Magazine article The Spectator

Notes On. British Columbia

Magazine article The Spectator

Notes On. British Columbia

Article excerpt

When people hear I'm from rural British Columbia, I know what their reaction will be: rhapsodic. 'BC' is their favourite place on earth -- they had a life-changing encounter with nature there, and only their marriage/job/children stopped them dropping everything and moving there for ever. It may be one of the most beautiful corners of the Earth, but it's also the place I grew up. In other words: I've always found it kind of boring.

Marrying someone whose parents retired to Canada's west coast gave me more reason to keep going back, and being there with people who aren't blasé locals has given me a new perspective. I've gradually opened my eyes to what new visitors find obvious: the whole province is one scene from a nature documentary after another. Vancouver has excellent restaurants, galleries and shopping, but nature is the big show around here.

An easy trip for first-timers is to Grouse Mountain, a short drive from downtown Vancouver. The very fit can do as the locals do, and attempt a two-mile trail up the mountain's face, known as the 'Grouse grind'. It's the view that's the prize, though, so you should feel no guilt about taking a cable-car to the summit. From above the clouds you can see as far as the Gulf Islands over in the west. Once on top of the mountain, there are plenty of trails where you're likely to spot families of scurrying grouse, or to be observed from above by a handsome eagle perched on a Douglas fir.

After that, I'd suggest taking a leisurely ferry ride through the Georgia Straits to Vancouver Island. …

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