MAKE YOURSELF AT HOME
Vancouver has a vibrant Jewish community, though somewhat small by the standards of New York, Los Angeles or Toronto. However, Jewish visitors will find everything they need to make their visit here a memorable one.
There are synagogues of all major denominations, kosher delis, an excellent Jewish Community Centre, a thriving arts community and countless community agencies to meet the needs of all Jews, whether visitors or residents.
Rabbi David Mivasair
Rabbi Ilan Acoca
Chabad of Richmond
Rabbi Yechiel Baitelman
Rabbi Yitzchak Wineberg
(Orthodox - Richmond)
Rabbi Avraham Feigelstock
Louis Brier Home and Hospital
Rabbi Andrew Rosenblatt
Centre for Judaism of the Lower Mainland
Rabbi Falik Schtroks
Rabbi Jonathan Infeld
(Conservative - Richmond)
Rabbi Claudio Kaiser-Blueth
(Conservative - West Vancouver)
Rabbi Shmuel Birnham
Burquest Jewish Community
(Traditional - New Westminster-Burnaby-Coquitlam)
Rabbi Yosef Wosk
Rabbi Philip Bregman
Rabbi Laura Kaplan
White Rock-South Surrey Jewish Community Centre
Vancouver Peretz Centre for Secular Jewish Culture
(604) 689-8228 or 604-274-2277
Out of town:
(Traditional - Kelowna)
(Conservative - Bellingham, Wash.)
(Orthodox - Victoria)
(Conservative - Victoria)
Victoria Society for Humanistic Judaism
(Humanist - Victoria)
OTHER USEFUL CONTACTS WHILE IN TOWN
Centre of Greater Vancouver
950 West 41st Ave., Vancouver
Jewish Information and Welcome Service
950 West 41st Ave., Vancouver
(University of B.C.)
of Greater Vancouver
Waldman Jewish Public Library
Jewish Museum and Archives of B.C.
(604) 257-5199 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Then, after you have taken care of your Jewish needs, Vancouver
has a huge array of other activities. There is no danger of being
bored in this city. Here are a few suggestions of activities while
you are in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland. For more information,
call Tourism Vancouver's InfoCentre at (604) 683-2000 or see their
Web site at www.tourismvancouver.com
It wouldn't hurt to keep an eye on the weather reports when packing your bags for Vancouver. We can have sunny summer-like days in February and dreary rain-soaked days in August. Though precipitation is unpredictable, temperatures are never extreme. The summers are rarely too hot and the winters rarely dip below freezing.
The city is built between the mountains and coast, offering no end of spectacular views. Vancouverites are particularly proud of their impressive system of parks, the jewel of which is Stanley Park, literally on the tip of downtown and surrounded almost completely by water.
This 1,000-acre wood has been preserved despite the immense growth of the city around it. Originally, it was a British army fortification, ready to repel the expected invasion of American continentalists. Instead, it now welcomes Americans and visitors from all over the world. The park comprises dark and mossy West Coast forests much as they would have looked centuries ago, as well as carefully tended gardens which, in season, feature stunning rhododendrons, roses and other flowering plants. Stanley Park is also home to the Vancouver Aquarium.
Queen Elizabeth Park known locally as Little Mountain
is in the geographic centre of the city and also offers impressive
views. It is a carefully manicured arboretum topped by the Bloedel
At home downtown
Vancouver's downtown is clean, safe and easy to navigate on foot. Especially in recent years, the city has made a particular effort to mingle residential development within the commercial downtown core. Completely new neighborhoods have grown on the site of Expo '86 as well as adjacent to Stanley Park on Coal Harbor and in the former warehouse district known as Yaletown.
Vancouver's old city is known as Gastown, after a notorious liquor-fueled pioneer, "Gassy" Jack Deighton. His figure still welcomes visitors to the restored neighborhood of fine restaurants, art galleries and souvenir shops. Of course, Vancouver's "old city" isn't very old by some standards. The whole city burnt to the ground in 1886, so there are no buildings more than 115 years old.
