What brought the Sorensens to Vancouver?

In Denmark we have a saying "Grandchildren is the dessert of life" - and if you know me (or just look at me), you know, that I love desserts. Our son Claus has been living in beautiful Vancouver together with his girlfriend Janet for about 4 years. They met i Saudi Arabia, where they worked for some years. They met and fell in love and decided to settle in Canada. After living for about one year near campus at UBC (University of British Columbia), where Janet was studying, they bought a house near Fraser River.

And one day pictures like these started to appear in our mailbox. On December 14t 2000 Janet gave birth to a little girl - our first grandchild. And now we had come to Vancouver til meet with little Britt. In fact her name was not yet Britt, since she was going to be baptized a week after our arrival. This was going to take place on the family farm in Hythe (near Grande Prairee) i Alberta. We had met Janet's parents and her sister Linda and her husband Pete during our previous visit to Vancouver i 1998. Now we were ancious to see the place, where Janet and the other Nordhagens grew up - and where many of the clan still lives. And hopefully revisit Janet's sister Jane and her husband Terry and their kids in Langley - close to the American border.

We were looking forward to seeing some of the things, we missed during our previous visit. And - after advice from my cousin Enis' husband, Jim - we would go to Vancouver Island for a couple of days. We also hoped to have the opportunity to meet with my cousin Kirsten - Enis' sister. This part of the family emigrated to Canada about 1956, and I had not seen Kirsten since then. Finally we had planned to go to Seattle for a day or two to visit Dorte and Lars Bolund, very good friends from Denmark. Lars was going to work for one year as a guest professor at the university of Seattle.

If you decide to follow us around Vancouver, to Vancouver Island, to Alberta etc. I promise that I shall try to keep "family stuff" on a minimum - though it may be tough for me.

Birgit and I arrived in Vancouver International Airport via Frankfurt. The airport is situated on an island at Fraser River, 13 km from downtown Vancouver. Claus picked us up. Otherwise we might have taken a taxi to the city - price 20 CAD, 33 CAD for a limo. The flight time from Vancouver about 9 hours, which equals the difference in time zones. It is a strange feeling stepping out from an airplane a couple of minutes earlier than you left Europe. But we would have to "pay back" those 9 hours going home. No jetlag - it does not seem to be a problem when you are going west.

Janet and Claus' home

Approx. 1 year before Janet and Claus moved from campus, UBC to a new house in the western part of Vancouver, close to the boundary of Burnaby. The photo to the right has been shot from the garden side. From the the other side you would see, that there is a garage in the basement.

Less than 100 meters from the house runs the Fraser River, sometimes called the heart blood of B.C. Fraser travels more than 1.400 miles from Mount Robson in the interior of British Columbia to Vancouver. It is one of the major salmon spawning streams in BC. Near Vancouver, the river splits into the south and north arms. In the early days of the province the river was the major source of transportation. It is still a major source of transportation today, carrying everything from Japanese cars to logs from the West Coast forests. Many of the river's sides in Greater Vancouver are leased to lumber companies. During spring the river has a volume of up to 500.000 cubic feet per second, which rivals the flow of the Mississippi. It's been a long time since Simon Fraser and his group of explorers i 1808 paddled their way down the Fraser. Several times during our stay Birgit and I would walk along the wonderful river with Britt.


Vancouver is nestled between The Pacific Ocean and the mountains in the southwestern part of British Columbia. The parks are numerous and large. The town is situated on both sides of a river, with several bridges crossing. 10 sandy beaches close to the city. The city center is concentrated on a peninsular between Burrard Inlet and False Creek. Close to Vancouver are places like Grouse Mountain, Seymour, Cypress and Whistler with skiing opportunities from November till April. We have been there once with Janet and Claus and are looking forward to 2010, when the Winter Olympics are going to take place there. Vancouver is probably the only major city in North America which don't have one or more highways in the center. Plans for that were rejected in the 1960's after massive protests from the citicens, since historics parts like Gastown and Chinatown would be affected. Many people - not only Birgit and I - consider Vancouver the most beautiful city in the world.


Birgt and I went downtown Vancouver a couple of times during our stay. Usually Claus og Janet drove os to the nearest SkyTrain station, which was Metrotown in Burnaby. Metrotown spans 3 city blocks and contains 3 major shopping centres and an entertainment center. You will find 90 women's clothing boutiques, 94 men's clothing shops, 30 jewelry shops, 20 shoe shops, 15 sport shops etc. And more than 90 places to have something to eat. Open 7 days a week. In fact only closed on 25th of December. And this is just Metrotown. In the adjacent blocks you will find 2 other malls: Eaton Centre and Metropolis. We hate these shopping centres - although we can see, that the same concept is coming to Denmark. The best thing in our opinion is, that there is lots of free parking space underground.

Well, to be honest. Janet showed us The Rainforest Café, which is designed to look like a tropical rain forest with wildlife and special effects like an electronic controlled crocodiles and animated gorillas. We planned to go there for a dessert, but never got the time. I'm sure that our grandchild Britt will love it in a couple of years. Next time we came to Metrotown, the café had been replaced by an ugly arcade with computer games. The only shop, we really enjoyed, was the great bookstore Chapter's, where we spent some time on 2 occasions. It looked more like a public library than a shop, and there was a fine atmosphere in there. There are at least two Chapter's downtown, one Robson and one on Granville/Broadway.


It seems that Birgit and I always shall be struck by strike, when we are on vacation. The last (sorry latest) time we went to Canada, we had to return to Denmark 2 days before schedule because of a strike. When in Vienna we had to stay for 1 more day than planned. And this time transport workers in Vancouver were on strike. Not all transport workers, since the train was going according to schedule. And we did see some SkyTrain fare-checkers on the job, but we were told, that they didn't have the authority to give you a $46 ticket. Some people bought a ticket anyway. But we experienced that the ticket vending machines were full of money and thus no of no use. And kind workers on strike asked us not to bother. So we did not bother. No busses in Vancouver were operating, so we did a good deal of walking. Built for Expo '86 SkyTrain was the first completely driverless urban railway system in North America, spanning 30 kilometres and 20 stations. The automated trains transport around 130,000 passengers every day. A couple of years later SkyTrain was expanded 21 kms in distance linking Vancouver, Burnaby, New Westminster and Coquitlam and introducing 14 new stations on the line. SkyTrain is a great way to see the city for very little money! And maybe continue by SeaBus ferry service to the northern part af Vancouver - 12 minutes from Canada Place. On one of our journeys we talked to an American woman from Seattle, who was using SkyTrain to get acquainted with Vancouver while her husband was attending a seminar.

Downtown Vancouver

On Georgia Street - 1 minutes walk from Granville Station - we spotted this impressing glass building. When entering we discovered, that it was the entrance to the Pacific Centre shopping mall. The mall stretches for three blocks underground with lots of shops. We stopped for coffee in the cafeteria in the hall.

Another spectacular building in Georgia Street is the main branch of the Vancouver Public Library, which resembles the Roman coliseum. Probably the most disputed architectural topic in the city ever since Moshe Safdie designed the structure in 1995. Not only the price but also the architecture was on debate. We like the structure where all the arches provide lots of space to sit down and talk. For instance they have a collection af approx 87.000 fotos, some to be seen in albums for the public, others to be browsed on a computer. Around 400.000 cardholders.

Robson Street

You can't visit Vancouver downtown without hitting Robson Street, the major shopping area of the city. Alle major Canadian and American chains are represented here: Planet Hollywood, Eaton's, the leading department store, the great bookstores Duthie's and Chapter's, the popular ice cream shop Cow's etc. Lots of fine boutiques and designer shops. Japanese noodle houses and sushi bars compete with other casual eateries and several fine dining establishments. The street was named after John Robson, Premier of British Columbia (1889-1892).

As evidence of the inhabitants of Vancouver's "love" for coffee there are at least two Starbucks locations in Robson Street. Starbucks seems to be the leading chain of coffee shops with more that 2.500 shops in USA. A couple of months later on a quick trip to London we spotted several Starbucks shops. And only last week (May 2001) we read in a local newspaper that Starbucks were preparing to invade Denmark.

