A Vancouverite unblushingly explains why he believes his hometown to be "the most desirable of all Canadian cities”
H. H. C. ANDERSON
IN VANCOUVER we once had a slogan competition. Some one won it, but nobody remembers the slogan. We are not very good sloganeers; we prefer to leave that to those who need slogans. Truth is, we don’t believe we need a slogan. However comprehensive and inspiring, it would be sadly inadequate. Why gild the lily?
Just as we are not interested in slogans, so are we bored with statistics. True, we will confirm our position as third city in Canada by a casual reference to population tables. But it is in the realm of these cold figures alone that we admit that position. We take it for granted that our climate, our harbor, our parks and drives, ovir spiritual development and artistic achievement make us quite the most desirable of all Canadian cities.
Toronto and Montreal may argue about their respective merits, even Hamilton may join the chorus. To us, firm and assured in our superiority, this is amusing, perhaps a little pathetic.
It seems superfluous to enlarge on the beauties and attractions of Vancouver. Admitted, we do have a publicity bureau and a Board of Trade and whatnots of the kind, but deep down in our hearts we are convinced that their offices are superfluous. We are quite certain that all sane persons in Canada would live in Vancouver were such a thing economically and geographically possible. Uít it be clearly understood, then, that this is written not because Vancouver needs, or craves, advertising. In a burst of Christian charity, we feel that those who have not been fortunate enough to visit us should be given a revelation of this earthly paradise.
Let us repeat that we scorn comparison. But how persons can willingly live elsewhere when they do not have to. how
they can resist Vancouver even after a glimpse at oui perfection, is quite beyond us. How they could prefer Montreal or Toronto astounds us. As for Winnipeg—well, we ask you !
A Haven For Tourists
'"TOURISTS gravitate to Vancouver. Were this written with the blessing of the Publicity Bureau or under benediction of the Ministerial Association, we might slogan, "Vancouver Pulls ’Em.” Anyway, they come. Our tourists divide into two main classes: those from other parts of Canada and “our cousins to the south.”
We will deal with our ain folk first. Quite a lot of them come by box car. minus benefit of ticket agent. When our ducks, geese, robins and others of the feathered migratory clans begin their long flight south, we get the first influx of box-car tourists. Victoria, an island settlement to the south of us, slogans brightly, "Follow the birds to Victoria.” Well, most of our winter tourists fail to respond, and end their ornithological pursuit in Coquitlam freight yards. Lack of brake beams on coast steamers may have something to do with this anticlimax to their journey west. On fine days they lie star-scattered on the grass of Victory Square; on bad days they agitate, cogitate and vegetate, or join the population in declaiming on the “extraordinary” character of the current winter. Meanwhile our legislators hastily take boat to Victoria to deal with the problem.
When things are dull our idle visitors sometimes riot. Occasionally they persuade some of the local citizenry to join them, but the lackadaisical character of our climate is such that our own idle are inclined to rest rather than riot. Rioting is so strenuous, and the police nearly always get mixed up in the affair. Riots are unpunctual, too; there seems always to be a great deal of hanging about. It often rains on riot days and that is very discouraging. Taking it all in all. while they have their bright spots, our riots are not all they might be. Graciously we cede the palm in this respect to cities where they riot more earnestly. We suspect that is because there are fewer pleasant distractions.
Then there are the jovial riots of our United States visitors; but that is a different story. Theirs is the disturb-
anee of innocent conviviality and youthful fun. They like to help us sing “God Save the King,” to compare the merits of their own home brew with those of our breweries; they are just crazy about making speeches at the President Harding memorial in Stanley Park. They come to celebrate the Glorious Fourth, Labor Day. Christmas Day. New Year’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Arbor Day. Decoration Day—nearly any old day. They flock to join us on Washington’s birthday, Lincoln’s birthday—nearly any birthday except Volstead's.
As a locale for conventions, we enjoy popularity which reaches many States of the Union. Oregon plumbers find it no journey when they convene with us for their annual meeting. Montana morticians find our climate suits their deliberations. Laundrymen of Washington would not meet anywhere else. While we do not encourage drinking, we find our visitors like our system of having a liquor vendor’s store oj^en until midnight. It adds to the sociability of our night life and facilitates celebrations of festivals, both domestic and national, by the absent-minded.
Some distinguished but forgotten enthusiast once sloganed our Hotel Vancouver as "A cross-roads of Empire ” So it is. Nearly any day you may see laddies from Australia greeting long lost friends from China, or a retired colonel from Victoria blinking astonishment at the sight of a fiery-faced old buck from India. You should hear the clamor when two friends from the neighbor cities of Tacoma and Seattle meet after a separation of only one night!
YOU must not. however, gather the impression that Vancouver is not a law-abiding city We have just as many laws as any city in Canada Our police are efficient, too, and just as diplomatic as any—even Montreal, where they benefit by the French influence. Talk about tact! Just watch one of our sturdy officers handle an enthusiastic celebrant from Seattle who insists on addressing President Hoover from the sidewalk at Hastings and Granville Streets and waves emphasis with a half-empty beer bottle. Listen
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to their adroit address in convincing a trusting Australian visitor that the gentleman he met at the dock may not have suggested a “little game” just out of wholehearted sportsmanship. Observe their tactful labor in persuading a Manitoba farmer that the wallet he picked up on Pender Street may have unpleasant strings on it. See and hear all this and then appreciate our police.
Police have a haven of refuge from criticism of inactivity. When things are slow they can always round up a score or so of Chinese gamblers. Admitted, the Chinese go right back to their gambling, but these raids give a citizen a mild glow of superior virtue. Anyway, the Chinese expect it, so what’s the difference?
