A (lengthy) note on the stereotypical Vancouverite. Or, “Why I’m Actually a Terrible Westcoaster”.

I think it’s safe to say that if someone started a blog that was predominantly focused on a particular city’s daily life, culture, and people, then that person should probably exemplify the typical local. And while I’m actually a pretty big anomaly in Vancouver – that is, someone who was born here – I also don’t really fit many of the social stereotypes associated with my beautiful home. So, before anyone gets too attached to this blog (other than you, Mom) or forms the impression that I am the quintessential human embodiment of the renowned ‘wet coast’, I’ll briefly cover a few of the standard impressions we Vancouverites incur, and whether or not they apply to me.

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Stereotype #1: We’re all vegetarian hippies who only eat organic food.

Although I gave veganism a very brief go a few years ago, I’m not currently vegan, nor vegetarian, despite having several friends who are. And, after spending the majority of my undergrad not eating right, I’ve finally learned to properly enjoy good, tasty, nutritious food. Often, this does include dishes that are vegetarian or vegan. I don’t have a vegetable garden in my backyard (although I know some people who do and I think it’s fantastic), but I try to get to the Farmer’s Market on a regular basis. I typically go to Whole Foods only if a recipe calls for something peculiar like fresh gooseberries or white chia seeds, or if I feel an uncontrollable desire to get up to speed on current trends in obscure produce. (This usually strikes at about 9 on a Friday night.) But mostly, since I still fit into the social bracket of ‘starving student’, that’s pretty much the extent of my relationship with organic food.

  

Stereotype #2: We’re always getting high.

Although I’ve heard BC bud is among the best in the world, I’ve never smoked pot in my life. Absolutely true story. That said, I’m definitely not some angelic goody-goody, and I have zero problem with anyone who does enjoy it. And, I think it’s stupid that it still hasn’t been legalized.

Stereotype #3: When we’re not getting high or eating organic food, we’re going to yoga or eating sushi.

I hate yoga and I don’t eat sushi. No, OK, neither of those is entirely true. I don’t hate yoga, I hate doing yoga. No, wait, practicing yoga. I think that meditation and mind/body strengthening exercises can be powerful tools for people who can (and want) to do them properly. And, truth be told, these people actually quite impress me. However, I gave yoga the old college try back in Guelph, but ultimately attempting to clear my mind for ninety minutes while surrounded by contorting, hyperventilating relaxeletes never really struck me as calming. Oh, you can do full bow pose? How impressive, so can I. But anyway, I barely have enough time each day to think about stuff I actually need to do. And I know many will scoff at this, and master yogis worldwide will think I’m being close-minded, but directed anti-thought is a skill I know I’ll never have. Or, at least, not one that I’m willing learn when I could be doing something fun. Like playing hockey. Or thinking.

And as far as the sushi goes, I will eat sushi, just rarely the varieties with fish. Well, fish that isn’t sustainable. And this choice is entirely based on my knowledge of fisheries and the overexploited state of many of the world’s fish stocks. (Have no fear!: these topics will undoubtedly be covered in future posts.) And while I do eat some seafood-based sushi and sashimi, I’ve found that, typically, avocado and yam rolls are consistently environmentally friendly.

Stereotype #4: We’re big coffee snobs.

Perhaps this one I kind of fit in with, as I seriously love good coffee. But I’m not arrogant or obnoxious about it; I just know where to go to get what I like. (Caffè Artigiano: grande soy Americano misto; “yes, please” to the cocoa powder). And, naturally, I also have a grinder and French press at work for my Caffè Artigiano espresso beans. As far as that whole soy bit goes: it’s not because I’m allergic to dairy (or want to be), it’s entirely because I just like the taste of soy milk. Same goes for almond milk.

Stereotype #5: We love the Canucks.IMG_3379

Completely true for me. A lot of people here are really huge bandwagoners though, which is annoying. Like most Canadians, I’ve been watching hockey since I was old enough to hold my own head up, and thus I understand the rules and strategies of the game, and appreciate the skill involved in playing it. I’ve followed the Canucks through the good and the bad and even travelled 18 hours by bus (each way), on my own, to Boston for Game Six. Of course I made sure that when I walked into TD Garden, I was dressed to the nines in my finest blue feather boa, silver stockings, and a Canucks’ flag-turned-cape. And thus, not only did my boys get absolutely shit-kicked that night…but I paid over $1,000 to see it live, dressed like a drag queen, surrounded by thousands of less-than-sympathetic Bruins fans. Imagine the thrill. Nonetheless, I’ve forgiven them, and will support them until the day I die. I just hope they win the Cup before that day comes. Oh, and about the riot: those people weren’t Canucks’ fans, they were idiots.

