Updated: Apr 2, 2022
Vancouver is situated on the unceded territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) people.
Along with travelling to very cool cities and countries, we also have the great fortune of living in an amazing area here in Canada. We have lived here since 2005 - moving from the interior of British Columbia. My partner, Angela, also lived here in the 1990s for a time. Vancouver is situated on the West Coast of Canada near the U.S. border (about 40km away). We benefit from having one (if not THE) warmest climate in Canada. Snow depths of greater than 1 cm are seen on about 10 days each year in Vancouver compared with about 65 days in Toronto. Average temperature in Vancouver is between 30 Celsius in the summer, and 10 Celsius in the winter. It can freeze during the winter months, but these are short-lived and usually just in the early morning hours in the months of December through February.
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From most places in Vancouver you can look North towards the North Shore Mountains and see three ski hills - east is Mount Seymour; centre is Grouse Mountain and to the west is Cypress Ski Hill. We enjoy fantastic skiing during the winter months - most days you drive up to the snow - ski for the day - then come down to mild temperatures and sitting at a sidewalk cafe in a lite vest and shirt sipping a latte. Vancouver has been referred to as "Lotusland" - a reference to Homer's Odyssey, in which the hero, Odysseus, visits a land whose inhabitants are befuddled by a narcotic lotus. We do have challenges here in Vancouver with drug use - it is a complex issue that has many starting points, and the solution to address this is equally complex. A recent book written by Benjamin Perrin titled "Overdose" (https://www.penguinrandomhouse.ca/books/605163/overdose-by-benjamin-perrin/9780735237865) looks at the current challenges faced by Vancouver to address the severe trauma and dislocation (https://www.brucekalexander.com/) by a man who used to work for Steven Harper's (ultra-conservative Prime Minister of Canada a few years back) Conservative Party - one of his tasks was to shut down "Insight" - Canada's supervised (not safe, but supervised) injection site. He arrived at the University of British Columbia to teach and while here he began talking to people. He went downtown (what we refer to as the Downtown Eastside) and talked with people working with the folks who have severe mental illness and substance use (aka concurrent disorders) and in the process discovered what he previously believed was in need of revision. This book is the outcome of that discovery.
We live near Commercial Drive - we think it is one of the best neighbourhoods in Vancouver - people are eclectic and there are very few chain stores/restaurants. The neighbourhood does a good job of keeping out the big corporations, which is why Commercial Drive has such appeal. This used to be the Italian neighbourhood back a few decades, and it still has that feel in many ways; however, now it is complimented by a host of other ethnicities, which is why we love this area. We are really spoiled living near Commercial Drive for choice and quality of food/coffee, etc. In fact, some of the best coffee in Canada (in our opinion) is on Commercial Drive - cafes such as JJ Bean, Turks (non-conforming since 1992) and Calabria (been here since 1976 (www.cafecalabria.ca) All local roasters, and employers of local people here in the city.
For some great videos of Vancouver there is a fellow by the name of Mike Downie who does some very entertaining videos on the city and can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLO8kAe8d56DGPhalhp5bIAFkDVA9gx3GT
A couple of bald eagles out at Iona Beach Park near the airport (YVR) - check out our video here - just a warning; it is a little graphic with the eagles eating a seagull - not much, but about 6 seconds worth.
Hiking up Mount Fromme you come out the back of Grouse Mountain and the windmill - there is a staircase (maybe elevator) that takes you up to a viewing platform - amazing views of the city from Grouse Mountain.
View from Grouse Mountain
Looking toward Vancouver from Jericho Beach
On top of Quarry Rock in Deep Cove. This is a decent 40 minute hike/walk (one way) with a great view - we often pack a lunch and tea to enjoy a little time with the view and all the friends we haven't met yet.
Slhx̱í7lsh, or "standing man," in the Squamish language - located in Stanley Park. The seawall around Stanley Park is a fantastic 10km walk where we have seen seals just a few feet away from us during high tide. Really pretty area. Starting from Canada Place and walking west you come out in the West End, which has great cafes and restaurants along Denman Street.
Vancouver from Jericho Beach.
The (seemingly) gold buildings are in the West End - the land mass to the left of them is Stanley Park. This is Sunset Beach Park - in the spring and summer this is a really busy area, and on the weekends there are a lot of events that take place here. This photo taken in January - yes, January - with a lite jacket you can sit on the beach and enjoy the sunshine.
"A-maz'ing Laughter" in Vancouver's West End - across from English Bay Beach Park. This outdoor work by Beijing-based artist Yue Minjun depicts 14 cheerful sculptures of himself. This is oddly effective - we will come here just to walk among these statues and it has the effect of lifting the mood - if even just a notch or two.
