Greater Vancouver is routinely ranked as one of the top places to live. It is, after all, a beautiful metro area with the mildest climate in Canada and some unique claims to fame — and some of them may surprise you.
1. Vancouver has with the aptly named Dude Chilling Park. In 2012 the playful name was put on a sign by local artist Viktor Briestansky in response to an art work titled Reclining Figure in Guelph Park in Vancouver’s Mount Pleasant neighbourhood. The Vancouver Park Board removed the sign, but concerned residents signed a petition to save it. In 2014 the Park Board voted to keep the sign and the local R&B Brewing created Dude Chilling Pale Ale in response — to rave reviews. Efforts are now under way to preserve the wooden Reclining Figure in the park.
2. North Vancouver will again install the 300-metre-long water slide down Lonsdale Avenue this summer. The popular event, which began in 2015, is a street party with performers, vendors and music. But the star is the slide that stretches for several blocks and is scheduled for July 13 and 14 this year. The natural slope of Lonsdale Avenue as it leads to the waterfront means the special surface and added water create the world’s coolest slide.
3. It is all about fitness and the outdoors in Greater Vancouver: this is where thousands of hikers slog on nature’s stairclimber, the North Shore’s Grouse Grind, each year. The nearly three-kilometre climb with an average grade of 30 per cent can suck the breath from you. So it seems only fitting that Vancouver is where yoga wear evolved into mainstream fashion with the launch of Lululemon back in 1998 — and the ubiquitous stretchy pants spotted on the street, in the office and everywhere else since. And of note, the Grind’s Grouse Mountain is home to the only wind turbine in the world that has an observation deck.
4. The longest swimming pool in Canada — perched at the edge of the ocean at Kitsilano Beach — is pure indulgence. Where else can you dip your feet poolside while looking at Burrard Inlet and the North Shore mountains? If Kits Pool is not your scene, check out Canada’s only naturist — or clothing optional — beach near the University of B.C. campus. Wreck Beach is nearly eight kilometres long with a stunning view of Burrard Inlet.
5. Fellow Canadians like to refer to those at the edge of the Pacific as Left Coasters for their reputation as laissez-fair, granola munching slackers. But there have been moments that defy that image. Most notably, the Upside Down Church incident in which a gorgeous sculpture of an upside-down church by New York artist Dennis Oppenheim — titled Device to Root Out Evil —was installed in a small park at the edge of Coal Harbour in downtown Vancouver. Opposition to the controversial sculpture was quick and effective: the Park Board agreed with tony Coal Harbour residents who railed against its placement near their expensive condos and towers. The offence? The inverted church was considered blasphemous by some. Erring on the side of not offending or challenging anyone, the board voted for its removal in 2008.
6. Vancouver is where Botox was accidentally pioneered in 1987 as a treatment for frown lines and wrinkles by local physicians Jean and Alastair Carruthers. Botulinum toxin was initially used as a treatment for uncontrolled blinking of the eye or spasming of the surrounding area. The Carruthers discovered its use to paralyze the muscles that affect wrinkles — and forever redefined the notion of beauty.
7. The British punk band The Clash debuted their North American tour at the famous downtown Commodore Ballroom in 1979. Elvis Presley played his last performance outside the U.S. in Vancouver’s Empire Stadium in 1957. Officials feared that the surging crowd might rush the stage, so Presley’s performance was a mere 22 minutes long.
8. During the 1960 construction of the Trans-Canada Highway through the Fraser Valley, local resident Charlie Perkins protested the proposed removal of a fir tree covered in ivy, which he had planted to honour soldiers killed in the First World War. The ensuing public outcry forced engineers to curve the highway around the tree, which can still be seen today.
9. On May 10, 1947, some Vancouver schoolchildren started a petition to stop wartime taxes on candy. It was a success that spread to other cities and the price of chocolate bars was decreased to the pre-war, five-cent price, a decrease from the proposed eight-cent bar.