Stereotype #6: We’re all hipsters.

OK, so for those people who don’t go outside, or have windows, I’ll fill you in: there’s a pretty substantial hipster movement happening here at the moment. Well, not just here, everywhere. Unfortunately, listening to The Lumineers and wearing desert boots is about where it ends for me. Well, my life is also pretty much a flipbook on Instagram, but whose isn’t? And I guess I have a couple pairs of skinny jeans, and some bulky scarves. And I like M83. And The Head and The Heart. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves; I also like Beethoven and The Who and Paul Brandt. And sweatpants. {As an aside, if you’re looking for a detailed guide on how exactly to be a hipster—with pictures!— it is (of course) available online. And, as an even further aside: clear your browsing history and start slowly typing “how to” into Google… Maybe I’m the only one who still finds this amusing? Anyway…}

Stereotype #7: We’re good at skiing and snow boarding.

I like to think I am. And most people who have lived here and actually started taking advantage of our mountains when they were young can give at least give a Black a run for its money. I was one of the ones who learned to ski as a kid and then got busy with life, went away, and ultimately am now finally starting to pick up where I left off. But I love it and absolutely wouldn’t think twice about skipping work on a Wednesday to play in some fresh powder at Whistler. This is commonly referred to as, “working from home”.

 

Stereotype #8: We have an amazing nightlife.

Someone recently asked me where the best place to go dancing was. I told them I had no idea. I’ve heard that we have a great nighttime club scene and also that it’s the worst in North America. But, since I spend money on that kind of thing about once every six months (it’s right now that you’re probably starting to think that not only am I incredibly un-westcoast, I’m also just incredibly boring), I’m probably the wrong person to ask.

Stereotype #9: We’re hard-core environmentalists.

A lot of us are, and a lot of us pretend to be. And then there are those who are totally oblivious or indifferent, but you get that anywhere. I tend to be fairly conscious of my impact on the environment, and I try to do my part for conservation, particularly of the aquatic variety. It’s a pretty big span, but I guess I fall somewhere in between throwing myself in front of a bulldozer and using cloth bags for groceries. And, it’s difficult not to be mad all the time when your Prime Minister has the conscience of burnt toast and the foresight of a hamster, but in many ways, this just encourages me to work harder. If our government isn’t going to protect our natural resources, someone has to try.

Stereotype #10: We love the ocean.

OK, finally one that I actually absolutely, heart and soul, fit completely. In fact, I’m fairly convinced that my blood is actually salt water. I’ve been in love with anything that lives in the sea—be it an urchin or an orca—since as far back as I can remember. I love being in, or on, the water and I learned long ago that you don’t need to understand the science behind something to appreciate its beauty and value. I want so badly for other people to care about the ocean: an environment that is essential to our survival on Earth in so many ways; an environment that we are rapidly, consciously destroying. A large part of why I have started this blog is to share both published information as well as my personal thoughts on the state of our oceans, fisheries, and marine life. And, hopefully, in some small way, this will inspire someone, somewhere, to help promote the preservation of this environment—and its inhabitants—for the future.

So, there you have it. And, if you actually read this far, I’m seriously impressed. But at least now I can go into this blog with a clear conscience because I’ve at least tried to portray the type of westcoaster—the type of person—I am. And really, when I think about it, what makes the people of our city so special is that we are quite diverse; with so many unique lifestyles, opinions, and cultures here, the typical Vancouverite is, in fact, everyone.

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Afterthoughts: In case in wasn’t evident above, I‘ll mention that my writing tends to have a slight sarcastic slant at times. However, I do try to keep my thoughts in perspective and simply present my views on the world as it is (or, more accurately, how I perceive it to be). And, while I may give my personal opinion on a topic – and I can be quite opinionated at times—I will try my best to refrain from judging the views, actions, and choices of others*. Because if we all saw the world in the same way, it would be a very uninteresting place.

*Possible exceptions include: people who stop mid-stride in the middle of the sidewalk to send a text, people over age 12 who still don’t know the difference between your and you’re, and anyone who is in favour of the Northern Gateway Project.

2 thoughts on “A (lengthy) note on the stereotypical Vancouverite. Or, “Why I’m Actually a Terrible Westcoaster”.

  1. Love the blog Rennie. Some wonderful insights and very interesting personal reflections. I do believe that a person who is fortunate enough to be born on the West Coast takes a piece of it wherever they go. I believe that there is something very special and unique about being raised in the shadow of such beautiful mountains, surrounded by the gentle lap of waves on the shore and on special days sky so blue you can feel your heart ache with the beauty of it. A very special place made up of very unusual people; I think we are very lucky to be a part of it. So o.k. maybe I’m homesick – you’ll just have to be understanding. Love you xoxoxo

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