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The Swan Whisperer

“They give me such joy, they give me meaning to the day.”

This is a quote from Fiona Sinclair, an elderly Vancouver citizen, who, after a recent global news story, has been affectionately labeled as the ’swan whisperer.’

Fiona is the unofficial caretaker of the mute swans at Lost Lagoon. She has been monitoring the swans daily for the last eight years.

“[The swans],” explains Sinclair, “have been a tradition in the park for 125 years.” Queen Victoria gave them to the park in 1889.

Sinclair loves the attention the swans receive from locals and tourists, but is worried about the bread and other edible items offered up to her white-winged friends. “Bread is literally empty calories and it’s harmful, in that they think they have all that they need; they’ve got a full feeling, they don’t think they need anymore so they ignore the good food.”

The good food, supplied naturally by the lagoon is in great demand because of the high numbers of other local and migratory birds that use the Lagoon. To supplement the swans diet, the Parks Board creates a healthy mixture of food consisting of three equal parts of crack corn, protein pellets and wheat. They give this mixture to Sinclair to distribute. Each swan ingests about 7 pounds of this mixture each day.

Sinclair was also pivotal in the recovery process of a swan named Tristan. Tristan was left wounded by a knife attack he sustained from a man with mental issues. At the time of the incident, Tristan wouldn’t let any of the park staff near him to care for his injury. The only human contact he accepted was Sinclair’s. She cared for the wound and helped Tristan back to health.

Citizens of Vancouver can sleep well knowing that Sinclair is taking care of the four royal birds.

Turning the World on Its Head: The Vancouver Aquarium Expansion is Complete

The Vancouver Aquarium unveiled its first phase of expansion at an official ceremony on Friday. The $45 million project is the most significant addition to the Aquarium since its doors opened, 58 years ago.

The new, 55,000-square-foot addition includes a new entrance gallery and courtyard, with a 360-degree digital screen and a massive four metre plus diameter globe. The globe is turned on its head to bring more significance to the Polar Regions and Canada. The flipped view is especially visible for the wee ones.

Other new exhibits include a school of cichlids from Lake Malawi in Africa, a Red Sea coral reef and a Jamaican fruit bat exhibit (keep those necklines covered).

The Aquarium has also focused their attention on local habitats, such as the Gulf Islands. The Pacific coast exhibit now features a school of coho salmon.

Additional plans promise expansion of the beluga and dolphin tanks.

John Nightingale, the Aquarium’s CEO, is especially proud of the new project. He hopes that the new educational opportunities will out shine the negative press that the aquarium is receiving over captivity issues. “Our aim is to reach and inspire more visitors to engage with issues affecting our aquatic and ocean environments and to take personal action that will help save our ecosystems and the wildlife that depend on them,” says Nightingale.

Summer Outdoor Movies in Stanley Park

Grab your lawn chair, some healthy snacks and all the jelly bracelets you can find at your parent’s house; The Chevron Summer Cinema Series is coming back to Stanley Park.

The best popcorn flicks from the 80s and 90s will be cast upon the giant blowup screen at Ceperley Meadows every Tuesday night from July 8th to September 2nd.

Fresh Air Cinema will once again be putting on the event that has seen up to 5,000 viewers attend a single viewing. This is the fifth year of the hugely popular outdoor movie night.

Last year, the cinema series partnered with a number of food trucks that offered a variety of tasty snacks for filmgoers. Hopefully the trucks will be returning this year.

Guests are reminded that there is absolutely no smoking in Stanley Park. Alcohol consumption at the event is also prohibited.

This year’s lineup is as follows:

July 8th: The Lego Movie

You have to start with a kid’s film – It’s tradition.

July 15th – Pretty in Pink

The good kind of Molly. Not the Miley kind.

July 22nd – Foot Loose

It’s the 30th Anniversary of this Kevin Bacon dance-off. We hate to imagine what the Reverend Shaw Moore would think of twerking!

July 29th – Mean Girls

Before Lindsay went all crazy she was reciting some of Tina Fey’s funniest lines. “You go Glen Coco!”

August 5th – Dumb and Dumber

Harry and Lloyd fans rejoice. Put our bill on Seabass’ tab.

August 12th – Ghost

Just when you thought you had the visual of Demi Moore at the pottery wheel out of your head…

August 19th – The Karate Kid

Sweep the leg.

August 26th – Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

Love the film for some of the action bits, but have you watched it lately? Crazy racial stereotypes. Just saying…

September 2nd – The Princess Bride

You voted for it and Fresh Air Cinema responded with: “As you wish.” A perfect film to end the series.

