Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Pacific Rim Romance

I would like you to take yourselves back to 1864 for a moment. A colonial trader, Ellen Lewis, slips out of her moorings at a North Vancouver dock and drifts into the Burrard Inlet, heading for Adelaide, Australia. The Ellen Lewis was skippered by Captain Stephen Hector but I doubt he realized that he was starting a new chapter in Canada's, British Columbia's and the soon to be Vancouver's dealings with the Pacific Rim.

It took 68 days for the Ellen Lewis to reach Australia where she docked and unloaded a cargo of lumber and pickets for fences. This was the first commercial shipment out of what was to become the Port of Vancouver.
This was the start of the city's era of Pacific trade, over twenty years before the city was incorporated.  And over a century and a half later, it shows no signs of ending. As you can see by these pictures I have taken of the port.

Two-way trade between Asia and Canada has grown steadily with a major push since World War II. Especially here on the West Coast. Vancouver is Canada's transportation gateway for the flow of goods to and from the Pacific Rim.

Rapid immigration from the Philippines, Hong Kong, Taiwan, China, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and Singapore during the eighties and nineties increased Asian business ties and Vancouver is taking on a new persona of becoming more of an international business centre.
Vancouver is in the perfect time zone to deal with both Europe and Asia and has business expertise for both cultures. The Pacific Rim may be greatly understood or unknown in other areas of Canada, it isn't in B.C. One Canadian businessperson commented, "for us, Asia begins in Vancouver." (Vancouver has also been referred to as "Hongcouver", which indicates - to me - our large Asian population.)

I am referring to a book that was published in 1997 and in there it states that 30 per cent of this city's population is Asian and Vancouver is being seen as the first Asian city in North America. I don't know what the percentage is now but I do see a fair amount of Asian faces around.

Canada, as a whole, ships 81 percent of its exports to the US and only a small amount to the Pacific Rim. The figures in the book I am reading stated that B.C. ships 38 percent of provincial exports to the Pacific Rim, 48 percent to the U.S. and the remainder to Europe. Remember this was in the mid to late nineties. Last year, Premier Clark travelled to China, Korea and Japan to strengthen B.C.'s trade with those countries. Our romance with the Pacific Rim continues.

Friday, I will tell you more about the Pacific Rim and Vancouver's association with it. I am getting my information from The Greater Vancouver Book, an Urban Encyclopedia. (And the Internet to check on outdated facts) Thanks go to my friend Diana for giving me the book.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

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