Depature from Lotusland

After the CLA 2008 conference I took in some more sites in Vancouver.

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The Lions’ Gate Bridge connects the north shore municipalities of the City of North Vancouver, the District of North Vancouver, and West Vancouver with the City of Vancouver. This photo was taken from Stanley Park, part of the City of Vancouver. The term “Lions’ Gate” refers to the Lions, a pair of mountain peaks in the North Shore Mountains. So the B.C. Lions football team is not named after big cats, but the mountain peaks, although the likeness of the shape of the mountains to “lions couchant” inspired their names in 1890. The “lions couchant” in heraldry are lions lying down with heads raised.

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Totem poles in Stanley Park.

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Biking on the seawall trail in Stanley Park.

Vancouver is often called Lotusland because of the carefree and indolent attitude of its citizens. The term Lotusland was inspired by a passage from Homer’s The Odyssey. Here is the relevant passage from The Odyssey that describes the Lotus-Eaters:

“I was driven thence by foul winds for a space of nine days upon the sea, but on the tenth day we reached the land of the Lotus-eaters, who live on a food that comes from a kind of flower. Here we landed to take in fresh water, and our crews got their mid-day meal on the shore near the ships. When they had eaten and drunk I sent two of my company to see what manner of men the people of the place might be, and they had a third man under them. They started at once, and went about among the Lotus-Eaters, who did them no hurt, but gave them to eat of the lotus, which was so delicious that those who ate of it left off caring about home, and did not even want to go back and say what had happened to them, but were for staying and munching lotus with the Lotus-eaters without thinking further of their return; nevertheless, though they wept bitterly I forced them back to the ships and made them fast under the benches. Then I told the rest to go on board at once, lest any of them should taste of the lotus and leave off wanting to get home, so they took their places and smote the grey sea with their oars.” (Odyssey IX, translated by Samuel Butler)

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View of downtown Vancouver from Stanley Park.

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Vancouver Art Gallery. The building was formerly the provincial courthouse. The art gallery will move in the near future (possibly 2013) to a spot near BC Place. The new art gallery will have double the space.

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The CLA conference was on Burrard Street. If you follow the street north you reach Burrard Inlet and a view of the North Shore Mountains.

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Gastown. Vancouver began here in 1867 when “Gassy Jack” Deighton offered to build a saloon across from the lumber mill. He received his nickname because of his penchant for spinning tall tales and talking without end. In 1867, the south shore of Burrard Inlet was a wilderness with some native settlements and a lumber mill. In 1886 Gastown was incorporated as the City of Vancouver. As the rest of Vancouver grew and prospered, the original Gastown district fell on hard times beginning in the Depression. After concerned citizens rallied to save the area, Gastown was declared a historic area in 1971 and its heritage character is now protected.

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The old Canadian Pacific Railway Station has been converted into a restaurant. I was inspired by a passage in Jane Jacobs’ Dark Age Ahead to seek out restaurants in heritage buildings. I was not disappointed by the salmon burger and sweet potato fries at the Steamworks Transcontinental.

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View of BC Place from the Harbour Centre Lookout. BC Place is undergoing renovations for the 2010 Olympics, but a major change, the installation of a retractable roof, will occur after the Olympics. The hit TV series Battlestar Galactica is filmed in a building on this side of BC Place.

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Below is Chinatown. To the left is Simon Fraser University. In the distance is Burnaby’s Metrotown, the high density region of skyscrapers serviced by the SkyTrain to downtown Vancouver.

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View of Canada Place, Burrard Inlet, and the north shore. Canada Place is the cruise ship terminal. Also in the facility is a convention centre, IMAX theatre, shops, restaurants and a hotel.

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In this photo I captured Canada Place, Stanley Park, and in the distance, the Lions’ Gate Bridge.

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The Capilano Salmon Hatchery, the first stop on my Capilano and Grouse Mountain bus tour. The salmon are diverted to a fish ladder just below the hatchery to the right. In the distance you can see the mist from the water coming down a massive dam hidden just behind the trees. The construction of the dam blocked the route of the coho and steelhead from traveling up the Capilano River to spawn. The hatchery was built to provide a safe space to rear and release salmon below the dam.

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The Capilano Suspension Bridge. This is the Vancouver area’s oldest tourist attraction. The original bridge was built in 1889.

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View of the Capilano River from the suspension bridge. You need to develop good sealegs to cross the continuously swaying bridge.

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Once the suspension bridge is crossed you realize the only way back is to cross the bridge again.

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The newest attraction is the Treetops Adventure– seven suspension bridges take you 30 metres (100 feet) into the air, but even then the Douglas fir trees continue to rise to astonishing heights.

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The Treetops Adventure was built out of cables that do not damage the west coast rainforest in any way.

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Ascending Grouse Mountain on the north shore. In the distance is Vancouver Island. There is also the option of walking up the mountain and this is called the Grouse Grind.

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Standing on top of Grouse Mountain I look northeast to see the rest of the North Shore Mountains, the southernmost grouping of the Coast Mountains. The first recorded climbing of Grouse Mountain took place in 1894.

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On the summit of Grouse Mountain there are numerous sculptures carved from giant trees which are not native to this ecosystem and so the sculptures were carried up.

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The real deal– this falcon is part of a bird show on Grouse Mountain.

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The lumberjack show on Grouse Mountain is a popular event.

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The grizzly bears, Grinder and Coola, enjoy good rough and tumble play on Grouse Mountain.

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Helicopter rides are another attraction on Grouse Mountain.

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Just before flying back I take the aquabus to the Granville Island Public Market for one last excursion.

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On Granville Island, food and music abound. I caught a free performance by singer Jennifer Lauren. She specializes in acoustic roots music, and she has been described as a mix of Diana Krall, Joni Mitchell and Norah Jones.

jenn-lauren Jennifer Lauren

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