Vancouver’s 25 most memorable moments of 2011

New Year’s Eve goes with sparkly dresses, bow ties and bubbly. It also goes with ritual. New Year’s is the time to look back at the year’s most compelling moments. From laudable to laughable and downright shocking, here are 25 memorable moments of 2011.

For auld lang syne, Vancouverites:

25 Memorable Moments of Vancouver 2011

1)  Vancouver turned 125 in April. The city celebrated the anniversary with ample fanfare.

2) Food cart fame: Food carts were the talk of the town in 2011, offering up a wide variety of creative, affordable street eats and putting Van’s dining scene on par with hotspots like Los Angeles and Portland.

3) The federal government recognized the Chinese-Canadian community by officially declaring Vancouver’s Chinatown a National Historic Site of Canada.

4) Occupy Vancouver: The unexpected and delayed Occupy movement found a strong local voice with our “other 99 percent.”

5) Vancouver makes MSN’s Worst Dressed List. According to them, our love of yoga pants makes us sartorially damned.

6) The Canucks turned 40 AND made it to Game 7 in the Stanley Cup Final. ‘Nuff said.

7) The talk of the summer: The Stanley Cup riot June 15—also ’nuff said.

8) The Stanley Cup riot’s infamous smooching couple was named Esquire’s “Photo of the Year.”

9) The book Secret Journeys of a Lifetime: 500 of the World’s Best Hidden Travel Gems, rated Vancouver’s Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden the No. 1 City Garden in The World— above the Rodin Sculpture Garden in Paris, the Foster Botanical Garden in Hawaii, and the Botanic Gardens in Singapore, to name a few.

10) Neapolitan pizza explosion: Vancouver was once a city where flabby, greasy, frisbees ruled. 2011, however, saw a handful of authentic Neapolitan pizza joints open throughout town. These include Nicli Antica, Pizzeria Novo, Campagnolo Roma, Farina, Verace Pizzeria and Bibo restaurant.

11) The annual Polar Bear Swim, our world-famous winter dip that’s been going strong since 1920, set a new record of 2,246 official entries in 2011.

12) MSN Travel ranked Vancouver in their top ten list of cities with the most beautiful women. Yes, there’s a list for that. And it’s made by a man. In 2011.

13) Air Canada’s enRoute magazine ranked two Vancouver restaurants (Hawksworth and L’Abattoir) as the Best New Canadian Restaurants of 2011.

14) Kate Middleton’s wedding dress (by Sarah Burton): The NYTimes called her “Grace Kelly reborn.” Okay, so this isn’t exactly a “Vancouver” moment. Wow, nonetheless. I had to sneak that in the list.

15) Foreign Policy ranked Vancouver 6th in a list of cities to watch in the next century. We are a “beautiful Canadian city” that “continues to show how immigration and good architecture can combine to make cities vibrant and fun.”

16) Meanwhile, in The Economist’s 2011 rankings: Melbourne, Australia beat Vancouver for the title of “world’s most liveable city.”

17) The Vancouver Pride Parade, celebrating our strong LGBTQ community, was once again the biggest street party of the year.

18) BC Parks turned 100 years old.

19) BC Place stadium opened.

20) BC Lions pulled off the seemingly impossible, rallying from an 0-5 start to win the Grey Cup.

21) EXPO 86 anniversaries: In honour of Expo 86, Vancouverites celebrated with a 25- year-looking-back party at Science World. Pan Pacific Vancouver and Canada Place (also built in 1986) turned 25. Let’s hear it for Vancouver’s heydey in the 80’s.

22) Senator Nicole Eaton announced that she wants the polar bear to replace the beaver as an official emblem of Canada. She referred to the beaver as a “toothy rat.”

23) Filming in Vancouver: Tom Cruise filmed the latest Mission Impossible installment in Van. Robert Redford got cozy with Occupy Vancouver while filming The Company You Keep. Alcatraz, the next big TV thing since Lost, also filmed in Van. Let’s not forget the ubiquitous Twilight cast which graced Vancouver once again with their dark romance. Kate Beckinsale came to film Underworld 4. Henry Cavill, who plays Superman in Man of Steel, was on set in North Vancouver.

24) Billboard Magazine named Commodore Ballroom, the 75-year-old Art Deco concert venue, one of the top ten influential clubs in North America.

25) Vancouver 2011 openings: My favourite downtown resurrection of 2011 is Rosewood Hotel Georgia, a Van landmark that’s steeped in history, which reopened its polished doors in June. Mark Brand saved  DTES icon Save on Meats. The Bay opened The Room, firmly reestablishing their influence on the future of Canadian fashion. Other openings of note: Edible Canada, Hawksworth, Ensemble, Tableau at Loden, Revolver Coffee and Bitter Tasting Room.

Have something to add to Vancouver’s memorable moments of 2011? Help out by commenting below.

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8 Responses to Vancouver’s 25 most memorable moments of 2011

  1. Peter de Santis

    Really some if your memorable moments are quite forgettable compared to the Canucks making it to game 7 of the Stanley Cup final for only the second time in their history. How about the return of the Whitecaps to top tier football(soccer) in 2011. You have Kate Middleton’s dress instead if those two 2011 very memorable Vancouver moments.

  2. Lee Cafferata

    Loved this! What a great perspective–out of hundreds of competing possibilities–on one of the world’s most livable cities.

    I travel to Vancouver often, and I was there during Stanley Cup finals. The Canucks are, indeed, a team to be proud of. But the response of Vancouverites to the aftermath of the games made it clear that sports are just one part (although important) of this complex, diverse, and fascinating place.

    And so does this list of memorable moments.

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  3. Billy Campbell

    Hi there, loved your list, but do think 2011 Vancouver’s most memorable and heart-warming moment HAD to be the public response to its most shameful moment:

    Of course I refer to the mass turnout of caring Vancouverites, in the days after the so-called ‘hockey riot’, which moved me from revulsion to tears in mere hours. I wish I’d been in town to be part of it.

    Too much focus has been on the negative side of that week, too little on the positive. A friend (and fellow U.S. citizen) put a paper under my nose the morning after the madness, in Los Angeles, said ‘What do you think of your Vancouver now?’ I was, I must say, (as well as as annoyed by his gloating) a little heart-broken.

    Well my heart was more than mended in the hours following, but scant was the coverage (south of the border, anyway) of this silver lining, and my friend stood unimpressed: ‘So a few people turned out to clean up. That would happen anywhere. It would happen here.’

    Well, no, it wouldn’t. Not in those numbers. And there were many, many more than a few to show up in the days after the Stanley Cup riot, an estimated 15,000. Sports are the most common cause of riots in the United States, more common than otherwise during championship games or series, generally in the winning city (?!), and comparatively very little in the way of good citizen/samaritan-ship afterward.

    Vancouver’s response to its riot was the real ‘talk of the summer’ for me and, as an aspiring Canadian, I found it profoundly encouraging.

    Maybe you could feature some of these folk?


    ps apologies if you already have. just found your column today :)

  4. @Billy: Thanks for your note on the riot’s silver lining! I was out and about in the post riot clean up and I 100% agree that the post riot efforts and outpourings of Vancouverites were heart warming. It’s great to hear it from an “aspiring Canadian.”

    @Lee Thanks for your comment on Vancouver’s complexity! Glad you enjoyed the list and great to have additional perspectives.

    @Everyone: Help by adding! This list is a collaborative work-in-progress celebrating the city. From unsung sports teams to current events that should have had the spotlight, we want to hear your additions.

  5. Pingback: Vancouver’s most memorable moments of 2011 « Vancouver Lookout

  6. Beautiful!! Momentous scene :)