Vancouver, BC. Canada?

It’s very orange in my street with the pseudo-cherry tree leaves changing.  It’s “fall” in Vancouver or so some trees and days tell me.  Other trees are still full green and some days feel like Spring in Edmonton (or even a cool summers day). 

This leads me to an idea and thought that’s been on the tip of my brain lately.  When I first moved here my roommate, who’s from Iran and had lived in different cities across the country noted that Vancouver doesn’t feel like Canada.  At first brushed off this notion as I had only been here a couple weeks and had only ever lived in Edmonton before.  A year later and I’m starting to understand what he was talking about and alluding to. 
Vancouver seems to be a contradiction to what most people think of Canada.  I close my eyes and conjure up an image of Canada, it’s people, climate, landscape, mentality… Vancouver doesn’t fit that image.

The weather is unlike anywhere else in Canada.  No winter in the true sense, lots of rain, blurred seasons, little weather extremes…it’s really quite pleasant actually yet people still bitch about it.

The landscape is fitting, mountains, evergreen trees but the population density isn’t.  I’ve heard that the downtown core of Vancouver is the most densely populated areas in Canada, over taking Toronto this year (not 100% on this one).  This is quite unlike the majority of Canada with its wide open, sparsely populated regions and cities. 

The demographic of the people living here isn’t all that true of Canada either.  Traditionally Canada has been a predominantly white country but in the last 10-15 years that’s changed drastically, making Canada a more cultural and racial mosaic.  I went to Toronto in ’04 and was amazed by the diversity of people living there.  It was a good mix of everyone; white, black, asian, middle-eastern, indian… My last visit to Edmonton left me thinking the same thing.  White people still hold a strong 50% plus majority but until recently there’s a much greater mix of other peoples, resembling what I saw in Toronto.  That’s what I think of Canada at least, a mosaic.  Here in Vancouver on the other hand its white or asian.  Yes there is a much higher percentage of visible minorities here but it really lacks that broad-spectrum of people.  The other day I saw a troupe of Air Cadets marching around and doing a fundraising drive and I swear that maybe 6 kids out of the +50 that weren’t asian.  It was kind of a funny sight actually, it really reminded me of when I was in China and seeing the hundreds of school children in their military-like school uniforms marching through the streets off to school.
I’m sure I sound like some bigot now and see people only by the colour of their skin…

To end my rant and bitching I’ll finish off with the mentality of people here.  Maybe it’s BIG city mentality compared to Edmonton smallish city mentality, but it’s definitely different and not what I think of when I conjure up images of Canada’s snowy fields and great outdoors.  I think to best explain people’s mentality here is horse shades; the kind that horse’s wear in transport in order to not get spooked.  People seem to go out of their way to ignore you and in return the town is very cold and impersonable.  I’ve been brushed off asking for the time.  I wonder at times if it’s to do with the number of dodgy and homeless people on the streets constantly asking for money, smokes or something, anything.

On my last rotation at the hospital one of the patients was an English women who came to Canada over 60 years ago.  She had moved from England directly to Winnipeg spending over 30 years there and then move to Vancouver for the next 20 plus.  I said to her that it must have been a culture shock moving from England to Winnipeg.  She said that she adapted quite well to Winnipeg, loved it there and that the people were very down to earth and honest.  I asked her about Vancouver and she said, “I don’t like it.  The people are uptight, snooty and it’s never felt like home here even though it’s been 20-some years.”  That sort of nailed it on the head for me.

All in all I’m going to miss it here.  The great weather, the mountains, the bike-abilty and the great little corner grocery stores like the Korean market down the street (where am I going to get my wakame?).  It’ll all be missed.  I do my best to truly appreciate it and try to cease those moments that seem to be precious and fleeting.  My 6:30 morning bike rides to work, those brisk mornings with the cloud shrouded mountains showing a fresh sprinkle of snow or the rainy days inside looking out a window drinking coffee.


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