We have miles and miles of marine drives around our priceless Stanley Park and belting our equally precious Point Grey. This encourages a deep study of maritime scenery, especially at night when parking space is at a premium. And that sort of thing calls for tactful policemen. It inspires novice hold-up men, too. Students engrossed in the night study of marine scenic effects are docile subjects for hold-ups. It is only fair to say that more experienced bandits scorn such easy prey. “Not cricket,” says the veterans.
TN VANCOUVER the subject of police ■*invariably leads to politics—not the tame affairs of Province or Dominion, but the boisterous three-ring circus of our Municipal Government. Our council appoints a Police Commission which is supposed to run the police force. The idea of the city fathers seems to be to appoint commissioners who will not be funny enough to distract attention from the true centre of community comedy, the City Council. They don’t always succeed; for the spotlight of public attention eventually comes back to the Council in their side-splitting skits of hilarity and their boisterous slapstick. We are a gay city.
Of course the centre of our political firmament is the mayor. You may tell visitors about the climate, quote port statistics, recount the mileage of our sewers, and still leave them unimpressed. But tell them about Mayor Louis D. Taylor and they are all attention. Mayor Taylor is a recurrent institution in Vancouver. He has been mayor so many times we forget when he started. His defeats are always temporary. Beaten, he goes quietly to work for the next election. Inevitably he returns, raising merry hell and defying his enemies to guess his age. The mayor’s age is a local mystery.
A swipe over the head from the propeller of a visiting airplane a few years ago failed to keep the mayor out of a hot election a month or so afterward; a more recent sojourn of six months in the hospital has not daunted him. He conducts Council meetings from an invalid’s chair, smokes a big black cigar and says just as many explosive things as Mayor Webb, of Winnipeg. Flat on his back and unable to move a finger, he continued to make aldermen dance, sometimes in anger.
Honest—that’s Vancouver. We don’t claim perfection and we admit some minor drawbacks. Now, some visitors complain about smoke; so do we. We complained about it so much that our City Council passed a very severe anti-smoke by-law and appointed a smoke inspector to carry out its provisions. None of the voters have ever found out just how this by-law works, but ; they know there is plenty of smoke for the ; inspector to inspect—a very fine quality of ; heavy, black smoke. We suspect that the j authorities take the view that if the smoke I were eliminated there would be no job for ; the inspector and then he might have to parade with the unemployed. Economically, this would be a bad thing.
Then there is our rain. Visitors never understand our attitude toward rain. They can’t seem to get in tune with us on the
subject of damp weather. We like rain. We hate frost and snow. There are plenty of mountains handy to carry all the snow anybody wants to look at or wallow in, and we resent its descent, very occasionally, to sea level. Let it pour, drizzle or just “fug”; but save us from snow and frost ! Of course, their only criticism is our winter weather. Summer defies carping. But who minds a little dampness, a little lack of sun, when roses bloom until November and primroses smile in February? What a shock it must be for a prairie visitor to leave tulips nodding in Victory Square and return to his native heath to find a howling spring snowstorm in command !
Romantic Link With Orient
YY 7E HAVE many parks. Their comY V bined area must be equal to something very impressive, but we don’t know exactly what. They are all beautiful. We have parks for sports, parks for walking, parks for riding, and parks for just sitting. The zoo in Stanley Park is a source of literary inspiration, and these “animal friends” are responsible for more letters to the newspapers than any other topic except religion and liquor. Supporters of the zoo paint a direful picture of our youngsters growing up without first-hand knowledge of the grizzly bear or the otter. Those who would eliminate the zoo write plaintively of freedom and the cruelty of confining animals. Our zoo, you might say, is in statu quo.
Vancouver’s bathing beaches are numerous and superb. A large proportion of our population lives on the sand continuously during the summer. Our police do not run around measuring bathing suits and censoring female beach attire as they do in some puritanical centres. Individual maidenly modesty is the only censor of our beach attire. It works quite nicely.
In British Columbia, beer bars—politely, we call them parlors—are optional locally. Vancouver optioned for them at the earliest opportunity, and they play a large part in the social, not to mention political, life of the city. They are the particular delight of Americans, while our predominant Britishborn population finds in them “something that is England,” although not much. To tum for a moment from beer to the less intriguing liquid, water, we believe its mountain purity and softness makes it delightful to the old-fashioned girls who wash their own hair.
Vancouver’s waterfront is a romantic link with the Orient, Australia and the South Seas. We like to watch the big freighters coming through the Lions’ Gate which guards our harbor. W’e like to watch them sail away with grain and lumber.
We can set our watches by the punctual goings and comings of the coast steamers which play from Vancouver to Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands and the Northern Coast. Of a sunny Sunday morning in summer half a dozen big steamers sail out of the harbor, bearing thousands of holiday makers to the fascinating resorts on Howe Sound, the islands and the coast of the Gulf of Georgia. With them goes the mosquito fleet—pleasure boats of all kinds, from the stately steam yacht to the regenerated rowboat with a kicker.
Vancouver has her moods. She may be a succession of mysterious, misty vistas, with office buildings looming like shadowy sentinels and the shipping sailing ghostly courses across the harbor. She may dazzle in the morning sun, her harbor whipped by a western breeze, smoke of her mills and factories swept away, and her guardian mountains standing clear in their snowcrowned beauty. She may lie bathed in the dying glory of a sunset across the Gulf, with bonfires twinkling on the beaches and the firelight flickering on bronzed bodies of late swimmers. She may wrap herself in early morning cloudssea, mountains and sky a symphony in grey. But, whatever her mood, you may take it from us, she is a very, very superior city.
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