Part of Robson Street used to be referred to as Robsonstrasse. We asked Janet and Claus if they were familiar with this, which they declined. The name, which we in fact spotted on a sign in the western part of the street, was taken from the German delis and stores, which were started after World War II. A couple of these German restaurants still exist, but today there is a wide selection of ethnic eating places.

A great number of large blocks with condos reaching towards the sky make sure that the area - unlike many other metropolies - is not abandoned after office hours.

Canada Place and Harbour Centre

Canada Place is the architectural symbol of Vancouver. With white roof tops that resemble giant white sails the pier hosted the pavilion showcase Canada during Expo 86. The flying sails reminds me most of all of the Opera Building in Sydney built by Utzon. Beneath the elegant sails is the luxurious Pan Pacific Hotel and the Vancouver Trade and Convention Centre. Inside you find an Imax Theatre which shows spectacular 3D documentaries. The screen is 5 stories high. We just strolled through the building and enjoyed the magnificent view outside from the pier of the harbour - the busiest in North America handling 3000 ships a year from almost 100 countries. We saw a seagull catching a very big fish, but unfortunately we did not bring our camera. (Yes, I know it sounds like another fisherman's story, but I didn't do the catch). Canada Place is designed to look like a ship, and you can walk the building's perimeter as if you were "on deck" a giant cruiser. Outside there are boards describing the cityscape and pages of its history.

A competitor to Canada Place as the icon of the city is the nearby Harbour Centre Building in West Hastings. It is one of the city's tallest structures, and the locals have named it the "urinal" and maybe more affectionately the "hamburger", after its bulging upper storeys. On a clear day it's a good idea take the glass SkyLift elevators, that run up the side of the tower – 167 meters in less than a minute, so don't bring a cup of coffee. BTW we were surprised to see so many people taking coffee outside walking from one place to another. Wonder when this trend will hit Europe. On the 40th storey there is an observation deck with a breathtaking view. The ticket - yes you have to pay - is valid all day so in fact you could return in the evening and enjoy the lights of Vancouver at night.

Last (latest) time we went to Vancouver Enis og Jim - my cousib and her husband - invited us for dinner in the restaurant, way up in Harbour Centre. I have to admit that I do not remember the menu, but I'm sure it was great, but I shall never forget the breathtaking view of the city, when all the lights were lit during the evening. Did I tell you that the restaurant is revolving, so during one hour you will experience 360 degrees of the horizon?


Of couse we had to go see Gastown again, the old center of Vancouver with its 1900-century street lamps, cobblestone streets, and Victorian architecture. Like the last time, we were he, we had coffee outside Starbucks at Water Street and sat down at watched the world go by. Tourists were dominating the picture. Every 15 minutes we heard the steamclock and saw tourists gather around it. There must be quite a lot of photos of this clock hanging in Japanese and Chinese homes. The clock is operated by a small steam engine, like the one kids used to play with in my childhood (1950's). The clock is driven by the city's underground steam heating system for office buildings. It looks old, but is in fact about 20 years old. It is as unique as "Jens Olsen's World Clock" in Copenhagen. This time we did not visit any of the many boutiques or galleries with First Nations art in the area.

Who was Gassy Jack?

Gastown is named after "Gassy Jack", an adventurer, who landed his canoo loaded with a barrel of whisky here and opened a saloon. Besides the whisky there was his native wife, his mother-in-law and the wife's cousin, Big William to paddle the canoo. Gassy Jacks real navn was John Deighton. He was born in 1830 in Hull, England. He became a sailor, first on British ships, then on American ships. He left sea in San Francisco to dig for gold in the Californian gold rush. He did not find any, but like so many other suffering from gold fever he continued north to Fraser River in 1858. He gave up digging for gold and for some years he became a Fraser River pilot. After that he bought the Globe Saloon in New Westminster. Unfortunately the saloon blew up on July 4th 1867, as he and a comrade was celebrating the American day of feast. It was probably in despair that Jack Deighton paddled his canoo to Burrard Inlet, where he should become one of the founding fathers of Vancouver.

He had only 6 dollars to start with. Jack promised the area's mill workers they could have all the whisky they could drink if they would help him build a saloon. And it is told that the saloon was ready within 24 hours. The workers must have been pretty thirsty I guess. Outside the saloonen was a big mapple leaf, and the spot was soon known as Maple Tree Square. Under the mapple the local pioneers often gathered to talk about problems in the small settlement. Officially the settlement's name was Granville, unofficially - even on Admiralty charts - it was referred to as Gastown. Soon Jack opened a hotel and a drug store. Jack got his nickname "Gassy" for entertaining his guests with endless stories about life in the docks in Sydney, about golddigging in California, about Mexican bandits, about fights with grizzlies etc. Deighton House Hotel burned down in the great fire in 1886. Gassy Jack died on May 29 1875, 44 years old. 100 years after his death in 1986 a statue of Gassy Jack, standing on a barrel of whisky, was erected on the corner of Water Street and Carrall Street - where the old maple tree used to grow. In fact nobody knows, what the famed saloon keeper looked like. So it is said, that a random photo was picked from a pile of ancient photos. "This fellow looks as if he could be a Gassy Jack."


Last time we were in Vancouver, we went to see a theatrical presentation of British Columbia's history. It took place in Storyeum Vancouver's newest entertainment attraction, located 142 Water Street, Gastown. A huge passenger lift took us down to an underground theater, where we had a guided tour for a little over one hour. On seven different stages we were taken through time in British Columbia. We were brought back to the creation af Canada's Western Province and magnificent rainforests, listened to to the First Nations' sacred stories of the spirit of man and nature, saw life in their bighouse, witnessed Hudson Bay Company coming to BC, experienced the gold rush, saw the last link of the transcontinental railway, the timber, fishing and mining industries and the immigration that through hard labour brought prosperity to the country. Local artists performed in every scene of the story telling. If you are a Vancouver resident you probably won't "have to go". But being tourists we found it a very entertaining way to tell the fantastic story of BC, its people, its heritage and its legends. We can recommend bringing kids to the show.

By the way there was a great exhibition in the hall with lots of old time fotos (I don't know if this is a permanent exhibition). I noticed an elderly gentleman eagerly studying fotos fra the old days of telephony. Having worked in the telephone business for more than 40 years, I had to talk to him and we had a god chat about the equipment in "the good old days". The guy had retired some years ago from his job in Toronto and now he was playing tourist in BC. I tell you this just to show you how easy it is to engage into a conversation with a typical Canadian. One of the main reasons why Birgit and I love Canada.


During this trip we managed to visit Chinatown, which together with Gastown are the historic parts of Vancouver. We walked along Keefer Street from Gastown, not more than a 15 minutes walk. In fact we could have taken "The Silk Road" which is a pedestrian walk connecting Chinatown and Downtown Vancouver. The route is clearly marked with colourful banners and road signs and it takes you from city centre's Central Library through Keefer Street, International Village, the Chinese Cultural Centre, the Chinatown market area and Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden. It is the second-largest Chinatown in North America, next to the one in San Fransisco. The first Chinese immigrants settled in the area during the Fraser Gold Rush in the 1850s. The next wave were Chinese workers to work on the Trans-Canadian railway. Many of these decided to settle in Vancouver. The years before the British crown colony Hong Kong was given back to China, many Chinese people came to live in Vancouver. From Hong Kong alone more than 125.000 prosperous Chinese came to Vancouver. This invasion of course has raised prices of property.

Today Chinatown is under pressure by "the condo boom", where condo and apartment towers are being constructed in her immediate neighbourhood. In the 1980's it was no longer possible to expand within Chinatown, and suburbs as Richmond, Burnaby and Coquitlam started to develop Chinese neighbourhoods too. In Richmond you'll find North America's longest stretch of modern Chinese shopping arcades and malls. It is said that Richmond has attracted the highest concentration of good Chinese cooks in all overseas Chinatowns - but we have not yet experienced this. Chinatown is fighting back with its new "International Village".

On 50 East Pender Street "The Chinese Cultural Centre" offers walking tours which reveal the secrets of the area. In summer there is Chinatown Night Market every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights from 6:30 pm till 11:00 pm. The Market is on Pender Street and Keefer streets between Main and Gore streets.

