I was in Vancouver for about ten days, before and after the 2011 TBEX Travel Bloggers Conference, a few weeks ago. It was my first time in British Colombia and I have to say, I can away quite impressed. Vancouver is pretty expensive for my Third World tastes these days, but it is a wonderfully diverse city, perched on a series of points overlooking a pretty spectacular body of water surrounded by snow-capped mountains.
One of the reasons I stayed a few extra days was that the finals for the NHL hockey league (the Stanley Cup) were being played while we were there, between the Vancouver Canucks and the Boston Bruins. I’m not a huge hockey fan, but the chance to see the local fans here cheer their team on, in their national sport, was too good to pass up.
Odd side note: during the games, one of the Canadian banks had a television ad on it that said something like, “it’s been 18 years since Canada had the Cup — bring it back to Canada.” I thought that couldn’t possibly be true. Has it really been that long since a Canadian team won it all? After all, this is the national sport of Canada. So, I looked it up. Amazingly, the last Canadian team to hoist the Stanley Cup was the Montreal Canadians in 1993.
Color me shocked.
So while I was going to say that Canada had something over the States, in their hockey skills and dominance… guess it is just yet another thing big brother does better than little brother. (And yes, I am completely kidding — love me some Canada and Canadians).
One thing that Canada does completely kick our American asses at is our respective national anthems, at least in my eyes. I am not a huge fan of the Star Spangled Banner — O’ Canada is so much better to my ears.
You can really belt it out with some passion, as these fans did before Game 7 at the bar where we watched the game (above video).
Before the game, I walked around the open air part of downtown where a large crowd was going to watch the game on a massive television set up slightly outside the stadium.
I really didn’t get that great of video from there, but at one point a few Boston Bruin fans walked through the crowd in their Bruin jerseys — brave group of folks.
As you are no doubt aware, the post game situation deteroriated into a horrible situation. Basically there was a small group of idiots that were planning on starting some riots — personally, I think no matter if the Canucks won or lost.
As it turned out, they lost, and a small bit of downtown was engulfed in some mayhem that you likely heard about.
The epicenter of the riots was actually on the street right outside the hostel I was staying at, on Granville Street. So, Jenny from Where is Jenny and I watched for a bit from her dorm room on the second floor of the hostel.
It was interesting to watch, until the police decided they were going to disperse the crowd. The method…. tear gas.
Although we were watching from behind closed windows on the second floor of the hostel, when the tear gas went off on the street right below us, it quickly billowed upwards and blew us away. The effect was immediate and all I can say is that I was incredibly thankful the window was closed. I don’t think I could have taken it if it wasn’t.
Just the short burst we got caused my eyes to immediately water up, my throat to constrict, as if it was full of cotton balls (cotton balls that also tasted horrible). It caused an immediate coughing fit and although we didn’t get it bad at all, I’ll be happy if that is the only time I ever get tear gassed in my life.
One of my good friends, Jeannie the Nomadic Chick, who is a Canadian and has been living in Vancouver, wrote a really lovely piece about the aftermath of the Vancouver riots here. Lorna of the Roamantics has a post about the Vancouver riots here, with some much, much better pictures than mine. And my brother-from-another-mother Gareth of Tourist2Townie has a post with some video of the Vancouver riots, since he was actually out there in it. Amazing stuff. Canadian Ayngelina of Bacon is Magic just posted her thoughts on Vancouver that night also.
One fun note from The Globe and Mail, which is the newspaper of the area, a couple days after the riots. There was a section of the paper where people could write in and try to get in touch with someone via the newspaper. I loved this one:
Wednesday, June 15, 8:30 p.m.. Georgia Street, near the post office. You: Female, 38 to 45 in an old-school blue Canucks jersey. You were posing for a photo in the front of a burning car with the backs of your hands tucked under your chin, and smiling in a totally cute way. Rhinestone -studded sunglasses on your forehead. Me: I was standing next to the guy who snapped the pic. Burrows jersey, shorts, baseball cap and beard. (My friends tell me I look like Turtle from, like, season two of Entourage). Glad to know there are still women in the city who aren’t all worried about straightening or whitening their teeth, are willing to let their roots show and who aren’t all paranoid about over-plucking their eyebrows. I hang at T-Barz. Let’s hook up, and make something good come of this riot.