Lions Vandalized

A disturbing local story was brought to our attention this week. It appears that vandals have damaged two of the Lion Statues on the Stanley Park overpass near the Lions Gate Bridge. The damage was reported Saturday morning to park staff officials.

The vandals damaged the paws and faces of the two stone animals, chipping away the proud stoic looks that echoed the much larger lions at the onramp to Lions Gate. The smaller statues were installed in 1998, while the larger gatekeepers were put in place in 1939.

The police have been notified as well and hope to track down the culprits. VPD spokesperson, Sergeant Randy Finch had this slightly stern but humorous comment to add: “Investigators will be working with the Vancouver Park Board to ensure those responsible are held accountable for taking the roar out of these two lions.”

While it is easy to hate the people responsible for such a pointless act, it is also important to understand the reasons for their actions. Perhaps it was a lack of sleep that brought on a momentary psychosis? It was more likely a mix of alcohol and group mentality.

Whatever the case, we hope the statues are restored quickly and the parties responsible are dealt with appropriately.

The Hollow Tree Gets a Golden Makeover

One of Vancouver’s first tourist attractions was the hollow tree in Stanley Park. It stood out as a symbol of the massive wilderness that surrounded the developing city, a wilderness that has been shrinking ever since.

The tree has had its own official photographer, been spared by rezoning and was reinforced in 2009 by public funding, after the 2006 windstorm threatened its foundation. Now, the hollow tree will be the subject of a new public art exhibit by local artist and author, Douglas Coupland.

Coupland has been commissioned to create a full-scale replica of the infamous tree. His version will be made with steel-reinforced resin and will be coated with a gold patina. The golden stump will stand 13 metres tall and will weigh approximately 16,000 kilograms. The exhibit will also feature a large backdrop of a forest.

The golden tree will be displayed in the plaza of the new MC² development that is being built at the bottom of the Cambie corridor. It is estimated that 100,000 commuters will view the work each day from the Canada Line SkyTrain and vehicular traffic.

The piece is a fair distance from its inspiration, but Coupland hopes the new tree will inspire tourists and locals to seek out the original hollow attraction inside Stanley Park.

The publicly funded exhibit will undoubtedly have its haters, but Coupland hopes the piece will incite a new dialogue on ecology and the importance of forest management. “It shows us what we used to have and what we can have again in the future,” claim Coupland, “if we have a spirit of appreciating nature and if we realize that we are its custodian for better or worse.”

Coupland’s other public artworks in the City of Vancouver include the digital orca at the Vancouver Convention Centre and the Terry Fox Memorial in front of BC Place.

Time to Get Wet

Ladies and Gentlemen, arm yourselves! The Great Vancouver Water Fight is returning to Stanley Park.

The hydro fight of the year will take place on Saturday, August 10th at Lumberman’s Arch.

Bathing suits are suggested, but birthday suits are tolerated. There will be no referees, so participants will need to police themselves. If you are concerned about your eyes, bring protection. Swimming goggles might look ridiculous, but they will certainly do the trick.

Yes, water balloons are a-go, but play nice. No one likes a ruiner. Also, don’t involve the public. The occasional crossfire spray is understandable.

Be frugal with your water supply. It’s going to be a long hot summer; we don’t want to drain the Capilano Reservoir in one afternoon.

Most importantly, please do not bring any water pistols that look like replica guns. No one wants the actual police involved.

There is no official organizer for the event, but the group does have a Facebook page for general inquires, photo sharing and tactical support.

Good luck everyone. Prepare to get wet!

A Walk in the Park

Looking for an educational activity for the family this weekend. All Discovery Walks is offering a interactive tour of one Stanley Parks secret bogs. The tour begins at Lost Lagoon at 1:30 and ends around 3:30.

Vancouver Community College Science Instructor, Maria Morlin will be hosting the walk that will focus on the role of bogs and wetlands in forest ecology.

This is an excellent opportunity to subtly get your children back into an academic setting. You may want to research the topic of bogs beforehand with your family, to get them thinking about the subject matter. While on the trail, encourage questioning by modeling. Maria will be happy to answer any questions you or children bring to light.

Educators might also want to take part, specifically those working with students in Grades 3 and 4. ‘Habitats and Communities’ is a big part of the Science curriculum for these grades. Maria’s tour may inspire you to organize your own forest walk in the fall.

If you do plan on attending, you may want to wear appropriate footwear. We suggest boots.

Tickets are $10 and may be purchased at the start of the tour.

