115 Valid Facts about Vancouver

Vancouver is one of the largest and most well-known cities in Canada. Have you ever wondered what Vancouver in known for?

Find out more about the “City of Glass” with these fascinating facts about Vancouver! Also see these fun facts about British Columbia, the province where Vancouver is located!

General Vancouver Facts

  • Vancouver is the largest city in Western Canada and the province of British Columbia.
  • Vancouver is NOT the capital of Canada (that would be Ottawa), nor is it the capital of British Columbia (that’s Victoria). In my experience travelling abroad, I’ve met many who think this!
  • Another common misconception: Vancouver is NOT located on Vancouver Island. BC’s capital, Victoria, is.
  • Vancouver faces the Strait of Georgia, which separates the mainland from Vancouver Island. It is part of the Salish Sea, a marginal sea of the Pacific Ocean.
  • Vancouver is at the same latitude as Nuremburg, Germany and is antipodal to Port-aux-Français, Kerguelen, in the French Southern Territories.
  • Vancouver city proper is actually quite small. It only covers 115.18 km2 (44.47 mi2).
  • Metro Vancouver (or Greater Vancouver), however, covers a huge area of 2,878.52 km2 (1,111.40 mi2) and includes several large suburbs, such as Burnaby, Richmond, North Vancouver, New Westminster, Surrey, and Langley.
The Fraser River and some farms and mountains in the Fraser valley east of Vancouver
The Fraser Valley is filled with farms and several cities that are considered part of Greater Vancouver.
  • Further away cities such as Abbotsford, Mission, Chilliwack, Squamish, Whistler, and Hope and sometimes also included in the definition of “Greater Vancouver.”
  • 14 of the 30 largest cities in BC are located in Metro Vancouver (or 17 if we include the Fraser Valley cities of Abbotsford, Mission, and Chilliwack).
  • Vancouver city proper’s population is 662,248, making it the 8th largest municipality in Canada. Greater Vancouver’s population is 2.6 million, making it Canada’s third largest population centre, after Toronto and Montreal.
  • With 5740 people per km2, Vancouver city proper has the highest population density in all of Canada.
  • Vancouver city proper has 22 neighbourhoods, all of which are located on the Burrard Peninsula, between the Burrard Inlet to the north and Fraser River to the south.
An old steam clock on the street in Gastown Vancouver at night with people around it
Historic Steam Clock in Gastown
  • The city also has some well-known areas that aren’t technically neighbourhoods, such as Gastown, Yaletown, and Chinatown.
  • Vancouver’s land has been inhabited by the Squamish, Musqueam, and Tsleil-Waututh (Burrard) indigenous people for over 10,000 years. This land remains unceded (treaties have never been signed for it).
  • People who live in Vancouver are called Vancouverites.
  • Over 50% of Vancouverites are visible minorities and over 50% are non-native English speakers. The largest visible minority are Chinese (27%).
  • Vancouver is named after George Vancouver, one of the first Europeans to explore the area. Besides the city, Vancouver Island, Mount Vancouver (between Yukon and Alaska), Vancouver city in Washington state, and Mount Vancouver in New Zealand are all named after him.
A group of totem poles in Vancouver's Stanley Park
Totem poles in Stanley Park
  • The local Squamish people named the area and one of their villages there K’emk’emeláy̓, meaning “place with many maple trees”. In the Halkomelem language it is called Lhq’á:lets, meaning “wide at the bottom”.
  • Some nicknames for Vancouver include Van, Vancity, Downtown, The V, Hongkouver (because it has so many Cantonese people), City of Glass, No Fun City, Vansterdam (due to its relaxed attitude toward drug use), Rain City, Terminal City, and The Big Smoke.
  • The official motto of Vancouver is “By Sea, Land, and Air We Prosper”. It appears on the city’s coat of arms.
The Vancouver city flag
The flag of Vancouver
  • The flag of Vancouver shows wavy blue and white bars on the left symbolizing the Pacific Ocean, a green pentagon on the left symbolizing the land with the city’s gold shield inside of it. It was designed by Robert Watt, director of the Museum of Vancouver in 1983.
  • Vancouver’s twin or sister cities are Yokohama (Japan), Edinburgh (Scotland), Los Angeles (USA), Guangzhou (China), and Odessa (Ukraine).

