My favourite place: York Membery

In the January 2016 issue of BBC History Magazine, York Membery selects Vancouver, Canada, as his favourite historical destination. History Extra caught up with him to find out more...

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Q: When did you last travel to Vancouver and why were you there?

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October, for work and pleasure. As usual, I made the time to cycle around the 1,001-acre Stanley Park, always one of the highlights of a visit to the city.

Q: Why do you love the location?

It has a beautiful setting, sandwiched between the coastal mountains and the Pacific. I also love Vancouver’s pre-war architecture. Moreover, the city has a laid-back West Coast vibe and is a stone’s throw from the Great Outdoors.

Q: What top 3 sights would you recommend people visit while they are there, and why?

First, the Marine Building, the city’s only Art Deco skyscraper, with its bas-reliefs depicting zeppelins, bi-planes and ships, and stunning aqua-green lobby. Secondly, Christchurch Cathedral, the beautiful downtown 19th century neo-Gothic Anglican place of worship. Last not least, the Railway Club, which dates back to the 1930s – and is the perfect place to catch a band live and sample a local ale!

Q. During what period of its history would you most wanted to have visited Vancouver and why?

Either the 1900-14 era when the city was fast-expanding, and British settlers were pouring into the booming imperial frontier ‘town’, or the Depression-era 1930s when my father arrived in British Columbia as a 17-year-old landed migrant but saw his hopes of carving out a life in the New World dashed by the harsh economic climate of the time.

Q. Where else in the world would you most like to visit and why?

Orkney, in large part to visit Scapa Flow, where over 50 German naval vessels were scuttled at the end of the First World War. I’d also like to pay my respects to the 833 British seamen who died when the Royal Oak was torpedoed by a U-boat in Scapa Flow in 1939.

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York Membery is a regular contributor to BBC History Magazine. You can read his feature on Vancouver in the January 2016 issue – on sale from 4 January