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Burnaby is the third largest city in British Columbia behind its neighbours Surrey and of course, Vancouver -- a welcome statistic to those who might be looking for something a little less ominous for their vacation than the soaring skyscrapers of a roaring metropolis.
Burnaby includes several distinct areas including Metrotown, Burnaby Lake, Deer Lake, Burnaby Village, Capitol Hill and Burnaby Mountain as well as being home to two renown academic institutions, a handful of excellent golf courses and the second largest mall in the country. Directly east of Vancouver, this city has been growing steadily since its incorporation well over 100 years ago. At first, this was thanks to the burgeoning centres of Vancouver and New Westminster, then thanks to its location as a corridor to the agricultural industry of the Fraser Valley. But now, the thriving suburban, educational, recreational and commercial centre of Burnaby is a prominent part of the Metropolitan Vancouver map for so many other reasons.
Today, the word Burnaby is most synonymous with the word shopping. Indeed, Canada's second largest mall has its home here. Metropolis at Metrotown or simply Metrotown as it is commonly referred to, is a mega-complex that consists of almost 500 shops and services. Since 1986, this monster-mall (along with two high-rise office buildings and several adjacent malls) has provided everything from cinemas to retail shops to Western Canada's largest food court, refacing West Burnaby and redefining the Lower Mainland shopping experience. But there's more to Burnaby than just strip-malls...
Burnaby Lake is the central attraction of Burnaby Lake Regional Park, 4 beautiful square kilometers of flora and fauna with over 200 species of birds that call this home throughout the year. East of Burnaby City Hall, this peaceful sanctuary provides an idyllic conclusion to Still Creek, Eagle Creek and Deer Lake while the lake empties to the east into the Fraser River via the Brunette River. The much smaller, tree-lined Deer Lake in Central Burnaby is just 1 kilometer to the southwest. Somewhat of a cultural hub, the surrounding park hosts summer concerts as well as being home to Burnaby Art Gallery (in the allegedly haunted Ceperley Mansion), the Shadbolt Centre for the Arts and the Burnaby Village Museum.
The Burnaby Village Museum itself or Heritage Village as it is often called, is an open-air museum experience that covers 10 acres and consists of buildings and artifacts from the late 1880's to the early 1920's. Originally from other parts of the country, the buildings were relocated and arranged into a village with staff dressing in period costume to bring the experience to life for the whole family! The most popular attraction, the fully-operating C.W. Parker Carousel, is a 1912 original with 41 horses. If you're vacationing during the summer months, the Canada Day and Victoria Day celebrations here are epic!
In proper Metropolitan Vancouver fashion, Burnaby's population is an eclectic mix of cultures. The neighbourhood of Capitol Hill spans the summit of the rise by the same name and is home to large Italian and Croatian communities. This is also an area heavily populated with students who attend the nearby Simon Fraser University (SFU).
Burnaby Mountain, home to SFU, is a low, forested mountain with exceptional views of the Upper Arm of the Burrard Inlet. Despite the influx of residents and the continued development of the area, the mountain still maintains a population of wildlife that includes deer, black bears and coyotes. For the bird-lover, several species of woodpecker, Steller's jays, northern flickers and great blue heron are waiting to make your day. And if you need something a little more dynamic to occupy your field of vision, this area is a favourite viewing spot for the English Bay's famous pyrotechnic extravaganza, Symphony of Fire. Burnaby Mountain is also a popular mountain bike destination with numerous trails to tear up and obstacles to conquer.
Burnaby's two prominent educational institutions, SFU and the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) contribute to the young, dynamic attitude of the area. With satellite campuses in both Vancouver and Surrey, SFU provides three semesters of undergraduate and graduate programs and is ranked 1st along with the University of Victoria in Canada's Top Comprehensive Universities.
But some would argue that some of life's most valuable lessons aren't taught in the classroom but on the golf course, in which case, Burnaby has some classrooms for you to check out! Burnaby Mountain Golf Course provides a beautiful outing while Riverway Public Golf Course includes the Les Furber 18-hole course as well as a covered driving range. For a casual afternoon of pitch-and-putt check out Kensington Park or Central Park.
From Metrotown to mountainside golf courses, Burnaby has something for everyone.