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What to See Vancouver

New Views: Lawren Harris

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

"Island, MacCallum Lake," by Lawren Harris. (Photo: Trevor Mills/Vancouver Art Gallery)

“Island, MacCallum Lake,” by Lawren Harris. (Photo: Trevor Mills/Vancouver Art Gallery)

Sometimes, change is good. It’s certainly true of celebrated painter Lawren Harris, whose 60-year career charted a course from vibrant landscapes to eccentric abstracts. Trace his artistic evolution at the Vancouver Art Gallery’s Lawren Harris: Canadian Visionary (to May 4). Striking works by the Group of Seven member, such as “Island, MacCallum Lake” (pictured), focus on the spirituality of the place rather than the details—a stunning example of his journey into abstraction.

Run for It

By SHERI RADFORD

It’s hard not to be a runner in a city with routes as spectacular as the seawall and Stanley Park. Whether you’re a newbie jogger or an Olympic-level sprinter, Vancouver has much to offer

The Vancouver Sun Run draws big crowds. (Photo: ©MajaPhoto/Istockphoto.com)

The Vancouver Sun Run draws big crowds. (Photo: ©MajaPhoto/Istockphoto.com)

RACE
Canada’s largest 10K road race, the Vancouver Sun Run (pictured; Apr. 27) attracts more than 48,000 walkers, joggers, runners and wheelchair athletes. The route showcases breathtaking views of Stanley Park, English Bay, False Creek and, off in the distance, snow-capped mountains. A longer race that also makes full use of the scenery is the BMO Vancouver Marathon (May 4), which Forbes magazine recently named one of the world’s top 10 marathons worth travelling for. Of particular note? An abundance of both on-course entertainment and spectacular shoreline views. Those not ready to go the full distance can choose a more manageable half marathon or 8K instead.

Lightweight clothing by local company Lululemon keeps its wearer cool and dry

Lightweight clothing by local company Lululemon keeps its wearer cool and dry

WEAR
Running on the wet West Coast requires adaptable clothes that dry quickly. Local company Lululemon (pictured) makes a range of lightweight wicking clothing with anti-stink panels; many pieces include reflectors, thumbholes and zip pockets. The GT technical sports collection from New Zealand’s Icebreaker includes ultra-lightweight styles made from fine merino wool, ideal for warm-weather exercise.

Runners on Vancouver's spectacular seawall. (Photo: Bob Young/Vancouver, Coast & Mountains Tourism)

Runners on Vancouver’s spectacular seawall. (Photo: Bob Young/Vancouver, Coast & Mountains Tourism)

RUN
Figuring out the best routes in a new city can be challenging. Both Lululemon and The Running Room offer free running sessions every week, so you can learn where to go and make new friends at the same time.

Afraid of coming undone? Try Lock Laces

Afraid of coming undone? Try Lock Laces

LOCK
Want to turn your favourite running shoes into slip-ons? Replace your shoelaces with a set of stretchy Lock Laces from Nathan, and you’ll never again have to deal with laces coming untied mid-race. At New Balance.

What Makes Olga Run by Bruce Gierson

What Makes Olga Run by Bruce Gierson

READ
Don’t dismiss Olga Kotelko as a little old lady. At 95, the spry Vancouverite still regularly competes in 11 track-and-field events, including sprinting, long jump, shot put and javelin—and she holds more than two dozen world records, despite not starting training until age 77. Fellow Vancouver resident Bruce Grierson became so fascinated with the retired schoolteacher that he wrote What Makes Olga Run? (Random House; $29.95). Following Kotelko to track meets and research facilities over several years, the book tries to unlock the secrets to living a long and healthy life. If Kotelko’s example inspires you to get active, pick up a copy of Ben Kaplan’s Feet, Don’t Fail Me Now: The Rogue’s Guide to Running the Marathon (Greystone Books; $19.95), which outlines a week-by-week program to go from couch potato to marathon competitor in one year. It also features heart-pumping exercise-music recommendations from 29 artists as varied as will.i.am, Marilyn Manson, Dolly Parton and yet another Vancouverite, Michael Bublé. At local bookstores.

UPCOMING RACES & RUNS
Apr. 27
Vancouver Sun Run
May 4 BMO Vancouver Marathon
Jun. 7 Whistler Half Marathon
Jun. 22 Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon & 5K
Jul. 5 The Underwear Affair
Aug. 23 SeaWheeze Half Marathon
Sep. 14 Terry Fox Run
Oct. 5 CIBC Run for the Cure
Oct. 26 Rock ’n’ Roll Oasis Vancouver Half Marathon and Cunningham Seawall 10K
Nov. 16 New Balance Fall Classic

Sets and the City

By SHERI RADFORD

Rachel Nichols (Kiera) in action on the Continuum set

Rachel Nichols (Kiera) in action on the Continuum set

Vancouver excels at portraying other places: Seattle, New York, Chicago and more in movies ranging from Juno and Mission Impossible 4 to Superman: Man of Steel and most of The Twilight Saga series. But rarely can it throw off its fake American mailboxes and license plates, stop hiding its glorious mountains, and just be itself.

