Trevor Smith comes from a place where a wall surrounds the city, allowing its residents to walk along the edge of the ocean. An urban area flanked by green mountains whose residents have the laid back attitude that the West Coast is known for.
There are no major highways to access Smith’s hometown, only a few back roads and scenic bridges. And once you reach the downtown, a lush park complete with hiking trails and ponds offers a respite from the urban lifestyle.
Sounds like a peaceful place, and it is. But there is something that can trigger anger in the residents of Vancouver. Sure, Vancouver is a beautiful place that annually ranks as one of the most livable cities in the world, but if Canucks lose in the playoffs, look out.
In 2011, when Vancouver lost to Boston in the Stanley Cup final, riots marred the city as angry fans took to the streets. While the riots weren’t a good thing, they were an example of the intense passion Vancouver residents have for hockey.
But, as Smith points out, there is more to Vancouver than hockey and he is happy to point it all out.
Player: Trevor Smith
Hometown: Vancouver, British Columbia
Type: Major city
Population: 2.3 million (metro, 2011 census)
Distance from Wilkes-Barre: 2,795 miles
Be our tour guide for Vancouver. What can you tell us about the coastal city? “It’s got everything. You’re 10 minutes from the ocean and the summers are beautiful. It’s a lot like Seattle where there’s a lot of rain in the winter but not much snow. That stays up in the mountains. And when the sun does come up in the mornings, it’s a beautiful place.”
But it’s a major city so it has to have some faults, such as traffic jams, right? “Not like some cities, like Philadelphia and Boston, where you have these big interstates driving right through the middle of town. In Vancouver, it’s not on a big highway so it’s tough to get to, which is actually nice. It keeps things a little quiet and helps make the city a relaxing place.”
How do you get to it without a major highway? “Well, the highway is pretty far away so you have to drive through the backstreets to get downtown, which is a cool atmosphere. It takes you over the water and a bunch of bridges. It’s a different setup than most cities.”
How about the scenery surrounding the city -- the forests of the Pacific Northwest? “Everything is really lush and green -- a lot of trees. There’s places you can’t log so they stay untouched. There’s a seawall around the city and you can walk it along the edge of the water. It’s a cool walk. There are demonstration forests and a lot of parks, including a park right downtown with a lot of trails and ponds. It’s a cool getaway in the middle of the city and Vancouver is just a relaxing, outdoorsy way of life.”
What did you do aside from hockey while growing up in Vancouver? “I grew up close to a local ski mountain and they got a lot of snow. I did a lot of snowboarding. It was right past my high school so it was easy to get to. We’d snowboard everyday after school.”
I take it you grew up a Canucks fan? “Yes. I remember the 1994 playoffs when they went to the Cup final (lost to the Rangers) like it was yesterday. It’s amazing how the city gets behind the Canucks. If they win the Stanley Cup, Vancouver will be one big party.”
Show us how big a Canucks fan you are and give us some names from the past. “Pavel Bure was right there, Trevor Linden was the guy in Vancouver and still is. Sergio Momesso, Gino Odjick, Dave Babych -- he was a big guy. Kirk McLean was a stand-up goalie. Jyrki Lumme on the blueline.”
Is Vancouver a place you’d like to move back to at some point? “For sure. I’d have to check with my wife. She’s from the East Coast. But it’s something we’re going to have to decide farther down the road. Vancouver would be a place where I’d love to set up shop.”