Inukshuk, seawall, vancouver, scenic

Canada’s Olympic Cities: Vancouver bronze

Inukshuk, seawall, vancouver, scenic

The landmark Inukshuk overlooks English Bay on the seawall in Vancouver. (©Julia Pelish/

As the 2012 London Olympics begin, is looking at the best Canadian Olympic cities — those places that honour the spirit of the Olympics and feature unique Olympic experiences for visitors. The first of three cities profiled is 2010 Winter Olympics host Vancouver, which earns bronze.

Story by Waheeda Harris Senior Writer

Southeast False Creek Olympic Plaza Vancouver

The Olympic Athletes’ Village on False Creek now features condo residences. (Julia Pelish/

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA — In this west coast city, it’s a well-known stereotype that being a local resident is synonymous with being a gear head – always ready to be outside, whether it’s cycling around Kitsilano or running through Yaletown. As the host city of the last Olympics in 2010, Vancouver is proud to pass the torch to London and to continue to show off its sporty self as the 2012 Summer Gamesbegin overseas.

Local Olympic flavour

Members of Canada’s Summer Olympics team who call Vancouver home include: Inaki Gomez, who will be competing in the 20-kilometre race walk; Luke Ramsay, competing in laser sailing; and Toby Ng in mixed doubles badminton. Winter Olympian Ross Rebagliati, gold-medal winner in 1998 for snowboarding (the first Canadian to achieve that feat), is a Vancouver resident.

For some local Olympic history head to the Vancouver Convention Centre, located on the western edge of downtown at Canada Place. The Olympic cauldron resides in Jack Poole Plaza, a 10-metre-high steel and glass structure, while inside the building is the Olympic Legacy, a display that features torches, medals and a medal podium. The 2010 Olympic Winter Games official symbol was a stylized Inukshuk — a stone First Nations symbol that can be seen in English Bay.

How to act like an Olympian

Surrounded by the Pacific Ocean and the Coastal Mountains, there’s many ways to release the inner athlete in Vancouver:

Grouse Mountain: Affectionately known as Mother Nature’s staircase, the Grouse Grind is a 2.9-kilometre uphill challenge — amateurs be prepared for a two-hour hike, regulars conquer it in an hour. If you want to go for the title, the fastest time is 25.01 minutes.

Rainforest kayak: Experience two natural wonders, the Pacific Ocean and Stanley Park. Paddle from English Bay through Burrard Inlet to the Vancouver Harbour and then hike into the rainforest found in Stanley Park, the city’s first park. It’s 1,000 hectares have been preserved since 1888.

Cycle the TransCanada Trail: This cross-Canada trail comes into the city via the North Burnaby trail to the City of Vancouver trail — over 40 km of paved pathways through Mt. Pleasant, Granville Island, English Bay and ending at the Lion’s Gate bridge.

Inline skate challenge: The Lower Seymour Conservation Area in North Vancouver has become a favourite for rollerblading, especially the 10km Seymour Valley trail which isn’t for the beginner, thanks to hilly terrain.

After jumpstarting your adrenaline, the time for refueling can happen at:

The Juice Truck: This mobile juice and smoothie bar is the perfect pick me up no matter what time of day. Usually found in Gastown at the corner of Abbott and Water Streets, go for a Blueberry Matcha smoothie with a side of wellness shot.

Gorilla Food: For those raw, veggie and vegan options to help you power a workout  — consider a Main Street Monkey Sandwich (olive tapenade, avocado mashup, zucchini hummous) with a side of East Coast West Coast salad featuring dulse, apple and roots.

Miku: With eight successful restaurants in Japan, chef Seiku Nakamura chose Vancouver for his first international location — the perfect spot to fill up on tasty lean proteins such as contemporary Japanese Aburi sushi and Sumiyaki grilled beef.

Note: You’ll know you’re not an athlete if Mountain Equipment Co-op and LuluLemon isn’t found on half the labels of your Goretex/Polar fleece/Lycra/Spandex laden wardrobe.

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A Toronto-based freelance journalist since the beginning of the millennium, Waheeda has been lucky enough to visit every continent. She's always happy to travel, especially when she can swim in the sea, taste locally-made cuisine and spend an afternoon in an art gallery.

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