Of course it is!
Vancouver is the largest city in British Columbia, and it is located on the mainland of the province. Outside the country, confusion often arises, because just a short ferry ride away, is another place with the same name – Vancouver Island. The province’s capital city, Victoria, is found at the southern tip of Vancouver Island. (And for today’s purposes, we won’t make further mention a 3rd Vancouver, a small city located in Washington State)
The greater Vancouver area has a population of about 2 ½ million. And 52% of the residents have a first language other than English. It is the most densely populated Canadian municipality. On the North American continent, only New York, San Francisco and Mexico City have higher concentrations of people per square kilometer.
The original settlement, named Gastown, was established in 1867. It was renamed “Vancouver” and incorporated as a city in 1886. By 1887, the transcontinental railway had extended to the city to take advantage of the large natural seaport, which soon became a vital link in the trade route between the Orient, Eastern Canada, and London. Today Vancouver is the busiest and largest port in Canada, and the most diversified in North America.
Forestry is British Columbia’s largest industry, and Vancouver’s reputation as an urban center surrounded by nature, has made Tourism the second most important activity in the province.
I grew up in North Vancouver, back in the day when it was not a world-class city. It amazes me to see the changes and growth. Of course, small businesses like the corner grocery store and bakery are gone, and the neighborhood farm was sold long ago so that condominiums could be built.
Yet, some familiar landmarks from my childhood are still in place. The church and school I attended look much the same, and the home where I grew up has not been torn down to make room for a bigger, newer house. Some of the trees I used to climb are still firmly rooted where they’ve always been.
In the mornings, if I look towards the mountains, I am able to sense what the weather will be like that day, and when I breathe, I smell cedar – in this city, it permeates everything. The taste of Vancouver’s water is the best. I can’t understand why people drink the bottled kind now.
I am reminded of a novel by Thomas Wolfe, You Can’t Go Home Again. It was published posthumously in 1940, and tells the story of a fledgling author who writes a book that makes frequent references to where he lived as a child. The residents of the place are unhappy with, what they perceive to be, a distorted depiction of their home.
Over the past month, I too have written about the place I come from, and I wonder if I have a distorted view of Vancouver? I’ve also asked myself if I could “come home.”
After much thought, I have concluded that I am home, whether I am here, or in Merida. To me, “home” is more a feeling than a place.
I guess I should say that I feel “at home” in Vancouver and Merida because there are people I love, and I have a history, in both places. When I am in one, naturally, I miss the other. That’s human nature, I guess.
And I am cool with that.