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All works of healing are works of beauty, and all beauty heals.

—Matthew Fox

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CROCUSES, a little patch of them bravely appearing in a pot out by the garage, in the back lane. Aren’t they amazing? Tiny “works of beauty”, in amongst the Sedums and last Autumn’s fallen leaves and twigs. And I didn’t do a thing to make them bloom. Some mysterious energy within these old bulbs just knew it was time to send the flowers out into the world again. Spotting them brought a smile to my face.

With our world in such a state these days, we beleaguered humans need to stop and see whatever beauty still exists all around us. This blog aims to focus on “Beauty, Positivity & Simplicity”. And these crocuses seem to be offering all three of those attributes, don’t you agree? I think we could all use some healing! “All beauty heals”.

 

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White horse being walked at Southlands, in South Vancouver, on a sunny late winter day.

Today’s quotation: “When the world wearies and society ceases to satisfy, there is always the garden.”

—Minnie Aumonier

And, there is always walking outdoors, in the fresh air! Nature heals. These photographs were taken during a walk in Southlands, a neighbourhood in South Vancouver, bordering on the Fraser River’s North Arm.

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Early-blooming Rhododendrons, (or are they Azaleas?) and Poplar trees.

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How gratifying that there are still some wild birds and fish left in Vancouver. Amazing, in such a hugely populated city! We all need to protect whatever life remains on this fragile, (but hopefully resilient) Earth.

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Water is precious, even in a ditch!

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I grew up by this river, many moons ago! We rode horses here, and played on the banks of the mighty Fraser River, back in the days when children were allowed to roam more freely than they are today. Little did we realize how lucky we were!

Paul walkingMy favourite walking companion. He knows how to saunter along, while I take photographs (I mean, while I “point & shoot”)!

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My Mom always told me to “Look up!” while I was walking. She was right. Can you believe the beauty of this incredibly blue sky?

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Remnants of an old bridge.

Even after walking in certain areas over and over again, I always discover something new, something never before noticed on these walks. Everything changes, while at the same time the place seems familiar in many ways.

Two of my favourite quotations come to mind:

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.

—Marcel Proust

To see a World in a Grain of Sand

And a Heaven in a Wild Flower…

—William Blake

And finally, here’s a great little video about two men who live in New York City, and who both walk every block in that metropolis, discovering new people and new places along the way:

https://video.newyorker.com/watch/why-two-men-are-walking-every-block-in-new-york-city

In case the above link for the Two Men Walking in New York City video doesn’t work for you, here’s the film:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Above photo: January 8th, 2019, downtown Vancouver rally

“An immense increase of scale in endeavors to conserve our biosphere is needed to avoid untold suffering due to the climate crisis.”

—the above quotation is from the BioScience Journal, in a report published on November 5th, 2019. See link below for the report:

https://academic.oup.com/bioscience/advance-article/doi/10.1093/biosci/biz088/5610806#

—This journal is published by the American Institute of Biological Sciences, (AIBS). 11,000 (that’s eleven thousand) world scientists have signed this latest report.

—the word “Biosphere” (in above quotation) means:

The regions of the surface, atmosphere, and hydrosphere of the earth (or analogous parts of other planets) occupied by living organisms.”…from the Oxford Dictionary.

and from Wikipedia:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biosphere

I took the following photographs during nine rallies/marches/strikes for the climate/actions which friends, family & I took part in during 2019.  The photographs, showing signs, banners and crowds speak for themselves. I’ve selected twenty photos in all, though there are plenty more in my cell phone and camera!  The worldwide Climate Strike, which took place on September 27th, 2019, drew 100,000 (that’s one hundred thousand) people here in Vancouver alone. It was very energizing and heartening to be marching across the Cambie Bridge with so many like-minded fellow citizens, all of us trying to convey our concerns about the climate emergency to “the powers that be”. Serious changes to the way we all live on our beautiful planet have to be made, as quickly as possible. “Old habits die hard” is a saying from the past which fits our current challenging situation here on Earth. But old habits CAN be changed! Taking part in rallies and demonstrations is one way in which we can all take action, however small our individual actions may seem. There is strength in numbers, and these rallies keep getting larger all the time. The message is clear: millions of humans are now awake to the need for changes in the ways we live, in order to lessen carbon emissions and keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius, and in order to lessen our footprint on the planet, for the sake of all living things.

