Since 2003, when the Province of British Columbia announced the legalization of same-sex marriage, Vancouver and Victoria have become favored sites for gay and lesbian weddings. (Same-sex marriage is now legal throughout Canada.) Information about the process is listed on the invaluable www.gayvan.com website. Vancouver's official tourism website, www.tourismvancouver.com, also has information for gay and lesbian travelers.
What San Francisco is to the United States, Vancouver is to Canada -- a hip, laid-back town with a large, thriving gay community. In fact, the largest gay population in Western Canada lives here, primarily in the West End and Commercial Drive. You'll find hotels and restaurants in Vancouver to be very gay friendly. (The straight-friendly West End Guest House is owned and operated by a married gay couple.)
The club, bar, and party scene is chronicled in the biweekly gay and lesbian tabloid, Xtra! West, available at cafes, bars, and businesses throughout the West End.
The Gay Lesbian Transgendered Bisexual Community Centre, 2–1170 Bute St. (tel. 604/684-5307; www.qmunity.ca), has all kinds of information on events and the current hot spots. Also check out the Vancouver Pride Society website (www.vancouverpride.ca) for upcoming special events, including the annual Vancouver Pride Parade in June, one of the largest gay-pride events in North America. The Vancouver Queer Film Festival is held in mid-August; check www.queerfilmfestival.ca for more details. Also, check out Gay & Lesbian Ski Week at Whistler, located 121km (75 miles) north of Vancouver; for information, go to www.gaywhistler.com.
The gay and lesbian scene in Victoria is small but active. Explore the Pride link under "Plan Your Trip" at www.tourismvictoria.com, or go to the www.gayvictoria.ca website. At both sites, you'll find information about special places to stay and dine, plus things to do. The Victoria Pride Parade and Festival is held every summer in early July.
The International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA; tel. 800/448-8550 or 954/776-2626; www.iglta.org) is the trade association for the gay and lesbian travel industry and offers an online directory of gay- and lesbian-friendly travel businesses and tour operators.