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Making the invisible visible – Vancouver, BC


View of the boathouse and Stanley Park


The view from the boathouse

Named after 18th century British explorer Captain George Vancouver, the city was built by British immigrants. The economy is based on forestry, mining, fishing, agriculture, shipping, hi-tech, tourism, and movie-making. Vancouver has become the third-largest film production center after Hollywood and New York. It is consistently ranked one of the three most livable cities in the world. (It is also one of the more expensive.)

Vancouver proper numbers half a million people; the metropolitan region, two million-plus. A substantial number of Vancouver residents speak a first language in addition to English. Everyone I've ever met has been friendly and kind.

The invisibles that have created this city must surely include just laws, property rights, accountable representative government, common sense, traditions and ideals, and a sense of aesthetics. (Vancouver is famous for making sure that its buildings do not block its mountain views while deciding that a small number of very tall buildings should be allowed to add interest to its skyline.) The city’s invisibles have held people together. (Their tolerant drug policy seems loony, but time will tell.)


"To the use and enjoyment of people of all colours, creeds, and customs," said Lord Stanley, Governor-General of Canada, after whom the 1,000-acre urban park was named. One imagines that “customs” would not have included cannibal barbecues – or any barbecues at all. Tolerance can only stretch so far.


Rose garden bedded down for winter in Stanley Park. Just out of sight children scramble over playground equipment. Soaring regularly over the trees are seaplanes.

It feels like a happy city. The 2010 Winter Olympics will be held here and in nearby Whistler.