Random Interesting Facts about Vancouver

  • Vancouver is often chosen as one of the top cities in the world to live in. It had the #1 spot in the world from 2002 to 2010 on EUI’s Global Livability ranking, but in 2021, it fell off the top-10 list.
  • Along with Toronto, Vancouver is ranked as the most expensive city in Canada to live in (some lists put Toronto first, while others give the top spot to Vancouver).
A cityscape on W. Broadway Street in Vancouver
West Broadway Street
  • With its Greenest City Action Plan (GCAP), Vancouver plans to become the greenest city in the world. It has already executed 80% of its actions plans and is ranked as the #3 greenest city in the world (after Copenhagen and Stockholm).
  • Vancouver has its own urban planning and architectural concept called “Vancouverism”. It centres on high rise residential towers with commercial bases, public transport and green spaces, and view corridors.
  • Stanley Park boasts half a million trees. In 2014, it was voted the top park in the world by TripAdvisor users.
A walking path on Stanley Park Seawall, with Lion's Gate Bridge in the background
Stanley Park Seawall with Lion’s Gate Bridge
  • The Eastern grey squirrels in Stanley Park are all descended from eight squirrels brought in from Stanley park in 1914. There are also local Douglas squirrels and northern flying squirrels in the park.
  • The Vancouver Seawall runs around the shore of Stanley Park, with a total distance of 30 km (19 mi). A walking path runs atop most of it and it is the most used feature in the park.
  • The Vancouver Aquarium, located in Stanley Park, nearly closed permanently in 2020 because of COVID. In 2021, it was announced that it would open again after all after being purchased by a private company.
  • Granville Island on False Creek, an inlet south of Downtown Vancouver, was once an indigenous fishing area and then a manufacturing area. Today it is home to hundreds of businesses, a brewery named after it, and Emily Carr College of Art & Design.  
A bright pink house on Granville Island with False Creek and some tall buildings in the background
Cool waterfront residences on Granville Island
  • Vancouver’s Chinatown is the largest in Canada and 3rd largest in North America after the ones in New York City and San Francisco.
  • Vancouver also has a Little India and Greektown. It used to have a Japantown, until the occupants were forcefully removed and interred during WWII.
  • Sam Kee Building in on Pender Street at the entrance to Chinatown is considered the narrowest building in the world, at only 1.8 m (6 ft) wide.
  • The world’s largest tin soldier stands 9.75 m (32 ft) tall in New Westminster.
The iconic roof of Canada Place in Vancouver, which looks like a row of tents, and a tree with yellow foliage in the foreground
Tent-like Canada Place
  • The Capilano Suspension Bridge in North Vancouver is one of the city’s most popular attractions, with over 1 million visitors per year. It has been featured in several films, including The Crow: Stairway to Heaven.
  • When Port Mann Bridge was built in Vancouver in 2012, it surpassed the Sydney Harbour Bridge as the widest bridge in the world, but lost the title to San Francisco in 2013.
  • Vancouver has the 2nd busiest mall by visitor number in Canada, Metropolis at Metrotown in Burnaby, with 28.7 million visitors per year. Only Eaton Centre in Toronto gets more (50 million), while West Edmonton Mall gets a similar number (28 million).
  • UBC’s Museum of Anthropology is considered one of the best anthropology museums in the world. It houses over half a million objects, focusing especially on Pacific Northwest indigenous culture.
  • Wreck Beach next to UBC is Vancouver’s most famous nude beach.
A cherry blossom tree blooming in the middle of a grassy field on a university campus at UBC, Vancouver
Cherry blossoms at UBC’s St. John’s College
  • Fort Langley, along the Fraser River in Greater Vancouver, was established as a fur trading post in 1827. It later grew rapidly as a staging point for the Fraser Valley Gold Rush. Today it is a National Historic Site.
  • Abbotsford, sometimes considered part of Greater Vancouver, has Canada’s oldest Sikh temple, the Gur Sikh Temple. Nearly a quarter of the city’s population is of South Asian descent.
  • The Fraser Valley, where Abbotsford and Chilliwack are located, is one of the largest wine-producing regions of British Columbia.
  • Mount Baker in Washington State is visible from Vancouver, while the mountains of North Vancouver dominate the cityscape.
A skier skiing down the mountain at Whistler Ski Resort north of Vancouver
Skiing at Whistler
  • Vancouver once had the largest trees of several species on the whole BC coast. The largest of them all were in what is now Gastown.
  • Vancouver has several trees imported from other countries, including monkey puzzle trees, Japanese maples, and cherry blossom trees.
  • Cherry blossoms are celebrated in the annual Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival. The cherry blossom trees were first given to Vancouver as a gift to honour Japanese-Canadians who served in WW1.
  • Kitsilano Pool (or “Kits Pool”) is the longest outdoor pool in North America, at 137 m (450 ft). For reference, an Olympic sized swimming pool is 50 m (164 ft). It is a saltwater pool operated by the city.
Kitsilano swimming pool in Vancouver with lots of people in it
Kitsilano Pool
  • Vancouver is one of the wettest cities in Canada, known for its rainy winters (and rainy day activities!), and one of its warmest cities in winter. Snow falls on average 9 days per year and doesn’t usually stay on the ground for long.