Let’s hope that happened in the end.
to bad you lost
hahahaha amazing post in the Globe. Glad you didn’t get more tear gassed than that, too bad they didn’t win 🙁
Yea, would have been much cooler if they’d won, but from what I can gather from talking to locals there…. I might have gotten tear gassed anyway 😉
I saw a link to your site floating around on Twitter! A good read, and I am glad to see that most people recognize the unfortunate happenings in Vancouver as being the actions of a small group of rather unproductive people. I agree – the riots may well have happened either way. The first truck that was flipped had been brought down by the ‘gentleman’ who instigated it’s flipping. He then lit the truck on fire.
I felt the need to post my two cents about a few things though – I hope I don’t ruffle too many feathers!
Firstly, while it has been some time since the Cup came home to Canada, the reality is that some of the best Canadian talent play for teams within the United States. In fact, 21 out of 30 players on the Boston Bruins’ roster – the team that beat the Vancouver Canucks to Lord Stanley’s coveted prize, are Canadian. Boston’s Head Coach is Canadian. Their General Manager is Canadian too. There are actually only 4 American’s on the entire team. So while the cup may very well be sitting in Boston – it remains, held tightly, in little brother’s hands. The Canadian hockey fan in me couldn’t let that slide!
The second, and more important point that I feel the need to address, is the ‘I Saw You’ type ad you included at the end of your post. While I am certainly all for a romantic reunion – I’m not sure that I can agree with your well wishes towards the ‘totally cute’ girl who decided that a burning car during a riot was worth nothing more than a Facebook photo opportunity.
I’ll state now that I do not hold those who committed no crimes, but remained downtown during the riots in any way responsible for what happened that night in Vancouver. I do, however, have some questions to ask about their intelligence, their morals, and their ability to assess the seriousness of a very serious situation.
The biggest problem that the city faced that night was perhaps not the riot itself, but rather, the difficulty that the police faced in dispersing that ‘small group of idiots’ when 3000-4000 ‘innocent’ bystanders remained in Vancouver’s downtown core. I can accept that some responsibility falls on the city’s government and police force for inviting such a large crowd into the city without an adequate response and dispersal plan in place. But let’s not overlook the fact that some responsibility was on all of us – the real fans, the travelers caught off guard, the amateur photographers, the bloggers, the proud Vancouverites – to remove ourselves from such an obviously volatile situation. I said ‘us’ in the previous sentence because, yes, I was there. Right there. I saw the fights. I saw the first truck burning. And while I too had that curiosity burning in the deepest depths of my heart – that urge to ‘be there’, to see what would happen, to see how bad it might get – I knew better. I turned, and I walked away. I walked away easily. I stopped 2 blocks out for pizza. I sat in the park. And then I caught my bus. It was all rather easy and comfortable. You did the right thing as well, in being back at your hostel (and I am sorry to hear that the tear gas got to you) – but the strange and curious truth of the matter is that far too many people decided to stay and watch my beautiful city get set on fire.
Too many of those people also saw there riots as nothing more than a chance to get a cool picture to post online. A little snippet of proof that they had been there – been part of what will certainly go down in history as one of Vancouver’s darkest and most disappointing days. And even now, three weeks later – too many people continue to overlook this fact.
I am generally a pretty nice guy. I like people. I enjoy seeing people happy – and enjoy even more if I can help in the creation and dispersal of this happiness.
But to the girl who took a moment to pose for a photo in the front of a burning car with the backs of her hands tucked under her chin, with that totally cute smile, and those rhinestone-studded glasses on her forehead – I hope your friends and family recognized the photo in the newspaper. I hope that they judge you for your actions. I hope your employer finds out too – and questions your worth as an employee. And I hope, most of all, that the next time you see a burning car during a riot, you leave your camera in your purse and you go home.
