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Discovering Vancouver in Winter with Kids

Vancouver – where the mountains meet the sea. This truly is the best description of Vancouver. I can remember when I first visited Vancouver, I was 24 years old. I loved it, so naturally, I wanted to take my family there. Clint immediately said we need to go during the winter so we could ski at Whistler. He is forever trying to mark off another ski resort on his life’s bucket list. Since it was just a two-hour drive away we added skiing to this trip. We visited Vancouver over the Christmas break. The weather was cold and rainy most days but we went out and had lots of fun anyway. We stayed with my uncle and his family just outside of Vancouver so there was some really nice family time.

Ainsley, rabbit, and Peace Bear on our way to Vancouver

Ainsley had Peace Bear on this trip. Her classroom bear that was part of a writing assignment. Write about what you did with the bear every day. It certainly made the writing assignment fun for her since she got to write about our trip. Can you find peace bear in all the photos?

Stanley Park in Vancouver

Coast Salish Totem Portal at Brockton Point, Stanley Park with North Vancouver skyline in the background

This Coast Salish red cedar Totem Portal is one of 3 at the entrances to Brockton Point Visitors Center. The Coast Salish people still thrive here today and these portals show their history in the area. They were installed in 2008.

Rose Cole Yelton Memory Pole of the Squamish Nation

This pole has a Thunderbird on top, a human face between bird’s wings, a Raven, a Wolf, a Killer Whale being held by the Wolf, and at the bottom a woman holding “bones” for a traditional lahal bone game. The plaque at this pole reads:

The Plaque Reads:

“Raised in 2009, this pole was created to honor Rose Cole Yelton, her family and all those who lived in Stanley Park. This pole is erected in front of the house site where the Cole family lived until 1935. Until the time of her passing in 2002, Rose was the last surviving resident of the Brockton Community.

This is a replica of the Skedans Mortuary Pole. The original is in Haida Gwaii on Graham Island close to the Canadian Alaskan board.

Totem Poles at Brockton Park

Stanley Park is beautiful, even in the rain. The totem poles in Brockton Park are a wonder. The blue sign with the red circle on it tells you you’ve gone close enough. I understand but there was this feeling of wanting to hug a pole. I guess that is what the first one at the entrance is for. lol. They are amazing. There are 9 in total. These 8 plus the mortuary pole. Each of them unique in their own way and represents the stories and legends of several First Nations Tribes from British Columbia’s West Coast.

Oscar Maltipi pole

This pole has a Thunderbird on top and a Killer Whale below.

The Plaque Reads:

First Nations Origin stories tell of the animals and supernatural beings who helped found family lineages. These stories are celebrated in songs, dances, and totem pole carvings. Kwakwaka’wakw artist Oscar Maltipi carved this pole in 1968. Originally from Turnour Island, Maltipi trained at the Royal B.C. Museum under artist and teacher, Henry Hunt.”

Beaver Crest Pole

The Plaque Reads:

“Carved in 1987 by Nisga’a artist Norman Tait along with his son Isaac, brother Robert, and nephew Ron Telek. The pole depicts how the Tait family’s Eagle clan adopted the beaver as their crest and how the eagle and raven met and shared the sky”

Once five brothers went to hunt beaver skins for a feast. The youngest brother helped the beavers escape and followed them to their lodge. He watched as they took off their beaver cloaks to reveal human forms and tell of the death and destruction of their chief. He watched their songs and dances, then returned home to report what he had seen. The brother performed the dances of the beaver people at a feast and raised a pole called Big Beaver. It was at this time that the Eagle Chief met and shared the skies with the Raven, which is another story.”

Kakaso’Las Pole

This totem pole has a Raven at the bottom, Dzunukwa a giantess, Bak’was “wildman of the woods”, Frog, Man, Sea-bear holding a Killer-Whale, and Thunderbird.

The Plaque Reads:

“Kwakwaka’wakw carver Ellen Neel and her Uncle Mungo Martin were among the first artists to achieve wide recognition for their totem poles commissioned by museums, cities and art collectors. Neel was also the first woman to become a Northwest Coast carver. This pole was completed in 1955 for Woodward’s department store. In memory of Neel’s pioneering role in reaching an international audience through her art, the University of British Columbia Museum of Anthropology has loaned this pole to Stanley Park.”

Sky Chief Pole

This pole has a Sky chief holding moon, a Kingfisher, a Thunderbird, a Whale, a Lighting-snake, a Wolf, a Man of Knowledge holding Topati at the bottom.

The Plaque Reads:

“Our art comes from spirituality. Even after the onslaught of another culture, our spirituality and our beliefs are alive. In this pole we wanted to acknowledge the arts and ceremonies of our grandparents’ generation and show that the arts are here today, just as we are here — alive and intact” Tim Paul

Hesquiat artist Tim Paul and Ditidaht artist Art Thompson carved this pole in 1988 to represent important characters in Nuu-chah-nulth history.

