General Confusions about Vancouver Place Names
I once had a friend tell me that Vancouver had the cutest place names he’d every heard. When I asked what he meant, he said he had asked someone where to find good hiking.
The person had said (or he had heard), “take the second narrowest bridge over to the little wet road and you’ll find great hiking.”
What the person actually said was, “take the Second Narrows Bridge over to Lillooet (pronounced Lill O et) Road and you’ll find great hiking.”
The point is, when places are new and different, we tend to translate what we hear into what we know, and thus the confusion. Here are some more confusing things about places in and around Vancouver.
Vancouver and Vancouver Island
Vancouver is the largest city in British Columbia, located on the mainland, 226 kilometres (136) miles north of Seattle, Washington and 975 kilometres (585 miles) west of Calgary, Alberta. It is not the capital of British Columbia.
Located in the Pacific Ocean, Vancouver Island (often referred to as “Victoria Island” by people unfamiliar with the area) is the largest island off western North America. It is 460 kilometres long (285 miles) and 50-130 kilometres wide (30 to 80 miles).
The biggest city on Vancouver Island is Victoria. Victoria is also the capital of British Columbia and one of the most famous and popular cities in Canada.
It is located on the southern tip of Vancouver Island, 63 km (39 miles) due south of Vancouver and due to the popularity of Victoria, people often confuse the name of the city with the name of the island where it resides.
Vancouver Island is a partially submerged portion of the Coast Mountains; Golden Hinde Mountain is its tallest peak at 2,200 metres (7,219 feet). It is separated from the mainland by the Queen Charlotte, Georgia, and Juan de Fuca straits.
To get from Vancouver to Victoria, you can fly or take a ferry.
The border between Canada and the United States lies at the 49th parallel. Interestingly, the southern end of Vancouver Island, including Victoria, lies south of the 49th parallel.
The Lower Mainland, also called Metro Vancouver
Vancouverites refer to Vancouver and the surrounding communities as The Lower Mainland. The Lower Mainland includes Vancouver, the North Shore (North and West Vancouver), Burnaby, Richmond, New Westminster, Surrey, Cloverdale, Abbotsford, Langley, Fort Langley, Coquitlam, Maple Ridge and numerous other towns.
The Sunshine Coast
Not far from Vancouver is the Sunshine Coast. What makes the Sunshine Coast confusing is that you have to take a ferry to get there despite the fact that it is NOT an island, but is, in fact, on the southwest coast of British Columbia, not very far north of Vancouver. You have to take a ferry to get there because the area around it is so rugged there are no roads to it.
West Side, West End and West Vancouver
The West Side is the west half of Vancouver. It runs from the University of British Columbia at the western tip of Vancouver to Ontario Street.
The West End is a residential and commercial neighborhood just east of Stanley Park. It is bordered by Stanley Park, Georgia Street, Burrard Street and the beach beyond Pacific Avenue.
West Vancouver is not in Vancouver at all but across the Lions Gate Bridge on the North Shore.
Most of the time, when you read ‘west’ in Vancouver, think affluent. The west side of Vancouver is more affluent than its more industrial counterpart, East Vancouver. The West End is one of Vancouver’s most tony neighborhoods. West Vancouver is the richest community in Canada.
SeaBus / C Bus
As far as I know, there is no C Bus; however, if someone tells you to take the ‘C Bus’ to get where you want to go, they are referring not to a real bus but to a ferry, called the SeaBus, that makes a 1.75 nautical mile voyage across the Burrard Inlet, the largest ice-free seaport in the world.
The SeaBus runs between Waterfront Station in downtown Vancouver, near the cruise ship terminal and the Convention Centre and the Lonsdale Quay in North Vancouver. The SeaBus connects Vancouver to the North Shore where you’ll find the Capilano Suspension Bridge and Park, Grouse Mountain and the communities of Deep Cove, North Vancouver, West Vancouver and Horseshoe Bay.