North Vancouver is a geographical area in the Lower Mainland that is situated immediately north of Vancouver Harbour. The term "North Vancouver" can be used to refer to either of two separate municipalities: the City of North Vancouver or the District of North Vancouver. Located directly on Burrard Inlet just north of the harbour, the City of North Vancouver is a small, urban area less than 12 square kilometres in size. The District of North Vancouver surrounds the City of North Vancouver to the west, north and east, and has a total land area of 160 square kilometres. North Vancouver has been the ancestral home of the Squamish people for several thousand years. Spanish and British explorers were the first Europeans to arrive in the area in the late 1700s; however, the first European settlement of the area didn't occur until the 1860s when George Scrimgeour and T.W. Graham built Pioneer Mills. Today, North Vancouver offers a mix of urban sprawl in the City and single-family dwellings in the District, making it a diverse and active community.
North Vancouver's close proximity to the North Shore Mountains makes this an ideal location for those who love outdoor activities such as skiing and hiking. There is also a highly active mountain biking community, and the nearby Grouse Mountain and Mount Seymour offer ample outdoor recreation opportunities. Avid runners will enjoy the Knee Knackering North Shore Trail Run, a 30-mile marathon that North Vancouver has hosted every July for over twenty years. The "Knee Knacker" follows the Baden-Powell Trail beginning at Horseshoe Bay and going all the way to Deep Cove. This trail has a total elevation change of approximately 16,000 feet (about 5,000 metres) and runs through dense coastal rainforest. Other major outdoor attractions include the Grouse Grind, a Grouse Mountain trail nearly 3 kilometres long with a total elevation change of over 850 metres. Colloquially named "Mother Nature's Stairmaster" by locals, over one hundred thousand people complete this 90-minute hike every year. This abundance of mountain trails makes North Vancouver a great place to be if you're an outdoor activities enthusiast.
Two bridges offer convenient access to North Vancouver from Vancouver: the Lions Gate Bridge to the north of Stanley Park (connecting to the Stanley Park Causeway), and the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge, which forms part of the Trans-Canada Highway. This makes North Vancouver easily accessible via car. Highway 1 cuts east-west through the City of North Vancouver in the north, with three convenient exits. The Coast Mountain Bus Company operates North Vancouver's transit system, including the local bus system as well as the SeaBus. Lonsdale Quay, at the end of Lonsdale Avenue, serves as both the central bus station and the SeaBus terminal, making it easy to get just about anywhere. The SeaBus terminal on the south side of the inlet is just a short walk from Waterfront Station, which connects to the rest of Vancouver via three SkyTrain routes: the Expo Line, the Millennium Line, and the Canada Line. Lonsdale Avenue is the main thoroughfare through the City of North Vancouver, running from Lonsdale Quay to 29th Street and into the District, where it terminates at Rockland Park.
Twenty-five elementary schools and six secondary schools serve both the City and District of North Vancouver, with both areas being served by six catchment areas. The North Vancouver School District, which is BC School District 44, has over 18,000 students currently enrolled in these thirty-one schools. One of these schools is Argyle Secondary School, a public school that has a Fraser Institute rating of 7 out of 10 and (as of 2012) an average exam mark of 71.8 per cent. Argyle Secondary School strives to provide a nurturing environment that facilitates ongoing personal and educational development, and promotes the values of pride, open-mindedness, wisdom, excellence, and respect (POWER). As of the 2011-2012 school year, the highest ranked elementary school in North Vancouver is Holy Trinity Catholic School, a private school with an average Fraser Institute ranking of 9 out of 10. Holy Trinity teaches kindergarten through grade 7 and encourages students to walk humbly with the Lord. Holy Trinity's curriculum includes Christian studies, daily prayer, and regular mass services. When admitting students, priority is given first to practicing members of the Holy Trinity Parish, then practicing Catholics of any other Parish, and finally, those who are not part of a Catholic Parish. The highest ranked public elementary school in North Vancouver is Carisbrooke Elementary, with an 8.7 out of 10 Fraser Institute ranking for 2012. Carisbrooke's mission is to "provide a positive environment where individual differences are acknowledged and where students are challenged to reach their intellectual, social, physical, aesthetic, and emotional potential." Carisbrooke offers a variety of extracurricular activities to satisfy various interests, including band and choir, track and field, basketball and volleyball, and chess club. Carisbrooke also participates in the North Vancouver gifted program. All Carisbrooke students are given the Canadian Cognitive Abilities test in Grade 3. Students who are identified as gifted are provided with an individual education plan to meet their unique needs.
According to the 2011 Census, the District of North Vancouver is home to 84,412 people, or 525 people per square kilometre. The median age is 43. In 2010, the average annual income for District of North Vancouver residents over 15 years of age was $54,408. The average before-tax family income in 2010 was $131,911. The City of North Vancouver, according to the 2011 Census, is home to 48,196 residents, or 4,000 people per square kilometre. The median age is 41. In 2010, the average annual income for City of North Vancouver residents over 15 years of age was $43,962. The average before-tax family income in 2010 was $95,548. The City of North Vancouver's total residential property tax rate for 2013 was 4.83816. The local garbage collection rate was $139, and the recycling rate was $206 for a single-family dwelling or $79.50 for a multi-family dwelling. The water charge for a single detached home was $316 ($184 for a multi-family dwelling), and the sewer charge was $247 ($155 for a multi-family dwelling).
Every year since 2006, the City of North Vancouver has hosted a party at the Pier Family Festival at the shipyards at the end of Lonsdale Avenue. This summer maritime festival is a family-friendly event featuring marine-related educational displays and fun activities, plus live musical and dramatic acts at the Shipbuilders' Square. In the past, the event has also featured face painting, mascots, carnival-themed games, a petting zoo, and even balloon animal modelers. This is a great festival for families whose children are interested in anything nautical. If you're a fan of Christmas events, you'll love Canyon Lights, an annual holiday event hosted at the Capliano Suspension Bridge Park. Every year from late November to early January, the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park turns into a Christmas light display featuring children's activities, such as gingerbread man decorating, Christmas carols, and even a scavenger hunt. The $65 admission fee (which admits two adults and two children) supports the BC Fire Fighters' Burn Fund. This year, the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park aims to set a record for the world's tallest Christmas tree by decorating a 46-metre Douglas fir with over ten thousand lights. North Vancouver is a community that offers great residential housing and ample outdoor activities. Its close proximity to Grouse Mountain, Mount Seymour, the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, and a wide variety of parks and conservation areas make it the ideal place to live for avid outdoor enthusiasts. Connected to Vancouver via a variety of transportation options, North Vancouver is both secluded and metropolitan. There are several great schools in the area, as well as lots of fun events. If you're looking for a home in a rugged landscape that is still close to civilization, North Vancouver is the place for you.