The photo caption says Welcome figure at Ohiaht village, 1911. Although totem poles are well known, many kinds of wood sculptures are carved by Northwest Coast First Nations.

Thunderbird House Post

This pole is a Thunderbird on top with a Grizzle Bear holding a human below.

The Plaque Reads:

“Carved House Posts are used in traditional First Nations cedar houses to support the huge roof beams. This pole is a replica of a house post carved by Kwakwaka’wakw artist Charlie James in the early 1900s. Tony Hunt carved this replica in 1987 to replace the older pole now in the Vancouver Museum.

James experimented with colors and techniques creating a bold new style that has influenced generations of artists including his step-son Mungo Martin and grand-daughter Ellen Neel. A pole by Ellen Neel stands to the left.

The photo caption says House posts at the Alert Bay Big House Gukwdzi. Sea Kingdom dancers at a 1983 potlatch.


This pole has a Quolous: legendary bird at the top, a Red Cedar-bark man with a canoe, Sisiyutl: double-headed serpent, a Siwidi, a Killer Whale, a Raven A Grizzle Bear over the man’s head and Dzunukwa: the giantess at the bottom.

The Plaque Reads:

GA’AKSTALAS, carved by Wayne Alfred and Beau Dick in 1991, is based on a design by Russel Smith. The pole depicts many important figures inKwakwasa’wakw culture. Red Cedar-bark Man is an ancestor who survived the great flood and gave the people the first canoe. The hero Siwidi, shown riding a Killer Whale, was taken under the sea to the home of the sea-world’s chief and brought back the right to use all of the sea-kingdom masks. The giantess dzunukwa sits at the base of the pole, symbolizing her central role in bringing magic and wealth to her people.

“We wanted this pole to be a beacon of strength for our young people and show respect for our elders. It is to all our people who have made contributions to our culture.” Beau Dick, Ga’akstalas

Chief Skedans Mortuary Pole

This pole has the moon: a chief’s crest, a Mountain Goat, a Grizzle Bear and a Whale at the bottom.

The Plaque Reads:

“An older version of this pole was raised in the Haida village of Skidgate about 1870. I honours the Raven Chief of Skedans and depicts the chief’s hereditary crests. The two tiny figures in the bear’s ears are the chief’s daughter and son-in-law who erected the pole and gave a potlatch for the chief’s memorial. The rectangle board at the top of the original pole covered a cavity that held the chief’s remains. Haida artist Bill Reid with assistant Werner True carved this new pole in 1964. Don Yeomans recarved the top moon face in 1998.

The Lighthouse

We also took a nice albeit cold walk along the seawall and out to the lighthouse. I think I’m drawn to lighthouses. Must be part of the ‘loving the ocean’ as I do. We had some nice views of Vancouver on our walk.

Being able to walk under the lighthouse was a treat
A very nice walk along the seawall

Lion’s Gate Bridge to North Vancouver

Lion’s Gate Bridge to North Vancouver

You’ll need to cross Lion’s Gate Bridge to get to ‘North Vancouver’ where you can go visit the Capilano Suspension Bridge. I walked across this when I was 24 but with the rain, we enjoyed on this day we opted to leave it for another trip. However, here is a great photo of the bridge.

Capilano Suspension Bridge – photo by Teles

Vancouver Science World

We have a membership to our local children’s museum. One of the perks of membership is reduced or free entry to other museums. One of the best presents my kids ever received for Christmas was the museum membership. We use it everywhere we go. It’s saved us hundreds of dollars on entrance fees. We were able to get into the Vancouver Science World for FREE! Yes, I said FREE! The girls had a great time. There are so many different rooms and exhibits to participate in. I would highly recommend checking it out.

Science World
Child’s play – apparently since the Science World employee wasn’t able to keep the plate balanced.
Evelyn tried her hand at climbing this Freedom Climber

Another post you may like: The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade – 5 tips

Clint even got into the mix and built this very tall tower. He was in love with the KEVA blocks

Peace Arch Park

We stopped by Peace Arch Park on the Canadian American border. It was a very bright and sunny day and the girls really enjoyed climbing a few trees and seeing the border between the countries. If you’ve never driven across a countries board, you should. It’s a fun experience to have just make sure you have your passports with you. Border guards always seem to enjoy teasing kids. Mine loved the questions they were asked.

Peace Arch Park
At the Canadian American border
In the trees

White Rock Pier

Another great place to visit is White Rock Pier. We visited on New Years Day so we were there for the Polar Bear Plunge. Now I love the ocean but swimming in it on New Years Day when the temperature is in the 40’s, I’ll pass. However, I was in the minority in my thinking. It was a really nice time walking up and down the pier especially with all the mountains in the background.

Look at all the people on the shore
Paddleboarder in the foreground and the mountain in the background. Really nice view.

Skiing at Whistler Mountain

We rounded out our trip with some time on the slopes. Whistler Mountain is only two hours north of Vancouver and a beautiful drive. We stayed in one of the condos at the base of the mountain which made it super easy to ski there. Ski in, ski out just as Clint likes it. The unit was a small apartment with a full kitchen so we were right at home. The skiing was wonderful. Amazing powder and sunny skies with decent temperatures. We couldn’t have asked for better weather.

