For the last 32 years I’ve enjoyed the sunny skies of Los Angeles. Three months ago I moved to Vancouver for the outstanding climate.
I’m not talking about weather—rather, the startup climate. I took my first steps in the beautiful city of Vancouver in July and was instantly sold. Yes, I was warned of the impending rain, but I chose to ignore the inevitable wetness in hopes of blue-sky startup potential.
The rain has been a major adjustment. I need to buy a shell and was shell shocked to find out the Canadian version of a windbreaker costs $600 bucks at MEC. But that’s not the only thing that surprised me. Here are my top five Canadian Curiosities:
1. Legal Drinking at 19. How does anyone make it through University when you’re allowed to drink at bars at 19? Every time I’m grabbing a drink you’ll hear me say, “That kid looks like a teenager, oh wait they are.”
2. Debit Cards. The American version of a debit card and the Canadian version of a debit card are very different. I can’t use this debit card on the Internet? And try traveling with a Canadian debit card. Good Luck.
3. Events Calendars. I wanted to entertain an out-of-town guest and since I’m new to Vancouver I used Event Calendars to find fun things to do. They usually list things like concerts in the park and museum installations. However, Canadian event calendars list things like hiking, camping, and going to the park. Sorry, those are activities not events.
4. Jaywalking. We have terrible drivers in Los Angeles but that doesn’t stop Hollywood types from risking death by crossing against a red light in hopes of saving 10 seconds. Even if it’s raining, a one way street, during the early morning on a Sunday when streets are deserted, Canadians respect the blinking red hand. Please don’t judge me when I jaywalk.
5. Honesty. Canadians are honest. I dropped my wallet in Stanley Park only to return 30 minutes later to find it gone. Stolen? Nope, it was returned to lost and found. Mind blowing.
My confusion with debit cards, disappointment with local event calendars, and gratefulness to whomever returned my wallet just adds to all the reasons why I really love Vancouver. It’s charming, sophisticated, and most importantly it fosters a community that empowers startups to succeed.
It’s full of great mentors and investors who love to help. Don’t get me wrong, they are still sharks, but they know what everyone else already knows: Vancouver has lots of fresh seafood (AKA great ideas).