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5 things you (probably) didn't know about Vancouver's sister cities

From flying cabs to the claims of California rolls.
Four of Vancouver's sister cities clockwise from top left: Guangzhou (China), Edinburgh (Scotland), Los Angeles (USA), and Odesa (Ukraine).

Conveniently Vancouver has five sister cities, so each of them is getting one fact today.

The City of Vancouver actually has decided not to accept any new sister cities, and so these five are the only ones for the foreseeable future. They are, in order of becoming sisters:

  • Odesa, Ukraine: 1944
  • Yokohama, Japan: 1965
  • Edinburgh, Scotland: 1978
  • Guangzhou, China: 1985
  • Los Angeles, United States: 1986

So here are a few facts, one each about one of our sister cities.

1. Odessa and Vancouver still sometimes send gifts

While the sister city agreement with Odesa is the oldest, the relationship is still acknowledged, though maybe with a bit less gusto than in previous decades.

In 2017 the City of Vancouver sent four books to Odesa for their library. Previously Odesa had sent some military-style pins, some picture cards and an ornament.

2. Yokohama's totem pole

Totem poles are one of the most iconic and unique aspects of the West Coast, having been a part of local First Nations culture before Europeans arrived.

As such, it makes sense that one might be a gift to a respected sister. In 1991, to celebrate the anniversary of the two city's seaports being sisters, Vancouver sent Yokohama a totem pole that still stands in a park near the port.

3. Edinburgh is home to Lost in Vancouver, an indie rock band

Lost in Vancouver may not be an official aspect of the sister city agreement between here and Edinburgh, but they do still play shows in Edinburgh after years in the local scene.

In fact, they've got a show coming up next Sunday, April 14 and just released a new single.

4. Guangzhou ok'd the first flying taxi

Given Vancouver's geography and interest in transit and the leading edge of transportation (for example, the SkyTrain was the first automated, driverless rapid transit system in the world), a recent development in Guangzhou may be of interest.

Last fall they approved the world's first flying taxi.

5. LA, Vancouver and the California roll

Vancouver doesn't have many claims to fame in the culinary world, and the California roll is one of the most notable claims. As one of the most popular and famous sushi choices, it's got a certain cache to it.

It's called the California roll and several chefs in L.A. have said it was their idea. At the same time, though, there is a local sushi master who has a strong claim as well. Hidekazu Tojo, who moved to Vanocuver from Japan in 1971, claims he created just before it was written about in L.A. newspapers.

California, as the story goes, refers to the crab and avocado in the roll.

It doesn't seem the battling claims have resulted in any sort of sister city squabble.