet.

Vancouver proper was signed into existence in 1886. The first City Hall was little more than a hand painted sign nailed to a wooden tent post. The arrival of the transcontinental railway a few years later spurred growth even more and by 1892 the area had over 20,000 residents; eighteen years later this figure was over 100,000.

Factor in constant growth every year since (many in the double digits), and Greater Vancouver today is Canada's largest metropolitan area west of Toronto by far with more than 2,600,000 residents, more than half of British Columbia's population as a whole. It is also the fastest growing part of Canada. Greater Vancouver is one of the most ethnically diverse metropolitan areas in the world and is home to the second largest Chinatown in North America after San Francisco.

For many, Vancouver truly "arrived" in 1986 when the city hosted the Expo 86 World's Fair. Media attention from around the world was consistently positive, though many saw the resulting gentrification of poorer areas as being harmful to Vancouver's lower-class citizens, with many residents of the Downtown Eastside being evicted from their homes. Vancouver also hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics, which was largely seen as another success, though it brought some similar criticisms.

Vancouver is perhaps best known for its scenic beauty, and the opportunities afforded by its natural environment. Vancouver is one of those rare places where you could theoretically ski in the mountains, windsurf in the ocean, and play a round of golf all in the same day. Surrounded by water on three sides, and crowned by the North Shore mountains, Vancouver is a great destination in itself, as well a great starting point for discovering the area's many outdoor activities.

Vancouver is a major sea port on the Pacific Ocean, and a base for many Alaska Cruise Ships in the summer. It has the same name as another city in the region, Vancouver, Washington (USA).

Climate

Depending on who you talk to, or perhaps, when, Vancouver's climate is either much maligned or envied. Late fall and winter are typically damp with clouds smothering the sky like a wet grey blanket (there's a reason Vancouver is sometimes referred to as the "Wet Coast"). But there are benefits to all that rain: it's usually not snowing (unlike most of the rest of Canada) and it leads to a gorgeous display of colour with the start of spring in early March. And that's where Vancouver really shines -- the spring and summer. Springs can still be wet, but it gets warmer and the shrubs, blossom trees and flowers put on a pretty show. Summer days are long and usually sunny with little humidity.

Daytime highs from mid-June to early-Sept are mostly comfortable in the low to mid-20s (70-80 F). Overnight temperatures are usually in the teens (55-70 F). Spring and fall are cooler and wetter, so a packing a mix of cool and warm weather clothing is recommended. If visiting Vancouver between Nov and March, be prepared for wet weather and cool temperatures. Daytime highs are typically around 5-8 C (40-50 F) while overnight lows will get close to zero (32 F) and sometimes colder. Dec and Jan are the coldest months, with the most rain and a chance of snow. While Vancouver's winters are not as harsh as those in other major Canadian cities, the city does get a few days of snow in the winter months every year.

Visitor information
Tourism Vancouver Visitor Centre200 Burrard StPhone: +1 604-683-2000Fax: +1 604-682-6839Hours: 8:30AM-6PMOffers maps, brochures and other information for visitors.

source: Wikivoyage

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