I AM ON Granville Island, a former industrial landmark of Vancouver which has metamorphosed into a hip area for artisans, poets and painters. 

It is amazing to see how a once industrial wasteland in the city’s False Creek can undergo such a successful urban re-development, yet retain so much of its former character and heritage. As I walk the island, the first thing I notice is the lack of curbs and sidewalks, a response to the need for trucks, trolleys and forklifts to go about their daily business without obstruction. Having pointed that out, traffic is fairly light, although care should be taken crossing the roads, because it is all too easy to become distracted with so much architecture to take on board. I am particularly impressed by the brightly painted silos of Ocean Construction Ltd., a concrete factory which has been on Johnston Street for over 90 years and is still functioning today. Railway tracks run amongst the cobblestone streets as I head towards the Public Market of this unique urban oasis with guide Rick Graham. Inside, I am greeted by cheerful stallholders selling an assortment of produce from colourful stalls, each showcasing homemade products and a gastronomic extravaganza of seafood, baked goods and fruit. Breakfast awaits, and I opt for a bacon, egg and sausage wrap with coffee to go. We seat ourselves by a window overlooking the waterfront and enjoy people watching. We head back over Granville Street Bridge and make a stop at UBC’s Beaty Biodiversity Museum, Vancouver’s natural history museum, where I come face-to-face with an 88ft long blue whale skeleton. Small groups of schoolchildren are immersed in biological collections of insects, birds, fish, plants and fossils as we take our leave and head for lunch at the Fairmont Vancouver Airport Hotel, the fine-dining restaurant offering floor-to-ceiling views of the airport runway and mountains beyond. Serving West Coast cuisine with an Asian flair, we enjoy several speciality dishes before taking a half-hour drive to Steveston, a quaint fishing village with an eclectic mix of shop-lined streets and which attracts visitors from around the world. It is possible to visit the Gulf of Georgia Cannery, once part of the salmon canning industry and today a National Heritage Site. We wander the harbour with its working fleet of fishing boats, and are greeted by a sea-lion as we gaze across the waters from the wooden boardwalk. All too soon it is time to head back to the airport for my flight home at the end of an amazing week. I will be reporting in more detail on the website and in our upcoming e-magazine, so keep you eyes out for more posts.

Michael Cowton

  • Disclosure: My trip was hosted by the Canadian Tourism Commission, but all opinions are my own and honestly reflect my overall experience