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North Vancouver

A Step Back in Time

For thousands of years, the Indigenous Skwxwu7mesh and their kin Tsleil-Waututh, of the Coast Salish, resided in the land known as North Vancouver. Slightly over 200 years ago, the people of the Skwxwu7mesh and Tsleil-Waututh living on the North Shore had their first glimpse of Europeans. First the Spanish arrived, giving their name to Vancouver's Spanish Banks and, in 1792, Captain George Vancouver explored the local shores. But it was not until 1862 that the first attempt was made to harvest the North Shore's rich stands of timber, leading to fuller settlement of the area that would later become North Vancouver.  

In 1891, the first municipality on the North Shore was formed as the District of North Vancouver. It stretched across the North Shore from Horseshoe Bay to Deep Cove. In the early 1900s, a real estate boom took place, with speculators - including the British poet Rudyard Kipling - eager to turn a quick dollar. 

Industry, particularly shipbuilding, became central, with the magnificent stands of trees a rich resource for a society in which ships, houses, and most other manmade things were constructed mainly of wood. 

Economic prosperity and rapid growth in the Lower Lonsdale area of North Vancouver led to the establishment in 1907 of the separate City of North Vancouver, with a population of approximately 1,500. West Vancouver separated from the District in 1912. 

Communications with Vancouver have always been an important factor in the development of the North Shore. The first ferry service was supplied by "Navy Jack's" rowboat in 1866. In 1867, the Sea Foam established regular ferry service that continued until 1958. The SeaBus re-established water transportation in 1977. Rail service was slower in developing. While the Pacific Great Eastern Railway inaugurated a 12.7 mile run from North Vancouver to Whytecliff in 1914, it was not until the completion of the first Second Narrows Bridge in 1925 that rail and road links with the Lower Mainland supplemented the local ferry service.

The real estate boom was overtaken by a worldwide depression in 1913, and then World War I delayed many projects. The depression that began in 1929, coupled with disruptions to communications over the Second Narrows caused by ships colliding with the bridge, led to economic difficulties and severe tax shortfalls. Both the City and the District were placed in receivership in 1933. But the opening of the second road crossing, the Lions' Gate Bridge in 1938, was a significant factor in making the North Shore more accessible. And the war years led to an economic revival of North Vancouver, especially because of the many ships built in the Burrard Drydock at the foot of Lonsdale for the Canadian war effort.

In the postwar years, the City and the District of North Vancouver boomed, with most of the growth taking place in the District because of its greater land resources.


The District of North Vancouver is bounded by the Capilano River to the west, Indian Arm to the east, Burrard Inlet to the south, and the North Shore Mountains to the north, and sprawls in an east-west direction across the mountain slopes, characterized by rugged terrain, frequent rain, and steep and winding roadways. There is no clearly defined "downtown"; instead, a series of commercial areas such as Edgemont Village and Lynn Valley serve as local community hubs.

The City of North Vancouver has a much more urban feel. Surrounded to the west, north, and east by the District, the City is home to the majority of the North Shore's high rise buildings, rental properties, and commercial operations. As with the District, there are industrial sites along the shore of Burrard Inlet, although in recent years several of these have begun to convert to residential and commercial areas. The City also has the Lonsdale Quay public market and the northern terminal for Vancouver's Seabus transit ferry. 

Things to See and Do
  • Capilano Suspension Bridge

There's a lot that can be said about Metro Vancouver's number one attraction (and the oldest - it dates back to 1889), like the number of visitors from around the globe who can't resist the thrill of crossing the 137 metre (450 fNorth Vancouver - Capilano Suspension Bridge - Tourism BC-M. Dorigoeet) swaying bridge that's suspended 70 metres (230 feet) above Capilano River. Not to be missed is the exhilarating Treetops Adventure, where you'll wander through the forest canopy along seven suspension bridges 30 metres (100 feet) above the ground. There's more authentic B.C. enchantment to be found in guided nature tours, explorer programs for kids, First Nations carvings, a totem pole park, plus gift shop and restaurants. 