  • With some of the mildest weather in the country, he city has a growing season of 237 days.
  • The highest temperature ever recorded in Vancouver was 35.0°C (95.0°F) on July 31, 1965, while the lowest was −17.8°C (0.0 °F) on January 14, 1950 and December 29, 1968.  
A waterside path covered in snow with harbour, boats, and buildings shrouded in fog
A snowy day in Vancouver
  • Vancouver has hosted several international events, including the 1954 Commonwealth Games, EXPO 86, 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, and the 2010 Winter Olympics and Paralympics.
  • Vancouver is considered one of the most LGBT-friendly cities in the world. Its community is centres on the “gaybourhood” of Davie Village in West End.
  • There are over 2000 homeless people in Vancouver (a higher number relative to population in all of Canada), or 3500+ in Greater Van. Displacement of homeless people was a controversial issue during the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. The crisis has worsened by COVID and the drug overdose crisis.
  • Vancouver has been experiencing a housing crisis for years. It houses have been called the most unaffordable in all of North America. Nearly 10% of all houses in the city are unoccupied, while foreigners are allowed to buy property in the city without revealing their identity to tax authorities.
View of all the skyscrapers of downtown Vancouver shot from Granville Island
Super pricey real estate in downtown Vancouver
  • Along with New York City, Vancouver has the headquarters of TED, and the annual TED conference is held at the Vancouver Convention Centre.
  • The international environmental organization Greenpeace was formed in Vancouver in 1969.
  • Major Canadian companies such as Lululemon, Aritzia, Save-On-Foods, Urban Barn, Purdy’s Chocolatier, 1-800-GOT-JUNK, Mountain Equipment Co-Op, Saje Natural Wellness, London Drugs, and Pharmave were founded and/or are headquartered in Vancouver.
  • National restaurant chains that started or are now headquartered in Vancouver include Panago, The Keg, Earls, JOEY, Cactus Club, Milestones, and Moxies.
  • The first McDonalds, Starbucks, White Spot, and Old Spaghetti Factory (all US-based) in Canada were opened in Vancouver.
Close up of a plate of California sushi rolls
Was the California roll invented in Vancouver?
  • Vancouver chef Hidekazu Tojo, invented the B.C. sushi roll and also claims to have invented the California roll, but there are several other claims from Los Angeles, California. Today he runs Tojo’s Restaurant.
  • Sushi is so popular in Vancouver than the city has been called the “Capital of sushi in North America.”
  • The London Fog (a drink made of earl grey tea, steamed milk, and vanilla) was invented not in London but in Vancouver.
  • Rob Feenie, a Vancouver chef who once worked at Cactus Club Café, was the first Canadian winner of Iron Chef.
  • Vancouverite Jim Pattison of the Jim Pattison Company is one of the top-5 richest people in Canada and is sometimes called “Canada’s Warren Buffet”.
  • The use of Botox for cosmetic purposes was pioneered by Jean and Alastair Carruthers in Vancouver in the 1980s.
A mosaic of famous people from Vancouver
Famous Vancouverites Jason Priestly, Seth Rogan, Micheal J. Fox, Sarah Chalke, Ryan Reynolds, and Pamela Anderson (clockwise from top-left)
  • Films shot partially or fully in Vancouver include Deadpool 1 and 2, Fifty Shades, Elf, RoboCop (2014), Mission Impossible 4, Happy Gilmore, Superman Man of Steel, and Night at the Museum.
  • Famous people from Vancouver include actors Ryan Reynolds, Seth Rogan and Jason Priestly, actress Kristin Kreuk, and supermodel Sarah Mutch.
  • Other famous people who were born elsewhere but raised in Vancouver are Pamela Anderson, Michael J. Fox, and Sarah Chalke.
  • Musicians and bands from Vancouver include Trooper, Matthew Good, Skinny Puppy, Grimes, Dan Mangan, D.O.A., Front Line Assembly, Econoline Crush, The Be Good Tanyas, The New Pornographers, and soulDecision.
A stadium called BC Place in Vancouver with green lights reflecting on the water of False Creek at night
BC Place reflects on False Creek
  • BC Place, which hosted the 2010 Olympics and is home to the BC Lions, had the largest air supported roof in the world when it was built (1983) and the world’s largest retractable roof at the time it was added (2011).
  • Vancouver has the second largest trolleybus system in North America after San Francisco.
  • Vancouver has the worst traffic congestion in Canada. Only Los Angeles and Mexico City are worse in North America.
  • The Vancouver Cruise Terminal at Canada Place is one of the busiest in the world, serving nearly a million passengers per year, most of whom are taking cruises to Alaska.
A ferry arriving at Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal in Vancouver
Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal
  • BC Ferries runs ferries from Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal in Metro Vancouver to 5 Gulf Islands and Vancouver Island. Tsawwassen is only 500 meters from the 49th parallel, which separates Canada from the US. It also runs ferries from Horseshoe Bay to Snug Cove on Bowen Island, Sunshine Coast, and Vancouver Island.
  • The Port of Vancouver is the largest in Canada and 4th largest in North America.
  • Forestry is the largest industry in Vancouver, followed by tourism.
  • Vancouver is sometimes called Hollywood North for its thriving film industry. Over 30 movies and 30 TV series are filmed there annually, earning over $2 billion per year.

