Each month, the Sip Advisor will alphabetically travel Canada, discovering the best each province has to offer in a variety of subjects. We will also featuring a drink the area is known for. Today, we are in British Columbia, where the Sip Advisor resides. Although we lack large egos (in this humble writer’s opinion), the province once called itself “The Best Place on Earth”. Let’s see what life is like on the Left Coast:
Nicknames: ‘Beautiful British Columbia’ is the slogan that appears on licence plates in the province after being adopted as an official motto in 1964. Another common catchphrase used here, particularly by the local tourism industry, is ‘Super, Natural, British Columbia’. No matter what moniker folks want to tag onto the place, I prefer to simply call it home.
Motto: “Splendor without diminishment” – Ooh la la, tres fancy!
Food: The Nanaimo Bar – a sweet treat consisting of layers of a crumb base, icing middle and chocolate top – was invented in Nanaimo in the 1950’s. The bar’s popularity grew when it was featured at Expo 86 and efforts have been made to see the Nanaimo Bar named ‘Canada’s Favourite Confection’. The dessert even got the stamp treatment in 2019, but I’d rather lick the real thing.
Drink: British Columbia has amazing craft beer, wine and distillery industries, making the Sip Advisor a very happy man. A nostalgic entry here is Clearly Canadian, which was founded in B.C. in 1987. The flavoured sparkling waters grew wildly popular quickly, being featured in movies and TV shows such as Jerry Maguire, Seinfeld, Friends, and Sex and the City.
Site to See: Having travelled a fair bit of the province, there’s really not many bad choices to explore. If I had to pick a favourite place, it would probably be Whistler, which provides an amazing escape in both winter and summer. Situated in the mountains, Whistler offers picturesque landscapes, while the has village a number of great dining and entertainment options.
Street: The Downtown Vancouver portion of Granville Street is lined with much of the city’s entertainment district and can be a very interesting place to traverse at night. The street was once illuminated with numerous neon light signs, reminiscent to Las Vegas, but many have been removed. Granville Street is the second most expensive property in Canadian Monopoly.
TV Show: While B.C. is sometimes referred to as Hollywood North, thanks to the film and TV industries that do so much shooting here, not many project are actually set in the province. The most enduring series was The Beachcombers, running for 19 seasons and 387 episodes. The Sip Family recently stayed in Gibsons, where the show was set, seeing the boat (Persephone) and café (Molly’s Reach) used in the show.
Movie: No movie takes place entirely in B.C., but a couple films have the majority of their plots occur in the province. Of these, I really enjoyed The Hunted, starring Tommy Lee Jones and Benicio del Toro. del Toro plays a former armed forces operative, while Jones, his former mentor, is tasked with tracking his student down. The movie mostly uses hand-to-hand combat fight scenes.
Book/Author: Environmental activist David Suzuki was born in Vancouver in 1936. He has authored 52 books, including 19 for children, mostly on scientific topics. Suzuki is also known for his long-running TV series The Nature of Things and the David Suzuki Foundation, which is dedicated “to find ways for society to live in balance with the natural world that does sustain us”.
Fictional Character: Robin Scherbatsky from How I Met Your Mother, is played by Vancouverite Cobie Smulders. She is a true Canadian girl, best shown through her love of hockey and the Vancouver Canucks. Mrs. Sip and I enjoyed How I Met Your Mother even more with the touch of Canadiana and our hometown being involved. I’ll even forgive Scherbatsky for her time as teen pop idol Robin Sparkles.
Fictional City: Edgemont, a made up suburb of Vancouver, was the setting for a teen drama series of the same name. The show ran for five seasons and 70 episodes, centered on the young love and break ups of students at McKinley High School. A couple cast members went on to more recognized projects, such as Kristin Kreuk (Lana Lang on Smallville) and Grace Park (Kono Kalakaua on Hawaii Five-0).
Actor/Actress: This is a tough category. First, there’s universally-beloved movie star Ryan Reynolds. Then, there’s stoner comedy icon Seth Rogen. And, who could forget the legendary Michael J. Fox. A sentimental nod also has to go to Raymond Burr for his iconic role as lawyer Perry Mason. All are from Vancouver or its surrounding suburbs and have represented the province quite well.
Song: British Columbia is certainly not the easiest name to turn into lyrics, but on New Year’s Eve 1965, Jewel of the West (Beautiful B.C.) was made the official theme song of the province. It was composed by musician Machelle Shapira. Another song worthy of mention is Home for a Rest by Spirit of the West. That home the North Vancouver-based band is longing for is B.C.
Band/Musician: Bryan Adams is one of the most successful musicians of all-time, selling close to 100 million records and singles worldwide. He is best known for songs such as (Everything I Do) I Do It for You, Summer of ’69 and Heaven. Also deserving of mention is crooner Michael Bublé, who has had a number of chart-topping songs and albums, to go along with four Grammy Awards.
