Few places in the world intertwine urban and outdoor splendors on such a grand scale as Vancouver, British Columbia. Surrounded on three sides by water and spread beneath the soaring Coast Mountain Range, the city boasts a mild climate and a rich archaeological history.
Coastal Indians settled the area some 2,500 years ago. Hudson’s Bay Co. set up a network of trading posts in the 18th century, with fur its first commercial enterprise, followed by salted salmon. After British naval captain George Vancouver’s explorations, the town was founded as a sawmill settlement called Granville and incorporated in 1886.
Vancouver’s scenic location makes it a prime tourist attraction. Visitors to the largest city in the province enjoy its cosmopolitan nature and world-famous Stanley Park, one of over 180 city parks set in fingers of forest and parkland nuzzling the city center.
The inaugural Vancouver Sculpture Biennale: Open Spaces 2005/2006 begins in June with an official launch in September. Works from internationally renowned sculptors — including Dennis Oppenheim and Yoko Ono (United States), Bernar Venet (France), Magdalena Abakanowicz (Poland), and Bill Reid (Canada) — will be installed for 18 months on city walkways, waterfront parks, and street medians. Information: (604) 682-1289, www.vancouverbiennale.com
Museum of Anthropology
Don’t miss Canadian architect Arthur Erickson’s renowned design of the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia. Based on traditional Northwest Coast post-and-beam structures, the building brings the natural mountain and forest landscape inside. Massive doors carved by native Indian artists at the entry offset soaring glass walls and enhance a display of towering totem poles. In the rotunda, view The Raven and the First Men, an enormous and evocative native-carved wood sculpture. Information: (604) 822.5087, www.moa.ubc.ca
Listel Vancouver offers two “gallery floors,” with guest rooms displaying original and limited edition art curated by Buschlen Mowatt Galleries. Also partnering with the Museum of Anthropology, Listel pays tribute to things distinctly British Columbian on the Museum Floor, where guests sleep with furniture crafted from native woods and Northwest Coast art curated by the museum. Information: (800) 663-5491, www.listel-vancouver.com
Vancouver’s cosmopolitan population demands a diverse and exciting food scene.
Credit John Bishop of Bishop’s for starting the search for Vancouver’s culinary roots. Here you’ll find rotating menus based on local organic ingredients: duck consommé with morsels of confit, Fanny Bay oyster stew, and sablefish with truffle brandade. www.bishopsonline.com
Salmon House on the Hill serves Pacific Northwest cuisine served with a stunning native view. www.salmonhouse.com
Cin Cin Ristorante on Robson Street features a wood-fired oven, grill, and rotisserie to deliver contemporary dishes inspired by local ingredients and Italian inspired techniques and recipes. www.cincin.net
Lumiere serves classical French dishes. A creative tasting bar offers “12 things for $12.” www.lumiere.ca
Hapa Izakaya New offers Osaka-style hot pots and inexpensive negitoro. (604) 689-4272
Vij’s, perpetual Best Indian award winner, features Punjabi dishes and Bengali curry. Montri’s Thai features chicken “swimming angels.” www.vijs.ca
Bandi’s offers garlicky, paprika-driven Hungarian country specialties in a pretty house. (604) 685 3391
And there’s always Morton’s, the power-dining haunt with its parade of steaks matched by good seafood offerings. www.mortons.com
Or return to O’Doul’s at the Listel and enjoy live jazz in the warm-wooded bar with a glass of very good, Spectator-approved wine.