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Take a peek at Canada’s indigenous cultures on a weekend escape to Vancouver

Take a peek at Canada’s indigenous cultures on a weekend escape to Vancouver
The Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia is home to a vast collection of ethnological objects and art made by the indigenous people of British Columbia. (Paul Boorstin)

Vancouver, Canada, teems with tourists in the summer, including many who come here to board Alaskan cruises. My husband and I visited during the off-season. Though the weather in February was chilly, the sun shimmered off the snow-capped peaks of the North Shore mountains, a dramatic backdrop for the city skyline. We strolled through historic Gastown, where artisanal coffee houses, hip restaurants and made-in-British Columbia boutiques line the cobblestone streets. The Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia was the high point of our stay. Its vast collection includes ethnographic objects from around the world, but we focused on those of the indigenous people of Canada’s western coast. It was a peek into the original culture of a region now known for its diverse population.The tab for two for two nights: hotel $300, food $250, transportation $75, museum admission $27, plus airfare and taxes.

(Lou Spirito For The Times)

THE BED

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The new Exchange Hotel is in a landmark 1929 building that was the original home of the Vancouver Stock Exchange. Our room, with a king-size bed, was compact but chic, and a continental breakfast and evening wine and cheese were included. The hotel was within easy walking distance of public transportation, the waterfront and Gastown.

THE FOOD

I was in foodie heaven at the Granville Island Public Market. The colorful pavilion houses more than 50 vendors that tantalize with offerings as diverse as wood-fired Montreal-style bagels, Asian noodle dishes and fresh local seafood. The maple-smoked Canadian salmon nuggets and Canadian smoked salmon candy were unexpectedly delectable. (Think sweet and salty salmon jerky.) We had dinner at the lively Miku Vancouver, where the food was as dazzling as the view overlooking Vancouver Harbour. We enjoyed traditional sushi as well as Miku’s signature Aburi sushi, which is seared with a blowtorch before it’s served.

THE FIND

The Museum of Anthropology is on the campus of the University of British Columbia, a 30-minute drive from downtown. It was worth the trek. We were drawn into the Great Hall, where the 50-foot-tall glassed-in space is filled with majestic wooden poles, figures, masks and ceremonial objects carved mostly in the 19th century by the indigenous people of the region. Contemporary indigenous sculptures include an especially astounding one by acclaimed Haida artist Bill Reid that depicts the mythic moment when the legendary Raven opened a clam shell and out scrambled the first humans.

THE LESSON LEARNED

What? No Uber or Lyft in Vancouver? We quickly got over it and were happy walking, riding the SkyTrain and summoning taxis by an eCab app. The ride-share behemoths are hoping to win government permission to set up shop here by the end of the year, but naysayers predict it will take longer than that.


Exchange Hotel Vancouver, 475 Howe St., Vancouver, Canada; (604) 563-4693. Wheelchair accessible.

Granville Island Public Market,1689 Johnston St., Vancouver, Canada; (604) 666-6655. Open 9 a.m.-7 p.m. daily. Wheelchair accessible.

Miku Vancouver, 200 Granville St., No. 70, Vancouver, Canada; (604) 568-3900. Wheelchair accessible.

Museum of Anthropology, University of British Columbia, 6393 N.W. Marine Drive, Vancouver, Canada; (604) 827-5932. Wheelchair accessible.

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