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Why Vancouver? Why You?

Thank you to all entrants. Please visit the semifinalist page to view the top ten essays as determined by our panel and the public voting. Click here to view the top ten

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Lotusland

By Carol Riera

Why Vancouver?  Why do I love Vancouver?  It is a question I have asked myself everyday since leaving my beautiful hometown.  Growing up in Vancouver I knew I lived in the best place in the world.  Nothing new there.  What child doesn’t think they live in the best place on earth?  Not only that, but I grew up in Kerrisdale:  Kerry’s Dale.  An idyllic self-contained paradise in the middle of what was then a budding metropolis, only, living in Vancouver felt like living in the suburbs.  Riding no hands, down 45th under a lush canopy of stunning trees, climbing the gnarled oak in Maple Grove’s playing field and lounging in its enormous twisted branches while chatting hurriedly to friends before recess ends, seeing the gorgeous, pink bursts of cherry petals adorning block after block of the neighbourhood’s streets, are memories that I hold so dear.  There were two places where I spent my summers in Vancouver and both of them had an impact on my future jobs.  I was either living on the playgrounds of Vancouver’s many parks or spending my time in one of Vancouver’s branch libraries.  Maple Grove Park and Kerrisdale playground were my haunting grounds.  I played box hockey, hung out with the playground leaders or was the first in line when the pools reopened after lunch or supper break.  I had so much fun that I told the leaders that when I was grown up I would be a leader just like them.  Many years later I was in a room with hundreds of other young, enthusiastic teens, being told that we had been picked from thousands of applicants.  I spent three summers as a Vancouver Park Board playground leader; two at Trimble Park and one at Carnarvon and that was the most amazing summer job a student could have.  And if people tell you it only rains in Vancouver, well they are just wrong, because one of those summers, during my workdays from Monday to Friday, we didn’t have one day of rain.  Vancouver summers are the most pleasant I can imagine even though all my friends back east think Vancouver summers must be humid.  I didn’t even know what humidity truly meant until I moved back East!  When not on the playground, it was the Kerrisdale summer reading programs that filled my summers with good books and camaraderie as we made papier-mâché puppets of the characters we had just read about (I still have my Snoopy puppet) with the friendly, resourceful librarians.  Vancouver’s librarians have always been particularly interested in creating life-long readers with their amazing, free, innovative and before their time programs.  I was so inspired by the library system that I went on to work more than 10 years in the Vancouver Public Library and when I went into teaching, one of my first jobs was as a teacher-Librarian.  I will always thank VPL for my love of reading (and my mother of course), and still spend many a day in the library doing research for a Masters of Applied Linguistics that I hope to finish in December of this year.

 

Before taking a band trip to Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto in grade 10; I don’t think I had ever had reason to leave Kerrisdale, much less Vancouver.  Vancouver is a young city.  I felt special when people would hear that my mother and my grandmother were born in that city and that my Great Grand-father had a house on Grandview.  That was a rare occurrence as it still is today.  We could talk about all the obvious reasons to love Vancouver:  the incomparable Stanley Park, Kits Beach, UBC, Spanish Banks, English Bay, the Lions, the mild climate, the greenery, the natural beauty but to me, Vancouver is home.  No place could ever be home to me like Vancouver is.  When I was in my twenties, my friends called me the West Coast Girl, because even though many of them were born and raised there like I was, they would say that I was the epitome of someone who took advantage of living in this great city by riding my bike to work, participating in triathlons, walking regularly around the seawall, going to Granville Island or hanging out with my dogs at the beach.  It truly is the most liveable city in the world that provides an unparalleled lifestyle.  When I left Vancouver at 29 years of age to study in Manitoba, I was sure to be back, but as John Lennon says, “life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans” (Beautiful Boy).  Though we haven’t come back to Vancouver yet, we named our translation company “Lotusland” as a constant reminder of what awaits us back in B.C.  Since leaving, I have lived in two other provinces (Manitoba and Quebec), visited four continents, all of the provinces except Newfoundland, numerous islands and world class cities.  None of them can hold a candle to Vancouver.  The brilliant blue skies of Vancouver can be found nowhere else.  One year, after an amazing summer in the South of France and in Spain, my husband and I and were at the ferry terminal in Horse-shoe Bay and the blue, blue skies of Vancouver mesmerized us.  In Europe, they are milky or grey and in LA or India they are hazy and polluted but in Vancouver they are so blue that it looks like what Crayola would call sky blue!  Is this just an old Vancouverite being nostalgic?  Not on your life.  I just spent two weeks there in May 2014.  Vancouver may have some growing pains (housing costs, bike lanes and the tearing down of heritage houses to name a few), but even with those growing pains, it is (sorry for the cliché) a world-class city, that is more beautiful, more relaxed, more stimulating than any other city I have had the pleasure to visit.  It is a safe city and when the cherry blossoms are out, there is nothing more impressive to be seen.  I have yet to talk about Vancouver’s best asset.  It’s people.  Some say Vancouverites are snobs, but the people that I know that grew up in Vancouver are caring, loving, generous, concerned, involved, all around amazing people whether they are Vancouverites by adoption or by birth.  After being away almost as long as I have lived there, I have remained in contact with many, many friends and most of my best friends are still there (unless they are displaced Vancouverites, too!) So despite all the reasons to love Vancouver, warm, polite, kind people make it a place I will always long to be and always call home. Vancouver is a place of interesting activities and citizens who want to make this great city and even better place to be, and I am its greatest advocate.

 

 

 

 

 

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