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February 22nd…Climate Convergence…No Pipeline Expansion…Extinction Rebellion sign in the foreground

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April 8th…Convention Centre…Senators’ Meeting

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May 3rd…Strike for the Climate…Vancouver Art Gallery

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May 3rd…Strike for the Climate

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May 3rd…Strike for the Climate

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May 22nd…Coast Protectors…Trudeau at the Opus Hotel…

No Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion

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May 22nd…No TMX

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May 22nd…rallies are usually peaceful, but on this day, one rowdy was arrested.

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June 9th…Science World…Wilderness Committee…No Pipeline Expansion

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June 9th…Science World…No TMX

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July 17th…at the CBC building…350.org & Our Time…asking media to report on the climate crisis and demand that political party leaders speak about it during the upcoming federal election campaign in October, (and they did…some of them).

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September 27th…at Vancouver City Hall…worldwide Climate Strike…100,000 people marched in Vancouver!

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September 27th…at Vancouver City Hall…Climate Strike

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September 27th…heading down Cambie Street, towards the bridge and downtown

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September 27th…100,000 strong, Strike for the Climate

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September 27th…Respect Your Mother (Earth)

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September 27th…Climate Strike…we reach downtown

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October 25th…Strike for the Climate…Vancouver Art Gallery…15,000 people,organized by Sustainabiliteens

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October 25th…back at the VAG after the march…Greta Thunberg on the Gallery steps, just to the left of the flag, preparing to speak. Strike for the Climate.

To sum up, the following four quotations are from people I respect:

Any culture that devastates its air and water and soil, and refuses to admit that it’s behaving in an unreasonable way, is pathological and needs to be reinvented.

—Thomas Berry, in conversation with Nancy Ryley, from: The Forsaken Garden, l998

Optimism is a strategy for making a better future. Unless you believe the future can be better, it’s unlikely you’ll step up and take responsibility for making it so.

—Noam Chomsky, political activist and philosopher, as quoted in British Country Living magazine, October 2019

The one process now going on that will take millions of years to correct is the loss of genetic and species diversity by the destruction of natural habitats. This is the folly our descendants are least likely to forgive us.

—Edward O. Wilson, in Biophilia, 1984

We need to get angry and understand what is at stake. And then we need to transform that anger into action and to stand together united and just never give up. We are striking to disrupt the system, to create attention. And I just hope that it will turn out well.

—Greta Thunberg, climate activist, leader and visionary human being! (age: 16) 2019

If you’d like to read my previous blog post about the climate crisis, here’s the link:

https://joiedusoleil.wordpress.com/2019/05/31/the-only-thing-that-matters/

Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Snake Plant (Sansevieria trifasciata), July

A strange and wonderful thing happened this past July: our Snake Plant bloomed! Almost hidden behind a couch in the living room, it’s usually “out of sight, out of mind”. When I finally discovered where the mysterious and beautiful fragrance was coming from, I was delighted to find that it was this rare bloom sending forth its perfume. It lasted for many days, with a fragrance lovelier than the lily’s, and quite intoxicating. Apparently they bloom more readily if neglected, which this long-suffering houseplant definitely is! Here’s more information:

Snake Plant Info – How To Grow A Snake Plant And Snake Plant Care

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARhododendron (a small, unknown variety), Spring

I’m including this unusual-looking Rhodo because I’ve never seen one bloom in this manner before. It seemed to go rather wild this year. Maybe it’s suffering from a bit of neglect just like the Snake Plant is, and is valiantly trying to reproduce itself…who knows? Can anyone name this Rhodo?

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Bugleweed (Ajuga reptans), Spring

It may be considered a weed by some, but I love it anyway! Here’s the Ajuga, bravely flowering in amongst the Sedums, Valerian and bamboo shoots. Such a gorgeous shade of purplish blue.

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Japonica (Chaenomeles), sometimes known as “Ornamental Quince”, Spring

Possibly my favourite flowering shrub in our garden, this particular beauty has survived two changes of address in the past 25 years. It produces plum-sized fruits every year, which the squirrels cart off with some difficulty.

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Camellia japonica, Spring

Another hardy survivor, this healthy shrub was given to me by a good friend, many years ago. It, too, has lived through two garden moves…maybe three. Such resilience!

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Lewisia, Spring

While it bloomed brilliantly on the deck, this Lewisia’s container remained upright when the raccoon scaled the railing behind it! You can see the raccoon’s paw prints on the white boards in the background. City raccoons are resilient, too…they have to be, to survive the traffic in Vancouver!

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Sage (Salvia officinalis), Summer

And over in our daughter’s garden, here’s the ever-hardy Sage plant. I only wish that I used it in my cooking! However, the bees do love it, and its strong fragrance is quite refreshing.

