By Any Other Name – Salt Water City


Like many other cities, Vancouver’s diverse, multicultural background has given way to the creation of several alternate names. These names — given in admiration, as matter-of-fact descriptors, or in jest — observe the many facets of our local industry, culture and geography. Bestowed by both residents and visitors, they suggest the multitude of histories that collectively define Vancouver.

By Any Other Name is a design exhibition that considers the unique narratives implied within Vancouver’s alternate names. The exhibition is on view at the Canada Line platform in Waterfront Station.

Vancouver Is Awesome is featuring all of the seven participating designers, their designs as well as brief interviews. For more information visit

Salt Water City – Interview with Carolina Becerra

What do you do? What are you currently working on?
We are the design team at Science World BC. Each one of us is working on different projects ranging from exhibit design, wayfinding, new marketing and corporate collateral materials, donor recognition and all the events that will be happening at the end of the month to relaunch the new building. As well, some of us teach, and most freelance and do our own artwork.

Where does the name Salt Water City come from?
Saltwater City (Haam shui Fahw) is the name that Chinese immigrants used in the mid 1800s to refer to Vancouver.

What was your approach?
For the poster we wanted to incorporate symbolism from Chinese cultural elements. The aesthetic was inspired by the art of Chinese paper cutting. Some of the symbols we’ve included are:

1. A five-clawed Dragon representing prosperity, and the promise of wealth. It can be read as an 8, a lucky number in Chinese, or an “S”, for Salt Water City.
2. 50 coins, one for every dollar of the Head Tax.
3. The seal of Salt Water City in Chinese
4. Clouds/smoke rise from a row of incense and burial candles on the left. This is mirrored by cat tails on the right.
5. The fish/salmon represent food, sustenance, and bounty. Seaweed and Kelp wraps around the Dragon on the left, to reinforce that Vancouver is a port city.
6. Near the center. seaweed is on the left is mirrored by ornamental Chinese flowers on the right. In the center is the China Gate.
7. The Arbutus tree’s natural form is reminiscent of the depiction of trees in Chinese painted and art. The collection of large petrified wood and rockery is popular in China.
8. The Heron is analogous to the depiction of cranes in Chinese artwork.
9. On either side of the title are ornamental ‘salt’ crystals, which are rectilinear in shape. The pattern is meant to be reminiscent of Chinese ‘knots’ and overlapping square patterns common in Chinese furnishing. A pick and an axe form an “x” in the bottom center to symbolize labour.

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Bob is our founder and Editor-in-Chief. A family man and outdoors enthusiast in his 3rd decade of publishing, he steers the V.I.A. ship, hosts our 'BC Was Awesome' history TV show and co-hosts our weekly podcast.