We enjoyed the exotic fruits and vegetables, the fresh and dried seafood and a vast array of ginseng and teas. At the drugstore a Chinese herbalist would be happy to prescribe to me that perfect combination of dried locust and chopped tree bark that would cure all my health problems. Vendors sell a variety of imported clothing, trinkets, fake luxury goods. A couple of times Birgit and I have eaten in one of the many Chinese restaurants on Pender Street. The food was good and plenty.

More than 30 percent of the population of Vancouver have Cantonese or Mandarin as their mother tongue, making Chinese the most dominant minority ethnic group of the city. It is often said that the Chinese people are fully integrated in society. I'm not sure that we would agree on that statement in Denmark. It seems to me that liberal Canada accepts neighbourhoods to have their own culture and language while in Denmark we insist that immigrants have to learn the Danish language and to adopt or at least accept the Danish values. On later visits to Vancouver Birgit and I have often found ourselves to be the only caucasian people on the bus downtown. Quite a strange experience. But vibrant and colorful Chinatown is always worth a visit.

Sam Kee Building

According to "Guiness Book of Records" and "Ripley's Believe it or Not" the world's narrowest office building is Sam Kee Building at 8 West Pender Street: 1.8 meter (6 feet)! The Sam Kee Company, once one of the wealthiest companies i Chinatown owned by Chang Toy, bought this land as a standard-sized lot in 1903. But in 1912 the City widened Pender Street, expropriating 24 feet off the front of the lot. Sam Kee Company asked the city to compensate them for their loss. When the city refused to do so, the company simply built on what had been left to them in protest. In 1986 the building was renovated by the architect Soren Rasmussen (I don't know, if the architect is Danish - but the name is). [September 2005: Mette has enlightened me on this point and informed me, that Soren Rasmussen is/was Danish. He emigrated to Canada around 1955 together with his family, mother, father, 2 sisters and 1 brother. In fact Soren Rasmussen is her cousin. Thanks, Mette. Funny enough this happened the very same year that my aunt, uncle and 2 cousins did the same] A couple of years ago the city of Pittsburgh, USA (who else?) challenged the Sam Kee Building in Vancouver, claiming that "the Skinny Building" in Pittsburgh is only five-feet and two-inches wide. I have not yet learned if the good tourist people of Vancouver have accepted this claim.

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden

On our previous visit to Chinatown we missed Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden at 578 Carrall Street, but this time we made it. The garden was built from 1985-86, and China and Canada collaborated to create it. Ancient techniques of the original Ming dynasty (1368-1644) gardens was employed, and it is said to be is the first authentic Chinese garden outside China. The construction began in January 1985 with the installation of timber piles and concrete ground beams to meet the seismic requirements of BC. Chinese building materials arrived in 965 custom-made, wood cases, 70 steel containers holding tons of traditional carvings, ornamental limestone and roof tiles from private gardens dating back to Ming dynasty. More than 50 artisans from China were involved in the creation of the garden.

We took a guided tour since we are not acquainted by chinese culture and traditions. An American senior, belonging to the staff of volunteers, told us over a nice cup of tea about the idea of a Chinese garden: to create an atmosphere of tranquility for contemplation and inspiration. We were told that the Chinese calligraphic inscription above the entrance to the Garden means "Garden of Ease". The garden is surrounded by walls, so you can't hear noise from the traffic. Then the guide took us around the garden carefully interpretating all the elements that we saw. The garden is a carefully balanced harmony of contrasts: of dark and light, solid and empty, hard and soft, straight and undulating, male and female, yin and yang - as the Taoists name it. The garden tries to capture all the elements of the landscape: mountains, rivers, lakes, trees, flowers, valleys, hills and to concentrate them in a small space. The garden is a place of peace and tranquility where the master of the house (sorry, women) retreats from the daily life and duties without turning his back on family.

After the visit to "Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden" we went to the adjacent small Chinese park (free of charge).

Sun Yat-Sen (1866–1925) was a Chinese revolutionary, by many considered to be the "Father of Modern China". He had a significant influence on the establishment of the Republic of China. Sun Yat-Sen was the first provisional president of the Republic of China in 1912 and de facto leader from 1923 to 1925.

Vancouver Art Gallery

On our previous trip to Vancouver Birgit and I "missed" Vancouver Art Gallery. This time we went there first time we came downtown - a couple of minutes walk from Granville Station. Just to be told by the staff, that the gallery was closed on Mondays off tourist season. So we had to come back the following day. The building was very elegant with neoclassical columns and the entryways guarded by lions and other imposing stone work. In the hall we had a conversation with 2 women: a black (I hope that this is a politically correct term?) girl with a baby and her mother-in-law. The mother-in-law had come to Vancouver from USA to see her newborn granddaughter - the same reason that had brought Birgit and me to Vancouver. The mother-in-law told us, that she was trying to talk her husband into moving to Vancouver, as he had just retired from work.

In the early 1900's, Francis Rattenbury won an architectural competition to create a new courthouse for the city of Vancouver. At that time we did not realize, that we would meet Mr. Rattenbury again in Victoria, where he has designed some of the most magnificent buildings on Vancouver Island, the Empress Hotel and the Parliament. The courtroom was very impressive with marbles imported from Alaska, Tennessee and Vermont. 18 courtrooms served the city for more than 60 years.

After 60 years the city had outgrown its courthouse and Arthur Erickson - another great Canadian architect and designer - was called on to redesign the building and provide new and better facilities. Erickson converted the old courthouse into a new home for the Vancouver Art Gallery. The interior was completely redesigned to meet the demands of an art gallery. Courtrooms were "turned into" wide space and the old copper dome above the majestic rotunda was replaced by 4.9 m of fiberglass to allow light to enter. Inside the building is a lot of plaster work, marble halls and heavy wooden doors. In the Annex Building, you will still find parts of the building, which were declared a heritage site. Here you will find the original judges' benches and original walls. The redesign finished in 1983.

In front of the gallery is a lawn, where people enjoy the sunshine in summertime. The beautiful fountain - the Centennial Fountain - in front of the museum was made to celebrate the 1866 union of Vancouver Island and British Columbia.

The gallery's rear entrance faces Robson Street. The middle of the square is a "sunken" plaza under two glass domes. Surrounding an open air skating area, nicknamed "Biker's Beach", were a restaurant and some food shops. Probably very crowded in the summertime with people having a lunch. In winter you may do some ice-skating. On the lower level there was a "Media centre" with room for exhibitions, a theatre and a conference centre.

Vancouver Art Gallery is the largest art museum west of Toronto. The collection focuses on contemporary art and - of course - art from British Columbia. Its collection totals more than 6,500 works. The gallery posesses the world's largest collection of works by Emily Carr.

The museum is famous for its exhibition program, which partly is developed in-house, partly borrowed from other museums. Especially we liked the gallery's public programs, which include school children, families, university students and seniors - widely acknowledged as being among the best and most creative in the country. We had fun watching a couple of school classes being introduced to art.

Phantom of the Gallery?

On our way throught the collections we didn't manage to see the most prominent resident of the gallery, the ghost 'Charlie'. The spirit of William Charles Hopkinson, an immigration officer who was murdered there in 1914, roams the catacombs, where the cells of the original courthouse are located.

Krieghoff - Images of Canada

In Vancouver Sun we had seen that the current exhibition in the museum was Images of Canada by Krieghoff. Cornelius Krieghoff (1815-1872) has been called the father of Canadian painting. The exhibition consisted of more than 150 works, that reflect Canadian family life and landscapes in the years leading up to the Confederation. The works cover Krieghoff's development from his earliest works in Canada to his later masterpieces. Before Vancouver the collection had been exhibited in museums in Quebec and Ottawa. After Vancouver the collection would go to Montreal. This was perfect to Birgit and I, since we wanted to learn as much as possible about the creation af Canada.

Images of Canada explored the nature and extent of Krieghoff's role as an interpreter of the Canadian landscape and of life during our period of national emergence in the mid-nineteenth century. Cornelius Krieghoff was born in Amsterdam and came to Canada in 1840 after 3 years of service in United States Army. Without formal training Krieghoff ventured to put on canvas what he saw around him and emerged as the masterly painter of the Canadian people, those who lived close to the land, habitants and Indians, presumably as he saw them, without many comments. He left it to the viewer to discern the harshness of their lives, the joy they took in various activities, their subservience to their religious superiors, and their natural "joie de vivre". He created images of Canada, specifically landscapes and scenes of First Nations life in Quebec, that were eagerly collected in his own time and that have become icons of an idealized past in the more than 125 years since his death.

