Vancouver 2023!

On May 14 – 19, 2023, our senior students, together with our tour guide and chaperones, enjoyed a spectacular trip to Canada’s West Coast, including Vancouver, Victoria and the greater Vancouver area. We were fortunate to have incredible weather, ranging from 25-30 degrees celsius, and sunshine for our entire trip!

On Day 1, we explored downtown Vancouver, Gastown, Vancouver’s waterfront, Canada Place, and Granville Island, which is a beautiful part of Vancouver, with little shops, eateries, artisans, and buskers on the sidewalks and common areas. The warm weather, the ocean water of Burrard Inlet, and the snow-capped mountains made for quite the views.

Our second day was filled with exciting adventures, starting with the Capilano Suspension Bridge, tree-top trekking through the beautiful bio-diverse rainforest, and the “Nature Edge Walk” along the edge of a cliff! And the treat of the day was “Otter Balls” – a pancake-type treat topped with maple sugar and sugar, or chocolate and whipped cream.

Our group explored Edgemont Village for lunch, with its small, quaint shops and little cafes.

Grouse Mountain was the next stop of the day – 4100 feet above the skyline of Vancouver. We took a Gondola up to the top, and the views of Vancouver and Vancouver Island from this vantage point were spectacular! At the top of the mountain, the snow was still there, despite the 30-degree weather! The highlight of this excursion was a visit to see two orphaned Grizzly Bears – Coola and Grinder. Our day ended with dinner and a  “Flyover Canada” simulated ride.

On Day 3, our adventure started with a quick stop at Science World, followed by lunch at Kitsilano Beach, well known for its vibrant and active lifestyle, where students were able to grab some lunch, and enjoy the spectacular mountain and ocean views. Students then rounded off the afternoon with a visit to the Vancouver Aquarium, home to thousands of incredible ocean species and amazing aquatic life, and a scenic bike ride or walk through Stanley Park, where towering cedar trees over 700 years old can be found.

Our team regrouped for a delicious dinner in downtown Vancouver where we shared our stories from the afternoon before we headed out for an impromptu walk to Robson Square where some locals were breakdancing and salsa dancing! Some of our students even joined in! 

Our group had the opportunity to explore the magnificence of Vancouver Island on Day 4. Our ferry ride to Victoria through the beautiful Gulf Islands was scenic and serene. Some of us were lucky enough to see a couple of porpoises swimming. The first stop on the Island was the amazing Butchart Gardens. This beautiful place, with its stunning flower gardens, has been welcoming visitors for almost 120 years. We then headed to Victoria, for a Ghost Walk through Old Town and Bastion Square. The students were mesmerized by these ghostly tales, and also enjoyed a walk past the Waterfront, the Parliament building, and the world-famous Empress Hotel.  Our trip to Vancouver Island also included a tour of Craigdarroch Castle, simply known in Victoria as “The Castle. The museum is a step back in time to the life of the Dunsmuir’s: a rich coal baron family from the late 1800s. Lastly, our spectacular ferry ride back to the mainland was a perfect end to the day.

Ultimately, we saved the best for last on Day 5, with a road trip to Whistler, a 2 ½ hour trip up the Sea to Sky Highway, filled with sites that simply amazed us all. Our first stop was Shannon Falls, the third-highest waterfall in BC at a height of 335 meters. It was a short walk up a path to the base, and the view was spectacular. As we traveled to Whistler, we passed through the town of Squamish, where the salt water of the Pacific (Howe Sound) ends, and a free-standing rock can be found, called the Stawamus Chief, simply known as “The Chief”, which the Squamish First Nation considers a main spiritual center. 

Another side-stop up the road was a site called “The Train Wreck”, which goes back to the mid-1950s when a speeding train left the tracks. Eight of the cars were able to be taken away, but seven of the cars were damaged so badly that they were just dragged into the woods. These cars are now painted with graffiti and the site has become a haven for extreme bikers! A beautiful walk into the woods, over a river, and to this spot engaged all of our kids.

Our next destination was Whistler Village, where we had a chance to walk around, have lunch, buy some souvenirs, and visit the Olympic Rings from the 2010 Winter Olympics. It is quite something to see in the middle of May, in 29-degree weather, people taking skis to the Gondola and up the Mountain for a run. In contrast to the skiers, dirt bikers were doing their thing down another slope of the mountain!

After lunch, we paid a visit to the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre. This is an amazing building and center that celebrates the history and culture of the Squamish and Lil’Wat First Nations. It is a long and fascinating relationship between two distinct cultures, but one that had a common thread of being stewards of the lands in the area between Vancouver and Mount Currie (Ts’zil).  

Finally, our day ended with a wonderful dinner and a spectacular drive down the Sea to Sky Highway. Clear skies, calm waters, and the setting sun made for beautiful opportunities for pictures. We made a quick stop at the Tantalus Lookout, an incredible spot to see the Tantalus Mountain Range and one of the best views on the Highway. 

Our final full day was a trip to one of the truly beautiful places on earth. A final stop in a five-day adventure. We hope our Grade 11 and 12 students enjoyed this trip as much as we enjoyed being able to experience it with them.

With thanks, the Vancouver Chaperones, Mr. Mooney, Ms. Curic and Mrs. Moyssakos