Beaver Lake

Movies in the Park

The fireworks have come and gone, but there are still a number of free public events being offered around the city. The most popular are the Fresh Air Cinema screenings being shown around the Lower Mainland.

“Jaws” aired on Tuesday in Stanley park. Word has it there was more laughs then screams. Still a classic that everyone enjoys. The defining line: “We’re going to need a bigger boat.”

This Tuesday the classic urban Cinderella story comes to Stanley park with the screening of “Pretty Women.” We’ve never really been big Julia Roberts fans, but when Richard Gere snaps that jewelry box shut and Julia flashes those pearly whites, just for a moment we can see how she rose to fame. What a smile!

"Snap!"

The film we are dying to see airs on August 30th. “Stand By Me,” the quintessential end of summer/innocence film will closeout the summer series at Stanley Park. From “Chopper sick balls,” to the ‘barfarama,’ to the rail-tie sing-a-longs, “Stand By Me” has it all; even a few tears. Bring the family or a date and relive your youth in the open air of Stanley Park.

Malkin Bowl Welcomes Ben Harper

On Friday, August 28th, the Malkin Bowl Summer Concert Series welcomes Ben Harper to Stanley Park. This is one of the most anticipated outdoor shows of the season. Tickets went on sale in May, but there are still some being sold online. If you see one show this summer, catch Ben Harper’s set in the park.

Harper is touring on his most recent album, Give Till it’s Gone. Like most of his previous works, the album contains a strong message of hope, mixed with the pain of life. Always spiritual, Harper’s tracks reverberate with healing and religious conviction. But even with their strong Christian message, Harper’s words attract a strong secular audience that can relate with the pain and joy of love’s handiwork.

If you have never heard Harper’s music, download Live from Mars. Standout tracks include “Please Bleed,” “Women in You” and the quintessential mix-tape track “Walk Away.”

Harper will be playing between the cedars and beneath the stars at the beautiful Malkin clearing. Bring a blanket and some friends and let the one-man choir receive your heart.

Ben Harper Playing the Slide Guitar

British Columbia’s Mattress Store

In a province where you can ski the slopes in the morning, golf in the afternoon and spend the evenings on the beach, BC residents know that a comfortable mattress is an essential element to a busy day of west coast fun-and-play.

With the variety of activities that fill our waking hours, it is nice to have a consistent reliable mattress to collapse on when the sun finally sets.

That is why BCers continually choose Simmons Mattress Gallery as their BC mattress store.

Simmons Mattress Gallery has been providing BC residents with quality beds and exceptional service for years. In the last seven, we have distinguished ourselves from the competition by achieving the Consumer Choice Award for mattress store.

We are proud to carry all the top models from the Simmons Beautyrest line, a mattress series defined by the revolutionary non-flip pocket coil.

For an undisturbed sleep that will leave you rested for all BC has to offer, go with a Simmons mattress. You can find the entire series at our Coquitlam mattress store and our Vancouver mattress store. Try one today.

English Bay Sunsets

Vancouver’s 125th Birthday Celebration (Part 2): Summer Live

After the initial party on April 6th, Vancouver is planning a summer festival in Stanley Park to continue our city’s 125th birthday celebration. ‘Summer Live’ will take place over three days – July 8, 9, 10.  The festival will showcase a number of artists, including an impressive line-up of local musicians.

The music will be the big draw of the weekend, with The New Pornographers, Said the Whale and Mother Mother sharing a stage. Local singer songwriter, Dan Mangan, will also play, along with the collective sound of Vancouver’s Symphony Orchestra.

Admission is free and the organizers promise that the event will be family friendly.

Party in the Park

The city chose Stanley Park as the site of the festival because of its beautiful setting, picnic capacity and its history with Vancouver’s city council.

Fact: The area of land now known as Stanley Park was delegated park space at the first Vancouver city council meeting in 1886.

There will also be a sports day like atmosphere, with hilarious relay races.

So don’t plan any getaways during the second weekend in July. You’ll want to stay home and enjoy this one with the rest of your fellow Vancouverites.