Snowshoe and Nordic trail area up Cypress Provincial Park Ski Hill. The mountain on the right in the distance is Grouse Mountain - another ski hill.
The East Van sign at Clark and Great Northern Way - just up from Vancouver Community College. Van is short for Vancouver, and the reference is to the city’s Eastern half, traditionally less wealthy and harder-edged - also our neighbourhood. Pretty great place to live all things considered.
View from Hollyburn Mountain - a decent day hike about 30 minutes out of Vancouver.
View from Burnaby Mountain - Simon Fraser University is located up here. Great place to go for a casual stroll and bring a picnic lunch. The cove in the centre of the photo is Deep Cove - really cool little community with "Honey's Doughnuts" - these have to be tried if you are in Vancouver. Made on the premises and marinated in honey. Amazing with a latte.
From Granville Island looking toward False Creek and Vancouver
View from Burnaby Mountain - Vancouver is off to the right; these buildings are part of the Brentwood development in Burnaby.
View from Diez Vista - this is a solid 18km hike about 45 minutes out of Vancouver. This view is looking back toward the city - the bay about mid-photo is Deep Cove - home of Honey's Doughnuts - I mention this again because it is just that good.
One of our favourite walks is Iona Beach Park (eagle photo above was taken there). It is a 4 kilometre long pipe with a walking path on the top of the pipe, as well as a gravel road beside the pipe. There is an outhouse at the end (handy if you've had a coffee or tea prior to the walk), and two rain shelters set at 1/3 and 2/3 the way there, which can be handy if a rain squall sneaks up on you. While you are walking out there is ocean on both sides - seals, seagulls, bald eagles and great blue herons flying about. Vancouver International Airport is the land mass to the east when you are out on the pipe, and when you are 2/3 the way down the airplanes taking off fly directly overhead. Not too far up, either - maybe 100 metres or so. Far in the distance is Vancouver Island - on clear days you can see the mountains on Vancouver Island across the Strait of Georgia. The pipe is made up of 246 concrete sections - 26 pipes per 1/2 kilometre (52 per kilometre approximately). Beautiful area for a walk or jog, and to catch wildlife photos - especially if you want great pictures of bald eagles and other wild fowl. Seals are harder to catch, but not impossible. Check out our video of Iona Beach Park here.
It is really peaceful when you get to the 1/2 way point - ocean on both sides; birds and planes. Really pretty area - fantastic sunsets. Just make sure you check when the gates close. You don't want to get stranded locked in (sign at the front as you enter tells you when the gates are locked)
Nearing sunset on "the Pipe" at Iona Beach Park
At the very end of the pipe looking back towards Vancouver International Airport (centre-right of the photo), Richmond (centre), and Vancouver (to the left of the graffiti).
There is an outhouse (right of the larger structure) at the end, so you won't get caught having to use a toilet and not having access. This is a great spot to pack a lunch; bring a thermos of coffee or tea, and just relax and watch the scenery. There are barges off in the distance and other boats - Vancouver Island, birds... good times.
Looking towards the end of the pipe with Vancouver Island way in the distance
Near the start of the walk looking out along the 4 kilometre length of 'The Pipe". It is, in fact, the outflow for the treated sewer for Vancouver - sounds like a weird place to go, we know - but no smell (the waste is well treated before being sent out) and the wildlife is plentiful.
You are virtually guaranteed (not 100%, but close) to see bald eagles out here at Iona Beach Park.
It can be a nature-education, so be aware the eagles do what they do. Poor old seagull.
Ambleside Park in North Vancouver (officially West Vancouver)
Ambleside Park is a good year-round walk along the 1.7 kilometre seawall. The views of Vancouver, Stanley Park, the University of British Columbia, and Burrard Inlet are spectacular. A good trivia bit of knowledge, while Stanley Park is not the largest of its kind, it is about one-fifth larger than New York's Central Park and almost half the size of London's Richmond Park. Grab a coffee at Crème Coffee Bar (https://cremacafebar.com/) and wander off toward the sunset (if you are here in the evening). The chance of seeing seals is very good – and at times they come in close to shore where you can see them eating a salmon. There is a kid’s park and benches along the route to have a sit and enjoy the views. One of our favourite weekend stops for a latte and a walk. Check out our Ambleside Park video here.
Ambleside Park sea wall in North/West Vancouver
The seawall is 1.7 kilometres long and there are benches along the way. Perfect for a casual walk and a latte.
Looking across towards the University of British Columbia (behind the tanker)
The Squamish Nation Welcome Figure beneath the Lions Gate Bridge
One of the many residents of Ambleside Park
We will have videos coming up to connect to what we've talked about here. In the meantime, we recommend checking out Mike Downie at https://www.youtube.com/c/downielive to see some really great videos of our home town of Vancouver.