Vancouver is a city in eastern BC No, really.
Everyone knows a few basic things about Vancouver’s geography and geology.
Like how it sits on Canada’s west coast, is a port city with access to the Pacific Ocean, and its location makes it Canada’s hottest major city.
However, there are a few secrets to Vancouver’s location that are probably a little unexpected.
1. Vancouver is located in the east of BC
This may sound completely wrong, but take a look at a map of BC and find the most extreme points.
Because of the odd shape of BC, these are actually quite far apart. To the southeast, you have a small corner of Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park that extends east to 114.05424 West. If you go all the way northwest past Skagway to Tatshenshini-Alsek Provincial Park, you’ll come to 139.05702 West.
Vancouver is located at 123.2123 West, which is choose from the western side of the city. Some quick math will show that Vancouver is closer to the eastern point than the western point.
And if our math isn’t good enough, there’s a cairn in the geographic center of BC, near a place called Weneez just outside Vanderhoof. Draw a line directly south from there and you’ll hit Nanaimo, not Vancouver.
2. In terms of population, Vancouver is in Canada’s north
Take a moment for context before posting an angry comment.
No, from a direct, global perspective, Vancouver is not in Canada’s north.
But if you use the Canadian population to determine a center of the nation, Vancouver is well north of that line.
Although it is a warmer part of the country and is nice and close to the 49th parallel, Vancouver is actually north of many other Canadian cities. Toronto is remarkable, of course, with the millions of people who live there, but so are Ottawa, Montreal, and even St. John’s. In fact, the Maritimes are all south of the 49th (that’s right, the Maritime and Prairie Provinces share no latitude).
Other cities south of the 49th include Sudbury, Ontario (often called the largest city in Northern Ontario), Quebec City, and BC’s own Victoria (along with many people on the South Island).
The flip side of that is how scarce Northern Canada is compared to the rest of the country. Although we go a long way north, only about 118,000 people live in the areas; that is smaller than larger Nanaimo.
3. Vancouver Island and Vancouver are getting closer together
Let’s preface this by noting that plate tectonics is not a simple branch of science.
Everyone knows what earthquakes are, but there is something else similar to tectonic plates called ‘episodic tremor and slip events’ (ETS events).
Usually, Vancouver and Vancouver Island come closer together, albeit only in small amounts, measured in millimeters.
But then there are these ETS events, which are more like a series of skids rather than a shocking moment. In this area they happen every 14 out of 15 months, and for a few weeks the island retreats from the mainland, before getting closer again.
4. Vancouver’s Volcanic Little Mountain
This one is simple; Vancouver’s Little Mountain has a volcanic history.
Don’t worry, it’s not a volcano (and never was), but it’s made of lava and/or magma. Western BC had a lot of volcanic activity at that time and as part of that, about 31 to 34 million years ago, the mound was formed.
What exactly happened is unclear, but in general it was created by magma flowing up through the earth’s layers. From there, it’s unclear whether it remained underground as magma, and the rest of the land was eroded away, or whether it fractured the surface to become a lava flow. Anyway, what’s there now was liquid rock just over 30 million years ago.
For those wondering what volcanic rock looks like, there’s a house on Cambie designed around a volcanic rock that stands there to this day.
5. The highest point in Vancouver is the top of Queen Elizabeth Park
It may come as no great surprise that Vancouver’s highest point is at the top of Little Mountain, especially with Queen Elizabeth Park boasting some of the best sightlines in the city.
What’s even more surprising is second place. A topographical city map shows that an area of Boundary Road near Burnaby’s Central Park is the second highest spot in the city. If you drive past the Korean War Memorial in the park, you are also more than 120 meters above sea level.
Third is a section of Price Street between Boundary Road and Joyce Street.