North Vancouver Facts
Vancouver’s North Shore is located on the south-facing slopes of the Coast Mountains, on the north side of Burrard Inlet, in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia. The area is bordered by Howe Sound to the west, Indian Arm fjord to the east, and the cities of Vancouver and Burnaby to the south.
Vancouver’s North Shore boasts a temperate marine climate. Often called Canada’s “Lotus Land,” our region has the mildest weather in Canada due to ocean currents and weather patterns that bring waves of moist Pacific air year-round.
Spring usually arrives by early March heralded by blooming cherry trees, tulips and daffodils. July and August are the warmest, driest months, December and January the coldest. November signals the rainy season and our Coast Mountain Range ensures all that moisture coming in from the ocean falls on the coast ensuring our region is lush and green. In winter, this means that there’s plenty of snow at higher elevations providing prime skiing on the three local mountains, Grouse Mountain, Cypress Mountain, and Mount Seymour.
North Shore Vancouver Communities
While aboriginal people had been living in the area for countless centuries, the first municipality on the North Shore was the District of North Vancouver. It was formed on August 10, 1891. Prosperity and growth in the Lower Lonsdale area of North Vancouver led to the establishment in 1907 of the separate City of North Vancouver. Later, West Vancouver separated from the District of North Vancouver in 1912.
Today, Vancouver’s North Shore consists of five communities – each with their own unique characteristics. From east to west across the North Shore the communities include the District of North Vancouver, the Tsleil Waututh Nation, the City of North Vancouver, the Squamish Nation, and the District of West Vancouver. Collectively these communities form Vancouver’s North Shore.
The population of the North Shore is 175,302 (2011 Census). It breaks out as follows: the District of North Vancouver 84,412; the City of North Vancouver 48,196; and the District of West Vancouver 42,694.
The Tsleil-Waututh, one of two first nations communities on the North Shore, are Coast Salish people who speak a dialect of the Halkomelem language. They are closely related but politically separate from the Squamish nation,who also live on the North Shore. Tsleil-Waututh members live in their community that is situated between Maplewood Flats and Deep Cove. One of the most memorable members of the Tsleil-Waututh was Chief Dan George, now deceased. A native rights advocate and actor, he was well known for his role as Old Lodge Skins in the movie, Little Big Man. The Tsleil-Waututh is one of Four First Host Nations who are working closely with the Vancouver Olympic Organizing Committee on the 2010 Olympics. The Tsleil-Waututh now operate Takaya Tours, a war-canoe tour/experience for visitors to the area.
In 1923 sixteen tribes united to become the Squamish Nation. Each tribe signed an agreement to form this new nation, and each received one seat at the newly formed council. Today there remain sixteen seats at council, and each person elected has a four-year term. The Squamish people are descendants of the Coast Salish aboriginal people who lived in what is now commonly known as the Greater Vancouver area including Gibson’s landing and the Squamish River watershed. On the North Shore three of the sixteen original tribes live in the following areas:
Mission Indian Reserve, on Wagg and Mosquito Creeks, bounded on the north and east by the City of North Vancouver. This area is also home to a National Historic site of Canada – Saint Paul’s Roman Catholic Church. It is an impressive 1884 Gothic Revival mission church and the oldest extant church in British Columbia.
Seymour Creek Indian Reserve, on the right bank of Seymour Creek, near the mouth of Second Narrows.
Capilano Indian Reserve at First Narrows, at the north end of Lions Gate Bridge.
The Squamish Nation was one of the Four Host First Nations working with the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Organizing Committee.
Ease of Access from Downtown Vancouver
The first Second Narrows Bridge was built in 1925 and linked North Vancouver with Vancouver. Prior to that, the North Shore was only accessible by boat. In 1960 a much larger and higher bridge was built. Now known as the Ironworkers Memorial Second Narrows Crossing, the bridge honours the lives of many workers who died in building this bridge.
In November 1938 the Lions’ Gate Bridge, also known as the First Narrows Bridge, was opened allowing for extensive growth of the North Shore. The bridge was funded and built by the Guinness family, that is the Guinness family of Irish brewery fame. The British Pacific Properties Company, a syndicate acted on their behalf. BPPC had purchased 4000 acres of land in West Vancouver in those early years. The Guinness family had recognized that a new bridge would be important for the development of their lands and so decided to build one. The Lions Gate spans Stanley Park and West Vancouver and has become an iconic image of the Vancouver area. The province of BC purchased the bridge in 1963 from BCPP, for the same price that it cost to build it. The last time the Guinness family was involved with the bridge was in 1986 when they purchased the lights as a gift to the people for Expo 86 celebrations.
The SeaBus, which began operating in 1977, links downtown Vancouver with the City of North Vancouver. It is a quick twelve-minute ferry ride that offers a scenic and up-close look at Burrard Inlet’s working harbour and both the City and North Shore skylines. The SeaBus is a foot passenger ferry that will also accommodate bicycles. A third SeaBus will be deployed in 2009.
North Shore Business Community
Early on, the District of West Vancouver determined that it did not want industry to take root within its borders. As a result, West Vancouver has developed as a true “bedroom community”. Local retail and service businesses evolved to support, for the most part, the community’s needs. Notable exceptions are Park Royal Shopping Centre, the first shopping centre built in Canada, and now the major regional shopping centre. Also, Cypress Mountain resort and the BC Ferries terminal at Horseshoe Bay also serve a much broader market. BC Ferries service all travel to the Sunshine Coast and mid-Vancouver Island travel from it West Vancouver terminal.
The District of North Vancouver is home to the largest municipal population and has a diverse economic base. It also has the largest number of home-based businesses in the province. In addition to the storefront service and retail businesses that include most business sectors, the District has light industrial, high tech, and waterfront port industries. It also incorporates a diverse arts and culture community and Capilano University. Tourism businesses play a major role in the District, as Grouse Mountain, Capilano Suspension Bridge and Seymour Mountain fall within the Districts borders. Each of these businesses is a major employer in the District.
The City of North Vancouver is compact geographically, yet a powerhouse on the business front. It remains the centre for North Shore shipbuilding and is home to waterfront industries such as the Washington Marine Group, Cargill grain elevators, the SeaBus terminal, a major transit hub, and the Mosquito Creek Marina. The Lonsdale Quay Market and Hotel, popular tourist destinations, are also located on the waterfront directly across from downtown Vancouver. North Shore film studios (formally Lions Gate Studios) have helped put this city on the map with its production of many successful movies and TV programs including the X-Files series. In addition to this impressive list of businesses, you will find a myriad of retail chain operations and privately owned and operated retail and service businesses.
The North Shore has deep historic ties to the waterfront. Its business community literally sprang up from the waters edge and reached into the forests that once covered the entire area. Today it is home to a diverse group of businesses that are owned and operated by an eclectic group of individuals, associations, and corporations that all coincide on Vancouver’s North Shore.