When Simon Barry and Pat Williams started developing their time-travel TV series Continuum, they expected someone would make them change the setting to “Unnamed North American City”—or, at the very least, Toronto. Barry says, “Pat and I worked as cameramen for years on movies that were trying to hide Vancouver. A lot of effort and energy went into that.” He adds, “We live here and we love the city.” As time passed and no one raised objections, eventually Barry began to write the city into the series mythology, noting that the plethora of fresh water and hi-tech companies here, coupled with the low population density, make it the ideal city of the future. Barry films the series in the colder, rainier months of the year, so the little free time he does get is in the summer. “Vancouver is probably the best place in the world to be in the spring and summer and fall,” he says. “Winter is not, unless you’re a skier, and then it’s fantastic.”

The Continuum actors have also grown to appreciate Vancouver. Rachel Nichols, an American, had never been here before landing the starring role of time-travelling law-enforcement agent Kiera, but she fell in love with both the location and the Vancouverite who is now her fiancé. “I’ve applied for permanent resident status,” she says. “I’m really setting up shop in Vancouver.” She praises almost all of the outdoor activities, from biking in Stanley Park to skiing in Whistler, with one notable exception: the Grouse Grind. “I did it once,” she says with a laugh. “I’m in shape. I enjoy working out. But that is an hour and 15 minutes of hell!” Other things she praises about Vancouver? Dining at Yaletown’s Blue Water Cafe, shopping at Holt Renfrew and watching the Vancouver Canucks play: “I’d never really watched hockey until I came to Canada, and I started watching Canucks games, and I thought, my god, this game is fantastic.” She’s even managed to turn her Boston Bruins–loving father into a Canucks fan.

Actors Victor Webster (Carlos) and Rachel Nichols (Kiera) filming Continuum in front of CBC Vancouver

Actors Victor Webster (Carlos) and Rachel Nichols (Kiera) filming Continuum ouside of CBC Vancouver

Fellow actor Erik Knudsen, who plays the reclusive computer genius Alec, hails from Toronto but is smitten with his new home: “Vancouver is a beautiful city. Great food. People are smart. Everyone is health-conscious,” he says. “Eventually I want to move to Vancouver. It’s my favourite city now.” He especially loves getting outdoors: hiking, fishing on Rice Lake, snowshoeing on Cypress Mountain and Mount Seymour, and visiting Whistler. He also raves about the restaurants, especially Romer’s Burger Bar, Crave India and Earls.

Ryan Robbins, who plays the new and mysterious John Doe character, was born in nearby Victoria and has nothing but praise for Vancouver: “We don’t have to play the humility card anymore. We’re a kick-ass city. Why should we think that no one’s going to watch a show because it’s set in Vancouver?” After living all around the world, in places as far flung as New York, Los Angeles and Southeast Asia—and even travelling around Australia for a while, working as a circus performer—his heart still belongs to Vancouver, especially the foodie scene. His top spots include hole-in-the-wall sushi places such as Shizenya and java-aficionado favourites such as the Greenhorn Espresso Bar, with its Moja coffee and enticing nibbles that “take comfort food to a whole new level.” His loyalty to the city extends to its troubled hockey team: “Am I rooting for the Canucks? Hell, yes! I am a Canucks lifer. I will root for that team until the day I die, despite how bad they are.”

The city has clearly won the hearts of the show’s actors, and Continuum viewers in 133 countries seem to agree: Vancouver is ready for its time in the spotlight.

Season three of Continuum began airing last month. Visit www.showcase.ca/continuum for more info.

Sea Up Close

By SHERI RADFORD

Get up close and personal at the Vancouver Aquarium. (Photo: Sheri Radford)

Get up close and personal at the Vancouver Aquarium. (Photo: Sheri Radford)

Budding biologists, this one’s for you: until Apr. 30 at the Vancouver Aquarium, visitors can experience the facility’s 50,000 aquatic creatures like never before. Vancouver Aquarium Up Close offers a host of unique adventures, including the chance to step into the role of a marine mammal trainer, go behind the scenes to the jellyfish area or the shark penthouse, and visit the Wet Lab, with its more than 6,000 invertebrates, including crabs, sea urchins and sea cucumbers. It’s kind of like school, but way more fun.

Film Noir, Live

By SHERI RADFORD

Helen Lawrence is film noir like you've never seen it before. (Photo: David Cooper)

Helen Lawrence is film noir like you’ve never seen it before. (Photo: David Cooper)

To April 13

Equal parts theatre, film and visual art, Helen Lawrence uses computer-generated sets as the backdrop for a hard-boiled film noir tale set in 1948 Vancouver. Bring your favourite femme fatale—or hardworking private detective—to this world premiere. At the Stanley.