During the period of 1846 to 1853 Krieghoff had a very limited income. He earned his living by selling his own paintings and reproductions of famous paintings. The sale of his own paintings were pretty bad, since the French Canadians in the beginning didn't like his genre of work. Lucky for Krieghoff it was easier to sell his reprodtions - although he hated to copy paintings. But by the year 1860 Krieghoff was a well-established painter in Quebec.

Krieghoff travelled around Europe for 7 years, returning to Quebec in 1870. No doubt he observed art trends in the European countries he visited, and he arranged to have his works shown in Europe, notably in the Exposition Universalle, Paris in 1867. At this time, his works were on display in the United States at various locations. After his return to Canada, Krieghoff turned even more to figures, frequently Indians, although habitants were still of enormous importance to him. Spring and summer settings are so few, did Krieghoff just not like painting greenery, or did he go fishing and hunting with friends? Scenes of habitants and Indians struggling with the difficult climate may have seemed more dramatic and exotic to city buyers and were hence more profitable. He established his own particular niche in genre painting, those who lived close to the soil. There is an acceptance of circumstances. Life was indeed harsh in a log cabin in the wilderness, or as semi-nomads living in the bush, but there is humour too, and Krieghoff had an unerring eye for the small details, steam from a horse's nostrils, snow melted in a circle around a pipe on a settler's cabin roof, sunsets, storm clouds and starlight. Late 1871 Krieghoff moved to Chicago, where he died few months later. He is buried in Graceland Cemetery in Chicago.

Gospel at St. Andrew's-Wesley Church

When walking for the art gallery we spotted a beautiful church at Burrard and Nelson. Birgit and I can never resist entering any church, that we spot. And almost every time we are most welcome to take a look around. A nice lady showed us around and presented us to the church, which was built in 1933. She seemed impressed when I told her, that our local church in Denmark was about 500 years old, when St. Andrew's was erected. We sat down for a moment and enjoyed the many wonderful stained glass windows. The lady suggested that we should come back to the church on Sunday at 16:00 - for Jazz Vespers - or Thursday at 20:00 - for Thursday Night Live.

Thursday Night Live!
Thursday night we went downtown by SkyTrain and had dinner at a restaurant close to St. Andrew's. And at 19:45 we sat at the benches together with maybe 50 other persons looking forward to the gospel concert. Rev. Gordon Turner was the liturgist and storyteller. When Gordon Turner came to St. Andrew's i 1991, he had a background as a jazz musician (trombone player) and leader of many jazz services in Toronto. Since 1993 Jazz Vespers have been part of the church's regularly scheduled services. Gordon Turner pointed out, that "Jazz was born in the Church". And that "Gospel was part of the struggle for freedom, recognition and personhood in the black slave communities of the South. Blacks put to music their belief that they could stand tall amidst the oppression of their world".

This weeks program consisted of 3 sets, each addressing a theme, fx "Conversation with the Christian Story". Rev. Gordon introduced each theme, which was followed by a number of songs performed by the "the Singspiration Singers" directed by Julie Blue.

Julie Blue is a songwriter and has written award winning music for film, theatre and TV. She is also a performer (keyboard) and have released 4 CD's. She is the leader of the Singspiration Singers and give courses and arranges workshops on singing and songwriting. It turned out that she had written 5 of the songs in the concert. And the mixture of Rev. Turner's notes and the performances of the chorus was a very moving and engaging experienc. The concert lasted about 1½ hours. We were both happy that we accepted the invitation to participate. Next time we come to Vancouver we will attend the Jazz Vesper.


The last day in Vancouver Claus suggested that we should go to Indiatown or Little India, which is the area around around 49th Avenue and Main Street in Vancouver South. It is like a miniature of India - I must admit, that I guess, since I have not yet been to India. Lots of ethnic shops with exotic food, silk fabric, gold and jewelry in the window, spice stores etc. Although it was on a Sunday all shops were crowded with citizens of Indian origin. Ladies were promenading their gold bracelets dangling from both wrists. We entered a couple of shops and Birgit and Janet saw a young women try her wedding gown. There are several other ethnic neighbourhoods in Vancouver, like Chinatown in downtown Vancouver, Little Italy on Commercial Drive in East Vancouver and Greek restaurants on West Broadway in Kitsilano. But of these areas we found Indiatown the most interesting and not crowded with tourists. I do know, that I'm a tourist myself, but that doesn't mean that I have to like other tourists.

The Dark side of Vancouver

Although Birgit and I love Vancouver we are not totally blind to the big-city problems that Vancouver has to deal with. Janet, our daughter-in-law has been working as a street-nurse for a couple of years Downtown East Side. Many of her clients are alcoholics and drug abusers. Statistics report that every year approx. 400 people die from an overdose (in 1988 39 people). More than 60 percent of the drug addicts are HIV-positive. It seems like Vancouver attracts drug abusers not only from British Columbia but from all Canada and part of USA.

Many people of First Nation origin have exchanged the dreary life in the reservates with an existense dominated by alcohol in the big city. Up to 1951 Indian ceremonies and carving totem poles were forbidden by federal laws!

Although working in the streets of Vancouver East Side is tough and sometimes scaring Janet talks of her clients with respect and compassion. Many of her clients have been abused earlier in their lives. And some of them are extremely intelligent, have a higher education and used to have an important job. So Janet finds her work both tough and rewarding, although she finds that resources spent on dealing with this serious problem are far too limited.

Granville Island

Also this time we wanted to go to Granville Island. It is underneath the south end of the Granville Street Bridge. When standing on a corner of Granville Street studying a map a gentleman came up and asked us if he could be af any assistance. In fact this happened every time we we reading our map, somebody offered to help. We said that we wanted to walk to Granville Island and wouldn't he kind enough to point out the direction. "But you can't walk to Granville Island", he said. We asked, "Why not, what's the problem?", and he replied "It is much too far away". It seems that the Canadians are not as fond of walking as we Danes. But within approx. 20 minutes we had reached Granville Island. To be honest it is nor the most spectacular area of Vancouver to traverse, so at other occasions we took bus #50 or #51.

A look from Granville Street Bridge down on Granville Island.

Granville Island is a small peninsula, connected to downtown Vancouver via Granville Street Bridge. Since 1920 the area had heavy industry, and during Second World War a ship yard was established here. In the beginning of the 1970's a couple of businessmen started to redevelop the totally run-down area. With assistance from the federal government they turned the smoking area of sawmills, ironwork, slaughterhouses and other industrial and manufacturing activities into a place for commerce, culture and entertainment. Renovation of the industrial buildings was finished around 1980 and is now a major tourist attraction. Every visit we make to Vancouver includes one or more trips to Granville Island.

The "Island" includes a hotel, several theaters, numerous galleries, a huge public market, and many smaller shops. A former industry building houses the "Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design", one of Canada's leading schools of art. You find several artists studios here together with many craft shops. There is a "Kids only Market" with toys, clothes, and video games. There are two playgrounds in the area and a Water Park, so it is no problem bringing kids along. They will love the buskers and street performers - we do. Besides that Granville Island has a number of restaurants.

"Granville Public Market" is one of the most important markets for fresh food and vegetables in North America, and a Mekka for gourmets. From the fertile Okanagan Valley east of the Cascade Mountains, (4-5 hours drive from Vancouver) you can buy strawberries, apricots, peaches, pears and apples. In the market you find American blueberries in jumbo size, Italian pasta in all shapes and colours, French bread, Canadian baggles,Danish cheese, German sausages, local ostrich medaillons, duck, fish, seafood: wild sockeye salmon, crabs, prawns, clams and mussels. Imported delis from every corner of the world, spices from Asia, domestic and foreign wines, lots of cheese, desserts etc. Inside the market there are several small places to have lunch.

We love just strolling around Granville Island enjoying the harbour and the marina, watch people living on house boats. A couple of times we took the small electric powered boats across False Creek.

During the season lots of things take place on Granville Island, like New Play Festival (early May), Vancouver International Children's Festival (late May), International Jazz Festival (late June), Vancouver Folk Music Festival (mid July), Vancouver International Comedy Festival (July/August), Vancouver International Wooden Boat Festival (late August), Vancouver International Fringe Festival (early September), and Vancouver International Writers & Readers Festival (late October).

