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10 of our favourite things you (probably) didn't know about Vancouver

From having to carry your poop out of a bog to Isaac Newton's apple trees to $1,000 bottles of beer to why Bing Crosby drove a tractor in Vancouver.
Clockwise from top left: Bing Crosby in Vancouver, Tom Delong asking "WTF?", a blue line at Rogers Arena, and a three-room stump house from Vancouver's past.

Over the past year Vancouver Is Awesome has published more than 40 pieces about Vancouver facts.

They're usually unusual, sometimes topical, and rarely useful, but they all share a piece of Vancouver's past or present.

Of the more than 200 facts that have shown up in the "5 things you (probably) didn't know" series, here are 10 favourites from 2023.

1. The SkyTrain used to be carpeted

Yes, that's right. In 1986, when the brand new public transit system transporting thousands of people was first unveiled, the SkyTrain cars were carpeted.

No points for guessing why that didn't stick around.

From "5 things you (probably) didn't know about the SkyTrain."

2. Bing Crosby helped fundraise for the original Sunset Community Centre

This is a bit of a long story, but the short version is a man from Vancouver travelled down to Hollywood to go ask one of the biggest stars there to help fundraise for a community centre.

No, this isn't the plot of some 80s teen film, it's actually how the original Sunset Community Centre was built.

The man, Stan Thomas, somehow found Bing Crosby (of White Christmas fame and so, so much else) and convinced him to come to Vancouver. Crosby's visit was such a big deal they gave him the key to the city and film crews followed him around (TV news wasn't a thing yet).

From "5 things you (probably) didn't know old-school celebrities did in Vancouver."

3. Several apple trees at UBC are descended from the one of Isaac Newton fame

Isaac Newton is one of the most famous scientists of all time, and perhaps the most famous story about him involves a falling apple.

It turns out that, due to his fame, the tree from which the famous apple fell is known, and its descendants are tracked. In 1971, two samplings were brought to UBC and planted, where they still survive today.

From "5 things you (probably) didn't know about UBC."

4. Blink 182's First Date (and an iconic gif) was shot at Big Splash Water Park in Tsawwassen

One of the most used gifs of all time comes from Vancouver.

In 2001, Blink 182 shot the music video for their hit song "First Date" and it spent a lot of time playing on MuchMusic and MTV in the early 2000s.

It used to be that old music videos would mostly fade from pop culture consciousness, but thanks to the rise of reaction gifs, a tiny clip of the music video is incredibly famous. There's a chance you've used it when asking "WTF?"

From "5 things you (probably) didn't know about pop culture and Vancouver."

5. Hockey's blue line was invented in Vancouver

To be fair, a lot of hockey rules in use today started on the West Coast. While ice hockey has its roots in Eastern Canada, it evolved lot in Metro Vancouver.

That's thanks to the Patrick family, in particular brothers Frank and Lester. They started their own league, brought players from out east, played, coached, managed, administered, and more; in the end, they helped build the NHL.

Some of the things they invented include the aforementioned blue line, penalty shots, numbers on jerseys, and more.

From "5 things you (probably) didn't know about hockey in Vancouver."

6. Someone tried to escape police by driving a tractor into Burns Bog and it got stuck

It's not just that they tried to escape by driving into a bog; it's that they got stuck.

And it's not just that they got stuck, but that more than 20 years later, with the tractor still there, a local tried to haul it out and got his own tractor stuck.

You know what doesn't get stuck in the muck? A helicopter. So officials hired one to lift the second tractor out. However, the first one is still rusting in pieces out in the bog.

From "5 things you (probably) didn't know about Burns Bog in Metro Vancouver."

7. You have to take your own poop out of a Metro Vancouver bog

Burns Bog is such an unusual place it's showing up twice on this list.

That's because it's also (probably) the only place in Metro Vancouver where you have to carry your poop with you after you' know...pooped.

While a small section of the bog is open to the public, the vast portion of it is closed to humans. The only people allowed in are researchers, and if they poop there, they have to carry it out. They even have to sign a form saying they will.

From "5 things you (probably) didn't know about Burns Bog in Metro Vancouver."

8. The first female police officers in Canada were in Vancouver

Vancouver, being one of Canada's biggest cities, is the first to get a few things, including female police officers.

Two women joined at the same time, Lurancy Harris and Minnie Millar. Because this was 1912 (white women didn't get voting rights in B.C. until 1917) they were hired at the lowest possible rank and weren't given guns or uniforms. Harris went on to have a notable career and her East Vancouver house still stands.

From "5 more things you (probably) didn't know Vancouver was first in Canada to have"

9. One local brewery created $1,000 bottles of beer and sold out

To be clear, while the beer inside was a high-end brew, what made these bottles of beer so expensive was the actual bottle.

They were hand-made bottles and included mammoth tusk (a reminder, mammoths have been extinct for thousands of years).

From "5 things you (probably) didn't know about beer in Vancouver."

10. There was once a three-room house made out of two old stumps

If you go to 4230 Prince Edward St. you'll find it doesn't exist. However, if you went back 110 years, you'd find an incredibly unusual house cut into the massive stumps of two trees that had been cut down with a shack built in between.

From "5 things you (probably) don't know about trees in Vancouver."