West Vancouver is a district municipality north of English Bay, adjoined by the District of North Vancouver to the east, and Howe Sound to the southeast. It is a distinct municipality from the city of Vancouver, separated by water but connected by the Lions Gate Bridge—only a 20-minute drive away from each other. Together with North Vancouver and the District Municipality of North Vancouver, they form the “North Shore.”
The District of West Vancouver began as a popular summer getaway destination, and has since become one of Vancouver’s most affluent neighbourhoods. As the City of Vancouver developed in the early 20th century, residents began crossing the inlet to holiday on the shores of what is now West Vancouver. Eventually they began setting up more permanent settlements, until on March 15, 1912 they finally incorporated into the District of West Vancouver, taking jurisdiction over a part of the District of North Vancouver.
When a group of British investors led by the Guinness family took interest, they began development on the British Properties in 1932, the Capilano Golf Course, and the northern section of Park Royal, which is one of Canada’s first shopping centres. They also built the Lions Gate Bridge (1937-8), which provided a link between West Vancouver and the City of Vancouver.
The dramatic, sloping landscape and availability of lumber gave birth to what is known as the West Coast Style, an innovative residential design style shaped by constraints. This meant West Vancouver residences have more complex geometric forms, open concept layouts, with rooms often used for more than one purpose. The neighbourhood’s first high-rise, The Crescent Apartment (1961), is a perfect exhibit of the West Coast Style. Even today, many modern high-rises in West Van feature the West Coast Style.
Aside from its affluent communities, West Van is still known for what drew the original tourists all those years ago: ski resorts, beaches, mountain trails, golf courses, and forests. A natural environment, recreational opportunities, quality community amenities, and a rich cultural life still make up West Vancouver today.