About Vancouver

Vancouver a Unique City

This cosmopolitan coastal city is a multi-cultural gem nestled between the Burrard Inlet to the north, the Fraser River to the south and the Strait of Georgia to the west. On a clear day, The Lions of the North Shore Mountains dominate the cityscape.

Vancouver History

Vancouver History

Even if Vancouver (originally named Gastown) is a fairly ‘’new’’ city, as the first European settlement was established only in the mid 19th Century many nations have been living on this land for many centuries.

When the Spaniards sailed the coast of British Columbia in the 1600’s and when George Vancouver (1757-1798) explored the American and the Canadian West Coast, many Aboriginal tribes like the Squamish, Burrard, Tsleil-Waututh, Musqueam, Tsawwassen, Coquitlam, Katzie and Semiahmoo had been living on the shores of the Pacific since 11000 BC.

The abundance of fish and game and the mild climate made this land welcoming and nourishing. The First-Nations culture and artistic influence can still be seen throughout the city, from museums to art galleries.

The later presence of the Spanish is also present in Vancouver with street names like Cordova, Cardero, Valdez and Narvaez and the Spanish Banks. The English took over (and also named their own bay, the English Bay) in the early 1800’s, as a fellow named Fraser decided to explore a river (that would take his name). And then came the Gold Rush, ‘’Gassy Jack’’ who opened a saloon in 1867 in a borough that is know today as Gastown, and finally, the railroad. The rest is history, including the historical win of the gold medal by the Men’s hockey team against the U.S.A. team during the 2010 Winter Olympic.

Vancouver has since become one of the top-five cities in the world for its quality of life, winning the first place in Canada, as well as a multi-cultural city with Asian, European and native-American influence that can be seen, heard, smelled and tasted through the way of life, the food and the artistic inspiration of Vancouverites.

5 Cultures that helped to share Vancouver

Over the last 125 years, Vancouver has become home to a broad range of ethnic groups, who have brought with them a vibrant and distinct assemblage of cuisines, heritage, belief systems and artwork. Although these cultures have retained a sense of their original identity, their influence has shaped Vancouver into a thriving, international city with a unique vibe. Get to know some of the influential forces behind this culturally rich, global metropolis.


Walking through Vancouver, the aesthetic influence of Japanese culture is everywhere, from serene public gardens to the thousands of blooming cherry trees planted throughout the city’s green spaces. The first wave of Japanese immigrants, called Issei (or first generation), arrived in Vancouver between 1877 and 1928, many of whom settled in small fishing villages along the Pacific coastline and on idyllic farms in the Fraser Valley. Since then, it’s become easy to experience an authentic part of this culture by dining at one of the many Japanese restaurants, enjoying a tea ritual at the Nitobe Memorial Garden or attending the annual Powell Street Festival, the largest Japanese-Canadian community event in Vancouver.


During the late 1800s, the first Chinese immigrants began arriving in Vancouver to work on railroads and in the mines. As more workers and families began migrating to Vancouver, the neighborhood kept growing, eventually developing into the third most populous Chinatown in North America. Step into this bustling cultural district, where you can indulge in authentic cuisine, shop for specialty items in traditional markets and teashops, and experience contemporary nightlife with a new generation of Chinese-Canadians.

First Nations

Although a very small percentage of Vancouver’s current population is comprised of First Nations people, the culture of these native tribes permeates the city — from towering totem poles located throughout public green spaces to contemporary aboriginal art galleries located along downtown throughways. Spend the day perusing historical artifacts and authentic artwork at the UBC Museum of Anthropology or view the extensive collection of artwork, carvings and jewelry at the Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art. For an authentic interactive experience, venture to Stanley Park’s Klahowya Village, a living village where visitors can taste authentic aboriginal cuisine, hear the lore of ancient stories, and interact with First Nations weavers and carvers.


More than a century ago, Vancouver’s booming lumber industry lured thousands of immigrants from Punjab, a region located on the Indian-Pakistani border. As this cultural group became more established in Vancouver, Punjabi Market — or Little India, as it’s sometimes called — emerged as an exotic district occupying six blocks along Main Street. Start at East 49th Avenue, and walk down Main Street to peruse sparkly gold bangles, vibrant silks and aromatic spices. Don’t miss out on the authentic Indian cuisine, whether you’re looking to try signature samosas, curried vegetarian dishes or something more adventurous.


After World War II, thousands of Italians moved to Vancouver, settling into the Grandview neighborhood, which is located on Commercial Drive. During the 1950s, this area became known as Little Italy due to its high concentration of Italian residents, restaurants and businesses, but over time, a number of other ethnicities infiltrated the area, creating a culturally diverse neighborhood. Despite the name Commercial Drive, this area continues to have remnants of Italian culture. Learn more about Italian-Canadian heritage at the Italian Cultural Centre, watch a bocce ball game in nearby Confederation Park or enjoy a rich cup of espresso from one of the many Italian coffee shops along the Drive.