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Seaside Plantain (Plantago maritima), Summer

Yes, this is usually classified as a weed among the gardening aficionados! But the lowly Seaside Plantain leaves are actually edible, and this native plant could be classified as a (an) herb. Besides, I like the look of it!

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Basil (Ocimum basilicum), Summer

Who can resist Pasta with Pesto, made with fresh basil leaves? Delicious!

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Sun Rose or Moss Rose (Portulaca grandiflora), Summer

This reliable, colourful little plant is actually a tender annual, and is not hardy. I used to plant it in a boulevard bed, but have resorted to potting it in a container, because the dogs and squirrels tended to interfere with it every summer. Portulaca flowers make me smile!

I’ll end this post with a couple of thought-provoking quotations:

***Garden as though you will live forever.

                                   —William Kent (1685-1748) British architect & Landscape architect

***You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.

                                     —Jane Goodall (b. 1934) English Primatologist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Kabocha Squash on the front boulevard… August, 2019.

Instead of growing troublesome and thirsty grass on the boulevards and in the front and back gardens, our family is growing FOOD!! I don’t want to sound egotistical here, but we are pleased and surprised at just how much food can be grown on a city lot. It’s quite amazing, and gratifying, to head out to the garden and pick a bowlful of vegetables for dinner. Anyone can do it! Thanks to my husband and son-in-law, we’ve had a steady supply of veggies, and even raspberries, all summer long.

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All sorts of lettuce in a pot.

Every few weeks throughout the spring and summer, more lettuce seeds were planted, resulting in an ongoing supply of fresh salad greens. Some seeds were planted in the raised beds, some in pots, like the one above. Outer leaves were harvested at intervals, leaving the plant to reproduce more leaves…”cut and come again”, as some gardeners call this method. It’s now September, and we’re still enjoying fresh, sweet lettuce!

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Cherry tomatoes in the greenhouse.

Here’s a quotation I like, which connects vegetable gardening with helping the environment:

Odd as I am sure it will appear to some, I can think of no better form of personal involvement in the care of the environment than that of gardening. A person who is growing a garden, if she/he is growing it organically, is improving a piece of the world. She/he is producing something to eat, which makes her/him somewhat independent of the grocery business, but she/he is also enlarging, for her/himself, the meaning of food and the pleasure of eating.

–Wendell Berry (from: “Think Little”, 1970)

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A forest of kale!

Healthy soil is the basis of a productive veggie patch. We augment the existing earth with organic soil from a local company, along with compost from our own back yard compost bins. These bins get a steady supply of organic, only plant-based kitchen peelings and scraps. It’s all vegan. Also important to note: no pesticides, herbicides or chemical fertilizers are used in the garden.

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Amaranth plants, growing at the foot of a Columnar Apple tree, and sharing the bed with some young raspberry bushes.

Amaranth leaves are delicious, lightly stir fried with a tiny bit of extra virgin olive oil and a dash of water, along with whatever other veggies you fancy. The leaves are almost too beautiful to eat, resembling Coleus plants, to my eye.

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Potatoes, Amaranth & Cherry tomatoes.

These delicious potatoes were grown in buckets of soil, using eyes from potatoes which had gone to seed, in the spring.  We’d already eaten the larger ones by the time I took this photo. Honestly, they were the best potatoes I’ve ever tasted! (The buckets are the standard white, plastic variety, with drainage holes drilled in the bottoms. Not that we like to use plastic, but since they had already been produced, they were at least put to good use! And they will be used for years to come.)

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Potatoes, onions, carrots & peas.

The potatoes pictured above were planted directly into the ground, rather than into buckets. And these were edible pod peas, growing in a container. Delicious!

I’ll end with another favourite quotation:

We’re a rambly type of garden. We can’t make it all immaculate. A certain amount of romantic disorder is a happy compromise.

–Henry Robinson (from: The English Garden Magazine, January 2001)

Right on, Henry!

To be continued…

September 13th, 2019: Here’s a wee update about AMARANTH:

Amaranthus viridis, or slim amaranth, is known as “VLITA” in Greece, where it is a common green vegetable, grown in gardens all around that country. There are about 60 varieties of Amaranth throughout the world, and at least one of them is grown for its seeds. Back in the 1970’s, when we were first becoming “vegetarian”, my husband and I ate Amaranth as a cereal. The seeds are used as a grain, and as a flour. What a wonderful, beautiful plant!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amaranth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum pedatum) in a container in our back garden. Canary Island Ivy (Hedera Canariensis) leaf peeking through the fern fronds.