Historical Vancouver Facts

  • Indigenous people have been living at the area of Vancouver for around 10,000 years.
  • José María Narváez of Spain was most likely the first European to see the area of Vancouver in 1791. George Vancouver of England followed him year later.
An wild coastline around vancouver
The Vancouver coast as early explorers would have seen it
  • In 1808, Simon Fraser sailed down the Fraser River for the North West Company and was the first to step foot in what is now Vancouver.
  • In 1858, the Fraser Gold Rush brought thousands of people to New Westminster, east of Vancouver.
  • In 1862, the first European settlement was established in Vancouver.
  • Logging began in 1863 in North Vancouver.
  • In the 1860s, the city of Gastown (Vancouver’s original name) grew around Hastings Mill in what is now Vancouver.
Ships at the Port of vancouver
North Vancouver’s port grew from the logging industry.
  • In 1884, the city was renamed Granville and chosen to be the terminal end of the Canadian Pacific Railway.
  • The city was incorporated and renamed Vancouver in 1886. Before that, “Vancouver” had referred to Vancouver Island. Stanley Park was also designated a park at that time.
  • The first train across Canada also arrived in Vancouver in 1886.
  • Also in 1886, a fire burned down most of the Vancouver.
  • Vancouver got its first streetcar system in 1890.
  • In 1891, the Canada’s first intercity tram began running from Vancouver to New Westminster.
Old Fort Langley train station
Fort Langley grew during the Fraser Valley Gold Rush.
  • In 1898, gold prospectors en route to Yukon for the Klondike Gold Rush passed though Vancouver and stocked up on supplies there.
  • The population of Vancouver reached 100,000 by 1910, and 200,000 by 1930.
  • Vancouverite Mary Ellen Smith became the first woman in Canada the be elected to provincial legislature in 1918.
  • In 1923, Warren Harding became the first US president to visit Canada when he gave a speech at Stanley Park.
  • In the 1920s, during prohibition, the Vancouver ship Malahat, or “Queen of Rum Row”, carried more rum up and down the Pacific Northwest coast than any other.
A ferry passing under Lion's Gate Bridge in Vancouver
Lion’s Gate Bridge
  • In 1929, Vancouver amalgamated with Point Grey and South Vancouver, bringing it to its present size.
  • The Lions Gate Bridge, which spans 1823 m (5981 ft) across the Burrard Inlet from Vancouver to North Vancouver, was opened in 1938.
  • During WWII, all Japanese living in Vancouver were forcefully removed and placed in internment camps.
  • The Vancouver Aquarium opened in 1956.
  • In 1970, the Vancouver Canucks played their first game.
A vancouver skytrain driving across a cement overpass with glass buildings in the background
The Vancouver Skytrain
  • In the 1971 Gastown riots, thousands protested for the legalization of marijuana and against the use of undercover police.
  • In 1994, Canucks fans rioted in the streets after their team lost the Stanley Cup finals. The same thing happened again in 2011.
  • In 2006, a series of storms caused landslides into 3 of Vancouver’s water reservoirs, causing a boil water advisory for the whole city for over a week.
Aerial shot of downtown Vancouver
Vancouver today from above
  • The 2010 Winter Olympics were hosted by Vancouver.
  • In November and December 2021, Vancouver was almost totally cut off from the rest of the country by road for weeks after huge floods in the Fraser Valley. Over half a million farm animals died and there were billions of dollars in damage.