Tourists visiting Vancouver are able to use their credit and debit cards at ATMs, which can be found almost everywhere, providing a convenient way to exchange currency. Most banks in Vancouver are open between Monday and Friday, although their opening hours are slightly shorter than regular shops and stores in Ottawa. Some banks are open later or on weekends or Thursday evenings.

Health Insurance & Hospitals

Canadian hospitals and medical services are excellent. The vast majority of hospitals are publicly managed and rates are set by provincial and hospital authorities. Hospital care for non-residents of Canada is charged at a daily rate or on the basis of the medical condition and length of stay. Charges vary from province to province and from hospital to hospital, but generally range from C$1,000 to C$2,000 a day. It is therefore important to obtain travel health insurance before leaving home, since it is possible your regular health insurance does not include coverage outside your country of residence.


The official language of the International Meeting on Radiation Processing will be English. We do not foresee simultaneous translation.


There are so many great attractions in the Vancouver area, that it is impossible to list them all here! Here are some to the top-Vancouver attractions not to miss:

  • Capilano Suspension Bridge
  • Vancouver Aquarium
  • Vancouver Look-Out
  • BC University Museum of Anthropology (MOA)
  • Grouse Mountain
  • Granville Island
  • Stanley Park
  • Whale Watching and boat tours
  • Gastown
  • Yaletown
  • VanDusen Botanical Garden
  • Canada Place

For more great attractions and family fun, click here.


What else to say than “Yummy”, “Bon Appetit”, “Enjoy”, you name it! Vancouver is the land of fresh food and fresh ideas! A step away from the ocean, the forest, the fertile Fraser Valley and the Garden of Canada, the Okanagan Valley, all the chefs, professionals or not, just have to go outside to find the best local products. Cheese, wine, craft beers, meats, seafood, fish, breads…

As a great initiative, the Vancouver Aquarium has also a developed a program in partnership with the local restaurants that encourages environmentally friendly seafood choices. Local farmers-market, year-round markets and great restaurants are the culinary signature of this vibrant city.

For more information on where to eat in Vancouver, click here.

Entertainment and nightlife

Tough choice: Will you be enjoying a pint of Guinness at an Irish Pub in Gastown (or in ANY neighbourhood in fact…), a glass of award-wining wine from the Okanagan Valley in a trendy lounge in Yaletown or will you be listening to a live band on Granville Street! How about you do it all. You will have time. Vancouver is never going to bed early…

Click here for more information on entertainment and nightlife or here to find the best Vancouver neighbourhood for your style of nightlife.

The legal drinking age in BC is 19. Anyone 19 years of age or older may purchase alcohol from government liquor stores known as BC Liquor Stores and at private owned groceries and liquor stores. These stores are open daily, including some holidays. Drinking hours in licensed establishments are from 11:00 to 03:00. It is an offence to consume alcohol anywhere other than in a residence or on licensed premises.


Again, Vancouver shines with its diversity even in the shopping department. Haute couture, art gallery, all-in-one malls, jewelry stores, and the shopper in you will for sure, find a style and a store!

For more information about shopping in Vancouver, click here.

Activities & Tours

If you wish to book in advance, would like to have information about options for Tours and Activities or would like to discover Vancouver, the area or British Columbia, consult the following website:

Tourism Vancouver
Destination British Columbia

Tourist Information Centres

9:00am-5:00pm daily
Location: Downtown Vancouver, Tourism Vancouver Visitor Centre
200 Burrard St
Tel: 604.683.2000 (voicemail inquiries will be personally returned within 24 hours)
Fax: 604.682.6839
Email: VisitVancouver@tourismvancouver.com

Sales Taxes

Goods and Services

British Columbia has a 12% HST (Harmonized Sales Tax) that combines PST (Provincial Sales Tax of 7%) and GST (Goods and Services Tax of 5%). This tax is applicable to most goods, purchased gifts, food/beverages and services in British Columbia.


The Westin Bayshore Vancouver has a Hotel Room Tax (HRT) of 2.24 % and a Destination Marketing Fee (DMF) of 1.5%


Some hotels include tips or gratuities with group programs to simplify bookkeeping. This usually includes gratuities for housekeeping, bell service and food service. In a hotel, bell service should be tipped about $1 per bag, and housekeeping $1 to $5 dollars a day (in proportion to your room rate). Visitors should know that the standard tip in restaurants is 15% (on restaurant bills, an average tip will match the HST), with 20% for very outstanding service. Tip taxis about 10%, and a dollar a bag they carry for you (not just unload), or at the very least round fares up to the nearest dollar. Tipping is customary in bars, restaurants, salons/spa and taxis.