Most of the city's downtown attractions are within walking distance
of one another. From Gastown, Robson Street is just a few blocks
away. This street attracts world-class shoppers and competes with
L.A.'s Rodeo Drive as the most expensive commercial property in
the world. If you can't get it on Robson Street, it's probably not
available. If it is, you probably can't afford it. Robson is also
home to the Vancouver Art Gallery, which features permanent collections
of West Coast artists and notable visiting exhibits.
At the western foot of Robson's commercial area is Denman Street, a more unassuming commercial street, but one equally full of life. Follow Denman south to English Bay and be stunned by one of the world's prettiest protected bays.
Granville Island and area
One of the most popular destinations for locals is Granville Island,
a former heavy-industrial site located in False Creek, near downtown.
In the 1970s, the island was revitalized with theatres, restaurants,
art galleries, shops and a public market filled year-round with
tempting fresh produce, local seafood and colorful flowers. Remarkably,
it has not been "over-gentrified." Tourists and locals still jostle
with huge cement trucks to get on and off the island over a small
span. Driving on to the island during the week is all right, but
on weekends it is best to walk or take transit. The most fun method
of getting there is to take the False Creek Ferries a private
but very affordable jitney service from the beaches of downtown
the short distance across the water. Granville Island should not
Just a few minutes' walk away from Granville Island, on Kitsilano Point, are the Vancouver Museum and the Vancouver Maritime Museum. The Vancouver Museum offers changing exhibits depicting the history of Vancouver and its environs. The Maritime Museum tells the story of the city's ongoing relationship with the water that surrounds it. (Vancouver's port is the largest on the West Coast of North America and the busiest in Canada. The ships in the harbor, waiting to load or unload their cargoes, provide an added bit of scenery.)
The H.R. MacMillan Space Centre is in the same complex and offers a planetarium theatre and virtual reality space adventures.
The Granville Rise (alternately called South Granville) is also just a few blocks away. It hosts most of the city's art galleries and a lot of hip cafes, book shops and houseware retailers.
Accessible to all
Tourism officials point out that Vancouver is among the world's most accessible cities, with more than 14,000 sidewalk wheelchair ramps and a public transit system that generally accommodates wheelchairs well.
The transit system includes a diverse range of modes, fitted to
Vancouver's unique geography. The SkyTrain an elevated, light-rail
system runs from downtown to the eastern suburbs of Burnaby,
New Westminster and Surrey. A new line is under construction.
The SeaBus is a water ferry system that takes passengers from downtown to the North Shore's welcoming range of outdoor activities. Skiing, hiking, bird-watching and a remarkable network of trails is just minutes from downtown. The North Shore also has chic shopping and some of the region's biggest tourist attractions: the Royal Hudson Steam Train, the Capilano Suspension Bridge and the Lynn Canyon Ecology Centre. The gondola rides to the top of Grouse Mountain (on a clear day) provide the most stunning vista of the city and the entire region to the American border. Locals test their mettle climbing the Grouse Grind, a challenging trail straight up the mountain. (For a reduced fee, you can take the gondola down.)
Get outta town
Many people who come to the area are headed for Whistler, one of North America's top ski destinations. Usually less than a three-hour drive from the city, Whistler offers top restaurants and other apres-ski diversions. Skiers can also enjoy the slopes closer to the city core at more than a dozen other slopes, some just minutes from downtown by car.
History buffs can learn about the Hudson Bay Company's British Columbia adventures at the Fort Langley National Historic Site, about an hour east of the city.
Victoria, British Columbia's capital, is on Vancouver Island, about one-and-a-half hours by boat from the Tsawwassen B.C. Ferry terminal. (Direct buses from downtown leave all day.) The ferry ride through the Gulf Islands is spectacular in itself. The city of Victoria offers English charm and some of the province's finest museums, gardens and attractions. The island is also accessible by another B.C. Ferry service, leaving Horseshoe Bay, north of the city, for Nanaimo, an island city to the north of Victoria.
The not-always-aptly-named Sunshine Coast is a quick ferry ride in the other direction, leaving Horseshoe Bay. The towns along the coast constitute the British Columbia many people idealize, with hippie craftspeople living next door to lumber-town workers. The view, again, is spectacular and the atmosphere is rural, despite being less than a couple of hours from the city.
This article has just touched on the many opportunities for visitors to Vancouver. The Tourism Vancouver Web site is a must-see for complete trip planning.