Like many Vancouver visitors we saved much of one day for Stanley Park which with over 1,000 acres is the largest metropolitan park in North America.
One of the showplaces of the Park is the Vancouver Aquarium and Marine Science Center. It is open 365 days a year and averages over 800,000 visitors. Star attractions here are Killer whales or Orcas, and Beluga Whales. They share top billing with sea otters, another favorite attraction.
While the Whale and Otter Shows are immensely popular there is a lot more to the Aquarium. The waters of the Pacific Northwest are explored in the new Canada Pavilion. One can view the amazing life of the Canadian Arctic while looking nose to nose with a Beluga whale or explore a tropical reef seeing it much as a scuba diver does.
Allow plenty of time here for both the whale shows and browsing through the exhibits on your own. And children love it, guaranteed. Check it out on the web at www.vanaqua.org.
Expo '86 is credited with much of the redevelopment that has taken place in the City and nowhere is this more apparent than in what is now called Yaletown. Once a district of old warehouses and industrial buildings it has been transformed into a vibrant area of shops, lofts both as offices and residences, restaurants and galleries.
All these changes are taking place without destroying the original architecture of the buildings. Many have a Historical Heritage plaque on the front attesting to this dedication to a busy and fruitful past. Here also is the B.C. Place Stadium with its inflated Teflon roof and home to the BC Lions of the CFL Football league and the Canucks Hockey Team.
Nearby is the new Library, completed in 1996 and encompassing six floors and including a complex of stores, shops, and dining places as well as the library itself.
We could not think of leaving Vancouver without a visit to the Maritime Museum. It is a pet subject for Vittles which has in the past featured stories on maritime museums in Bath, Maine, Philadelphia, Penn., Eureka, Calif., Halifax, Nova Scotia and Corpus Christi, Tex., to mention a few.
To us the Museum in Vancouver was irresistible since it is the final home of the Canadian Mounted Police Ship, St. Roche, which was the second ship to navigate the Northwest Passage and the only ship to complete the passage from both eastern and western approaches.
As an Arctic buff we were familiar with the epic voyages and to view the ship was a very special treat. Visitors are allowed on board to explore every part of the ship from stem to stern.
Aboard visitors discover a time warp with ships stores, furniture, crews' quarters just as they were during the epic voyages. One is also struck by the small size of the vessel. It has the length of 104 feet and a beam of 25 feet and was originally rigged as a schooner. The ship was originally built in 1928 as a supply ship for isolated RCMP posts in the far north.
On its voyages in the far north St. Roch had a crew of from 10 to 12. Besides making the northwest passage from both east and west it was the first vessel ever to circumnavigate North America. And it did it twice via the Panama Canal.
Next year July 1, 2000 the exploits of the St. Roch will be recreated when another Royal Canadian Mounted Police Ship, Nadon, leaves Vancouver to retrace the route of the St. Roch
Allow plenty of time for this Museum since there is so much to see. Exhibits give a history of the explorers led by Captain George Vancouver who first charted the waters of British Columbia.
One of the things we learned is that Mt. Baker in Washington State is named for Third Lieutenant Joseph Baker who sailed with Captain Vancouver on his voyage of discovery in 1792. Other exhibits show the early beginnings and the growth which now makes Vancouver one of the great ports of the Pacific Rim.
The Museum also includes Heritage Harbour where visitors can view an historic steam powered tug as well as the B.C. Packer's B.C.P 45, a 47 foot seiner that was once featured on the Canadian five dollar bill.
The Maritime Museum as well as the Planetarium are located in Vanier Park overlooking English Bay, so-called since the first ships that explored the region anchored there. The Maritime Museum has an informative web site at www.vmm.bc.ca. A picturesque Vancouver Trolley will deliver you right to the Park.
An Island Apart
Trendy best describes Granville Island. Here is a Public Market, shops, art galleries, live theatre and a large selection of restaurants.
The best way to enjoy Granville Island in our opinion is to take one of the little Aquabusses that operate daily in False Creek which separates the Island from downtown Vancouver. Don't do this without your camera since the photo opportunities are wonderful in every direction.
Originally Granville Island was a place of eyesore, polluting industries but that is all changed today. However to maintain the character of the area old warehouse and factory buildings have been restored to house the new recreational activities of the Island.
It is a great place for shopping, dining or browsing through the art stores and galleries.
A bridge now connects Granville to downtown Vancouver but we preferred the unique ferries that provide a continuous shuttle service.
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