The international perception of Canada lies somewhere between Arctic, lumberjack country and oh yeah, the Olympics come to mind too. No wonder tourists often seem surprised by Vancouver. It’s greener, bigger, warmer, well just completely different to what they had expected. I once was one of those clueless tourists myself but I have learned a lot over the past months…
Bears are everywhere
Yes, there are bears in British Columbia. If you live on the North Shore you might even spot one in your backyard. A more “intimate” bear sighting is generally rare but you should always be mindful of wildlife when entering bear country, especially when hiking with a dog. Stay “bear safe” by either attaching a bear bell to your dog or by keeping the dog on leash. My favourite bear rule: Don’t use floral perfumes when hiking or camping.
There is also coyotes and eagles and we do have sharks, cougars and wolves in our province. Pretty wild, eh?
It’s all lumberjacks and big trucks
This obviously depends on the part of Canada you are visiting and whether your are spending time in the countryside. Alberta yes and yes. British Columbia not really. People wear plaid and full beards but they’re more likely to work in shared office spaces and ride a fixie bike. Canadians are definitely an outdoorsy bunch and savvy on making a fire, cutting wood or attaching snow chains. Why that is? Schools offer “outdoor education” classes where kids learn such useful skills. I learned how to cheat in badminton and jump into a sandbox instead.
It’s f* cold
Canada is a big country. With big temperature differences. In March we had an early start to spring in British Columbia with temperatures between 12 and 15°C. Up on the East coast people were meanwhile complaining about freezing cold days in the minus 20s. Vancouver rarely gets snow in the city and this year even the local mountains stayed clear of snow for most of the time.
People love Tim Hortons
It is true, Tim Hortons is well loved for a quick and cheap caffeine fix. And for their donuts and Timbits. I tried it twice out of convenience (at the airport and at BCIT) and both times left my coffee unfinished, I just couldn’t do it. Thankfully, Starbucks is not your only alternative! Vancouverites can be proud of their coffee culture where baristas focus more on different brewing techniques and roast quality than double cream and syrups. Try Revolver, Elysian, 49th Parallel or Platform 7 coffee. On that note, a Lucky’s or Cartem’s donut beats Timmy’s anytime…
People are easy going
People are pretty laid-back in Vancouver. Most of the time, about most things. Don’t worry about forgetting spare change for the bus, smoking weed or chatting about religion or politics with strangers. There is another side though! People jumping the line, the housing market, irrational driving behaviour, constant telemarketing and Christy Clark make Vancouverites lose their calm.
Everyone owns a Kayak
…or a SUP, boat, yacht or boogie board. If you live on the coast one of those for sure. And yes, there is great surfing in Canada. Tofino is one of the most popular cold water surfing destinations worldwide. It is beautiful!
Summer is a joke
I had low expectations for my first summer. Just to find out that it rules! In Vancouver people wear Flip Flops 4 out of 12 months. Surfshorts and short running shorts even 12 out of 12. Canadians are hardcore when it comes to temperatures. Best thing about summer: City beaches like Wreck, Third and Locarno, BBQs on the beach, bike riding the seawall and amazing people watching at Kits – Vancouver is awesome in summer (Downtown not so much).
Well, this is actually true.