Sense of place in Prince Rupert’s Island and Vancouver

2199 words (9 pages) Essay in Cultural Studies

23/09/19 Cultural Studies Reference this

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Sense of place in Prince Rupert’s Island and Vancouver

Sense of place can be analyzed at various regions, cities and towns. It is a sense of belonging to a geographic area based on its physical geography, human/social geography, demographics and culture, political geography, economic geography and history. In order to fully examine the meaning of sense of place, we will explore the British Columbia region, specifically Vancouver and Prince Rupert to understand how sense of belonging can be felt in a region’s perspective and also within Canada as a whole.

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Prince Rupert was established in 1910 and is full of rich history dating back many years. What’s now Prince Rupert harbour was once a hot spot for trade and the commerce of First Nations People. As of now, the population is approximately 14,000 people and like before, the port has now become a hub for trade and commerce but to a global scale. The land has many ties to historical events such as the creation of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway, and the land’s contribution during WWII (City of Prince Rupert, 2018).

In comparison, Vancouver is located in the southwest corner of British Columbia and is the largest metropolitan city in Western Canada. It is known for its beauty and mountains. It has the mildest climate in relation to other cities in Canada and so one can enjoy skiing and the beach all in the same day (WorldAtlas, 2018). Vancouver also is a popular location for movies and TV shooting. It addition, it is also a primary center for trade with Asia.

In order to fully grasp the meaning of sense of place in these two cities, we will be analyzing their history and economy. In order to understand and identify ourselves, we must understand our history. History can create a sense of belonging from a long line of culture we identify with. Throughout time, culture evolves but still has roots that remind us where we started. It helps us feel connected and bond with others of similar heritage. In addition, economy also plays an impact to sense of place. Ups and downs of an economy create shared experiences and therefore a community. Also, if a city is mostly known for one job sector, majority will be employed there and their lives will be focused on that industry. This then also creates shared experiences which then add to their sense of belonging and place.     

Vancouver is a city of diversity that many identify with and celebrate. Over time, Vancouver has become a city with a broad range of ethnic groups that all contributed to the city’s distinct heritage and culture. These cultures have evolved to give Vancouver its unique feel but also retaining its original identity. For instance, even though a small percentage of the current population is of First Nations, the culture of the city still showcases their once larger population. The city is full of towering totem poles and aboriginal art galleries situated in downtown, Granville Island and Gastown. The original artwork is showcased in UBC Museum of Anthropology and at the Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art (Tourismvancouver, 2018).

The first generation of Japanese immigrants were called Issei and they arrived between 1877 and 1928. Majority settled in small fishing villages along the Pacific coastline and on the farms of Fraser Valley. Since this historical period, the city has been influenced by Japanese culture from the blooming cherry trees in public gardens to the tea ceremony at Nitoe Memorial Garden and the annual Powel Street Festival which is the largest Japanese-Canadian community event in Vancouver (Tourismvancouver, 2018). Furthermore, a large part of population in Vancouver now is Chinese. The first generation however, arrived in the late 1800s. They immigrated to work on the railroads and in mining operations. As more started immigrating, their population kept growing and developed the third most populated Chinatown in Canada. The cultural district is home to many authentic cuisines, specialty items in traditional markets, teashops, and contemporary nightlife with a new generation of Chinese-Canadians (Tourismvancouver, 2018).  In conclusion, throughout history, many ethnic groups have immigrated to the city and have greatly contributed to its unique mix of cultures. It is the unique mix of culture that creates a sense of place for Vancouver. In conclusion, the city’s inclusion and diversity is what many identify with. The recent generation have changed into a “newer” version of the original culture and has created a mix of their origin and Canada.

Like Vancouver, Prince Rupert’s also has ties to a broad range of cultures. The history of the land has been shaped to what it is today. It is this history that gives the people a sense of place through common historical upbringings. For instance, about 30 km past the nearby village of Port Edward, is located a Cannery that’s history can be seen through its many wooden, tin-roofed buildings that is spread along a river bank. The history of these infrastructures can be dated beck in 1889 when the Cannery was used as a strategic spot in the Skeena River estuary. It was the perfect spot for fishing with shelter from the ocean and easy access to rich waters. After, in the 1940s, the Cannery became homes to many of Japanese, Chinese, First Nations, and Europeans who lived in cottages and bunkhouses. Now, the Cannery still showcases its historical roots with buildings, boardwalks and trails. It has a seasonal café that serves fresh and historically inspired lunches. Its gift shop is full of souvenirs and handmade wares from local artists. Rupert also belonged to a number of other ethnic groups such as Celtic, Portuguese, Filipino, etc. All have their own historical events that are still celebrated today with traditional clothing, music, and dances (Visit Prince Rupert, 2018).

