Reading Comprehension Text and Exercises


Rain City

Located on the Western coast of Canada in the province of British Columbia, the city of Vancouver is the third-most populous in the country. Known for its cultural and ethnic diversity and for the quality of life enjoyed by its residents, Vancouver is one of the most cosmopolitan cities in Canada.

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The city is named after George Vancouver, an officer of the British Royal Navy, who first explored the inner harbor of Burrard Inlet (now Vancouver harbor) in 1792.

Vancouver, Rain City

A Brief History of Vancouver

  • The region now covered by the city of Vancouver has been inhabited for at least 8,000 years by the aboriginal people of Canada. The city is located in the traditional territories of the Squamish, Musqueam, and Tseil-Waututh peoples.

    Europeans such as George Vancouver and the Spanish explorer Jose Maria Narvaez began to become familiar with the region in the 1790s as they organized expeditions from further down the North American Pacific Coast.
  • The first European to actually set foot on the site of the present-day city was Simon Fraser, a trader with the North West Company. His discovery of gold eventually led to the Fraser Gold Rush of 1858, which brought over 25,000 settlers to the region from California.

    The first European settlement in what is now Vancouver proper was in 1862, while in the following year a sawmill (a factory for turning trees into useable wood for a range of different purposes) was established, beginning Vancouver's long relationship with the logging and timber industry.
  • The City of Vancouver was officially incorporated (declared as a city) in 1886, the same year that the first transcontinental train arrived in the city which had become the terminus (final stop) on the Canadian Pacific Railway.

    Although the city suffered a great fire in the same year, which razed most of the city's wooden structures, it was quickly rebuilt and grew from a settlement of around 1,000 inhabitants in 1881 to over 100,000 by 1911.

    Many of these immigrants were of Chinese origin, arriving to work in Vancouver's growing industrial economy based around shipping, mining, and the railways.
  • Vancouver was an important center for the labor movement in Canada during the 20th century, with many major workers' strikes taking place in the city's large workplaces. In recent years, the city has adapted to become a major regional center for finance, tourism, and the film industry.

VanDusen Botanical Gardens

Since opening in August 1975 after five years of construction work on the site of an old golf course, the VanDusen Botanical Garden has become one of Vancouver's most beautiful and beloved sites.

Largely run by an army of 1200 volunteers who offer visitors guided tours of the gardens (both on foot and using motorized golf carts), the gardens cover 55 acres (0.22 square kilometers) and display an extensive collection of native plants from across British Columbia and further afield.

The park also features large stone sculptures, a Korean Pavilion, and carved totem poles which represent Canada's indigenous heritage.


The largest Chinatown in Canada and located to the southwest of Vancouver's old "Japantown" (where the majority of the city's Japanese immigrant first lived in the late 19th century), this neighborhood is the perfect place for visitors to gain a sense of the city's history as a site of cultural fusion.

While Vancouver's Chinese population is by now spread across the city, a sign of the Chinese community's assimilation into wider city life, Chinatown is still a thriving neighborhood complete with many traditional restaurants, open markets, and tea shops.

The famous China Gate which stands on Pender Street and is considered to be the most recognizable symbol of the neighborhood was donated to the city of Vancouver by the government of the People's Republic of China following the Expo 86 world's fair, which was held in the city.

Stanley Park

This enormous public park, covering an area of 1,001 acres (4.05 square kilometers), is Vancouver's best known and most beloved leisure destination. Surrounded by water on three sides, the area now covered by the park was home to indigenous peoples for thousands of years before British Columbia was colonized in the mid-19th century.

Designated as Vancouver's first park when the city was incorporated in 1886, much of the park remains as densely forested and wild as it was in the late 1800s. The park features many attractions and facilities, including forest trails, lakes, beaches, an aquarium, and a polar bear exhibit. The park is home to many species of wild animal, including coyotes, skunks, beavers, and raccoons, as well as a sizeable colony of Great Blue Herons (a large water bird).

Vancouver Art Gallery

Founded in 1931, the Vancouver Art Gallery is one of the city's premier cultural attractions. With a permanent collection of over 11,000 artworks, the gallery is one of the best places to see the finest examples of art from Canada's Pacific Coast, such as the work of Emily Carr.

Carr's landscape paintings and her efforts at depicting the life of the indigenous people of the Pacific Northwest are now considered to be among the finest examples of Canadian art. The Gallery is located in the former main courthouse of Vancouver, which is a fine example of the neoclassical architectural style and was designated as a National Historic Site of Canada in 1980.

