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Open Features: Home Of The First Nation

...Vancouver feels to me like a sister city to San Francisco. Good natured and shining. The sea is a constant, framing gleaming buildings with fingers of land interlinking and interweaving, the light a fusion of blue and silver. But Vancouver has the jagged icing sugared mountains as a backdrop...

Anne Steward is enthralled by Vancouver, one of the world’s most spectacular cities.

The First Nation was the name for the native Canadians when I was there last. Now they wish to be known as Aboriginals. Trying to be politically correct can take some concentration. And then there are the more recent Canadians who still keep their roots alive by awarding themselves dual nationalities.

Vancouver feels to me like a sister city to San Francisco. Good natured and shining. The sea is a constant, framing gleaming buildings with fingers of land interlinking and interweaving, the light a fusion of blue and silver. But Vancouver has the jagged icing sugared mountains as a backdrop.

Just here and there linger older houses with homely porches and roofs of wooden shingles giving scale to the giants crowding them giving relevance to the fortunate people who live there.

There is real wealth here and dire poverty. I was warned not to take myself off the beaten track ...meaning the main roads. I was approached in Gas Town, an arty crafty area of Vancouver, by a man who had joined the ranks of the permanently confused but I did not experience any aggression at all.

As I strode across a complicated crossing I had to stop when I saw, reflected in a glass tower of a bank, a strikingly Art Deco building. A dapper, well suited man saved my life by pointing out where it was before I was mowed down, and invited me to visit the Marine Building where he worked. He said that it had been the tallest structure in the British Empire when it was built. Not any more, but I would vote it as among the most exquisite. Everything is decorated. Nothing was held back. Intricately carved stone, stained glass and beautifully tiled floors. The lifts were patterned with inlaid woods. I felt I was inside a gorgeous jewel box. It's on the way to the Sea Bus to the Northern Shore, but that's another story.

Vancouver is a most accessible friendly city, and very beautiful.

Within one day I walked from the seaside resort of Kitsilano to Granville Island where Arts and Crafts and good eating places rule to catch a sub nosed, brightly painted little water taxi across False Creek to mainland Vancouver. I strode up the hill to the Art Gallery and enjoyed two excellent exhibitions before I lunched there. Tasty, elegant and cheapish. I forgot to pick up my dessert so I have to go back sometime soon.

Then down to the other shore to catch the Sea Bus, all with the same ticket as they are regulated by time not distance. It was a short voyage with good views of Dragon Bridge and the mountains to Lonsdale Landing where I caught a bus, with my trusty ticket to Grouse Mountain. I rode up to the Ski Resort on a gondola. That was pricey but I didn't care. The views from the top are just wonderful. The ranges of snowy mountains stretching off into the distance gave me just a glimpse of the immensity of the wilderness.

I watched skaters with sort of zimmer frames for learners, snowboarders and skiers and managed not to get mowed down. I had the most delicious hot chocolate there. Well, it seemed the appropriate thing to do.

Then off back to Kitsilano Beach just in time to have an excellent dinner with my grandson.

A day to bank in the Forever File.

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