Vancouver Loses its Beloved Steam Clock (for 2 months)

Photo credit: Junichi Ishito | Flickr

Photo credit: Junichi Ishito | Flickr

Gastown has lost an icon. The legendary Gastown Steam Clock, the steam-powered, 16-foot-tall clock on the corner of Cambie and Water Streets, is gone.

The clock was removed on Wednesday morning, Oct. 8, by city work crews, who carted it off on a flat-bed truck.  It will spend the next two months in a city works yard getting some long overdue repairs before being returned to its original location.

The clock debuted on Sept. 26, 1977.  If it happens to look a lot older than that, there’s good reason. The Victorian-style timepiece – with its  brass and copper finishings – was part of a larger effort to give Gastown a more vintage look and lure in tourists (other touches included the faux cobblestones laid down on Water Street).  The clock was installed to cover an existing steam grate and (at least, according to Wikipedia) “prevent street people from sleeping on the spot in cold weather.”

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Vancouver Loses its Beloved Steam Clock (for 2 months)

Finding the Best Stargazing Spot in Vancouver

NightPhotoClass-52If you’ve ever looked up at a night sky from downtown Vancouver, you’ve probably noticed a lot of nothing.  Even on a clear night, you’re unlikely to see stars.  The city lights are just too bright for stargazing.

So what’s a star lover to do? Get out of town.

There are some incredible starscapes out there. The key is finding a dark place, far from the ghostly glow of city lights, which can carry for miles and miles.  The usual suspects for great Vancouver views – like Cypress Mountain and Mount Seymour – won’t do because the sky is still too bright. But one of the most popular spots for hobbyists and amateur astronomers – and people who just like to spot the Big Dipper – is Porteau Cove Provincial Park, approximately one hour northwest of Vancouver along the Sea to Sky Highway.

I checked out Porteau Cove on a recent night, which happened to correspond to forecasts of Northern Lights … the wavy green streaks in the night sky common at higher latitudes and on rare occasions even visible in the Lower Mainland.   Continue reading:
Finding the Best Stargazing Spot in Vancouver

Dalai Lama Coming to Vancouver

Photo credit: sandal500 | Flickr

Photo credit: sandal500 | Flickr

Vancouver is about to get some serious lessons on compassion from the world’s leading authority on the subject.

The Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of a prominent school of Tibetan Buddhism and Nobel Peace Prize winner, returns to the city for a pair of engagements, Oct. 21 and Oct. 23.  He will focus on two familiar subjects: the theme of heart-mind learning and the universality of compassion.

So who is the man behind the robes? Tenzin Gysato is the 14th Dalai Lama, in a line stretching back to the 14th century in Tibet.  Each Dalai Lama is thought to be the reincarnation of the “bodhisattva of compassion” (if Wikipedia hasn’t steered me wrong on this). The current Dalai Lama was born in 1935 and has reigned since 1950. In 1959, during the Tibetan uprising against China, he was forced to flee to India and establish his administration there.

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Dalai Lama Coming to Vancouver

Big-Budget Movie Looks at Vancouver’s Legendary Japanese Baseball Team

VancouverAsahiTheYou’ve heard of “moneyball,” but what about “brain ball”?

That’s the strategy used by the Vancouver Asahi – the city’s storied baseball team from the 1930s – to dominate the competition.  Instead of relying on home runs, they used bunts and great defence to foil their opponents.

The team and the Japanese-Canadian experience during that era is the subject of the new feature film The Vancouver Asahi, in local theatres now as part of the Vancouver International Film Festival.  The big budget movie recreates the Asahi’s epic 1937 season while offering a glimpse into life in Vancouver’s historic Japantown neighbourhood in the days before World War II.

And there’s a unique twist: The film was made in Japan, offering a Japanese take on Vancouver life and racial politics at the time. Continue reading:
Big-Budget Movie Looks at Vancouver’s Legendary Japanese Baseball Team

Free, Behind-The-Scenes Tours of 20 Quirky Vancouver Landmarks: This Weekend Only

Photo sourced from doorsopenvan.ca

Photo sourced from doorsopenvan.ca

Ever wondered what those big smokestacks on the south end of the Cambie Street Bridge are for … the ones that spew lots of steam and even light up from time to time? They’re actually attached to the False Creek Energy Centre, the first facility in North America to capture heat from sewage and waste water.  The heat is then returned to local buildings, cutting emissions by up to 60 percent.

If that kind of stuff fascinates you, then you’re in for a treat.  The False Creek Energy Centre and 19 other iconic and sometimes mysterious local buildings will be opened to the public this weekend as part of the inaugural Doors Open Vancouver. On Saturday, Oct. 4, from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. (some times vary), you can swing by for free, behind-the-scenes tours that look at the architecture, engineering and history of some real Vancouver landmarks.

The only hard part is choosing which buildings to visit.   Continue reading:
Free, Behind-The-Scenes Tours of 20 Quirky Vancouver Landmarks: This Weekend Only