After my weekly spot on Talk1410am’s Afternoon Buzz I arrived home to find my review copy of the Vancouver Book of Everything sitting in my mailbox. It’s taken me a few hours to flip through the thorough guide to our city and I have to say, it’s pretty good.
The book combines tourist elements ie. where to get cheap eats, with facts that even seasoned Vancouverites may not know. It gives a pretty basic “Vancouver 101” rundown and has statistics and demographics peppered throughout various chapters such as: Urban Geography, Weather, People, Culture, Economy, Then and Now, Politics, Crime and Punishment.
Things I didn’t quite “get”
- The chapter entitled Slang is reminiscent of Douglas Coupland’s City of Glass, which is fine although I’m not sure Vander Zalm‘s defunct “Fantasy Garden World” counts as slang any everyday Vancouverite would utter. It’s also not-so-lovely to see “Slurrey” in there as a derogatory term for Surrey alongside “Surrey Girl”.
- Under “Urban Geography” I was pretty much unaware of the “Great White Way”. The area in question is, as the book states, “What the locals call Granville Street.” I’m pretty sure I’ve never uttered those words in relation to Vancouver, let alone Granville Street (downtown’s entertainment district, not South Granville or South Vancouver). However I grew up in Slurrey so maybe I just hadn’t heard of that before.
- Also under “Urban Geography” it says that PoCo is “Port Coquitlam, one of three cities in Greater Vancouver that includes Coquitlam and Port Moody.” As PoCo is actually its own city (same with Port Moody and Coquitlam) I think they meant to mention something here about the “TriCities” instead.
- Throughout the book they have “Top 5” lists compiled by local leaders in their fields. Hal Wake contributed a list of Top 5 Influential BC Writers and I’m more than pleased to see Pauline Johnson on the list (I won’t tell you where, I wouldn’t want to ruin the surprise).
- “On April 24, 1872 when Gassy climbed to the roof of Deighton House and hoisted the first Canadian flag to fly in Burrard Inlet.” I didn’t know that, but Chuck Davis did.
- Jen Sookfong Lee’s Top 5 Best Things About Living in Vancouver including “history” is awesome because well, I am known to love a little bit of Vancouver history myself.
- Everything else is top notch info, from Gassy Jack to the Malahat.
Things I loved
I was very pleased to see input from Chuck Davis, whom I look up to the most when it comes to Vancouver history – well he comes in second place, right after my father anyway.
The book is comprehensive and the fact they they dedicated an entire chapter to the weather shows that they know what Vancouverites have on their mind every day. You might fight it, but it’s true; I write one post about an umbrella or a ray of sunshine and the comments go through the roof.
I encourage you to pick up your copy (or a copy of visitors/out-of-towners) for $14.95 at Chapters (as Raul noted), at other fine book stores, and online through Amazon. It’s a small book, very handy, and might just fit perfectly in a stocking.
This is also a series so you can also pick up other volumes to learn “everything” about Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, PEI, Montreal, Ottawa, Hamilton, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Edmonton, Calgary, and Vancouver Island.