Best In Vancouver

In keeping with the ‘Best in Vancouver’ theme, Simmons Mattress Gallery would like to mention a few categories that we thought were left off the list:

Best Summer Beach: Third Beach in Stanley Park

Best Winter Date: Robson Street Plaza Ice Rink (three dollars for skates and ice)

Best Late-Night Character on Granville Street: Spoonman

Best Late-Night Fast Food: Donair Dude on Davie

Best Balloon Tricks: Arty the Jester at Stanley Park

Best Outdoor Art Installment: The ‘White Man’ at Sunset Beach / East Van sign

Best Crosstown Bike Lane: Tenth Avenue (runs level from West to East Van)

Best Bike Rental: Spokes Bicycle Rentals / English Bay Bike Rentals

Best Summer Event: The Fireworks / Outdoor Cinema

English Bay Crowds

Best Local Band Done Good: The New Pornographers

Best Elevated View of the City: Puget Drive

Best Place to Spot a Hipster: Rickshaw Theatre / Foundation

Best Dog Friendly Beach: Spanish Banks, at the bottom of the Marine Drive hill

Best Place To Find A Good Night’s Rest: Simmons Mattress Gallery

If you have any comments for our list, or know of any categories we may have missed, please share your musings as a comment below.

Vancouver: Still the Number One Place to Live in the World!

For the fifth year in a row, Vancouver has been voted the most livable city in the world! The poll was conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit. The group uses three broad categories to make its decision: stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education and infrastructure. Vancouver received a perfect rating of 100 in the categories of healthcare, education and culture and environment.

The second place finisher, just 2.3 percentage points below Vancouver, was Auckland New Zealand.

But what would Vancouverites say when asked ‘what makes us the best’? They would probably mention the cleanliness of our city, the mild weather, the security (you can basically walk down any street and feel comfortable), the dining options, the Olympics, the proximity to the mountains, the transit and bike lanes, the parks (Stanley being the jewel) and the people.

There is an infinite number of reasons why Vancouver is such an amazing place to live, but we like to think it’s the mattress shopping. Simmons Mattress Gallery has been providing quality beds and professional advice to Lower Mainland residents for years. This service has sent thousands of citizens off to work well rested and happy with their lives. We’re not saying we did it all, but we certainly played a part.

Congratulations Vancouver, this truly is the best place to live.

Sunset Beach

All Aboard The Christmas Train

The Christmas Season is here; Starbucks is offering their eggnog Latte, the stores downtown are staying open longer and the Christmas train is set to leave the station this Friday in Stanley Park.

Always a Vancouver favourite, the annual train ride is a holiday classic.

Titled ‘Bright Lights in Stanley Park,’ the train runs through the Stanley Park forest, which is lit by thousands of coloured lights.

It passes through different theme areas that are synched to the music being played from small speakers on the train itself.

There are interactive elements for the kids as well, with a costumed Gingerbread Man and a petting zoo.

The park employs student volunteers to act as festival ambassadors for the event. They are aided by the regular park staff and the other volunteers who help make Bright Lights one of the most spectacular lightening displays in all of Canada.

Tickets are $9.00 for adults and $6.00 for youths. They can be purchased online through Ticketmaster for any night as long as it is one day prior to the date you wish to ride. For day of tickets, you will need to head down to the park as early as possible, as most rides sellout hours before.

Make sure to bring a non-perishable item for the food bank and a small monetary donation for the Vancouver Firefighters Burn Fund.

Bright Nights in Stanley Park

Recommended Reading

Even with the age of personal electronics in hyper-drive, it is still nice to relax before bed with a good book. The paper bound kind.

This week Simmons Mattress Gallery would like to post a few of our favourite reads to inspire this timeless nightly ritual.

1. The Millennium Series – This Swedish crime series has won fans all over the world. All three books are essential reading for literary lovers. Stieg Larsson has crafted a trilogy that throws you directly into a world of family intrigue, sexual exploitation and modern investigative practices. The strong female protagonist, Lisabeth Salander, is part Nikita, part Sherlock Holmes. Avoid the temptation to watch the films first.

2. Stanley Park – Nominated for the Giller Prize in 2001, this is the first novel by local writer Timothy Taylor. Set in Vancouver, the novel revolves around the factual unsolved murder of two children in Stanley Park. It has wonderful descriptive culinary passages, as the main character is a chef. You may also notice a strong resemblance between the novel’s description of the fictitious coffee company Inferno and the Northwest based barista house, Starbucks.

3. Mister Pip – This is an understated novel by New Zealand author Lloyd Jones. Set on an unnamed Pacific island in the midst of a civil war, “Mister Pip” details the power of a single piece of literature to educate, inspire and mystify. Mr. Watts, the only white man in a community of islanders, uses Charles Dickens’ classic, work, “Great Expectations,” to teach a schoolhouse full of forgotten children the value of life and the written word.

We would love to hear your own suggestions for essential bedtime reading.