Tour with Granville Island Brewing Company

When The Granville Island Brewing Company opened in 1984, it was the first micro-brewery in Canada. There were some problems in the beginning, since federal law required that there should be a public road between the brewery and the store, but the problem was solved. Since then several micro breweries have come to Vancouver, fx Steamworks in Gastown and Yaletown Brewing. In 1995 the brewing operations moved to Kelowna, while the corporate headquarters remained on Granville Island. The following year the company spent more than 1 million dollars "to preserve the brewery’s industrial heritage on Granville Island". The main floor includes the brewery, room for tasting the beers, that are being produced on the site, and a retail area.

For $6 CDN Granville Island Brewing Company offers a tour which includes sampling 5 beers and a glass to keep. Kids pay $1 for a soda pop, but get no glass to keep. This was the trip that Birgit had to try. She is fond of beer. When we are on holiday fx to countries in the southern part of Europe we usually take at least one beer a day. But in Vancouver it is almost impossible to get a beer. You have to go to special liquor shops to buy them. There are almost no places in the street, where beer is served. And if you find such a place you have to take the beer inside. Considering the fact that many Canadians like beer and that they make really good beer in Canada, it feels a bit ackward - at least to us foreigners. Some of my collegues are member of a club named "Danish Beer Enthusiasts", trying to improve Danish beer quality and maintain old beer traditions.

The tours take place at 12 pm, 2 pm, 4 pm on weekdays, and at 12 pm, 1 pm, 2 pm, 3 pm and 4 pm on weekends, starting from 1441 Cartwright St. We turned up 30 minutes early to put our names on a list. This seemed to be a good idea, since the tour only accommodated 14 people at a time. The tour started with a thorough walk through of the production proces, after which we were seated in the sampling area.

The environment was not bar-like and in my opinion it lacked the atmosphere of a true brewpub. But that said the beers were excellent. The beers that are being produced on the site are special beer and seasonal beer. And I guess that the brewery is using this tour to test beer before it hits the market. The array of beer changes almost every week, but - as far as I remember - we tried English Pale Ale, Cypress Honey Lager, Gastown Amber Ale, Island Lager and Kitsilano Maple Cream Ale.

Before leaving the building we visited the adjacent gift shop, where you (of course) can buy beer and different sorts af beer drinking accessories. We can recommend this little tour, which last for a little less than an hour.

After we had returned to Denmark my cousin Kisten sent me these 2 wonderful pictures of False Creek taken from Granville Island.

Vanier Park

As mentioned earlier there are so many wonderful parks in Vancouver. Just 5-10 minutes walk from Granville Island you will find Vanier Park. The park (15-hectars) is located in the suburb of Kisilano next to the ocean and the sea view is absolutely astonishing. Vanier Park is home to H.R. MacMillan Space Centre with it’s observatory, Planetarium and Theatre. Besides it is home to the Vancouver Museum and Vancouver Maritime Museum.

In spring - usually second half of May - the Vancouver International Childrens Festival is taking placed in tents in the park. Children are entertained - and maybe educated - through programmes of jugglers, clowns and acrobats, puppet shows, dancing, storytelling, singalong concerts and music.

Bard On the Beach

After the festival - from June till September - Bard On the Beach starts in Vanier Park. This Shakespeare Festival was established in 1990 with the mission to "provide Vancouver residents and tourists with affordable, accessible Shakespearean productions of the finest quality". There are two stages: the 520-seats mainstage tent and the 240-seats studiostage. The mainstage tent is open-ended so that the actors perform against a spectacular background setting of mountains, sea and sky. This year (2005) the repertoire on the mainstage was "As you like it" and "Love's labour's lost", and on the studiostage "Hamlet, prince of Denmark" and "Rosencrantz And Guildenstern Are Dead". The theatre company employes more than thirty actors. In 2004 more than 80.000 visitors attended the performances.

H.R. MacMillan Space Centre

As mentioned above Vanier Park is home to the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre, made up of a planetarium and an observatory. The planetarium is considered one of the best in North America. Any way withs its beautiful views over Vancouver and the ocean it is no doubt the best situated space centre anywhere. The centre, which was built in 1968, but has undergone many transformations since then, is attached to the Vancouver Museum. It is quite a unique building with its round shape and the huge metal crab in front of it. Aside from the planetarium and observatory, it also features the Cosmic Courtyard hands-on gallery, a Virtual Voyages full-motion simulator, GroundStation Canada exhibits and multimedia and laser shows. An advanced projector creates a 360-degree view of the universe as seen from Vancouver. The planetarium's multi-media dome is 20 meters in diameter. Its overnight adventures and space camps are popular.

The space centre has all sorts of programs, both educational and entertaining. Fx there is a programme available where highschool students give lectures on space to elementary school children in the community. Or you migh join a Rocket Building Workshop. Britt's - our granddaughter - daycare paid a visit to the space centre a couple of times every year. So of couse we had to come to se the kids have fun and travel through cosmos. We can definitely recommend to spend an afternoon at the space centre - or maybe a whole day.

Harvey Reginald MacMillan (1885-1976) was a lumber magnate. He came from Ontario to Vancouver in 1908 as assistant inspector in Western Canada Forest Reserves, but had to spend two years in a TB sanitorium. In 1912 he was appointed chief B.C. forester. In 1919 he started H.R. MacMillan Export. BTW his manager and later partner was W.J. VanDusen - see below.

Stanley Park

The 400 hectar Stanley Park - the largest in Canada - is situated close to downtown is one of the greatest treasures of the city and a tribute to the foresight of Vancouver’s founding fathers. In the 1860s the area was a military reserve intended to protect the seaport from possible attack. (Americans had made the colony nervous with a military occupation of the San Juan Islands in the Gulf of Georgia only four years earlier). However it was never needed for that purpose, and in 1886 it was incorporated in the city as a park. To be honest it was not a gift, but the Federal Government leased the area to the City of Vancouver for $1.00 per year for then next 100 years (I don't know what happened in 1986, but I guess that it now belongs to the city). A seawall path "hugs" the Pacific shoreline for 10 kilometres, making the area a popular destination for walkers, cyclists and rollerbladers. You’ll also find beaches, swimming spots, harbour views, mandarin ducks, trumpeter swans, Canadian geese, beautiful gardens, an old rainforest, an astonishing aquarium, summer theater (Theater under the Stars), a miniature railway,checkerboard, and a farmyard for children and numerous sport facilities.

In 1909 the City of New York presented Vancouver with a gift of eight pairs of grey squirrels for Stanley Park. Now the park is crowded with these beautiful creatures, who are favourites of city residents and visitors a like. Stand/sit still with some seeds or nuts in your hand and inevitable within a few minutes one or two squirrels will approach and make a grab for them. All park swans are descendants of a single pair obtained from New South Wales Zoological Society in 1901.

We took SkyTrain to Granville Station and walked maybe 15 minutes along Georgia Street to Stanley Park, where we just strolled around. Since our latest visit rollerskaters had become pretty dominating in the park. And we guess that Vancouver is the first city to impose speed control for rollerskaters, and the police might fine you for speeding excess 15 km/hour. Last time we were in Stanley Park we took a guided your in a horse-drawn carriage around the park. But this time we preferred to walk around for a couple of hours.

Vancouver Aquarium

This time we did not visit Vancouver Aquarium, but it certainly is worth while visiting - probably one of the most impressing aquariums in the world. More than 8.000 different sea animals from the Pacific can be seen here. It presents several shows every day (and I mean every day, since it is open to the public 365 days a year). Janet and Claus have a "family card", so the often bring Britt to the aquarium for fun and entertainment. When we were there the daily program looked like this:

11:00 Beluga Show
11:30 Sea Otter Feed
12:00 Shark Dive Show
12:30 Beluga Show
14:00 Sea Otter Feed
14:30 Beluga Show
15:30 Pacific Canada Dive Show
16:30 Beluga Show
17:00 Sea Otter Feed

On our walk we also met a copy of "The little Mermaid" (remember the fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen?. In fact not a copy but a look-alike. 30 years ago Stanley Park asked the city of Copenhagen for permission to make a replica of the statue, which is to be seen in Copenhagen Harbour. But for some strange reason (at least unknown to me) they were not allowed to do so. So they equipped the statue with a swim suit and called it "Girl in a Wetsuit". On the picture you see the lighthouse at Brockton Point in the background.

