My Sally-day in Vancouver

16 April 2014 — When I posted “From Lake to Pond to Pavement,” I was nowhere near Toronto. I was 3,350 km to the west, in Vancouver — more specifically, in Sally & Owen’s home on the slopes of Mount Seymour, quite close to Deep Cove. I’m in B.C. for a family wedding, and so glad to spend time with dear friends as well, including these two.

I arrived Wednesday; Thursday is my Sally-day, full of Vancouver-style contrasts.

First up, a prowl through the community of Strathcona, just east of downtown Vancouver’s Chinatown. “You’ll like Strathcona,” promised Sal before we set off — and I do, right from our first moment on E. Georgia Street.

row houses, E. Georgia St., Strathcona

Why does this make me think of St. John’s, Newfoundland? Also a seaport, but ‘way back east on the Atlantic, some 7,314 km from Vancouver, and with a totally different history. Maybe it’s the bright colours? Whatever, I love it, and the walk starts — you’ll pardon the dreadful pun —  on a good footing. (Groan.)

Lots of signs tacked to hydro poles — some hand-made Go Slow signs, like this one…

Strathcona local signage

… and others advertising wonderful things. A Perogy Lunch & Yard Sale, for example, which would be totally tempting except it’s being held on Saturday, when I’ll be at the wedding. (So the perogy-fest promptly loses all appeal.)

We pass this tree stump with its living roof, advertising the Pollinator Corridor Project.

bee habitat in host garden, Strathcona

It’s so nifty. By placing habitat in host gardens, the Project aims to provide shelter & forage for the pollinators (Mason bees), add to local green space, and connect people with each other, their community, & nature.

Part of my joy is the jump on spring I gain just by being in Vancouver. It turns out that Toronto has a warm (mid-teens) & sunny few days as well, but back there nothing has yet sprouted, whereas here I am surrounded by green grass, blooming spring flowers & great bursts of flowering shrubs. Magnolias and more, here at E Georgia & Princess.

Strathcona homes, E. Georgia & Pincess

We’re at E. Georgia & Jackson when Sally squeaks with delight. “There it is!” she cries, pointing to a café with Finch’s Market painted on its big front window. Turns out she works near the original Finch’s, on West Pender downtown; here is the relatively new (& new for her) branch operation just on the border between Strathcona & Chinatown.

Finch’s Market, 501 E. Georgia

Of course we go in, have lunch. Pear/blue brie/roasted walnut sandwiches, exotic as all get-out, love it. I top this with a ginger-fresh lemonade drink that’s the real thing, the ginger just slightly sears the throat on the way down. (And that’s all the food review you get from me.) We eye some of the market produce, but don’t succumb, and just as well because we head next even closer to Chinatown…

bike in Strathcona, nr Gore Av

… where I stop to admire this bit of bike art, and then hustle to catch up with Sally. She has spotted a little shop advertising home-made pies.

We wheel right in through that door, and emerge carefully balancing a strawberry-rhubarb pie, so fresh from the oven we are cautioned to keep the top of the box a bit ajar while it continues to cool. We promise.

Next, we head for the one planned event of the day. It takes us into the heart of downtown, where all those roads twirl their way into the northern end of the Granville Street Bridge, near Pacific St. We’re here to visit a glossy, flossy, pull-out-all-the-stops architectural/urban development exhibit called Gesantkunstwerk.

Signage explains all that German means, more or less, “world through total design.” The exhibit shows what is planned for this bit of the waterfront: a 50-storey residential tower by Danish “starchitect” Bjarke Ingels and a surrounding complex of mixed-use low-rise, all of this driven by the development company, Westbank.

We work our way through the photos, maquettes, videos and wall boards. There’s a lot worth taking in; people are reading, watching and snapping photos of the displays like mad. Sal & I end up taking… not selfies, let’s call them “you-ies.” Each other. Here is Sally photographing me as I photograph her, through the glowing maquette of what is yet to come.

Sally, in the Gesantkunstwerk exhibit

Right outside, we look at a remnant of what used to be.

on lower Howe, next to Gesantkunstwerk

Along one flank, some graffiti; beyond that, the bridge. This will be some amazing transformation, a whole lot of new housing stock plus shops & services for all those new residents..

view from lower Howe toward Granville St. Bridge

And now for something completely different (says Monty Python). But no, not totally.

The theme is still redevelopment, housing & ancillary services …

wildlife tree, Lynn Canyon Park

It’s a Wildlife Tree, just like the sign says; a wonderful BC strategy I first admired on Vancouver Island last year. Don’t cut down all the old, dead trees — repurpose them! Leave them there to serve as shelter and, at least where woodpeckers are concerned, vertical snack bars.

We’ve left downtown by now, as you might have guessed; we’re back in North Vancouver in Lynn Canyon Park — 617 acres of park around Lynn Creek, with trails, ecology centre, café and yes! a suspension bridge over the creek. Less well-known & smaller than its west-end Capilano cousin, but great fun to cross. And free.

Bouncy, bouncy.


Lynn Canyon suspension bridge

The creek tumbles down a waterfall to one side of the bridge …

Lynn Creek, by the bridge

… while on the other side,  we walk the usual ridiculously gloriously stunning west-coast forest-scape, with Nurse Logs and all …

a Lynn Canyon trail

… as we make our way to 30-Foot Pool.

We watch in fascination as two young men start stripping down at Pool’s edge. Really? And the plan is…?

The plan is to get down to their skivvies, then with whoops and yelps run very quickly into the Pool and dive beneath the surface. Which they do.

the shock of 30 Foot Pool

And then scamper right out again, still yelping but now with a certain anguished overtone from the shock of the cold water.

Honestly, even rocks have more sense than that. This inukshuk, for example, stays put.

inukshuk on edge of 30 Foot Pool

But Sally & I don’t. We head back along the trail, across the bridge (bounce, bounce), and home.

To a warm dinner, and strawberry-rhubarb pie.

Leave a comment


  1. What a beautiful place!

    • oh, it is… you don’t have to be much of a photographer to take powerful images, the landscape does all the work for you

  2. That is SO great! It makes me want to live here and have you to walk with regularly.

    What fun.



  3. You can make anyplace sound interesting and inviting – even a dull old place like Vancouver!! Just kidding of course – loved the tour – wanted to be on every step along the way and as always that is such a beautiful part of the world.

    • “dull old Vancouver” — you had me going for a moment there! Glad you enjoyed your tour, thanks for coming along

  4. Interesting mini travelogue with photos – very enjoyable

    • I try to be a tourist in my own town (i.e., have open eyes & be curious), but even so there’s always that extra energy when I’m somewhere else…

  5. NO. WAY. My daughter lives in Vancouver and when I visited at Thanksgiving, we hiked near Deep Cove…..oh my. We head there soon for grad too!!!! Love that city! Thanks for the tour….

  6. Charming place! Reminds me very much of San Francisco, in look and feel.


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    "Traveller, there is no path. Paths are made by walking" -- Antonio Machado (1875-1939)

    "The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes" -- Marcel Proust (1871-1922)

    "A city is a language, a repository of possibilities, and walking is the act of speaking that language, of selecting from those possibilities" -- Rebecca Solnit, "Wanderlust: A History of Walking"

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