Another ferry ride (our fifth and last of the trip) took us off Vancouver Island an into Vancouver (the city). So … why isn’t Vancouver on Vancouver Island? We actually disembarked at Tsawwassen a few miles south of Vancouver–near Point Roberts, WA. Point Roberts is interesting in that it’s a small peninsula connected to Canada. The 49th parallel, which divides most of Canada from the USA, cuts this point of land before the border starts to zig-zag around islands. I’m sure there is a very interesting story about why the zig-zagging didn’t start a few miles earlier.
The first few days we actually spent in Richmond rather than Vancouver. We were just a few blocks away from the Steveston neighborhood, a quite picturesque seaside area full of shops and restaurants–very walkable. The story we heard was that a fisherman from Japan was exploring for better fishing grounds since his Japanese village seemed to be running low on good fish. He ended up at the area now known as Steveston and loved it. He then went back to Japan and convinced the whole village to pack up and move. They started a little Japanese village here and continued their fishing tradition.
After a few days, we moved into downtown Vancouver–the Yaletown district. Vancouver is a very clean city with trees and parks scattered everywhere. And of course, you only have to look up to see mountains surrounding the place. The grandest park is Stanley Park. It’s a bit bigger than Central Park in New York and the locals say they have the USA to thank for it.
The area now known as Stanley Park, a 1000 acre parcel at the northern tip of Vancouver, was originally built as a fort to protect Canada (and the British interests) from attack. Back then the newly formed USA was still not too friendly with Britain, so Britain needed a fort. After years of nothing happening, and the US and England becoming friends, Lord Stanley (the Governor General of Canada at the time) decided the fort wasn’t needed (it was probably costly to maintain, also) and designated the mostly undeveloped land as a park. His quote at the time of opening stated–To the use and enjoyment of people of all colours, creeds, and customs for all time.
Much of one day was spent at the Capilano Suspension Bridge. The highlight, of course, was walking over the long, narrow, shaky bridge–but you had to do it twice since it was the only way home. Also of interest are the treetop walkway and another walkway that was suspended from the cliff side.
On one little jaunt around town, we stopped in the Vancouver Main Library. I have to say that until then I thought that Bolder, Colorado Library was the most amazing one–now my favorite is Vancouver! I don’t think it’s on the tourist maps, but take the elevator to the top and walk out to the rooftop and look at the view of the city.
We used our last full day in Vancouver to move around the False Creek aboard the ferries run by False Creek Ferries (obvious name, huh?). The ferries run back and forth across False Creek. We made stops at Kitsilano Beach, Grandville Island (with its fantastic Market Place), Olympic Village, and Yaletown.