  • Grouse Mountain

There's not a better view of Vancouver's North Shore and the city of Vancouver than the one from the Grouse Mountain Skyride, an aerial tram that takes visitors up the mountain 365 days a year. Grouse Mountain is a year-round destination where visitors enjoy skiing, sleigh rides, snowshoeing, hiking, lumberjack shows, helicopter tours, paragliding, and much more, plus the Theatre in the Sky cinema. Hiking enthusiasts can take the Grouse Grind trail from the base of the mountain right to the top.

  • Lonsdale Quay Market & Shops

Be prepared to spend several hours (or more) exploring this colourful, multilevel waterside market that houses 90 shops, including plenty of fresh food outlets, restaurants and an exciting collection of retail shops stocked with unique fashion accessories, children's clothing, and more.   

  • Park and Tilford Gardens
  • There's something to see year-round at this beautiful three-acre garden. It's divided into eight specialty gardens, like the Oriental Garden, the Rock Pool, the Display Garden, and more. The Christmas light display is a must-see.

    • Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve

    This is one of the North Shore's best-loved recreational areas, drawing enthusiasts from around the region, and plenty of visitors too. The paved 10 km Seymour Valley Trailway is a beacon for hikers, strollers, in-line skaters, and road cyclists, while off-road trails appeal to the area's extreme-style mountain bikers. Try fishing in Rice Lake, or kayaking and canoeing on the Seymour River.

    • North Vancouver Museum & Archives

    Established in 1972 as an agency of the City of North Vancouver, the North Vancouver Museum & Archives develops museum and archive services. Their exhibits feature such important area industries as logging and shipbuilding, and they have various special exhibits and events throughout the year. Educational events and services are also provided.

    • Cycling

    The City of North Vancouver supports cycling as a healthy, efficient, and non-polluting transportation option for both commuter and recreational cyclists. In keeping with the vision outlined in the Official Community Plan, the City is working to improve the bicycle route network and provide facilities to encourage cycling.

    • Walking Tour

    Take a Heritage Walking Tour of the historic Lower Lonsdale area of the now thriving city of North Vancouver, which began along the waterfront, radiating out from the ferry terminus at the foot of Lonsdale Avenue. Between 1900 and 1912, Lower Lonsdale developed into a thriving commercial area, offering a full range of goods and services. In 1977 the Sea Bus opened, returning passenger service to Lower Lonsdale, and rejuvenating interest in the area. The Lonsdale Quay Market and other major developments soon followed.

    • Skiing / Snowboarding

    Whether you choose to be airborne on a snowboard, or to keep both feet firmly on the ground in snowshoes or cross-country skis, you'll find the right mountain at one of the 3 ski facilities on Vancouver's North Shore: Mount Seymour, Grouse Mountain and Cypress Mountain.

    • Hiking

    If you enjoy hiking to viewpoints, there is a wealth of moderate hiking trails in Mount Seymour Provincial Park, near Deep Cove in North Vancouver. Use extreme caution when exploring its open summit, especially in the region around Mount Bishop, which, at 1508 metres (4,947 feet), is the tallest peak in the park. Weather conditions change quickly during storm season, and the route between peaks can become obscured.

    • Canoeing / Kayaking

    Deep Cove is one of two jumping-off points for exploring Indian Arm by canoe or kayak, a steep-sided, 30-kilometre fjord that branches north from Burrard Inlet just east of the Second Narrows Bridge. You can explore the south end of Indian Arm, including the islands that comprise Indian Arm Provincial Marine Park, in the course of a day, or set out on an extended two- to four-day circumnavigation of the coastal inlet.

    Nearby Communities

    Contact Information

    Vancouver's North Shore Tourism
    Web: www.vancouversnorthshore.com



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    Background Photo Credit: Destination British Columbia

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