10 Things Vancouverites Need to Explain to Out-of-Towners

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Each year over 8 million people spend at least one night in Vancouver, visiting from other parts of Canada, the United States, Asia, Europe, and beyond. Being a world class city, Vancouver has the award-winning services, attractions, and amenities that one would expect to find in any global destination. However, there are some perks, quirks, and intricacies that only locals know about, and they’re always willing to spread their knowledge to newcomers.

10 Things Vancouverites Need to Explain
to Out-of-Towners

10. West Side vs. West End vs. West Vancouver

Photo credit: Rebecca Bollwitt

Photo credit: Rebecca Bollwitt

You won’t forget what coast you’re on when you’re in Vancouver because the word “west” is all around us, even when it’s a little geographically confusing. The West Side of Vancouver is technically on the west side of the city, and if you ask Google Maps it’s everywhere between the UBC Endowment lands on the west, Cambie on the East, bordered by Burrard Inlet to the north and the Fraser River to the south. The West End is a part of the Downtown Vancouver peninsula, bordered by Stanley Park to the west, Burrard to the east, West Georgia Street to the north and English Bay to the south. Over on the North Shore, West Vancouver is in fact on the west side of any view, from Capilano River to Horseshoe Bay. The Lions Gate Bridge is a good/rough estimated marker for getting your bearings there.

9. Grizzlies and Voodoo

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Vancouver is indeed a sports-crazy town. We love our professional hockey, soccer, football, baseball, and lacrosse teams and any long-time citizen who remembers the teal-clad days of the early 1990s will remind you that we also once had an NBA team (Vancouver Grizzlies) and a professional roller hockey team (Vancouver Voodoo).

8. No Drivers on the SkyTrain

Photo credit: Philip Tong

Photo credit: Philip Tong

There are actually two things about our mass transit that differ greatly from other major cities. The first is that we do not have fare gates (yet) and the second is that there are no drivers on our SkyTrain cars. The latter is something that my husband, who grew up in the US, couldn’t believe when he first moved her: “You mean there’s no one driving the train?!”

7. Earthquake Drills

Source: BC Shake Out

Source: BC Shake Out

In the Midwest you know what to do if there’s a tornado warning, and in Tofino you know your closest tsunami evacuation route. In Vancouver, we learn to drop, cover, and hold. Earthquake drills were (and are) a part of growing up with school and office drills at least once a year including the Great BC Shake Out which takes place in October.

6. Umbrella Etiquette

Photo credit: Anthony Maw

Photo credit: Anthony Maw

If you ever want to hear a Vancouverite talk for about an hour on a subject just bring up umbrella etiquette. With the region getting an average of 40-60 inches of precipitation, umbrellas are a part of life and you should know how to hold them, fold them, and not walk under an awning with them extended. Alternatively, a Vancouverite may also tell you that umbrellas are useless and all you need is a layer of Gore-Tex against your skin.

5. The Crow Commute

Photo credit: Mary Bailey

Photo credit: Mary Bailey

The Crow Commute is definitely an oddity but this spectacle is a part of life in Vancouver. Hitchcockian murders take to the skies every morning and night as tens of thousands of crows move from the Burnaby Lake area to Downtown Vancouver, and back again. Those commuting on Highway 1 get to witness this fly-by, mimicking their own commute to and from work in the city.

4. Ski, Golf, or Paddle in the Same Day

Photo credit: Seaside Signs

Photo credit: Seaside Signs

It’s such a cliché but it’s true! I have indeed gone snowshoeing and kayaking in the same day. Pitch and putt then zip lining in the snow-capped mountains? Also possible. With the proximity of Whistler Blackcomb as well as the local mountains, shoulder seasons are for making the most out of Vancouver’s diverse landscape and endless activity options.

3. The Extent of the “604” Region

Photo credit: Rebecca Bollwitt

Photo credit: Rebecca Bollwitt

The “604” area code spans from the Sunshine Coast, Howe Sound/Sea to Sky, across Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley, and even out to the Lower Fraser Canyon and most locals can travel from one end to the other in a single day simply to enjoy an activity. Camping, hiking, seeking out a playground, farm gate shopping, hitting the beach or exploring quiet trail. The local Vancouver region has mountains, lakes, rivers, ocean, forests, fields, and farms — and it’s all possible to visit even during a quick trip to our area.

2. O Canada at Noon

Photo credit: Rebecca Bollwitt

Photo credit: Rebecca Bollwitt

The heritage O Canada horns at Canada Place have been ringing in the noon hour since 1967. Originally they were located on top of a BC Hydro building at Burrard and Nelson but went silent in 1990 when the corporation moved out. They found a new home at Canada Place in 1994 and the 4 notes of our national anthem have been announcing lunch time, every day, ever since.

1. Nine O’Clock Gun

Photo Credit: Anthony Maw

Photo Credit: Anthony Maw

There is a large cannon that sits along the Sea Wall in Stanley Park, faces Downtown Vancouver, and every single night it lets off a boom that can often be heard clear across the city, even on the West Side. Firing in Vancouver since 1898, the Nine O’Clock gun is another daily reminder of the time when it sets off a loud boom right at 9:00pm. From 1894-1898 it was fired at 6:00pm to warn fishermen of the Sunday close of fishing. The 9:00pm time signal was later set to allow chronometers of ships in port to be accurately set, and to simply let the general population know the time.

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