Explore From Home with the North Shore Culture Compass

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North Van Arts has officially launched the North Shore Culture Compass (Culture Compass), an easily accessible free online platform that catalogues and visualizes the cultural, artistic, and historic institutions and destinations of North Vancouver, West Vancouver, and the region’s First Nations communities.

North Shore Culture Compass

North Shore Culture Compass

The Culture Compass encourages local residents and tourists alike to connect with the arts, heritage, and stories of the North Shore.

“The North Shore Culture Compass will help define what North Shore culture is today by making culture more visible and convenient to access, fostering collaborations, and encouraging a better understanding of our shared home,” says Nancy Cottingham Powell, Executive Director of North Van Arts. “UNESCO recognizes that cultural mapping is critical in preserving both the tangible and intangible components that comprise a community — this interactive tool is a way to appreciate all the North Shore has to offer.”

The Culture Compass is submission-based, with all listings uploaded for free. Listing information includes an image, a short description, an address and a web link to the organization, event, or cultural landmark. With the support of the North Shore community, the Culture Compass currently features more than 400 listings of regional points of cultural and historic significance. Listings are searchable by keyword and organized into 10 distinct categories:

  • Creative & Cultural Industries
    Businesses that provide the creation, production, manufacturing and/or distribution of goods and services that are cultural in nature (recording studios, costume designers, creative software design).
  • Cultural & Natural Heritage
    The legacy of buildings and/or sites, physical artifacts, activities, and intangible attributes of a group or society, of historical, cultural and educational value that are inherited from past generations.
  • Cultural Spaces & Facilities
    A physical space, building, or site that hosts cultural activity where people gather to experience arts or heritage-related activities.
  • Cultural Organizations
    Organizations that represent arts, heritage, and ethno-cultural interests in the community. These are usually non-profits.
  • Festivals & Events
    A period or program of activities, events, and/or entertainment celebrating and/or educating one or many social cultures.
  • First Nations
    Places, stories, events, customs, and traditions that represent the culture of local First Nations.
    *Listings follow appropriate sharing protocol and are uploaded in close consultation with the Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations
  • Intangibles & Stories
    Non-physical aspects of a particular culture, including traditions, customs, and practices, aesthetic and spiritual beliefs, lore, artistic expression, and language.
  • Public Art
    Original, one-of-a-kind work that creatively reflects the culture, heritage and/or natural environment of the site or surrounding area.
  • Public Institutions
    A public body that operates accessible facilities and services for the public good, including but not limited to schools and local authorities.
  • Service Organizations
    A voluntary non-profit organization where members meet regularly to perform charitable work either by direct hands-on efforts or by raising money for other organizations.
North Van Archives Collage
Towers, balloons, goats! North Vancouver Archives

Fun Things I’ve Already Discovered

On top of some of the artists and artisans I’ve already discovered, there are some great nuggets of history in the Intangibles and Stories Section.

Thanks to the North Vancouver Museum and Archives I discovered that Balloon Logging was a thing. Balloon logging on the steep, difficult-to-reach slopes of the Seymour Watershed had once been an experiment conducted in the 1960’s by the Balloon Transport Company. Convinced that a state-of-the-art, aerial load-lifting apparatus would revolutionize the lumber industry, Chester R. Matheson patented the idea in 1962 and introduced balloon logging to forest-rich British Columbia in 1963. It only lasted three days. Find out why »

In 1923, there were 400 pet goats in North Vancouver, and in 1910 there was a Japanese Tea Garden that featured a 33 metre-tall tower!

To access or upload a listing to the Culture Compass, visit the website and bookmark some of the new (and old) sites and venues you find so that you can visit in the future.

Related: Virtual Museum Tours in Vancouver

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