Incorporated in 1886, Vancouver sits amid impressive natural landscapes and offers stunning city views.


British Royal Officer, Captain George Vancouver (1757-1798) with his two ships, HMS Discovery and HMS Chatham departed England in 1791 to explore the Pacific west coast. He explored and charted North America’s northwestern Pacific Coast regions of British Columbia as well as the US states of Alaska, Washington and Oregon. He also explored the Hawaiian Islands and the southwest coast of Australia. 4 years later, in 1795 he would circumnavigate South America on his return journey to Britain.

The City of Vancouver as well as Vancouver Island in British Columbia were named after the Captain as was Vancouver, Washington in the United States and Mount Vancouver on the Canadian–US border between Yukon and Alaska. We learned that Vancouver Island was originally named Quadra and Vancouver Island after the joint map and charting work of both the British Captain, George Vancouer and the Spanish Commander, Juan Francisco Bodega y Quadra. Over time the Quadra portion was dropped and the name was shortened to simply Vancouver Island.

Burrard Inlet from Burnaby Mountain

Captain Vancouver also named many familiar landmarks after his officers and friends, including: Mount Baker after Lieutenant Joseph Baker, Mount St. Helens after his friend, Alleyne Fitzherbert, 1st Baron St Helens, Puget Sound after Lieutenant Peter Puget, Mount Rainier after his friend, Rear Admiral Peter Rainier, Whidbey Island after naval engineer Joseph Whidbey, Burrard Inlet after his friend Sir Harry Burrard and Discovery Passage, Discovery Island, Discovery Bay, Port Discovery and Discovery Park in Seattle after Vancouver’s ship, the HMS Discovery.

Vancouver, BC, Canada

Polar Bear Swim

Alexander Pantages was a Greek American (1867-1936) vaudeville organizer and early motion picture producer and at one time owned or operated 84 theaters across the United States and Canada. Only 3 Pantages theaters remain in operation today – Hollywood, Minneapolis and Tacoma. Built in 1907, Vancouver’s Pantages theater was torn down in 2011.

It was, however, Alexander’s nephew, Peter (Pete) Pantages who made the more lasting historical mark on the city. The Vancouver Polar Bear Swim Club claims to be one of the largest and oldest Polar Bear Clubs in the world. The initial swim was in 1920 when Pete Pantages convinced a handful of his friends to join him on a plunge into English Bay on New Year’s Day.

January 1st, 2023, the day we took this photo, was a ‘fresh’ 41°F or 5°C outside. The temperature of the water in December and January is generally around that same 5°C mark. Brrr! We enjoyed watching the swimmers/dippers from afar.

Polar Bear Swim 2023

On January 1st 2021, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Vancouver Polar Bear Swim in English Bay was canceled and the public was instead encouraged, if they wanted to continue the 100+ year tradition, to take a chilly “Polar Bear Dip” in their own bathtubs, pools or ponds.

Urban Art

Chen Wenling (1969-) is a Chinese artist currently living in Beijing. He is known for his exaggerated forms, bright colors, and whimsical tones and describes The Proud Youth below like this: “its cheeky expression and arresting pose, is a celebratory call inviting you to embrace your inner child and have some fun! The red figure, naked and free, fully reveals his honesty and fearlessness. Simple and truthful, the sculpture initiates a sincere, and simultaneously joyful conversation between people and society.” The bright red figurine is named after a character in a popular Wuxia (Martial Heroes) novel.

The Proud Youth by Chen Wenling

Burrard Street Bridge

Described as “A Symphony of Steel and Concrete,” when it opened on July 1st 1932, the Burrard Street Bridge was built in the ever appealing Art Deco style. 

Placed in ship prows jutting out above the vehicle deck are the busts of Captain George Vancouver (a V under his bust) and Sir Harry Burrard-Neale (a B under his bust). Captain Vancouver’s old friend, Rear admiral Sir Harry Burrard Neale, (1765-1840) of the British Navy, may never have visited British Columbia but both the Burrard Inlet and the Burrard Street bridge were named in his honor.

Burrard Street Bridge

Heritage Harbour

Another discovery we made was Heritage Harbour at the Vancouver Maritime Museum. Open daily and free to the public Heritage Harbour has an interesting collection of 18 vintage wooden vessels that have strong connections to the maritime history of the Pacific Northwest and/or the Canadian Arctic. Our photo below is of the North Star of Herschel Island, the last of the sailing Arctic fur trading ships and the only fully rigged ship in Canada. 

North Star of Herschel Island

Canada Geese

During our short stay in Vancouver we stayed with friends and each day we were able to explore a part of the city on foot. We read that the Canada goose is considered part of the ‘Canadian national identity’ and we came across quite a number of them peacefully feeding in the parks. 

The Canada goose (sometimes called Canadian goose) is a large wild goose with a black head and neck, white cheeks, white under its chin, and a brown body. It is native to the arctic and temperate regions of North America and has been introduced to a number of northern European countries, New Zealand, Japan as well as Chile and Argentina in South America. 

Although normally migratory, Canada geese have adapted to living in urban environments where food is plentiful and predators are few and some have established year round residency in cities throughout Canada and the US. Generally people and geese cohabitate peacefully but during the spring when the Canada goose is raising its young it can display aggressive territorial behavior toward both humans and other animals.

Canada geese

A family member shared this amusing encounter with a gaggle of Canada Geese: 

There are two buildings at work that are separated by a long pathway bordered with grass.  In the spring the Canada geese return to the military base to raise their young. They’re usually harmless but when they have babies they’re much more protective and they like to hang out along that grassy path. I was walking between buildings on a normal work day and thought I had given the geese enough room but one goose apparently did not agree and chased me down the sidewalk. Lol, so dignified in my full uniform!

That path also has cameras that are carefully monitored by the daily watch, so with a goose hot on my tail, and me running along the path, I gave the watch all a good laugh too. 

The geese did the same thing to other senior ranking officers so they clearly don’t discriminate by rank. When the Canada Geese roll in and take over the base, we may think we’re all military tough, but we’ve got nothing on angry goose parents.

Additionally we wanted to add this next photo collage, because when you think of Canada, who doesn’t also think of moose and hockey?

Moose and Hockey

Chilliwack, BC

We next spent a few days with friends in Chilliwack, BC a city approximately 60 miles (100 km) east of Vancouver. The surrounding scenery of this area is breathtaking. 

On one of our exploratory drives around Chilliwack and surrounding area, we came across an unusual but eye-catching site. A unique fantasy-like three-suite boutique called The Hazelnut Inn is in the process of slowly being built and is a painstaking labor of love for Peter Sawatzky and his family. Sawatzky’s company called the Imagination Corporation builds everything from signs and architecture for companies in the tourism industry to theme parks and mini-golf courses.

Hazelnut Inn

Seattle, Washington, USA

And finally, despite our short foray into Canada, we spent the majority of our time with family in Seattle. This last striking photo was taken early in the morning as we were heading to the airport. A foggy and glum morning matched our mood as we said farewell.

A foggy view at the ferry terminal.

Cheers from these Vancouverites, British Columbians and Canadians,

Ted + Julia

View our Vancouver photo album here

View our Chilliwack photo album here

View our Seattle photo album here

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