People: Terry Fox is a national hero. With one leg amputated due to cancer, Fox was only 21 when he embarked on a cross-country trek to raise awareness about the disease. Sadly, Fox didn’t achieve his goal of going coast-to-coast, as his deteriorating health forced him off the road. His legacy exists to this day thanks to all he inspired with his courage. Terry Fox Runs are done annually around the world, raising an estimated $800 million for cancer research.
Animal: The Great Bear Rainforest is home to the rare Kermode Bear (aka Spirit Bear), which is recognized as B.C.’s Provincial Animal. The bear was named after Frank Kermode, who helped discover the animal. Spotting a Spirit Bear is said to bring good luck. One bear, nicknamed Clover, is believed to be the first in captivity, after the cub was abandoned and not suitable for release into the wild.
Invention: In 1911, the modern Egg Carton was invented by Joseph Coyle, a newspaper editor and publisher in Smithers. Coyle developed the device to help settle a disagreement between a farmer and hotel owner over deliveries often resulting in numerous broken eggs. Eggs were previously transported in baskets. Coyle turned the creation into a successful business venture.
Crime: B.C. has a sordid history, with criminals such as Robert Pickton and Clifford Olsen part of our unfortunate past. Pickton confessed to 49 murders, following the discovery of various remains on his family pig farm in 2002. Olsen, known as the Beast of British Columbia, killed 11 kids and teens in the early 1980’s. There’s also the Highway of Tears in Northern B.C., where at least 80 women have gone missing or been murdered from.
Sports Team: The Vancouver sports scene features three teams, the Vancouver Canucks (NHL), B.C. Lions (CFL) and Vancouver Whitecaps (MLS). From 1995 to 2001, there used to also be the Vancouver Grizzlies (NBA), but after six dreadful seasons, the franchise relocated to Memphis. Despite their short existence, the Grizzlies still have a cult following in the province and outside it.
Athlete: Two Burnaby-born icons fill this category. Hockey star Joe Sakic (commonly referred to as ‘Burnaby Joe’) and Christine Sinclair, perhaps the greatest female soccer player of all-time, both come from the Vancouver suburb. In Burnaby, a street has been named after Sakic, while Sinclair’s name is attached to a community centre located near Joe Sakic Way.
Famous Home: Because so much filming is done in B.C., many recognizable homes from TV and movies can be found. This includes Archie’s house from Riverdale, the home Happy Gilmore is trying to save for his grandma, and Jacob’s property from the Twilight franchise. For something a little more historical, there’s Craigdarroch Castle in Victoria. It was designated a National Historic Site in 1992.
Urban Legend: B.C. is home to some legendary mythical creatures, including the Sasquatch – was even used as one of the 2010 Olympics mascots, named Quatchi – and Ogopogo, a water monster said to inhabit Okanagan Lake. There have also been various sightings of mermaids, sometimes made along B.C. Ferry routes. It’s almost as if they want to be seen.
Museum: The Revelstoke Railway Museum is home to the Last Spike at Craigellachie, which completed the Canadian Pacific Railway’s cross-country expansion in 1885. This construction made the line the first transcontinental railway in Canada. The spike was driven into the ground by financier Donald Smith, then removed and turned into a souvenir for some of the wives of Craigellachie.
Firsts: Kim Campbell, born in Port Alberni, became the first female Prime Minister of Canada in 1993. Although her term only lasted 132 days (the third shortest in the country’s history), it was still a gender barrier-breaking moment. Canadian women’s magazine Chatelaine named Campbell its Woman of the Year for 1993. To date, she is the only Prime Minister to come from B.C.
Company: A family-favourite dining spot for the Sip Family is White Spot, famous for their comfort food. The company, founded almost 100 years ago in 1928, has branched out to offering their wares in fast food settings, with those locations known as Triple-O’s (named after the restaurant’s popular burger sauce). Mrs. Sip and I had part of our first-ever date at a White Spot, so I will always be fond of the chain.
Events: Two events put the province on the world stage: Expo 86 and the 2010 Olympics. Expo 86 marked only the second time a Canadian city hosted a World’s Fair, with the theme being “Transportation and Communication: World in Motion – World in Touch”. At the 2010 Olympics, Canada set a new record for gold medals at an Olympics, capped by winning the hockey tournament on Sidney Crosby’s ‘Golden Goal’.
Miscellaneous: Ladysmith’s own Pamela Anderson, recognized for her role on TV show Baywatch and appearances in Playboy Magazine, was actually famous from the day she was born. Born on July 1, 1967, the 100th anniversary of Canada’s official founding, Anderson was Canada’s Centennial Baby… at least from British Columbia. It’s like she was destined to be a star.
- 1.5 oz Gin
- 0.75 oz Sweet Vermouth
- 0.25 oz Benedictine
- Dashes of Orange Bitters
- Garnish with a Cucumber Slice
This drink was created in 1954 at the renowned Sylvia Hotel. Apparently, the recipe was lost until it was rediscovered by bartender and cocktail historian Steve Da Cruz in 2006. The beverage can now be found at various locations around Vancouver. I subbed my Jagermeister Spice for Benedictine, as I can’t justify buying a new bottle of something for a 0.25 oz serving.