A city as vibrant as Burnaby holds enough wonders to fill multiple lifetimes. From tranquil Deer Lake Park to river rafting and tubing, from the massive mall Metropolis at Metrotown to Canlan Ice Sports, someone incapable of enjoying him or herself in Burnaby would be a scary encounter indeed. Burnaby, however, holds more in store than meets the eye. Here are a handful of the exciting and fun facts about the city and its people, history and culture.


Despite being the third-largest city in British Columbia, management of the city is the best, bar none. In 2009, Maclean’s magazine voted Burnaby the “Best Run City in Canada.” The city’s namesake is the explorer and Freemason Robert Burnaby, who charted the region surrounding Burnaby Lake as early as 1859. Robert Burnaby took great interest in a wide variety of business and community enterprises, and proved instrumental in the development of the region. BC Statistics recorded in 2010 that the city’s population is approximately 223,000.

Did you know that the highest honor that the City of Burnaby can bestow upon an individual is the title of “Freeman,” which has been awarded to only sixteen individuals since it was conceived in the mid-1960s? Solely those persons of exceedingly high merit have earned the right to be called “Freeman.”


Nature and Sustainability Awards

Burnaby represents one of the most spectacular places to retreat to for those seeking to commune with nature, or run wild. The city lays claim to over 200 parks. These designated parks and open space areas encompass 25 percent of Burnaby’s land—that’s over 5,500 acres!

The City of Burnaby has won numerous awards for its community-oriented, sustainable living enterprises. These include:

  • The Federation of Canadian Municipalities 2011 Green Champion Award, which was given to Mayor Derek Corrigan in recognition of his stewardship bent on promoting sustainable community development.
  • One of the very first communities in British Columbia to implement an open watercourse policy was none other than Burnaby. This historical watermark was accomplished as far back as 1973.
  • Burnaby received three awards from 2011 to 2012 for its Lake Rejuvenation Project: the 2011 Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of B.C. Environment Award and the 2012 Association of Consulting Engineering Companies, for both British Columbia (awarded for Merit) and Canada (awarded for Excellence)
  • In partnership with the Simon Fraser University Community Trust, the city was awarded the 2011 FCM Sustainable Community Award for Integrated Neighbourhood Development
  • In 2002, Burnaby was awarded the Fraser Basin Council Overall Sustainability Award



Exceptionally friendly and inviting to internationals, Burnaby’s partnerships indicate its desires to construct a globe-spanning community.  Four “sister cities” are tied to Burnaby: Mesa, Arizona, U.S.A.; Hwaseon, Korea, Zhongshan City, China; and Kushiro, Japan.

One iconic token of recognition and appreciation for the formation of such strong relationships can be found within the city itself. On Burnaby Mountain sits “The Playground of the Gods,” a collection of around 50 imposing totem poles. The Japanese artist who created these was named Nubuo Toko, the son of Shusheo. This family belongs to the Ainu culture, who were Japan’s first inhabitants. The Playground was erected at the apex of a slope overlooking Burnaby’s Coal Harbour to the west. The totem poles were installed to honour Burnaby’s close relationship with its sister city, Kushiro, in Japan.


Interesting Local Flavour

Many alluring landmarks dot the City of Burnaby, and, of course, not all of them are natural. There are a great many symbols woven into the history and culture of the city. One such element is “The Swinging Girl” sign, which reads “Heights” and has been held aloft by Helens Children’s Wear since 1956, when Helen Arnold relocated her establishment. This animated, glowing work is a much-beloved example of kinetic neon art. The sign lights up the nightlife of Burnaby and is a tourist destination. The Swinging Girl was voted a civic heritage landmark in 2010.

In 1911, Henry and Grace Ceperley began construction on the mansion of “Fairacres,” designed by R.P.S Twizell, an English-trained architect. Fairacres is a great example of the “Arts and Crafts” style, a movement begun in the 19th Century.


Other accomplishments and assorted fun facts include:

  • Simon Fraser University (SFU), crowning Burnaby Mountain, is the only university currently competing in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)
  • Canada’s first Blue Community award was given in 2011 by the Canadian Union for Public Employees to the City of Burnaby, in recognition of its water conservation and protection policies and initiatives
  • In 2010, Burnaby was among the first of the Lower Mainland municipalities to institute a city-wide recycling program for Food Scraps.
  • Local famed talent includes national soccer team player Christine Sinclair, actor Michael J. Fox and singer Michael


SFU Burnaby Resources