An Authentic Vancouver Dish

With its proximity to the Pacific Ocean and its strong East Asian connections, it will come as no surprise that seafood and Chinese and Japanese cuisine is extremely popular in Vancouver.

In particular, Vancouver is the best place to eat the B.C. (British Columbia) Roll, a special kind of sushi designed in Vancouver. Made using barbequed salmon skin, rice, and cucumber, and created by the Japanese chef Hidekazu Tojo in Vancouver in 1974, this dish perfectly reflects Vancouver's cosmopolitan and multicultural character.

Comprehension Exercises

Vocabulary Questions

  1. What does "sizeable" mean?
    1. easy to measure
    2. large or big
    3. easy to hold or grab

  2. What does "barbequed" mean?
    1. cooked over a grill or an open fire
    2. cooked in boiling water
    3. cooked in hot milk

  3. What does "cosmopolitan" mean?
    1. related to astronomy and the stars
    2. boring or uninteresting
    3. diverse, combining lots of things from different places

  4. What does "volunteers" mean?
    1. people who do offer to do something, usually without being paid for it
    2. people who are patients in a hospital
    3. people who enjoy reading books

  5. What does "fusion" mean?
    1. mixture or combination
    2. an explosion
    3. disappearance or vanishing

Collocation Questions

  1. The ___________ in Vancouver is often rainy as a result of its location in the Pacific Northwest.
    1. temperature
    2. climate
    3. weather

  2. Vancouver was officially ___________ as a city in 1886.
    1. incorporated
    2. limited
    3. founded

  3. The VanDusen Botanical Gardens are built on the grounds of a ___________ golf course.
    1. recent
    2. former
    3. previous

  4. Many immigrants traveled ___________ the Pacific Ocean from East Asia to Vancouver in the 19th and 20th centuries.
    1. between
    2. across
    3. through

  1. Stanley Park is the perfect place for visitors and locals to ___________.
    1. relax
    2. diminish
    3. ease

  1. The B.C. Roll was ___________ by the Japanese chef based in Vancouver.
    1. invented
    2. innovated
    3. renovated

  1. The China Gate was given to the City of Vancouver as a ___________ from the government of the People's Republic of China.
    1. talent
    2. gift
    3. skill

  2. Vancouver has ___________ its industries in recent years, becoming a leading center for Canadian film production.
    1. variegated
    2. scattered
    3. diversified

  3. The totem ___________ in the VanDusen Botanical Garden are designed to represent Canada's indigenous heritage.
    1. poles
    2. pipes
    3. stakes

  4. Great Blue Herons are just one of the many ___________ of animals which have made Stanley Park their home.
    1. type
    2. species
    3. form

Wh Questions

  1. What was the first major industrial site established in the region that became known as Vancouver?
    1. a sawmill
    2. a textile factory
    3. an iron forge

  2. Why is Vancouver a great place to eat sushi?
    1. because of its rice paddies
    2. because of its special cucumbers
    3. because of its location on the Pacific coast and its strong links to East Asian culture and heritage

  3. Where is the best place in Vancouver to enjoy Emily Carr's work?
    1. Stanley Park
    2. VanDusen Botanical Gardens
    3. Vancouver Art Gallery

  4. How many people moved to Vancouver between 1881 and 1911?
    1. over 10,000
    2. over 90,000
    3. over 250,000

  1. When did the Great Fire of Vancouver take place?
    1. 1886
    2. 1868
    3. 1869

Evaluating Statements

  1. Based on the information in this lesson, which statement is true?
    1. Vancouver was named after the Spanish naval officer, Jorge Vancouver.
    2. Vancouver was named after the British naval officer, George Vancouver.
  2. Based on the information in this lesson, which statement is false?
    1. The VanDusen Botanical Gardens took five years to construct.
    2. The VanDusen Botanical Gardens took three years to construct.

True or False?

  1. Based on the information in this lesson, is the following statement true or false?

    "Vancouver located in the Manitoba province of Canada."
    1. True
    2. False

  2. Based on the information in this lesson, is the following statement true or false?

    "Stanley Park covers an area of 1,001 acres."
    1. True
    2. False

Answer Key

1. B| 2. A| 3. C| 4. A| 5. A| 6. C| 7. A| 8. B| 9. B| 10. A|11. A| 12. B| 13. C|14. A| 15. B| 16. A|17. C| 18. C| 19. B| 20. A| 21. B| 22. B| 23. B| 24. A

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