And to the guy standing next to the guy who took the picture. I hope that you don’t find her. She’s probably not a great catch. She’ll probably break your heart. And when you are lying in a heap on the ground, cursing the heavens, wondering what you did to deserve such a dismal romantic fate, she’ll pull out her camera, tuck her hands under her chin, and with a totally cute smile on her face – snap another gem for her Facebook profile…
But then again, you do hang out at T-Barz (a Surrey based strip club, if you were wondering). With that in mind, the two of you might just make a perfect couple.
I’ll see you at the wedding…
I don’t think those of us that just happened to be there (and took photos and video) were remotely any sort of the problem — in fact, the Vancouver Police have been using the photos and videos to make arrests. https://mashable.com/2011/06/16/vancouver-riot-police/
I hope a bunch of the idiots that caused the riots are arrested and serve some time for their crimes, but to somehow imply that the rest of us there that weren’t participating have any sort of negative implication is a bit shortsighted in my eyes. In these days of modern communications and social media — citizen journalism can play a valuable role for good. If anything, just to document the reality of what is going on in the world (some of which isn’t good news, unfortunately).
Thanks for finding the blog. Hope you keep reading.
As an American hockey fanatic I would like to remind you that your most valuable player, Mr. Ryan Kesler is from Michigan and your two best players are from Sweden …. so don’t pat yourself on the back too hard. But as far as the rubberneckers, you are right.
thanks so much for the sweet mention michael! and love the approach you took here to telling the story. such a great time aside from a few arseholes making a temporary mess of a beautiful place, right? totally important not to forget the riot happened, but so happy to have great memories of hanging with all of you and enjoying such a gorgeous, friendly city as well! 🙂 p.s. agree with your “o canada” sentiment and i don’t feel a bit guilty since my folks are canadians 😉
That pic of you and Jenny just made it look like you were having a really, REALLY good time. 🙂
I’m glad Greg pointed out the stats on the number of Canadians on the Bruins team – that is pretty consistent for most of the league. We’ve got the talent, the US has the market to pull in the fans. So really, the cup will spend most of it’s time in the next year traveling around Canada so that the Bruin players can show it off to their hometown friends and families. 🙂
I want to see videos of drunk bloggers!
I love the addition of the completely random “missed connections” ad in the newspaper. I hope that worked out too.
Do they still do the missed connections on Craigslist? Maybe I should be checking the Buenos Aires missed connections.
I’d love to hear the follow-up, if any, on that missed connections thing. LOL.
Michael, I’m from BC & although Vancouver is not one of my favorite cities (even in Canada) it’s a place that is very close to home. I grew up as a Blackhawks fan (brainwashed – a family tradition) and thoroughly despise the Canucks having been ridiculed for cheering for the ‘away’ team. I had a lot of friends who would have loved to see the Canucks finally win. They’ve yet to win a cup as a franchise. I can totally relate to the point you made about sticking around for the local atmosphere – even though it’s not a sport you follow seriously. I was in Buenos Aires in 2010 when the world cup was taking place. I’m not much of a soccer fan myself but I couldn’t help but cheer on Argentina with the locals when games were held on several massive screens at a main plaza not far from my hostel. The crowd lived and died with each goal scored for and against – a travel memory I’ll never forget.
a fellow Blackhawks fan!! I was born in Chicago and that is my hockey team also. I’d love to actually go see some playoff hockey sometime 🙂
As an American hockey fanatic, I am glad you you got to see a small bit of why hockey has some of the most passionate fans on the planet … and it isn’t just Canadians. I totally agree with you about the anthem, I feel like “O’Canada” is more like “America the Beautiful”, which i think would be a better anthem for us.
I really love hockey in person. On TV, not so much. You can’t really get the feel well enough that way, I don’t think.
Great write up. Vancouver is a great city and has responded well post riot. As an American hockey fan living in Taiwan, I was surprised to see all the hockey coverage in Asia during the playoffs. Hockey is gaining in popularity all over.
LOL! I watched from Calgary – hope you were behaved! 😉
Ah… it could have been such a different night!! Stupid Bruins