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Vancouver: the West End - an urban beachside community


Jubilee Fountain was built in 1936 for the city’s Golden Jubilee
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To many people, the West End is Vancouver’s ideal community. It has the distinction of being surrounded by sandy beaches and tree-lined parks, along with kilometers of car-free pathways perfect for strolling and cycling year round.

The West End lies west of Burrard Street and south of West Georgia to Stanley Park, and has a longstanding history as a destination for people arriving to Vancouver. That, along with its stunning scenery, has made it one of Vancouver’s most diverse and densely populated neighbourhoods. Whether browsing the handful of shops in gay-friendly Davie village, or dining in one of  Denman Street’s many restaurants, it’s not uncommon to hear many languages being spoken — Mandarin, German, French, Cantonese, Spanish — by people who may be visitors or longtime residents.

Seniors who have lived in the community for decades can recall the days when Robson Street, a busy thoroughfare of restaurants and shops, bore the German name “Robsonstrasse,” and when wealthy families lived in Victorian mansions. Today a few houses remain in Mole Hill in the heart of the West End, but most have been replaced with condo towers and low-rise apartment buildings.

It’s easy to get around the West End without a car, and to take one of the little passenger ferries to explore Granville Island, Science World, Kitsilano and beyond. Unlike the downtown and financial and entertainment zones, the West End moves at a much slower place that speeds up in the summer. The annual Celebration of Light fireworks festival, which runs for four days in July and August, draws a huge crowd of onlookers to English Bay.

People flock to Stanley Park to explore its wooded trails, play tennis at one of the 17 free courts, and dine at the Teahouse Restaurant, which is now easily accessible year round thanks to a partnership with Harbour Air’s free shuttle bus service. Finish off an ideal summer day by relaxing on a blanket while watching a movie outdoors near at Ceperley Meadow near Second Beach.