The 9 o'clock gun

Every night at 9 o'clock a gun is fired from a position close to Brockton Point. Under optimal atmospheric conditions it can be heard some 70 kilometers away. This 12 pound muzzle-loader was cast at Woolwich in England in 1816. In 1894 it was installed at Hallelujah Point, close to it's present position. In earlier days - that is before 1894 - it was the lighthouse keeper at Brockton Point's job to detonate a charge of dynamite at 9.00 PM every night as an "aid to navigation". At that time sailing ships relied on tides and needed accurate time readings and they set their chronometers according to the signal. In fact not from the noise of the charge but from the flash.

The cannon was originally placed in Nanaimo on Vancouver Island and in the mid-19th century it was in action during the US-Canada boundary dispute. The Time Gun has only been silenced during World War II and in 1969, when it was 'kidnapped' by UBC engineering students and held for ransom. The studens returned the gun in exchange for a "ransom" donated to the Children’s Hospital. Another story tells that a son loaded his father's ashes into the barrel just before 9pm. Nowadays the gun is safely welded to its base and protected by a secure metal cage, so don't get any fancy ideas. Today the gun is fired electrically.

At "The Third Beach" there is a huge red cedar, almost 30 metres around. National Geographic Society has "adopted" the tree, which they consider the largest of its kind in the world. Close to it is another fascinating tree, The Hollow Tree.

On our way back we passed the impressing totem poles, carved by members of the Haida Nation - maybe not quite as impressing as the poles, that we had seen on the UBC Museum.

One of the most beautiful places in the park is the Lost Lagoon. The name comes from a poem, Legends of Vancouver, The Lost Lagoon by Pauline Johnson(1861-1913). Pauline Johnson was of mixed heritage her father beeing a mohawk chief and her mother British. You may want to study some of the beautiful Indian Legends, that she collected. In accordance with her last wish, her ashes were buried in Stanley Park within sight and sound of Siwash Rock. Until 1929 Lost Lagoon was a freshwater lake. Today it’s a wild-bird sanctuary and the path around it makes for a wonderful walk.

Lions Gate Bridge

From Prospect Point there is a wonderful view at the mountains and Lions Gate Bridge. This famous bridge was built in 1937 by the Guiness family - yes, the beer family - as they decided to invest in land on the North Shore. In 1932 they purchased 4,000 acres of West Vancouver mountain side. The plan was develop the land and make people move there. The project as you can imagine was popular during the depression, and objections to the fact that an access road through the heart of Stanley Park had to be constructed were overcome. When built this 472 meter long and 111 meter high bridge was the longest suspension bridge in the world. More than 60.000 cars pass the bridge every day. As traffic increased the Lions Gate Bridge often congested during rush hours, and in 1998 it was decided to renovate and widen the bridge. Hope was that this would add another 30 years of life to the bridge. Work was done night and on weekends, when the Second Narrows Bridge could take up the volume.

Other great parks of Vancouver

As often pointed out the are many wonderful parks in the city of Vancouver. On one occasion we visited The VanDusen Botanical Garden in the heart of Vancouver. The garden (22-hectar) opened to the public in 1975. There are more than 7.500 different kinds of plants assembled from six continents. This is possible due to the mild (and wet) Vancouver climate. Specific areas are planted to illustrate botanical relationships, such as the Rhododendron Walk or the Sino Himalayan Garden. Janet, our daughter in law told is, that the garden is a delight any time of the year.

Whitford Julian VanDusen (1889-1978) was a lumber magnate. In 1919 he joined H.R. MacMillan Export as manager anf senior vice president from 1945-1949 and vice chair from 1949-1956. He did not retire until 1969. VanDusen was involved in philanthropic works as Vancouver Foundation (1943). He donated the purchase amount for the Shaughnessy Golf Course, now the VanDusen Botanical Gardens.

The 52 hectar Queen Elizabeth Park has around 6 million visitors a year. The park was originally a quarry supplying rocks to build Vancouver's first roadways. In 1929 the city proceeded to acquire the property which had become an abandoned eyesore. It was dedicated as a park by King George VI and his wife, Queen Elizabeth (the present Queen's mother) on a visit to Vancouver in 1939.

Capilano Suspension Bridge

One day Janet and Claus took us to Capilano Suspension Bridge and Park, which is located ten minutes from downtown Vancouver - through Stanley Park over Lions Gate Bridge and then north one mile on Capilano Road.

Capilano Suspension Bridge is probably Vancouver's oldest attraction, originally built in 1889. Today's bridge is the 4th bridge at this location. It spans 137 meters across and 70 meters above the spectacular, evergreen Capilano River Canyon. The span is said to be wide enough to let two Boeing 747s fly through wing-to-wing with room to spare. This still remains to be proven. The steel cables are connected to a 13-ton concrete block at either end of the bridge: the equivalent, say the site's owner, of four elephants holding onto each side of the cable. Capilano Suspension Bridge and Park was recently named BC's Best Outdoor Attraction for the second year in a row. Every year more than 800.000 visitors come to the site.

Despite the fact that the bridge is swaying under you and that it was raining (we are in Vancouver, eh?), it was not so scaring to cross the canyon. We did see some first-timers clinging to the cables, but they quickly recovered and could manage to stop in the middle to take photos of the canyon.

A "Story Centre" introduces the visitors to the pioneers, who created the history of Capilano and Vancouver, and a lot of information can be gained from the artifacts and the flip-books. First Nations' history is recognized with a native carving centre and a collection of 25 authentic totem poles collected since the 1930's. Trails have been laid out through the 300 year old west coast rain forest, leading along tranquil trout ponds and towering growth. From interactive displays you are able to identify flora and fauna of the forest. Large panels illustrate life in the ponds and the forest. In The Big House you can watch natives carving wood. Finally you can buy tourist stuff like native carvings, leather footwear, books and T shirts in the historic Trading Post.

The history of Capilano Suspension Bridge

In 1888 George Grant Mackay, a Scottish engineer and land developer, arrived in the young city of Vancouver. Mackay purchased 6.000 acres of forest on either side of the Capilano River and built a cabin at the edge of the canyon. With help from two natives and a team of horses Mackay suspended a hemp rope and cedar plank bridge across the river. Natives called it "the laughing bridge" because of the sound it made when the wind came through he canyon. Mackay's cabin and the bridge became a popular destination for his daring friends, "the Capilano Tramps". After Mackay's death the hemp rope bridge was replaced by a wire cable bridge in 1903.

The next person on the scene is Edward Mahon, who like Mackay arrived in Vancouver in 1888. After years of mining Mahon returned to Vancouver, where he purchased land on the North Shore, among them Capilano Suspension Bridge. 48 years old Mahon fell in love with Lilette, the 19 year old daughter of his deceased friend, James Rebbeck. Mahon asked Lilette's mother, Elizabeth D'abbadie Rebbeck to move into Mackay's cabin and run the place. The plan worked, and one year later Mahon and Lilette married. Elizabeth planted the garden with flowers like rhododendron and azalea. In 1911 a Tea House was built, and in 1914 Mahon reinforced the bridge with additional cables.

The Great War brought hardship and loneliness to Elizabeth, until she met and married a handsome young forest ranger, "Mac" MacEachran. During the depression Mac had to work elsewhere, and for several winters he worked in Tahiti.

In 1934 Mac told Elizabeth that he had a 19 years old daughter, whom he wanted to bring to Capilano. Devastated by the news Elizabeth agreed, and plans were made to build a new and larger house, Elizabeth died before the house was finished. In 1925 2 Danish carpenters came to Capilano. For food and shelter they carved figures of the native population in red cedar. Unfortunately they only knew Indians from movies and childrens books, so the result were statues of Prairee Indians with war paint and feathers. I'm happy that I took some fotos, because after protest from First Nation People the figures are possibly going to be removed, since the Northwest coastal Indians had very little in common with their relatives from the prairees. But it was quite a surprise to us people coming from Denmark. In 1935 Mac purchased the bridge from Mahon and invited local natives to place their totem poles in the park. In 1945 Mac sold the bridge to Henri Aubeneau and moved to California.

