Aerial view of downtown Vancouver and Burrard Inlet

(Hubert Kang photo)


Culture & History

The city of Vancouver is renowned for its incomparable natural beauty and cultural diversity.

For thousands of years the Coast Salish people have called the area now known as Vancouver home. Their history and cultural traditions, upholding a deep respect for nature and humanity, are tightly woven into the city's cultural fabric.

In 1792, Captain George Vancouver explored the Burrard Inlet, today the shores of the city, and wrote of the area's "innumerable pleasing landscapes." But it was the discovery of gold that drew substantial European settlements to the region.

In 1827, the Hudson's Bay Company set up a trading post on the Fraser River, east of present-day Vancouver. By 1858, the gold rush on the Fraser River brought thousands of prospectors to the area. The influx of pioneers would continue.

Perhaps the city's best known pioneer is Vancouver legend "Gassy Jack" Deighton. He established the area's first saloon in 1867 on the south shore of the Burrard Inlet; the area became known as Gastown. Nearby, legendary Stanley Park was officially opened in 1888, named for Lord Stanley, former Governor General of Canada.

Transportation and Celebration

Important developments like the Canadian Pacific Railway in the 1880s greatly boosted the growing area, and meant a substantial influx of Chinese workers. It was the promise of this coast-to-coast connection that led the province into Confederation in 1871. When the railway line was near completion in 1886, the town of Granville was incorporated as the City of Vancouver. Its position as a transportation hub ensured its dominant role in the province's economic and social life.

A century later the city staged a 100th birthday party of international proportions, hosting the Expo '86 World Exposition. For an urban centre whose growth has been directly linked to developments in transportation, the event's transportation theme was particularly poignant.

Today, Vancouver's cosmopolitan appeal can be attributed to its international population of citizens; there are Aboriginal populations as well as British descendants, Chinese, Japanese, German, Indo-Pakistani, French, Italian, Dutch, Scandinavian, Ukrainian, Filipino and Greek, among other diverse nationalities.

In February and March 2010, Vancouver was the host city for the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.  As a world-class city, Vancouver continues to draw the world's great nations together in a celebration of human spirit and achievement.