I’m more relaxed about gardening than I used to be, and am enjoying letting Mother Nature have her way. She creates beauty at every turn, with little interference from me! Green is her colour of preference, which is obvious to anyone who walks through a forest.

These days, green is my favourite colour in the garden, and elsewhere. Being a cool colour, it provides a sense of calm and peacefulness, similar to the effect of blue. Because green plants appear to be in the background, they add a feeling of spaciousness to garden beds. For me, green represents Nature at its best, and is the colour of life and hopefulness. The following photographs were taken while we were on a walk in Pacific Spirit Park, in July, 2019, on one of the many beautiful trails there. Each photograph shows only native plants, which have grown here on the southwest coast of Canada for many centuries.

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Salal (Gaultheria shallon)

***Green is the prime colour of the world, and that from which its loveliness arises.

                                                               —Pedro Calderon de la Barca

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Red Huckleberry (Vaccinium parvifolium)

No white nor red was ever seen

So amorous as this lovely green.

—Andrew Marvell

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Vine Maple (Acer circinatum) trees among the Douglas Firs ((Pseudotsuga menziesii)

This is second-growth forest, re-planted in the early 1900’s, following intensive logging. The original evergreen trees were massive giants, and a few of their trunks are still visible throughout the park. They were mainly Western Red Cedars and Douglas Firs.

It was with awe

That I beheld

Fresh leaves, green leaves

Bright in the sun.

—Basho

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Moss on Douglas Fir bark

***If there is a future, it will be Green.

—Petra Kelly

By “Green”, I think that Petra Kelly means that humanity will be using renewable energy sources, such as solar, wind, and other clean methods which do not emit carbon, and will thus help to slow down the rate of global warming and climate change.

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Vine Maples and Western Hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla) tree.

***A forest is green for a reason.

—Anthony T. Hincks

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Western Sword Fern (Polystichum munitum) and Salal

***Green is a soothing colour, isn’t it?

—Jack Thorne

Here’s a little song some of you may remember, from Sesame Street:

It’s Not Easy Being Green (Kermit’s Song). Kermit is a frog, of course! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Sun Tower, 128 West Pender St. I took this photograph from the vantage point of Victory Square.

For my latest venture beyond the garden gate, I travelled downtown via transit, in search of vintage buildings.

Much as I sometimes lament the rapid growth and “development” in the city of Vancouver, I need to remember that everything changes! With citizen input and the ongoing work of city planners (some of whom actually listen to our ideas), these changes thankfully include the preservation of some wonderful buildings from bygone eras.

Today’s quotation:

Let us then understand at once that change or variety is as much a necessity to the human heart and brain in buildings as in books; that there is no merit, though there is some occasional use in monotony; and that we must no more expect to derive either pleasure or profit from an architecture whose ornaments are of one pattern, and whose pillars are of one proportion, than we should out of a universe in which the clouds were all of one shape, and the trees all of one size.

–John Ruskin, (1819-1900), from: “The Nature of Gothic” first published in The Stones of Venice, Vol. 2, 1853

Ever since Vancouver was incorporated as a city in 1886, thousands of buildings have come and gone, many of them understandably so. However, I feel gratitude whenever a beautiful piece of architecture is preserved rather than being torn down. Although I agree with Ruskin’s ideas in the above quotation, that architecture and design evolve over the years, I still appreciate being able to enjoy Vancouver’s older buildings. Tucked in between the modern towers, our vintage structures remind us of the passage of time, and of the inevitability of change!

Here are a few of my favourites:

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Vancouver Art Gallery, 750 Hornby St.

The above photograph shows the former entrance of the Provincial Court House building on West Georgia St., between Howe and Hornby Streets. Now housing the Vancouver Art Gallery, it was built in 1906, and is a Neo-Classical structure. It was designed by Victoria architect Sir Francis Mawson Rattenbury (1867-1935), who also designed Victoria’s Legislative Assembly buildings and that city’s Empress Hotel.

A land exchange took place in 1974 between the province of B.C. and the city of Vancouver, in which the City acquired a 99 year lease on the courthouse building. Construction began in 1981 on the $20 million re-design of the building, with Vancouver-based Arthur Erickson Architects at the helm. This was part of the three block development called Robson Square.

In October 1983, the new Vancouver Art Gallery opened to the public. Now, in 2019, the City is planning to move our beloved VAG to a new location, in a new building.

For me, the present VAG is a treasure, both in design and accessibility. Robson Square and the gallery represent the heart of our city. I do hope this precious gathering place can be retained, even if and when the gallery itself is moved.

