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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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My fortuitous move

By Bonnie Quan Symons

I am a poet, and I work at BC Teachers’ Federation in Vancouver as an Administrative Secretary. I truly fell in love with Vancouver when I visited Vancouver over the Victoria Day long weekend during May, 1987. I stayed at the Sylvia Hotel in the West End, and I was in awe over its location to nearby restaurants and shops and to English Bay. I couldn’t have stayed anywhere better for the location and price, at $55.00 per night for a small private room with a bath. As a tourist, I didn’t know the Vancouver bus system, and there was no internet back then, so, I opted to walk instead. I walked from the Sylvia Hotel through the West End, along Robson Street, through Gastown and Chinatown and then back to the Sylvia Hotel! I also walked the entire Stanley Park seawall on another day!

That same year, during the BC Day long weekend, I visited Vancouver again, but, this time, I didn’t want to return to Calgary. I began plotting my plans to move to Vancouver, by visualizing myself already living in Vancouver and working for UBC, even though I was still living in Calgary and working for the University of Calgary at the time.

My opportunity to pursue my dream of living in Vancouver came during January, 1988. I came across a UBC job posting for a secretary in their law department and applied. When I received a form postcard back from the UBC HR Department rejecting my application, I phoned them, spoke to the person whose signature was on the form postcard, explained to her of my plans to travel to Vancouver during the last week of February and asked whether it might be possible for me to come in for an interview at UBC. She agreed and set up an interview date for me to be tested for my secretarial skills. I arranged a ride out to Vancouver through a friend from Vancouver, who was visiting Calgary for their 1988 Winter Olympics the week before, and who was returning to Vancouver the weekend that I needed this ride!

Only one other person had applied for the new UBC position that I had been interviewed for. Since she had fewer qualifications than I did, I was offered the position and accepted it. Two weeks later, I drove out to Vancouver from Calgary to begin my new life and my new job!

I have much to be thankful for since relocating to Vancouver more than twenty-six years ago. I worked at UBC for over eighteen years in eight different departments. I also began pursuing my poetry more, during 1994 and 1995, by taking UBC poetry courses. I took several years hiatus from writing poetry until 2003, when I began taking numerous poetry courses again, through Vancouver School Board, Langara College, Simon Fraser University, and UBC.

Vancouver has so much to offer in the way of poetry and annual literary events (Vancouver International Writers Festival and Word Vancouver), and it is through these events that I have met and made many writer friends! I have also had several opportunities to share my poetry through these events. During 2009, I got published for my first time, in the Vancouver Courier, for my haiku poem about Quatchi, who was one of the four mascots for the Vancouver 2010 Olympics. My poem came in second place for their Quatchi haiku contest!

The 2010 Winter Olympics brought a lot of energy to Vancouver and helped revived its image from a no-fun city to one recognized and appreciated for its natural beauty, multiculturalism and diversity.
I enjoy cooking and going out to restaurants. Vancouver has a vibrant restaurant scene, as is evident by Dine Out Vancouver, food trucks and many Tasting Plates Events (walking and food tours) in various parts around the city (Granville Island, Main Street and West End, to name a few). I enjoy watching parades (Chinese New Year, St. Patrick’s Day, Vaisakhi), attending cultural festivals (Greek Day) and summer food cart festivals, the Jazz Festival, Khatsahlano Day, Vancouver Folk Festival, watching the three international fireworks competition nights, browsing for inexpensive Asian goods and having dim sum at the annual Richmond Night Market each summer.

I always enjoy walks over to Granville Island, down to Kitsilano Beach to sunbathe or to Kitsilano Showboat to watch stage performers, driving my parents to shop and eat in Chinatown (whenever they visit Vancouver), riding the Seabus over to Lonsdale Quay, riding the Stanley Park Ghost Train and Christmas Train, and going to Steveston for fish and chips or to enjoy drinks with friends at a restaurant or pub beside the Fraser River.

Vancouver is ideally located, with Vancouver Island to the west, Squamish and Whistler to the north, Seattle to the south, and Golden Ears Provincial Park and Harrison Hot Springs to the east. Vancouver is fortunate to have two cruise ship terminals which bring in millions of visitors between May and September each year.

Vancouver has an efficient transit system with the Skytrain and Canada Line.

I have lived in Vancouver for half my life now. Vancouver is a beautiful port city surrounded by Burrard Inlet, Coal Harbour, English Bay, False Creek and the Fraser River. It has a large natural rainforest (Stanley Park), along with a breathtaking backdrop of three snow-capped local mountains (Cypress, Grouse and Seymour). My move to Vancouver was fortuitous!

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