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Vancouver, British Columbia


Vancouver: Vancouver is a major port and Canada's third largest city. It is situated in the southwest of the province, overlooking the Burrard Inlet on the Pacific and backed by the Coastal Range of mountains. There are many beaches (all are public,) the most famous being Wreck Beach, near the university. Downtown Vancouver has the second largest Chinese quarter in North America, celebrated by the new Chinese Cultural Center. Gastown, the reconstructed old Center of Vancouver, is a pleasant array of cobblestone streets, cafés and shops. The traditions of the large German and Ukrainian populations are reflected in the proliferation of ethnic shops and restaurants there.

Of the several museums and galleries, most notable are the Centennial Museum, H. R. MacMillan Planetarium , University of British Columbia's Museum of Anthropology (housing excellent examples of northwest First Nation art and artifacts), Vancouver Art Gallery, Science World (including four galleries of hands-on exhibits) and the Maritime Museum .

More points of interest are Stanley Park, Vancouver Aquarium, the newly-opened Downtown Historic Railway, and the Grouse Mountain Skyride on the north shore. The latter offers views of the city and the fjords of the Pacific coast from 1211m (3974ft). Vancouver is also a comparatively young city with the large University of British Columbia campus. A visit to the extensive Botanical Gardens of the university is recommended.

During the summer Whistler, just north of Vancouver, is a delight for naturalists. In the winter, however, it is the most popular ski resort on the west coast offering an award-winning design with first-class hotels and restaurants. In addition to more than 100 varied ski runs covering two enormous mountains, it has facilities for golf, windsurfing, tennis, mountain biking, river rafting, horse back riding, hiking, gondola and chairlift rides, as well as shopping and cultural entertainment.

Ferries to Vancouver Island pass through the spectacular Gulf Islands. A variety of tours and charter boats are available for island-hopping excursions.

In the east of the province, high in the Rocky Mountains, the huge wilderness areas of Yoho, Kootenay and Glacier National Parks. Here, hiking, angling and rafting trips as well as excellent winter sports facilities are in available. Nearby are the hot-spring resorts of Radium and Fairmont along with the Fort Steel Heritage Park, which celebrates the rich Canadian history of pioneer days. North of the rich angling and ranching country of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast lay vast tracts of untamed lakes, forest and wilderness stretching to the border with the Yukon and Northwest Territories. Some sporting resorts in this area are accessible only by air. Queen Charlotte Islands, reached by ferry from Prince Rupert in the far northwest, is an adventurous side-trip with good fishing opportunities. Another good wilderness route is the Alaska Highway , running through Prince George, Dawson Creek and Fort St John in the northeast. This former fur-trading trail gives good access to the provincial parks of Stone Mountain and Muncho Lake , which provide basic amenities for striking out into this rugged terrain. Both the scenery and the sporting opportunities en route are excellent.

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