The rich history of this area creates a sense of community. Many who lived there identify with a historical period and are celebrated for their contribution to the making of what the Cannery is today. Furthermore, it is where many of their ancestors lived and learning about what they went through, creates a sense of familiarity and community. The people of Prince Rupert’s identify with multiculturalism and like the case in Vancouver, it creates a sense of place with its unique formation of history.

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In addition to Vancouver’s unique culture, its economy also creates a sense of place through shared experiences. Vancouver’s economy is largely depended on forestry, fishing, mines, and minerals. It is also known as a world-class port to Asia which makes the city Canada’s gateway for goods. As a result, in British Columbia, Vancouver has been the leader in trade with Pacific Rim nations. The role was confirmed in 1997, when the city hosted the Asia-Pacific Economic Conference. The port is one of North America’s busiest transportation hubs. Approximately, annually, the port exports more than 64 million metric tons and imports more than nine million metric tons. In addition, the harbour is also a hot spot for dry-cargo port on the Pacific Coast and ships grain, coal, potash, sulfur, asbestos, metals, and other Western Canadian materials. One other popular sector is Tourism. Due to Vancouver’s physical beauty, Tourism has skyrocketed since the city hosted the World Expo in 1986. Vancouver is also featured in many films and had earned the nickname “Hollywood North”. Furthermore, greater Vancouver is the largest manufacturing center in BC (City-data, 2018). All combined makes up Vancouver’s economy. Since the city is known for its recourses, transportation, tourism and manufacturing, many that live there, are employed in these sectors. As a result, it creates shared experiences and goals and thus, a sense of place.

Similarly, Prince Rupert’s economy creates a sense of place through shared experiences. Depending of the economy of a land its residents grow and work in a specific field that is unique. For instance, Rupert’s is known for its transportation of goods. According to a new InterVistas Consulting economic impact study, in 2016, about $35 billion goods went through the port’s terminals which generated $1 billion in economic activity. In 2016, the port, trucking, rail and logistics employed about 3,100 people (Bennett, 2018). There are five other transportation terminals: Northland cruise ship terminal, Pinnacle Energy’s Westview wood pellet terminal, Fairview container terminal, Prince Rupert grain terminal, and Ridley coal terminal. In fact, by 2020, the port will have a new terminal; a $500 million project to export propane (Bennett, 2018). All which will further increase the demand for jobs in the transportation field. With more demand, more students will grow to be employed in the sector, creating shared experiences and therefore a sense of place.

In conclusion, both Prince Rupert’s and Vancouver have their unique mix of multiculturalism. Both have their unique history of migrations and different mix of cultures, but together as a whole they represent the Canadian multicultural identity. Multiculturalism was adopted in 1971 and it is a specific policy framework with a history. Approximately $23-million has been allocated for multicultural programs for the next two years. This is primarily for the development of a national anti-racism strategy that will support community groups helping immigrants integrate. However, multiculturalism is more powerful than that. It’s a sensibility that Canadians have so they can integrate diversity into daily life and in their communities. We see this is Vancouver’s cuisine. Canada is known for its multicultural identity and with both the policy and practice of multiculturalism, 85% of immigrants eventually become citizens, and mix their original culture to form a new Canadian culture (Adams and Omidvar, 2018). Multiculturalism offers a sense of identity and place that is unique to Canada.

Finally, Canada’s economy is heavily relied on transportation. Transportation plays a critical role in Canada’s economy by creating jobs and making Canada a leader in trade both nationally and abroad.

Following are a few examples of how transportation makes the economy thrive:

  1. 4.2 % of the GDP is accounted for the transportation and warehousing sector. Furthermore, the sector has grown nearly twice as fast as the average for any industry in Canada (Canadianfuels, 2018).
  2. 5% of the total employment in Canada is in transportation and warehousing. In 2014, about 896,000 employees worked in the industry (Canadianfuels, 2018).
  3. About $167 billion was traded in 2013, in 2014 total international trade equalled to $1,036 billion (Canadianfuels, 2018).

Therefore, transportation is crucial in order for our economy to thrive. Transportation is how we identify the Canadian economy and therefore it creates similar shared experiences but on a national level. Many who work in the transportation are working to make the economy thrive while reducing GHG emissions. Together, the different regions work together to support the country as a whole and this creates a sense of community.

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