A Bear of a Nap

By SHERI RADFORD

Sleepy, but ready for spring. (Photo: Grouse Mountain)

Sleepy, but ready for spring. (Photo: Grouse Mountain)

In Metro Vancouver, winter hasn’t truly ended until Grinder and Coola emerge from hibernation. These two grizzly bears, who aren’t related but who were each orphaned and rescued in 2001, live at the 2-hectare (5-acre) Refuge for Endangered Wildlife on Grouse Mountain. Every autumn, after steadily gaining weight all summer, the two bear buddies climb into their den to begin several months of snoozing. They usually reappear in April, significantly slimmer but ready to frolic in the snow and sunshine, with easygoing Coola tending to follow high-spirited Grinder’s lead. If you can’t squeeze in a visit to Grouse—or if you miss the bears after returning home—you can watch all their ursine antics via webcam.

Cherry Blossom Season

By SHERI RADFORD

Cherry blossoms by the water. (Photo: Tom Ryan/Destination BC)

Cherry blossoms by the water. (Photo: Tom Ryan/Destination BC)

What do you get when you bring together five of Vancouver’s top Japanese chefs for an evening of extraordinary Japanese cuisine? Sakura Night, which kicks off the eighth annual Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival (Apr. 3 to 28). This enticing evening takes place at Tojo’s, and all money raised goes to support the festival—the only one of its kind in Canada.

Bright Lights: 30 Years of TED

By RACHAELA VAN BOREK

Abha Dawesar, a past TED presenter. (Photo: James Duncan Davidson)

Abha Dawesar, a past TED presenter. (Photo: James Duncan Davidson)

It’s official. After 30 years of spreading worthy ideas, the monumentally popular Technology, Entertainment and Design Conference known as TED is leaving its California base and coming to Vancouver. The main event is being hosted at the city’s exceptionally sustainable convention centre from Mar. 17 to 21, with a live simulcast feeding to Whistler’s TEDActive Conference. The five-day retreat themed “The Next Chapter” is expected to bring thousands of ingenious thinkers to the downtown core. Ticket or no ticket, visitors can expect some compelling seaside conversation.

Absolutely Abstract: Elissa Cristall Gallery

By MICHAEL LEUNG

"Transparent" by James Wyper

“Transparent” by James Wyper

To March 22

Tired of photorealistic scenic paintings? Elissa Cristall Gallery’s Landscape into Abstraction exhibit offers the perfect alternative. Artists from the West Coast and the rest of Canada weave colours and shapes together to form concealed yet visually arresting landscape paintings, such as James Wyper’s “Transparent” (pictured). The question “what do you see” has never been more relevant.

Vancouver International Dance Festival

By SHERI RADFORD

China’s Guangdong Modern Dance Company. (Photo: Guilherme Rafols)

China’s Guangdong Modern Dance Company. (Photo: Guilherme Rafols)

Even (perhaps especially) those with two left feet can appreciate the skill and grace of the performers in the Vancouver International Dance Festival (Mar. 7 to 29). This annual fest showcases dancers from both around the world and around the block, including China’s Guangdong Modern Dance Company (pictured) and Germany’s Yui Kawaguchi and Aki Takase. Dance on!

Outdoor Adventures

By SHERI RADFORD

The cliché is, indeed, true: you can snowboard, golf and sail all on the same day in Vancouver—plus admire the cherry blossoms

A picture-perfect day at on Grouse Mountain. (Photo: KK Law)

A picture-perfect day at on Grouse Mountain. (Photo: KK Law)

Spring snowboarding and skiing at Grouse Mountain, a 15-minute drive from downtown Vancouver, offer spectacular views of the city and ocean.

Wind and waves make for an exhilarating day on the waters of English Bay. (Photo: Kevin Arnold/Destination BC)

Wind and waves make for an exhilarating day on the waters of English Bay. (Photo: Kevin Arnold/Destination BC)

Landlubbers and salty dogs alike enjoy sailing in the picturesque waters around Vancouver

The beautiful cherry blossoms signal the beginning of spring. (Photo: iStock/Maxvis)

Beautiful cherry blossoms signal the beginning of spring. (Photo: iStock/Maxvis)

Every spring, the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival celebrates the thousands of flowering cherry trees on city streets.

A golfer attempts a birdie on the 14th hole at Furry Creek. (Photo: KK Law)

A golfer attempts a birdie on the 14th hole at Furry Creek. (Photo: KK Law)

Fore! It doesn’t get any more relaxing than 18 holes at Furry Creek Golf and Country Club, a half-hour drive from Vancouver.

Driving Miss Daisy

By SHERI RADFORD

(Photo: David Cooper).

The Pulitzer Prize–winning play makes its way to the Granville Island Stage. (Photo: David Cooper).

In the American South of the 1950s and ’60s, what do a wealthy Jewish widow and an illiterate black chauffeur have in common? More than you might imagine. Alfred Uhry’s Pulitzer Prize–winning play, which he adapted into an Oscar-winning film of the same name, explores racism and prejudice, as Miss Daisy and her driver Hoke build an unlikely but ultimately long-lasting friendship. At the Granville Island Stage to Mar. 15.