In 1953 Rae Mitchell bought the bridge property from Henri Aberneau, who promoted the attraction world wide. In 1956 Mitchell rebuilt the bridge, developed the trails on the west side of the bridge and converted the Tea House into the Trading Post Gift Store. When Mitchell retired, Mitchell's daughter, Nancy Stibbard took over and still operates the business. Nancy Stibbard has renovated the site considerably, and food services, washrooms, information markers, viewing decks and nature trails have all been improved. The Trading Post has been restored to its 1911 condition.

Lonsdale Quay

Almost every time we go to Vancouver Birgit and I take a trip to Lonsdale Quay, which is a huge market place in North Vancouver. Usually we take the Seabus over from the Seabus Terminal in Vancouver. It takes only 15 minutes to cross, and you can use the same ticket as for other public transportation, that is SkyTrain or busses. To be honest we don't go there to buy, althougt there are more than 90 shops in the centre. We go there for the atmosphere, that we like.

From the shore of North Vancouver there is a fabulous view of Vancouver's skyline and harbour. We often take a coffee or maybe a cup of soup in one of the outdoor restaurants, enjoying the scenery. Often there is some kind of entertainment, fx an orchestra. Connected to the centre is a tall viewing platform with the giant Q (for Quay).

Inside there are 60 fresh market vendors, including daily caught westcoast seafood, daily fresh oven baked treats, hand made confectioneries, soups, fresh pasta, European delis, wine shop etc. etc. Sometimes we can't resist bringing home some special food. Maybe we like the place better because there are not so many tourists as on Granville Island. Birgit likes to check the boutiques with ladies wear. It seems like there are always sales going on.

Burnaby Mountain

One of the first nights in Vancouver my cousin Enis and her husband Jim picked us up. After a beer (Canadian, of course) we went up Burnaby Mountain, not far from Janet and Claus' place. The municipality east of Vancouver is named after Robert Burnaby (1828-1878), a British merchant and an early colonist in the area. It is best known for Burnaby Mountain and Burnaby Lake. In Deer Lake Park you'll find the Burnaby Village Museum, the Burnaby Art Gallery, the Heritage Village, and the Shadbolt Centre for the Performing Arts. More about these places later.

First we admired Burnaby Mountain Rose Garden with its great variety of roses with vibrant colours and heady scents. Then we wondered about the Kamui Mintara sculptures (meaning Playground of the Gods). These huge poles were obviously not First Nation art. Jim, who is a walking, talking encyclopedia told, that the poles had been carved by the Japanese sculptors Nuburi Toko and his son Shusei, belonging to Japan's aboriginal Ainu people. The sculpture tells a story of men, gods and creatures sharing the Earth in harmony. They are tokens of the goodwill between Burnaby and its sister city, Kushiro in Japan. Behind the restaurant we found two majestic Haida totem poles.

We regretted that we had not brought our binoculars, since the view of Vancouver, Richmond, the harbour and the mountains are just breathtaking. On a clear day it is said to be possible to see over Georgia Strait to Vancouver Island.

Then we had a wonderful dinner - fish for Jim and lamb for the three of us - in restaurant Horizons close to the top. Jim had made a reservation, and I suggest that you do the same, if you want to come here. Don't come too early, since watching the the sunsetting is fantastic. On our way back we went to the top of Burnaby Mountain to se the architecturally stunning Simon Fraser University (SFU) with its Museum of Archeology and Ethnology. SFU is worth a visit. It was built (designed) in the 60's by the well known architect Arthur Erickson (whom you will meet again, if you follow us Downtown Vancouver). The concrete buildings are very futuristic, so quite a few science fiction moves have been filmed at SFU. Once a week in summer time Simon Fraser University Bag Pipe Band practices in the park.

During our next visit to Vancouver in 2002 we dined again at Horisons with Enis and Jim. And also on this occasion we had a splendid meal with excellent wine from BC.

Burnaby Village Museum

A couple of times we have been to Burnaby Village Museum, a four-hectare (10-acre) large open-air museum, looking like a snapshot of Burnaby as it might have looked in 1925 with costumed townsfolk and historic buildings. On holidays and special weekends staff organize extra events: on Victoria Day, on Canada Day, Labour Day and on Teddy Bear Day. The villages comprises of more than 30 shops and homes - a Chinese herbalist, a one-room schoolhouse, a blacksmith and an Ice Cream Parlour. Most of the 40,000 artifacts are acquired through donations. We enjoyed a blacksmith (Jeff?, volunteer) demonstrating his skill for a class of school kids. I was lucky to get the key, that the blacksmith had produced right before our eyes. Opening season is May through September and December. Burnaby Village Museum reminds us of "The old Town" in Aarhus, Denmark.

Britt nearly failed to get a trip on the wonderful carousel. We were not aware of the opening season, so we turned up one of the last days in April. Lots of people were preparing the village for the opening the following weekend and we were allowed to walk around. I told the man who operated the carousel, that we were returning to Europe the following day and thus would not be able to see our grandchild on his carousel. The goodhearted man started the carousel with the fantastic organ and Britt and Claus had a very long trip. During this the man told me the story of the carousel. The carousel was made by C.W. Parker in Kansas in 1912. It is a three row machine carrying 36 jumpers, four ponies, one chariot and one wheelchair. And a Wurlitzer military band organ. In 1935 it came to Happyland Park in Hastings Park, Vancouver. When this park was closed down in 1957 the carousel came to Playland Amusement Park, Vancouver. In 1990 it was acquired and restored by the volunteer group Friends of the Carousel, who donated it to the City of Burnaby. It has been accessible to the public since 1993.

Shadbolt Centre For The Arts

During one of our trips to Burnaby we visited The Shadbolt Centre for the Arts, situated on the edge of Deer Lake Park. When the Shadbolt Centre opened in 1995 it received the Canadian Wood Council "Award of Merit" for its creative design which is a stunning combination of wood and stone. The Centre is named after two Burnaby residents dedicated to art, Doris and Jack Shadbolt. Jack Shadbolt (1909-1998) was a respected artist and a dedicated teacher of art and Birgit and I have seen some of his colorful works on Vancouver Art Gallery. Doris Shadbolt was a renowned writer (her biography of Bill Reid won two B.C. Book prizes in 1988) and education director and curator of the Vancouver Art Gallery. In 1988 the Shadbolts founded the Vancouver Institute for the Visual Arts, VIVA, which grants awards to local Vancouver artists and to British Columbians who "has made an outstanding contribution to cultural life in the province".

The centre houses a wide range of cultural facilities like a 285-seat Theatre, a 150-seat Recital Hall, a Studio Theatre, 6 dance studios, music rehearsal rooms, pottery studios etc. The centre offers a wide spectrum of art programs for all ages, music, theatre, dance, painting, drawing, ceramic and literature. Throughout the year festivals, performances, seminars and workshops take place here. We had coffee in the café in the lobby. We admired the exhibition of artworks which had been made by very gifted young students.

In the wonderful park is a a 10,000-seat outdoor amphitheatre, which houses outdoor festivals and concerts like "Symphony in the Park" and the Burnaby Blues Festival. In the Month of May the Rhododendron Festival.

The Danish Church in Vancouver

Almost every time Birgit and I go to Vancouver we visit The Danish Church in Burnaby/Vancouver. The present church is from 1984. But back in the 1920's the Danish Evangelical Lutheran Church in America considered if they should have a mission for the Danes who lived in Vancouver. In May 1923 pastor Rasmussen from Dalum, Alberta lead a service in Danish at The Norwegian Church in Vancouver. This became a monthly event with pastor Alfred Sørensen coming up from Seattle. In the summer of 1923 a group of 21 people formed the Ansgar Congregation (Ansgar, "Apostle of the nordic countries", who made the Danes christians). The congregation applied for funding to build a church to the organization "The Danish Church Abroad", but during depression in the 1930's money was scarce. So pastor Alfred Sørensen had to continue his long journeys between Seattle and Vancouver.

In 1932 the Ansgar Congregation called pastor Jørgen Nielsen from Enumclaw, Washington. Having a resident pastor urged the need for a church, and in 1933 the Ansgar Congregation purchased a property at the intersection of 19th Avenue and Prince Albert Street in Vancouver. In July 1933 pastor Jørgen Nielsen suddenly resigned, so The Congregation decided to halt its activities in Vancouver. Then in 1935 "The Danish Church Abroad" sent pastor, Clemens Sørensen to Vancouver.