From the parking lot
loving the view
a beautiful day of skiing
That’s Evelyn on the left of this picture. Loving the snow.

Pin for later

It was a wonderful trip for our family to Vancouver Canada. Have you been? What did you enjoy the most? If not I hope we’ve inspired you to go.

This Post Has 36 Comments

  1. Brianna

    This looks like so much fun! I’m loving the pictures of the totem poles!

    1. Leeanne

      Stanley Park is wonderful. The totem poles are amazing. They also have a great gift shop near the totem poles with some unique things.

  2. Pam

    So much to do! I would love to visit Vancouver but haven’t made it yet. Looks like a fabulous place to check out.

    1. Leeanne

      It really is fabulous. We didn’t make it on this trip but Vancouver Island is another wonderful place to visit.

  3. Tara Hallie

    Vancouver is high on our travel list and we have 3 young boys…you’ve given me lots of great information on what to do with kids! Pinning for later!

    1. Leeanne

      I’m sure they will love it. If you don’t already have a membership to your local children’s museum ask for it as a family gift for the holidays and use it when you travel. The Science World in Vancouver is wonderful and we got in for FREE because we were members of our local children’s museum.

  4. Lori Nielsen

    Interesting Totem Poles! Not something you find where I live. The ocean looks cold, but beautiful, and I love sunny days for skiing!

    1. Leeanne

      Well, it is the northwest so some rainy and colds days are expected in winter. However, we got out anyway. When the sun shines though, it is wonderful.

  5. Missy

    We have been to Vancouver Island and loved the area. The Capilano Suspension Bridge looks awesome. We like to visit bridges.

    1. Leeanne

      I visited Vancouver Island when I was in my 20’s and it was lovely. The Capilano Suspension bridge is, well scary. Since it’s a suspension bridge it bounces a bit as people walk on it. The gorge under the bridge is spectacular but also far down. I went across when I visited in my 20’s.

  6. Lisa Manderino

    I have heard Vancouver is a really cool place. I would love to go!

    1. Leeanne

      I’m sure you and your family would love it.

  7. kmf

    I’ve never been to Vancouver but it’s on my list…never thought to visit in the winter but now maybe I will.

    1. Leeanne

      The weather really wasn’t bad. We did have a few rainy days but we also had some wonderfully sunny and beautiful days too plus it wasn’t as raw as it can be here in the northeast.

  8. Hera

    Only been to Vancouver in the Summertime. I loved jogging passed those totem poles. I can see the views are still stunning in the Winter.

    1. Leeanne

      I’ve been in both the summer and winter and that view just doesn’t get old. It’s just stunning.

  9. Julie Gazdecki

    My youngest wants to go to Vancouver so badly!! I’m sure we’ll go in summer, but still loving some of these ideas!!

    1. Leeanne

      Glad to help. I’m sure you will have an amazing time.

  10. Courtney

    Looks amazing! I love all the snow!

    1. Leeanne

      Whistler certainly had a great snow year and we benefitted from it for certain.

  11. jen

    well you sure made me miss it. I remember taking both my girls to those pools and the north shore and so much more. great city

    1. Leeanne

      It is a great city. I love it any time of year.

  12. Taci- Life Beyond Zebra

    This looks so fun! What a neat way to spend the day. The totems are so cool!

    1. Leeanne

      The totem poles are the best ever!

  13. Heather

    We were in Vancouver two summers ago and loved it. It is such a great city. Your photos of the totem poles brought me back to our day in Stanley Park. We also went to Grouse Mountain and had breakfast with the bears. I highly recommend that.

    1. Leeanne

      Great suggestion Heather. I will add it to our list for our next visit.

  14. Wendy Robinson

    Stanley Park and the aquarium are my favorite memories of going to Vancouver. I’d never seen black squirrels before more a Beluga Whale

    1. Leeanne

      What a great memory. I love talking about travel memories and this one sounds like you loved this city which is awesome.

  15. Jay Hall

    Vancouver is a great spot to visit. Down where the beach is and Cactus Club looks out onto the ocean almost seems unreal to me when I’m there as I’m from a land locked location. There’s some definite tips I’ll add into my next visit.

    1. Leeanne

      Glad to help. I understand about living in a place that is landlocked. I lived in Denver for a while.

    1. Leeanne

      It really is a great city, Jennifer.

  16. Trisha

    I remember driving through Vancouver when I was younger and thinking how beautiful it was. I can’t wait to visit again and take my children this time. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Leeanne

      I sure they will love it as much as you did as a kid.

  17. Clara

    While in alaska I became friends with a totem pole carving master. They are amazing pieces of art.

    1. Leeanne

      WOW!!! That must have been amazing to talk to someone who carves them. I would love to know where they start the story for each totem pole. So fascinating.

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