Spanish Banks

Welcome to the Vancouver Lexicon. Its purpose is to pin down the patois of the City of Vancouver by recording its toponyms, nicknames, slang terms, personalities, places, and other Van-centric things. Full A-Z here.

Spanish Banks | Toponym | A group of sandy, sun-soaked beaches facing Burrard Inlet, English Bay, the North Shore, and the city’s western skyline. They are located on Vancouver’s West Side between Locarno Beach to the east and UBC to the west. At low tide, the shoreline is one kilometre off the beach. The name “Spanish Bank” was first printed on charts as a nod to explorers Galiano and Valdes, who Captain George Vancouver met hereabouts in 1792 (even though it was their contemporaries Carrasco and Narváez who first sighted the long, broad tidal flat or “bank” in 1791). It has since been colloquially pluralised to “Spanish Banks” on account of its beaches being broken into three sections: Spanish Bank East, with its volleyball nets and skimboarders; Spanish Bank West, with its aromatic concession stand and van-living regulars, and Spanish Bank Extension, with its hundreds of off-leash dogs pissing and shitting everywhere. Fun fact, the city refers to it officially as Spanish Banks but the road sign on West 4th Avenue still has it in the singular: Spanish Bank.

Not a chain of financial institutions from the Iberian peninsula.

Usage: “Making sense of which beach is which at Spanish Banks is a tricky thing, even for lifelong Vancouverites.”

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