Thursday, November 5, 2009

The other Vancouver

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According to this CBC News article, residents of Vancouver Washington had a poll to determine whether or not they'd change their name from Vancouver to Fort Vancouver.


Vancouver Washington (located across the Columbia River from Portland Oregon) is the only other Vancouver in the world.

It's the only other Vancouver in the world and it's located about a 4 hour drive down the highway from Vancouver, BC, Canada. Come on. That's like having a city named Dublin down the highway in Northern Ireland, or a city named Paris in Belgium. Or a Stockholm in Norway. A Seoul in North Korea! A Tel Aviv in Jordan! A Bangkok in Cambodia! I digress.

Vancouver WA was initially settled as Fort Vancouver - a Hudson Bay Company fort, well before Vancouver BC even existed. Of course, Vancouver BC came along a few decades later and stole Vancouver WA's spotlight.

I have a good friend who grew up in Vancouver WA and I can only imagine how many times she'd have conversations akin to

"Where are you from?"

"I'm from Vancouver!"

"Oh, I love Canada!"

"No, Vancouver Washington!"

Even in Washington and Oregon, the northbound highway signs along I-5 specify Vancouver. B.C. as to avoid confusion with Vancouver WA. I can only imagine if you live in Vancouver Washington, you're forever stressing you live in the other Vancouver.

So I kind of like the name "Fort Vancouver". There would be less confusion but the name still stays true to the city's identity and heritage.

I know what you're thinking - Vancouver BC's in Canada and Vancouver WA's in the USA. Most people should be bright enough to figure this out. However, don't be so certain! Ever so often you get some gems.

This is a true story...

A few summers ago I worked at the tourist info center in Vancouver by Canada Place, and a lovely couple from England had just walked off their cruiseship and were in town for a few nights. They needed to find transportation to the Red Lion Hotel (which was booked by a UK-based travel agent).

Well, I knew right away something was strange, as there are no Red Lion hotels in Vancouver, or in BC as far as I'm aware. I wanted to double check they had the right hotel name, so they pulled out their reservation confirmation and that's when I noticed that they were fully booked for several night's stay at the Red Lion Hotel in Vancouver WA.

Needless to say, they were not impressed with their travel agent!

(And yes, I managed to find them a hotel in the correct Vancouver).


Matthew Watkins said...

Well the original name confusion works in Britian too especially for those people that live in a village called California in Norfolk (UK), a suburb Springfield in Chelmsford Essex, a town Washington in Tyne and Wear, or Boston in Lincolnshire I could go on all day of course because a lot of the major cites in the US were name after small towns and villages in the UK I suppose.

But there are also confusions where the name is used more than once the most confusing are motorway junctions like the Watford Gap (northamptonshire) which is just shy of 70 miles north from Watford (hertfordshire - outer london)and on a small island like the UK 70 miles is a big mistake to make.

The worst place name for duplicates though is Richmond originally in Yorkshire also Richmond upon thames in Surrey and used in the US, Australia and Africa see link;

Robyn said...

Oh, coming from Richmond BC myself, I know exactly what you mean. ;)

Could you post that link once more, please? It seems to have been cut off.

Thanks Matthew!

Matthew Watkins said...

Robyn said...