Viva Vancouver

Canada’s city beautiful, Vancouver, has been voted the world’s most attractive and liveable destination, writes Ramesh Seth

VANCOUVER, in Canada, is one of the most attractive cities of the world. Located on both sides of the Burrard Channel, a sea inlet, with a distant mountain range in the background it is a sheer tourists’ delight. Surrounded by water on three sides and by the coast range, the mountains that rise abruptly to more than 1,500 m, on the fourth. It has an agreeable climate the year round.

More than any city in Canada, Vancouver has the most polyglot population. It has a strong presence of Asians, both from East Asia, like Chinese and Indians, mainly the Sikhs. It was to Vancouver that the Sikhs came and settled one hundred years ago. The borough of Surrey, across the harbour, has the highest percentage of the Sikhs of any borough in Canada.

The annual Baisakhi procession through the streets of Vancouver is one of the important highlights of the civic calendar of the city. The Sikhs dressed in the colourful clothes, women in their salwar-kameez and the men in with colourful turbans, present an exotic sight for the White people.

As the procession meanders through the streets with the float of the Guru Granth Sahib taking the lead. The 100 years of the accomplishment of Sikhs in the foreign land is also showcased.

The downtown is joined with the cross channel inland boroughs of Surrey, Burnaby, Westminster etc. with magnificent suspension bridges. Then there is the sky-train with links downtown with the areas across the harbour. At present, the sky-train has only one route but it is still very popular.

It runs underground for some distance in downtown and on an elevated railway track for most of the route. The remarkable thing about this three-coach sky-train is that it is fully automatic and runs without any driver since it is controlled electronically.

Vancouver is an exciting city. It boasts of an impressive number of activities and attractions for both the one-time visitor and the permanent resident. Enjoy the variety of festivals and events that Vancouver has to offer.

Visit the widely known and not-so-widely known Vancouver attractions yourself, or go on an organised tour with a guide. For a night out, it offers the best dining and nightlife in Canada. There is a profusion of events listed for visitors, live theatre, musical concerts, nightlife venues, recreational activities, attractions, and more.

December 16, 1824 may be termed as the date of the founding of Vancouver when James McMillan arrived in what is now the Langley area with a party of 40 men. However, it was in 1858 when gold was discovered on the nearby river Fraser that things changed rapidly. As soon as that news travelled to California in no time thousands of American prospectors thronged the city and Vancouver came to its own.

The city is protected from the icy winds of North Pole by the massive Vancouver Island towards the north-west of the city. But for that, Vancouver would have had a Polar climate. Due to the shield, its climate is one of the mildest in Canada.

Temperatures average 3ºC in January and 18ºC in July. It rarely snows though Vancouver’s average annual precipitation is about 1200 mm. Most rainfall occurs in winter. With a present population of about 500,000 (estimated), Vancouver lies in a region of more than 2 million people. Vancouver is the largest city in the province of British Columbia and the third largest in Canada. It covers an area of 113 sq km.

Vancouver was also the port where the ill-fated steamer Komagata Maru came with 376 Sikhs passengers in 1914 with intention of settling in Canada. It was illegally denied permission to dock. After waiting there for two months, the steamer was driven out by the local White Government. In 1998, to atone for that blatant act of racialism the governments of Canada and the British Columbia province jointly placed a plaque at Portal Park, overlooking the scene of brutal highhandedness. It reads,

"On May 23, 1914, 376 British Subjects (12 Hindus, 24 Muslims and 340 Sikhs) of Indian origin arrived in Vancouver harbour aboard the ship SS Komagata Maru, seeking to enter Canada. 353 of the passengers were denied entry and forced to depart on July 23, 1914. This plaque commemorates that unfortunate incidence of racial discrimination and reminds the Canadians of our commitment to open society in which mutual respect and understanding are honoured, differences are respected, and traditions are cherished." Inscribed upon the plaque put in at Portal Park, Vancouver.

We found it soothing and encouraging when we read that declaration of atonement.

The most liveable city

Vancouver has been voted the world’s most attractive destination based on liveability according to the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

Assessing the living conditions of 127 cities around the world, the EIU survey ranked the cities on 40 individual indicators grouped into five categories: stability; healthcare; culture and environment; education; and infrastructure. The liveability ranking of Vancouver rated highest due partially to low crime, little threat from instability or terrorism and a highly developed infrastructure. Along with Vancouver, cities from Australia, Switzerland, Austria, as well as Canadian destinations Toronto, Calgary and Montreal, formed the top ten. This ranking reaffirms the view that Vancouver is one of the top destinations in the world to both live in and visit.

The Economist Intelligence Unit, the business information arm of The Economist Group, publisher of The Economist, is the world’s foremost provider of country, industry and management analysis. — From the Net