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Hotel Vancouver, 900 West Georgia St.

It’s huge, imposing, and is a central focal point in the city’s downtown. I love the Hotel Vancouver. It’s such an elegant old building. There are even sculpted griffins on the corners, watching over the downtown bustle! I took this photo from across the street, while standing on the steps of Christ Church Cathedral, at the corner of Burrard and Georgia Streets. Years ago, that magnificent old church was almost demolished, but thankfully thousands of people protested, and it’s been saved. Notice its slate roof, (far left on the photo, above the cross).

Opened in 1939, this is actually the third “Hotel Vancouver”, and is currently called Fairmont Hotel Vancouver. It took eleven years to build, because construction was halted for five years during the Great Depression. Begun by the CNR (Canadian National Railway), and completed jointly with the CPR (Canadian Pacific Railway), the hotel was considered a miracle of construction and engineering. It is seventeen stories tall, and was designed by architects Archibald and Schofield.

https://www.fairmont.com/hotel-vancouver/hotel-history/

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The Sun Tower, 128 West Pender St.

At 82 meters tall, the Sun Tower was at one time the tallest building in the British Empire. Designed by architect William Tuff Whiteway, it was completed in 1912, and was originally the home of the Vancouver World newspaper. It was first called the World Building, then renamed the Bekins Building, and finally The Sun Tower, and was HQ of the Vancouver Sun newspaper for many years. From 1968 to 1996 it was occupied by the Geological Society of Canada. The dome stands out even today, due to its distinctive faux aged copper colour of pale turquoise. Because it is currently encased in scaffolding due to conservation work, I decided to let this unique building peek out from behind trees in Victory Square.

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Hudson’s Bay department store, 674 Granville St.

The Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) has a very long history here in Canada. But that’s a story for another blog post!

Here in Vancouver, the first store opened in 1887, on Cordova St., following the arrival of the CPR (Canadian Pacific Railway) here on the west coast of Canada.  The present store, situated at the corner of West Georgia and Granville Streets, is actually the fourth HBC store in town. Designed by architects Burke, Horwood & White in the Edwardian style, it was opened in 1914, and has been through various phases of expansion and structural changes over the years. Stretching from Granville St. eastward to Seymour St., this handsome building is another of Vancouver’s treasures.

As far back as I can remember, I’ve been going to The Bay, as it’s called by locals, and it really hasn’t changed inside all that much! Beginning in the late 1940’s, I went shopping there with my mom, and am pretty sure that this is where my old photos with Santa Claus were taken!  And of course, the HBC store has always provided cafeterias for customers. They used to be more elaborate, but everything changes!

Here’s a link to the Hudson’s Bay Company store’s history in Vancouver:

http://www.hbcheritage.ca/places/places-other-institutions/vancouver

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The Vancouver Block, 736 Granville St.

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Trusty old clock, atop the Vancouver Block, as pictured from the Art Gallery courtyard.

Opened in 1912, The Vancouver Block is a 15 storey Edwardian commercial building designed by the Parr & Fee architectural firm. Near the corner of Granville & Georgia, and situated on the highest point of land in downtown Vancouver, the Vancouver Block sat at the commercial core of early Vancouver. The beautiful clock on top of the building is visible for miles around. At least it used to be, before the days of high rise towers.

Here’s a link:

https://www.historicplaces.ca/en/rep-reg/place-lieu.aspx?id=10821&pid=0

As a teenager back in the early 1960’s, I had one of my first part time jobs in this building. It was a brief stint during the summer holidays, answering the office phone and making appointments for a holidaying dentist. I babysat for his kids regularly. I vividly remember going up to his office in the elevator, past the shiny brass and polished wood of the building’s lobby. The elevator had a real live person as the operator, naturally!

Another of my part time jobs as a teen was in a pharmacy just around the corner from the Vancouver Block, next to the Strand Theatre on West Georgia St. A school friend of mine (thanks, Mary!) got me that job, which entailed writing out invoices, addressing envelopes, and mailing them. An intriguing detail in the pharmacy was a water-filled jar containing live leeches, hearkening back to the days when leeches were used as a medical treatment! Those were the good old days, when life was simpler!;)

***Thanks for reading this blog post, which turned out longer than I had planned. I’ll keep them shorter from now on;). Your interest is much appreciated!***

***If you would like to become a “Follower” of JoieduSoleil, and receive a BRIEF email notice from WordPress each time I post, please click on the “FOLLOW” link, either in the side bar to the right of each post, or at the bottom right hand corner of each post. All you need to do is click on “Follow”, and enter your email address. Thanks!***

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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