Karate Kid in the Park

“We make sacred pact. I promise teach karate to you, you promise learn. I say, you do, no questions. “

-Mr. Miyagi

The Karate Kid

For all those children of the 80s who were brought up on adventure classics like the Goonies and Star Wars, rejoice. FreshAirCinema is bringing classic popcorn films back to the big screen; well, back to a big blow up screen.

FreshAirCinema is hosting free outdoor movie nights around the province for the next month and a half. Locations and times can be found on the company’s Facebook page titled: Free Outdoor Movie Events in BC.

This week’s can’t-miss-feature is the ‘original’ Karate Kid, starring a young Ralph Macchio as Daniel Larusso and Pat Morita as the zen master, Mr. Miyagi. The movie will be screened at Ceperley Field, the large grassy area just behind Second Beach, in Stanley Park. The start time will be 9:30.

Last year’s performance of The Princess Bride brought out huge crowds to the same setting. So get there early, bring a blanket and spread out.

Other outdoor free shows around the Lower Mainland this summer are:

August 7th: Wizard of Oz at Holland Park in Surrey (9:00)

August 8th: Back to the Future at David Lam Park in Yaletown (9:00)

August 9th: The Never Ending Story at McSpadden Park in East Van

August 13th: E.T. at Harbour Green Park in Coal Harbour

Vancouver’s Top Outdoor Pools

With the hot days of summer finally here, Simmons Mattress Gallery has put together a list of the top three outdoor pools in Vancouver. So pick your favourite and make some time to cool off.

1. Kitsilano Pool

-Kits Pool, as it is referred to by the locals, is located adjacent to Kits Beach on the West Side. It is Vancouver’s only heated saltwater pool and is the longest outdoor pool in Canada. With a breathtaking view of the mountains in the background, Kits Pool is also one of the most scenic settings to take a dip. It has lanes for length swimming and a shallow area for the kids. Adult entry is $5.15 and children below 12 are $2.60 each. After a swim, you may want to take in a free performance at the Kitsilano Showboat, located directly behind the pool.

2. Second Beach Pool

-Once a cold salt water pool, Second Beach is now a heated fresh water pool on the southeast corner of Stanley Park. It is 5 feet deep at its maximum. There are lanes for swimming, but they are not nearly as long as the lanes at Kits. This pool is mostly for families and those looking to splash around on a hot summer day. There is also a great concession stand located just behind the pool that serves sinfully greasy fish and chips. (Always remember to wait half an hour after eating before returning to the water to avoid cramps)

3. Maple Grove Park Pool

-Located in Kerrisdale, on Vancouver’s West Side, Maple Grove Pool is strictly for families with small children. It is essentially a wading pool, but after a well needed renovation a few years back, Maple Grove Pool is one of the most stylish pools in the city. After your done playing in the water, take the kids to the park for some bocce ball or hit the giant swings for some high flying fun in the sun.

Maple Grove Park Swimming Pool

Entertainment in the Park

Stanley Park is the royal crown that sits above the City of Vancouver. Mounted in that crown is the Malkin Bowl, the jewel that dazzles from its brim.

The 1,000 acre park was established at Vancouver’s first city council meeting in 1886. It is larger than New York’s Central Park and contains over half a million trees.

Along with the forested areas are 350 acres of recreational space.

Included in these 350 acres is the legendary Malkin Bowl, an outdoor theatre built to resemble the famed Hollywood Bowl in California.

Surrounded by cedars, douglas firs, hemlocks and maple trees, the amphitheatre is the perfect setting for an outdoor concert or summer musical production.

This year’s summer concert series begins this weekend with the U.K’s Massive Attack playing Saturday night.

Other concerts to follow are:

May 31st – LCD Soundsystem

June 4th – Xavier Rudd

June 11th – Metric

June 13th – Metric

August 28th – Vampire Weekend

September 10th – The National

The theater is also home to Theatre Under The Stars or TUTS, as it is known.  This production company has been entertaining audiences since 1940, using local, up-and-coming stars, to headline their musicals.

Last year saw the success of both “Annie” and “Thoroughly Modern Millie.”

This year the company will be presenting “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” and “Singin in the Rain.”

Simmons Mattress Gallery would like to encourage residents of the Lower Mainland and visitors to our beautiful province to get out and experience the thrill of watching live entertainment in a stellar summer setting. We know your bed can be a strong draw, but listening to one of Canada’s hottest indie acts, in the company of raccoons, Canada geese, herons and distant beluga whales, is an opportunity not to be passed up lightly. So bring a blanket and your loved one and take in a show this summer.

You can purchase your tickets through Live Nation.

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