Arts, culture thrive
The web site of Granville Island which lists the plethora of cultural and arts events for visitors to this tiny spot in central Vancouver, B.C. Click image to enlarge.
A factural error in this story has been corrected since it was fist posted.
ONE OF THE LEAST DISCOVERED jewels of the Pacific Rim is hidden at the southern end of the Inside Passage, which most visitors see from cruise ships on their way to Alaska.
Vancouver, B.C. is remarkable for its progressive, artistic, architectural and cultural vibrancy.
At the center, arguably, is Granville Island, which I visited with my cousins on Tuesday.
Once an area of dilapidated industrial installations, this waterfront island nestled between downtown Vancouver and the southern suburbs has become a hotbed of artistic endeavor, anchored by the Emily Carr University, an art school.
The Emily Carr University, an arts school, is the anchor for the shopping, dining, arts and crafts complex in the heart of Vancouver, B.C. © SGE, Inc. All rights reserved.
AS MANY TOWNS HAVE DISCOVERED, but others have not, there is greater value in restoring the old structures and repurposing them than in demolition and reconstruction.
Pasadena, my hometown, has restored Old Town, now a significant visitor attraction.
Granville Island is the epitome of such an intelligent approach to urban planning. All that remains of the original industry is the Ocean Construction cement factory, with the memorable slogan “Concrete thinking” on its round tower.
The smaller structures are now retail boutiques, gift stores, artist studios and a host of other indescribable tiny retail outlets.
It is all situated along False Creek and there are delightful waterfront walkways scattered with pedestrian-friendly benches, tables and entertainment. While we sat on patio chairs enjoying the warm summers day, a musician about 50 feet away strummed a guitar and sang, softly in the background while we chatted with fascinating passersby.
One unique cluster of private homes, we found by accident, perhaps a dozen, lines the waterfront. These fashionable, modern houses are actually floating on the water, separated from each other by a slip wide enough for a 50-foot yacht to be berthed.
Instead of a driveway and auto garage, each house has a private slip; many residents, obviously, were at home – their craft tied up alongside the house.
The atmosphere is bustling and vibrant. Arts and crafts are everywhere.
Jo Darts of the Craft Council of British Columbia explained to me that this is a somewhat unusual non-profit organization: a social enterprise, required to make a profit but also required to return all profits into the business.
Crafthouse sells the juried contemporary craft of 110 members of the Craft Council in the mediums of wood, glass, fiber, clay and metal.
Three stores on Granville Island sell artifacts depicting the culture of the First Nations, the inhabitants of the land before the arrival of European settlers: Raven and Bear, Wickaninish Gallery and Eagle Spirit Gallery.
The Ocean Construction cement plant is one of the only remnants of the former industrial section near downtown Vancouver. © SGE, Inc. All rights reserved.
AFTER A COUPLE OF HOURS exploring Granville Island, we headed out to Jericho Beach Park, perhaps five miles west.
From this wide stretch of sand, one can look eastwards for an awe-inspiring view of the city skyline, its modern skyscrapers rising above the water of English Bay.
The skyline is actually more impressive than Los Angeles, with its relatively tiny downtown core. Vancouver from Jericho Beach seems larger; the architecture is post-modern, the effect stunning.
One of the most overriding impressions of the city is how well planned and maintained all the public spaces seemed to be.
As we drove along the waterfront between Granville Island and Jericho Beach, every fourth or fifth lot of oceanfront property was a tiny park – what we in L.A. call a “pocket park.” Keeping public access to the water this way is such a smart idea; just compare it to Miami Beach, where the water front is blocked by wall of high-rise apartments and condos, and you can sense the superior intelligence of the British Columbians!
There’s much more, but that will have to wait for another time. It has been a fascinating 30 hours of exploration, discovery … and adventure.
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