We go from Mexican chicken wings to a Motown band to a mountain in New Zealand.
Vancouver is the name of the city you’re probably in, or at least near right now.
But it’s not just the name of this fair city. It’s traveled this world far an wide, with origins in a Dutch town near the German border. From there it was spread, famously, by English explorer George Vancouver as British imperialism saw him sailing the seas.
Nowadays there are a lot of things named after him, either directly (like Vancouver, Washington) or indirectly (Vancouver Island University).
And while you may know a lot of things called Vancouver, there’s a good chance you haven’t heard of these.
1. A Motown Band featuring Tommy Chong on guitar (Bobby Taylor and the Vancouvers)
If you’ve never heard of Cheech and Chong, you’re probably among Vancouver Is Awesome’s younger readers. The comedy double act was huge in the 70s and 80s, often with bits based on being stoner hippies.
In the 90s Tommy Chong continued in comedy with regular appearances in That 70s Show among others.
But before all that, he was in a band called The Vancouvers. The act’s full name was actually Bobby Taylor and the Vancouvers, and they actually had a minor hit with “Does Your Mama Know About Me” (and had a hand in the Jackson 5 becoming stars).
The band formed when Chong and his bandmates were in San Francisco as Little Daddy and the Bachelors. They met Bobby Taylor, and the new band followed.
Chong and another band member ended up getting fired when they were late for a gig. They had been delayed while getting green cards to play in the USA.
2. A very unfortunate schooner
There’ve been several ships to carry the name Vancouver, like the HMCS Vancouver (one of the first ships with a name referencing something Canadian) and the barque Vancouver, but the Hudson’s Bay Company schooner Vancouver appears to have been the unluckiest.
Built in 1826, long before the city in Canada existed, it was a product of Fort Vancouver (now Vancouver Washington). According to records they used unseasoned timber that quickly warped and wouldn’t hold oakum, which was used like caulking in ships.
In 1829 it still hadn’t been launched; in 1830 it was finally seaworthy and traveled between Langley and Oahu for a bit.
The good times didn’t last, as it was almost wrecked in 1832 after it was carried out to see in a gale. A couple of years later, in March of 1834, its story ended when it wrecked on Point Rose off of Haida Gwaii.
3. A mountain in New Zealand
As George Vancouver was an explorer who spent lots of time in the Pacific, and despite many things already had indigenous names, there are a few geographic features that bear his name, including a couple lakes, a river and a couple of mountains.
One of these is Mount Vancouver in the Southern Alps. While that all sounds very European, it’s actually on New Zealand’s South Island. In fact, it’s the fourth highest named summit in the country.
4. A Japanese coffee roaster
While Seattle’s coffee culture is well known, Vancouver is a fan of the brewed bean drink too, and others recognize this. There are actually several coffee shops that show up on Google Maps bearing the name Vancouver, including a shop in the middle of Viet Nam, two places in Istanbul, and a cafe in a small Colombian town.
Perhaps most striking, though, is the coffee roaster based out of Atsugi, Japan; the reason being its logo.
Yeah, that’s a map of Vancouver used as a logo. Everyone says Vancouver is a beautiful city, but that’s a whole new perspective.
5. A chain of Mexican wings shops
Coffee shops might make sense to some, but Vancouver’s chicken wing culture is hardly world famous. Despite that, in Mexico you can go to several locations of Vancouver Wings. And by several…there appear to be dozens, according to the company’s website, and they’re heading abroad with restaurants in San Diego and Spain.
The name is actually inspired by Vancouver, BC; the founder had lived here. He was a fan of a local place’s wing Wednesday, but when went on a Monday and got a higher bill, he decided there was an opportunity there. He went on to open the first in Guadalajara in 2009.