February 14, 2019

Vancouver: What Not to Miss

Adam Goldenberg

Arrive on a clear day, and Vancouver will take your breath away before you’ve even touched down. Nestled in a rainforest between the Coast Mountains and the Salish Sea, the city’s surroundings make it one of the world’s most beautiful places. But it’s Vancouver’s diversity — of cultures and cuisines, sights and sounds — that have secured its reputation as one of the world’s most livable, and visitable, cities.

Here’s a taste of what awaits during this year’s Business Law Section Spring Meeting, March 28-30, 2019.

Without question, the jewel of downtown is Stanley Park — 400 acres of rainforest in the heart of the city. Rent a bike or lace up your running shoes and explore the seawall, which encircles the park and offers spectacular views throughout. Stanley Park is also home to the Vancouver Aquarium, an attraction in its own right and one of the world’s leading marine research facilities.

Extending from Stanley Park is the Lion’s Gate Bridge, a suspension bridge across Burrard Inlet that links downtown Vancouver to what locals call “the North Shore” — i.e., the suburbs of West Vancouver and North Vancouver. Across it, you will find a host of attractions, including ski and snowshoe areas (open for night skiing) at Grouse Mountain, Cypress Mountain, and Mount Seymour, and the high-flying, pedestrians-only Capilano Suspension Bridge. Further afield, the hike to Quarry Rock in Deep Cove makes for a gorgeous day trip — and the slopes of Whistler Blackcomb are less than two hours away.

You can also access the North Shore by taking the Seabus from Waterfront Station, part of Vancouver’s public transit network. It will deposit you next to Lonsdale Quay, a public market that offers unique lunch options and an unobstructed view of downtown.

Yet, as public markets go, you won’t do better than Granville Island. Tucked away under the Granville Street Bridge — you can reach it from downtown by hitching a ride on the Aquabus from the foot of Hornby Street or the False Creek Ferry from Sunset Beach — this former industrial site is a popular place to shop and eat for visitors and Vancouverites alike. Pick up a latté at JJ Bean Coffee Roasters; cross the street to the Net Loft, where you can peruse local artists’ wares; then loop back for a hot, Montreal-style bagel at Segal’s, a walnut roll or fresh focaccia from Terra Breads, and a few morsels of sweet, smoked “salmon candy” from Longliner Seafoods. End your visit with a flight of local craft brews at the Granville Island Brewing Company. On a sunny day, few things beat the walk along the water from Granville Island to Kitsilano Beach Park.

But you needn’t ever leave downtown to have an entire trip’s worth of vintage Vancouver experiences at your fingertips. Stroll the boardwalk at English Bay Beach. Shop the stores of Robson Street. Explore Vancouver’s historic Chinatown — including the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden (the first of its kind in Canada) and a surfeit of can’t-go-wrong eateries. Take in an NHL game at Rogers Arena, where the Vancouver Canucks will host the Los Angeles Kings on March 28 and the Dallas Stars on March 30. And wander through the galleries and boutiques of Gastown, Vancouver’s original downtown core.

The Vancouver Art Gallery, housed in what used to be the main courthouse building, boasts one of country’s finest collections of Canadian art. Fortify yourself with a cocktail at the recently restored Rosewood Hotel Georgia, across the street from the Gallery’s front steps. The Law Courts building, behind the Gallery, is widely regarded as a masterpiece by Vancouver architect Arthur Erickson — even if, local rumour has it, some of the potted plants inside were placed to catch leaking drops of rainwater from the building’s enormous glass roof.

The Law Courts is also the scene of the courtroom action in “Full Disclosure”, the debut novel (a legal thriller, of course) published last year by Beverley McLachlin, the recently retired Chief Justice of Canada. Borrow a copy from the main location of the Vancouver Public Library at Library Square, a stunning, colosseum-like complex created by the Israeli-Canadian architect Moshe Safdie.

Vancouver is famous for its fish. There is a nearly endless supply of sushi joints around town, and there are nearly no bad options among them. The torched salmon at Miku, near Canada Place, is the stuff that dreams are made of. Kingyo Izakaya and Tetsu Sushi Bar, both on Denman Street in Downtown’s West End, are local favorites for lunch. And, for a younger and funkier vibe, you’ll find the university crowd pairing pitchers of Pilsner with saucy tuna tempura at The Eatery in Kitsilano.

Sushi aside, Blue Water Café has long enjoyed a deserved reputation as one of Canada’s best seafood joints, and Rodney’s Oyster House — now with two locations, including one in Gastown — fuses fresh-from-the-Pacific offerings with the vibe and hospitality of Canada’s Atlantic coast. Finally, if fish isn’t your taste, try Tableau Bar Bistro or Nightingale, both hot spots and both just steps from the Vancouver Convention Centre.

Vancouver is a singular city. It offers an endless supply of one-of-kind experiences in an unmatched natural setting. Join us next month and see for yourself. You’ll be planning your return before you leave.

Adam Goldenberg

McCarthy Tétrault LLP