Building the First Church
Now the desire for a Danish church in Vancouver grew. The Ansgar Congregation had the property at 19th Avenue and Prince Albert Street - and besides that about $150. Paper bricks were made and sold raising another $100. Pastor Sørensen wrote to individuals, papers and magazines in Denmark and to all the Danes in British Columbia for support.

A small group of people gathered on the last day of the year 1936 at the corner of 19th Avenue and Prince Albert Street to participate in breaking the ground for the church. Professor Carl Brink Christensen, who had been a dedicated supporter for a Danish church in Vancouver for many years, broke the ground first. Professor C.B. Christensen had been teacher in the Danish colony of Cape Scott on Vancouver Island. On the first working day of the new year some workers with a team of horses began excavating the basement.

Times were hard and many people were unemployed. So it was decided to pay all unemployed hands $1 a day for helping. Sometimes pastor Sørensen would drive around in his old Ford persuading unemployed men to help building the church. Ladies were involved too, serving warm soup and hot coffee with home made cake.

On the day for raising the rooftree the Danish flag was flying over the church building, and Professor C.B. Christensen gave a solemn speech. On the 8th of May 1936 Professor Christensen's coffin was carried from the church. That was the first Divine Service in the yet unfinished church.

On the day of the consecration 15th of August 1937 all Danes gathered in the church, Saint Ansgar Church. Cheap kitchen chairs had been bought, a large box covered in white paper made the altar, and a preliminary pulpit had been put together. But despite lack of furniture the church could be used for services.

Royal Visit in 1967

Princess Margrethe of Denmark and her husband Prince Henrik paid a visit to the church in 1967. The occasion was that East Asiatic Company had invited Princess Margrethe to open a new paper mill on Vancouver Island. The couple landed in BC's capital, Victoria on Vancouver Island on 25th of September 1967. Two days later they came to Vancouver, where a reception with 500 guests was held at Hotel Vancouver. On Saturday 30th of September they paid a visit to the Danish Church. Once the royal guests were inside, the folk dancers carried in flags representing the many Danish organizations while the choir was singing. Princess Margrethe brought greetings from "mom and dad" and she greeted each of the old people personally. I'm sure that it was the day of their life.

The present church

Around 1982 it was decided to build a new church, and Architect Søren Rasmussen was asked to make the drawings. The church is situated at 6010 Kincaid Street, Burnaby, next to Dania Home. Dania Home, which is a retirement home built by the Danes in the 1940’s, offered to to sell a lot to the Danish Church for $50,000, which equalled what it over the years had cost Dania Home Society in taxes. The old church was sold for $300,000 to The Church of the Good Shepherd, a Chinese Anglican congregation. In March 1984 the work began. The need for volunteer work was limited, although there were quite many fundraising activitees taking place. The church was consecrated on 14th of October 1984. As you may see from the foto, the church looks like a typical Danish village church from the 12th century; only has granite and bricks been replaced by lumber and drywall. The look is absolutely Danish.

The statue of Christ is a replica of a famous statue by Bertel Thorvaldsen which is in the Cathedral of Copenhagen. It was donated by Vigerslev Church, Denmark. The inscription beneath the statue reads: "Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest". The embroidered rug in front of the altar was made by many members of the Church. The pattern is partly a replica of the altar rug in Fåborg Church, Denmark.

At the front of the church is a Canadian and a Danish flag. On the pole of the Danish flag there are two silver plaques, one reading, "Oct 14 1984", the other, "H.M. Queen Margrethe II and H.R.H. Prince Henrik of Denmark. Visit Vancouver, B.C. Oct 16 1991".

Like in almost any Danish church there is a model ship hanging under the ceiling of the Sanctuary. In fact there are two ships. In 1937 Mr. Holmgren, Vancouver donated the first ship. The ship, which is a frigate, was once stolen, but some time later it was recovered from a second hand store in downtown Vancouver. The second ship was donated in 2000 by Poul Møller Hansen, Tsawwassen as a kit to be assembled. Mogens Tveden, White Rock, built the model. The ship is the frigate Jylland (Jutland), the world's longest wooden ship. A Danish warship built at the Royal Dockyard in Copenhagen in 1860, known from the Battle of Helgoland 1864, tourist attraction in Ebeltoft, Denmark, close to our home.

The church has two organs: In 2004 Resen Church in Denmark donated the pipe organ. The electronic organ was purchased in 1986. The plaque on the front reads: "This organ is donated by the congregation of the Danish Church in memory of the Danish men and women, who during World War II in and outside Denmark lost their lives for the sake of freedom".

The Queen’s monogram, designed by the Queen herself, is installed over the main entrance in 1985. On the west wall of the Sanctuary are pictures of Queen Margrethe II of Denmark and Prince Henrik.

About half the pews have a plaque with a name. We wondered what these names meant, but I have later learned that they are the names of the parishes of Denmark that contributed to the building of the first Danish church in Vancouver.

Royal Visit in 1991

The next royal visit to the church was on 16th of October 1991. Queen Margrethe II of Denmark and Prince Henrik came on the last day of an official visit to Canada. First they visited Dania Home, a Danish retirement home close to the church. In the church the royal couple were sitting next to the altar in the crowded church. Pastor Glud welcomed the honoured guests and gave a brief history of the church.

The Queen then approached the unfinished embroidered altar rug. She was seated and Vera Pii pointed out to the Queen where the three royal stitches should be. The Queen protested and said that it was not the right colour of thread she had been given. "No", Vera Pii answered, "but we want in the future to know where Your Majesty did make the stitches". "Oh, I understand", the Queen smiled, "I'm not always that quick in the morning". And the the three stitches were sewn with the golden thread. Before leaving the church Queen Margrethe and Prince Henrik signed the Guest Book.

This is the explanation why three stitches in the flower that should have been purple have the same golden colour as the crosses.

In the Church Hall downstairs is an exhibition of group pictures of all the confirmation classes back to the early 1940'es. After service people gather here for a cup of coffee. Service is in Danish the 1st and 3rd Sunday of the month and in English on the remaining Sundays and all major holidays. One day we went to the church for a concert. A choir - as far as I remember "Sons of Norway" - were singing Danish, Norwegian and Swedish songs. I talked to an elderly man after the concert explaining that this was our first visit to the church. The man told that he often came to the church. In fact his wife had died during a service in the church a year before, but he kept coming regularly to the church for comfort.

On the lawn outside the main entrance is a replica of the famous runic stone in Jelling, Denmark, the old Viking capital of Scandinavia. King Harold of Denmark (Harold Bluetooth, 940-981) erected the monolithic runic stones outside the burial mound of his parents, King Gorm the Old and his wife Thyra. The stone says,

"Haraltr kunukr bath kaurua
auk aft thaurui muthur sina sa
haraltr ias sar uan tanmaurk"

In English: "Harold, king, bade these memorials to be made after Gorm, his father, and Thyra, his mother. The Harald who won the whole of Denmark and Norway and turned the Danes to Christianity". The runic stone is called Denmark’s Baptism Certificate. These are the oldest words in history from a Danish king and the first time Denmark is mentioned as the name of our country. Like most kids in Denmark Birgit and I have visited the Jelling Stone during our school time. I remember during my first visit I bought a small replica as a gift for my mother, who kept for the rest of her life.

What a small world

I am going to finish this visit to Burnaby with an episode, that shows, how small the world is. Shortly after we had returned to Denmark, Henrik Agerskov, a collegue of mine introduced me to Doug and Patty, his parents-in-law. They had come to visit their daughter Erin and Henrik, who lived and worked in Denmark. Doug and Patty Berardine lived in Vancouver. They told that the wedding had taken place in The Danish Church in Burnaby and asked, if I had ever been there. And to their surprise I could tell them that Birgit and I had been there on the previous Sunday.

We have seen Doug and Patty a couple of times in our home in Denmark. Latest when they came over for the birth of Erin and Henriks son Samuel. We have visited Doug and Patty in their beautiful appartment in Burnaby with Janet, Claus and Britt and were treated like royals. Just before Christmas Erin, Henrik and Samuel moved to Canada and are now living in the Kitsilano area of Vancouver. Here is the Berardine/Agerskov family homepage.

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