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Greater Vancouver, BC, Canada

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About the Greater Vancouver Region ...

 
Greater Vancouver is unusual among world cities, and it is truly unique in Canada for it's combination of the natural and the urban, the recreational and the cultural, and the relative lack of pollution and the opportunities for business and industry.

Greater Vancouver's greatest natural asset is the beauty of it's natural surroundings; a beautiful combination of sea and mountains. The mountains form a panorama around the area and provide numerous recreational opportunities just a short drive away, the mountains also provide shelter from colder northern winds, they also trap a generous amount of rainfall on the area which helps create a milder climate and a healthy/green environment ... the Pacific Coastal Ocean and Fraser River provide natural port area's that contribute significantly to the local economy and also create many water-based recreational activities.

The Greater Vancouver region is located at the very south-western region of mainland Canada, in the westernmost of Canada's ten provinces, British Columbia... depending on where you define it's exact boundaries, the Greater Vancouver region occupies approx. 3,000 sq. kilometers on and around the historic Fraser River Delta. The Greater Vancouver region has a population of just over 2 million people, and is the 3rd most populous region in Canada, after the greater Toronto and Greater Montreal area's.

The City of Vancouver is the largest city within the Greater Vancouver region, Vancouver is also the largest city in the province of BC. Vancouver is consistently named one of the top cities in the world. Vancouver is very unique in that; in many large cities, the downtown core is mostly just a place of business where people work and shop by day, but largely avoid at night... not so in Vancouver, where the downtown is beautiful city that is densely populated/inhabited.

Greater Vancouver is blessed to have one of the mildest climates in Canada... the summers are relatively warm and the winters are relatively mild with very little snow. One of the reasons Greater Vancouver is blessed with a mild winter climate is the weather systems move into the area from west to east... while the rest of Canada is submerged in cold air from the north and the prairies, Greater Vancouver basks in the warmer Pacific airstreams coming off the Pacific Ocean, these Pacific weather systems sometimes originate near Hawaii are often referred to as a Pineapple Express. But while Greater Vancouver is blessed with a milder climate, it is cursed with a lot of winter rain, the North Shore Mountains latch onto water heavy clouds that dump considerable precipitation onto the area during the winter months... the rain does have it's advantages though, as the region's natural vegetation/forests are beautiful, healthy and thick, the grass stays green, and the rain also helps clean the air.

Greater Vancouver's dynamic and spectacular natural environment; it's majestic mountains, sparkling ocean, rainforests, beautiful foliage, rich farmlands, and four seasons make Greater Vancouver one of the most beautiful regions in the world... and because of Greater Vancouver's balmy climate, no matter what time of the year you visit, there are indoor and outdoor activities to please adults, families, couples and friends... you can enjoy world class shopping, gourmet meals, outstanding live entertainment, sporting events, theatre, outdoor adventure, recreational activities, spectacular sights, and attractions 365 days a year.

Greater Vancouver is also one of the leading multi-cultural centers of the world... the area is welcoming to all - families, couples, gay & lesbian travelers, and special needs visitors - everything is within reach. The Vancouver International Airport has consistently been rated as a top North American airport providing easy access from all over the world.

The province of BC is also rich in natural resources, and over the decades, the Greater Vancouver economy has largely developed around the province's natural resources... with Burrard Inlet being one of the world's largest natural harbours; it is deep, sheltered, and ice-free all year... Greater Vancouver is also the western terminus for two transcontinental rail lines and the transcontinental highway... and with the nearby Port of Roberts Bank... the Greater Vancouver region has played a major role in the processing and shipping of the raw material associated with the province's mining, fishing, and forestry industries. However, in recent years, the Greater Vancouver economy has diversified significantly into tourism, film, trade, construction, and high-tech industries.  

Greater Vancouver is also Canadaís gateway to the Asia-Pacific region... the Vancouver International Airport is the second-busiest international airport in Canada... while the Vancouver Port is the largest deep-water port on the west coast of the America's... the BC Govt. currently plans a major BC business expansion/initiative over the coming decades designed for BC to participate in the rise of the Chinese economy, which is forecasted to eventually create roughly 500,000 additional jobs in BC alone.

Located midway between Europe and Asia in the Pacific time zone, Greater Vancouverís business community is in the enviable position of being able to communicate with all continents during the course of a regular business day... from Greater Vancouver, one can monitor business activity in Europe in the early morning, watch North American markets during the day, and schedule conference calls with Asia in the afternoon/evening.

Greater Vancouver has an extensive public transportation network of rapid transit trains, buses, and passenger ferries, with service provided seven days a week, 8 to 20 hours per day, depending on the route. Vancouver is also the home port for the Vancouver-Alaska cruise routes... from May to September, nearly a million cruise ship passengers and close to 300 sailings pass through Vancouver.

Greater Vancouver is also the focal point for post-secondary education in BC, with over a dozen public post-secondary institutions in the region... collectively, these institutions have annual enrollment of nearly 200,000, and award more than 9,000 degrees and certificates each year... in addition to providing excellence in teaching, the University of British Columbia (UBC) and Simon Fraser University (SFU) are also committed to excellence in research.

Once you visit Greater Vancouver and spend some time here, you'll understand why the area is consistently voted as one of the most livable regions in the world.

 

Early Greater Vancouver History:

Before the arrival of European settlers, the Greater Vancouver region was inhabited by a thriving population of native Indians... the Natives had settled in various regions of Greater Vancouver for thousands of years... and while there isn't a huge amount of documentation pertaining to these early native inhabitants, one can clearly see from the land they occupy today, that these people had concentrated their villages/communities along the coastal ocean waters, and also along the Fraser River... living along the coastal waters and the Fraser River provided a very rich banquet of seafood, as well as, a convenient water-way transportation network... it was noted by early European settlers that the early native cultures were highly developed, and that they were master carpenters and canoe-makers, and exquisite craftsmen. Unfortunately, many of the original skills, crafts, and cultures of the early natives were lost during European settlement, as European settlement proved very disruptive and destructive to the early native populations.

