If my home town is a new destination for you, there are probably more than 20 things you didn't know about Vancouver, but it's always nice to have a starting point right? Vancouver is one of my favourite things to talk about, for obvious reasons, but I rarely blog about it. Here are a few fun facts!
1. We Have the World's Best Park
New York may have the iconic Central Park, but Vancouver's Stanley Park is an 1001 acre urban park that was recently voted the 'World's Best Park'! It was once home to a large indigenous village dating back 5,000 years and boasts the most scenic cycling path in the city.
2. We Were Tall Once
Our skyline may pale in comparison to places like New York or Chicago, but our historic Marine Building was once the tallest in the British Empire back in 1930.
3. We Like Taking Our Clothes Off
Wreck Beach is North America's largest (and only) true blue clothing optional beach! In the summer months, you'll find Vancouverites and tourists hangin' out in their birthday suits, playing nude only volleyball with 12,000 – 14,000 of their closet friends.
4. We Captured the First Research Whale
Around the same time the notorious Sea World opened its first park, the Vancouver caught "Moby Doll", the first orca to be studied in captivity.
5. Redemption! We Saved the Whales First
Vancouver went to war against those who threatened Mother Nature and formed a little organization called Greenpeace. Militant and passionate, today, Greenpeace is the most "visible environmental organization in the world."
6. We Love Our Imports
Well over 40% of Vancouverites are not actually born here, making us the second most international city in the country (Toronto is the first!)
7. We Like it Hot
Vancouver is the warmest city in the entire country, which means you can ski, surf and golf in the same day! With an average temperature of 11.0 °C (51.8 °F) in the winter, we're outdoor enthusiasts all year long. But do remember to pack an umbrella, because we're also the third rainiest city in Canada.
8. We Like to Break Records
Vancouver's BC Place first had the world's largest air-supported roof, and after a gargantuan renovation, we're now home to the world's largest retractable roof – Talk about an upgrade!
9. We Love to Live Large
In the market for a new home? You may have to win the lottery first! Vancouver is the Beverly Hills of Canada in terms of real estate pricing, with an average home in the Greater Vancouver area costing somewhere around 1.27 million.
10. We Invented Sushi
Totally kidding. I wish we did. But I have it on good authority the beloved California Roll was in fact invented right here in my home town back in the 1970's.
11. We Have Endangered Languages
The province of British Columbia is home to some 31 indigenous languages, some of the most endangered languages in the world, and three of those dialects are spoken right here in Vancouver.
12. We Dress Terribly
Vancouver is consistently rated as one of the worst dressed cities in the world. Ouch. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact we love overpriced stretchy pants (thanks a lot Chip Wilson) and we just can't find a happy medium.
13. We're Crazy Talented: Name Drop Alert
Michael Buble, David Suzuki, Sarah McLaughlin, Michael J. Fox, Brian Adams, Rooney Mara, Seth Rogan, need we go on? Bottom line, Vancouver has plenty of homegrown Hollywood royalty.
14. We Have a Dark Past
Our history, like others, is not all roses. From the horrid Chinese head tax and Chinese Exclusion bill, to segregation in the British Properties, we are working hard to heal wounds from the past, and Vancouver's multicultural make-up is evidence of such.
15. We Love Self Torture
Ever heard of Mother Nature's Stairmaster? Meet the Grouse Grind, a gruelling 2.9km (1.8 mile) ascent up the side of a mountain. The trail sees some 150,000 visitors every year. Feel the burn!
16. We Love the LGBT Community
Every August, my beloved neighbourhood, the West End, plays host to one of the largest Pride Parades in North America. The celebrations are an all week affair, and brings Vancouverites and visitors from around the world in solidarity.
17. Ships Ahoy!
Not only is Vancouver home to the largest port in Canada, we have the fourth largest cruise ship port in the world! From May through to September, hundreds of ships re-position from around the world, and head north to the frigid waters of Alaska.
18. Asia Can't Get Enough of Us
Vancouver has the highest proportion of Asians in any North American city (nearly 55%), and we're only 2.1 million people! Which also means, you can have dim sum, sushi, banh mi and Tom Yum Soup anytime, and practically anywhere in the city.
19. We Love Pool Parties
With the North Shore Mountains as a spectacular backdrop, Kitslano Beach is home to Canada's largest outdoor pool at a whopping 137m (451 feet) – Better work on your cardio!
20. We Are Serious Humanitarians
Because of Vancouver's multi-ethnic landscape, it only makes sense that we would build a 58,000 square foot facility to house new refugees. The Vancouver Welcome House will be the first of its kind anywhere in the world.