In 1791, a Spanish navigator/explorer named Jose Narvaez is considered to be the first European to arrive in the Greater Vancouver area, however, he anchored off the Point Grey area, but he "missed" the entrance to Burrard Inlet and thus was not credited with the European discovery of Vancouver, which was made the following year by Captain George Vancouver.

In 1792, Captain George Vancouver arrived and claimed the land currently known as Vancouver for Britain while searching for the north-west passage to the Orient. In his writings "Voyage of Discovery" Captain Vancouver describes how he was officially welcomed by the local natives;

"From Point Grey we proceeded first up the eastern branch of the sound, where, about a league from its entrance, we passed to the northward of an island which nearly terminated its extent, forming a passage from ten to seven fathoms deep, not more than a cable's length in width. The Island lying exactly across the channel, appeared to form a similar passage to the south of it, with a small island lying before it. From the islands, the channel, in width about half a mile, continued its direction about east. Here we were met by about fifty Indians, in their canoes, who conducted themselves with the greatest decorum and civility [the "island" was Stanley Park] presenting us with several fish cooked, and undressed, of the sort already mentioned as resembling smelt."

And while Captain Vancouver had entered Burrard Inlet on June 13, 1792, and in due course he circumnavigated Vancouver Island, finishing his painstaking survey of the coast and sailing home to write about his account of seamanship, for the next approx. 70 years after his visit, Burrard Inlet and the Greater Vancouver remained relatively undisturbed by the Europeans.

In 1808, while searching for a viable fur trade route and passage to the Pacific Ocean, Explorer and Fur Trader Simon Fraser traveled along the Fraser River... Simon Fraser was actually disappointed with the Fraser River as a trade route due to the rugged and violent sections of its waters. Discouraged by the Fraser, early explorers were neither able to discern the richness that was hidden under the river's turbulent waters, nor were they able to foresee that the river would eventually become the main transportation route between the interior of the province and the coast.

In 1827, the Hudson's Bay Company set up a fur trading post; Fort Langley, which was located 30 miles east of Vancouver on the Fraser River. Fort Langley was the first European settlement in the Lower Mainland, however, homesteaders were not encouraged to settle since land-clearing activities would drive away the fur bearing animals.

The major event or turning point that spurred the big interest in the Lower Mainland by Europeans was the discovery of Gold along the Fraser River in 1858. As Prospectors poured up the Fraser Valley in the search of Gold (approx. 25,000 of them who mostly came from depleted Gold mines in California) the need for control of the wild-land and to provide order among the Gold seekers, and also to protect the land from encroachment by the United States, led the British Government to create the crown colony of British Columbia. James Douglas, then Governor of Vancouver Island, became Governor of the new colony. A company of Royal Engineers under Colonel R.C. Moody were dispatched from England to make surveys, build roads, and enforce the Queen's law.

Colonel Moody was responsible for choosing the village of Queensborough, later New Westminster, as the capital of the colony. Burrard Inlet became the back door to the capital and to the arterial water-highway of the Fraser River. To establish Burrard Inlet as an alternative route of access to New Westminster, Colonel Moody's men in 1859 built a pack trail to the inlet. In 1861 the trail was widened to take wagons, and was named "North Road".

The Royal Engineers charted the coastline of the inlet and designated the future Stanley Park as a military reserve. By 1863 Moody and his engineers had completed the survey of lots 181-185, townsite of Granville, and on the disbanding of his force each man received a grant of 150 acres. Moody and most of his men returned to England, the rest remaining to make their homes in the colony, but all were on the ground floor of the land speculation that has been one of the major guiding forces of Greater Vancouver ever since.

By all accounts, from the present Granville Street to the tip of Point Grey grew one of the most magnificent stands of virgin timber the world has ever seen... one Douglas Fir that stood on Georgia Street between Seymour and Granville was reported to be 13 ft. in diameter at the stump, the fallen giant tree was measured as 4 ft. thick at an astonishing 200 ft. up from the butt, sections of the tree were shipped back to Britain to be displayed in a garden show to as a colonial phenomenon.

In 1867, John Deighton, called "Gassy Jack" because he was so talkative, opened a saloon near Hastings Sawmill on Burrard Inlet. As liquor was prohibited on company land, business boomed for Jack; he was so successful that a community known as "Gastown" grew around his saloon.

In 1869, Gastown was officially incorporated as the town of Granville.

In 1884, the Canadian Pacific Railway decided on Coal Harbour, at the mouth of Burrard Inlet, as its transcontinental terminus. This decision was crucial to the subsequent rapid development of Vancouver.

In 1886, the town of Granville, population 1,000, became the city of Vancouver. On June 13 of that year, the entire city of wiped out by a clearing fire gone wild, fewer than a half dozen buildings remained standing. Despite the chaos of rebuilding, the inaugural City Council showed remarkable foresight by turning the First Narrows Military Reserve into a park, the park was named "Stanley Park" after Governor General Lord Stanley. After the fire, the city grew rapidly, by the end of the year approx. 800 buildings had been built.

In 1887, the first CPR train chugged into Vancouver... the transcontinental railway had been completed.

In 1889, the original Granville St. Bridge was built.

In 1893, the Hudson's Bay Company opened its first department store at Granville and Georgia Streets.

In 1908, the University of British Columbia was founded.

In 1925, the original Second Narrows Bridge opened, connecting Vancouver with the North Shore.

 





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