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Archive for the ‘Coastal B.C.’ Category

The Marine Building in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Canada.
My favourite heritage building in our home town. Re-blogging!

Joie du Soleil

The Marine Building The Marine Building

Located at 355 Burrard St. in downtown Vancouver, the Marine Building was designed by McCarter, Nairne and Partners in the late 1920’s. An elegant old “skyscraper”, its distinctive “Art Deco” styling depicts maritime themes as well as B.C.’s nautical flora and fauna.

As a child, I thought the creamy-coloured Art Deco details resembled icing on a cake, when viewed from a distance. Opened in October, 1930, this was the tallest building in Vancouver until 1939.

I am so thankful that the beautiful Marine Building remains standing in the downtown core. Being a young city, Vancouver does not have the historical old structures that European cities do. Many of our older buildings, which dated back just over half a century or even less, have been demolished already. With the constant threat of a major earthquake in this region, city planners are advocating replacing existing old buildings with quake-proof…

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Robson Street entrance/exit of the Vancouver Public Library, Central Branch

When it was first opened in May of 1995, the appearance of the Vancouver Public Library’s Central Branch left some of us rather bewildered. I say that because its design was quite different from anything we had seen before in our young and modern city. “Is the architect emulating the design of the Roman Colosseum?” we wondered. (“Colosseum” is the Roman spelling.) But now, twenty-three years later, most of us have grown to appreciate this unique and welcoming building, which is conveniently located in the centre of downtown Vancouver.

Bounded by Georgia, Robson, Homer and Hamilton Streets, the VPL covers an entire city block.

https://www.vpl.ca/location/central-library

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Georgia Street entrance/exit, Vancouver Public Library

Architect Moshe Safdie and DA Architects won the bid to build the library after the City held a design competition, with their design being the most popular choice. The resulting “Library Square” includes the Federal Office Tower and retail and service facilities, along with the nine story library.

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

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Library Square with Office Tower, and one of the ubiquitous Vancouver cranes

No matter where one goes in Metro Vancouver, cranes dot the skyline! Construction is ongoing. The following photo shows the proposed design of the building going up across the street from the VPL:

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Now that is some design!! Merrick Architecture/Westbank Projects Corporation.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a book-lover, and libraries are like a second home to me. One of my earliest memories is of my mom reading Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame, aloud to me at bedtime. Mom loved literature, and wrote beautiful lyric nature poems, some of which were published in our local newspapers.

For me, even the imposing Central Branch of the VPL is welcoming, and offers much more than “just books”.

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The Promenade/Enclosed Concourse of Library Square

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Light is such an important factor in architectural design…(so many skylights to clean!).

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Remember these? Yes, it’s an old-fashioned phone booth, for our convenience, in Library Square!

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Leaving Library Square and its soaring skylights, we’re back out into the reality of Robson Street with its hustle and bustle, traffic, cafes, and shops. Until next time!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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This little Iris is an inspiration to me. Every spring, the flowers bravely re-appear, with absolutely no help or special care from anyone! For a small, unassuming plant, it has many names: Iris unguicularis, Iris stylosa, Algerian iris, Algerian winter iris, Winter iris.

Our Algerian iris grows from a gravel bed which is situated in a most challenging spot, nestled in amongst strong bamboo roots. It never fails to surprise me when, usually one day in March, I spot its beautiful flowers coming into bloom. This year, it first bloomed during a light snowfall back in late February, and is still blooming in early April. Never fazed, it is a little gem, and serves as a yearly reminder that spring will soon arrive!

For those of you who like plant details, here are the main points about Algerian iris:

Evergreen, rhizomatous, beardless iris.

H. to 8 in. (20cm)   S. indefinite   Almost stemless, flowers 2-3 in. (5-8cm) across

Flowers appear from late autumn to early spring. Prefers a sheltered site against a south or west-facing wall. (But ours is out in the open, except for those protective bamboo roots!)

 

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Bowen Island Ferry

Day Trip to Bowen Island, “The Happy Isle”…

Sometimes I need a short “getaway” from the city, so last summer I did just that, and travelled by bus and ferry to “The Happy Isle”, Bowen Island.

The perfect place to go for a day trip away from Vancouver, Bowen Island is three nautical miles from West Vancouver’s Horseshoe Bay, and sits in Howe Sound at the entrance to the Strait of Georgia, now called the Salish Sea.

Before the arrival of European settlers, the people of the Squamish First Nation summered on Xwlil’xhwm, (now known as Bowen Island), harvesting its abundant seafood, and perhaps its native plants as well.

Back in the early 1890’s, “Mainlanders” began to sail over to “The Happy Isle” via the Union Steamship Company’s vessels. My parents both spent time there in the 1920’s and early 1930’s, most likely enjoying picnics and the scheduled dances in the Union Steamship Dance Hall.

For my short stay on beautiful Bowen, I simply walked around Snug Cove, where the ferry docks, over to the Lagoon, and up the hill a little way, stopping to take these photos along the way. A few steps from the ferry landing, I paid a brief visit to the Summer Market, and enjoyed chatting with the folks selling handmade jewellery, home-grown produce, pottery, and all sorts of other items. (Bowen is a friendly place!)

As I’m always ready for a good meal, my next stop was at Doc Morgan’s restaurant and pub, where I had my usual veggie burger and a cup of tea. Wonderful atmosphere and good food! The crowds were seated on the outdoor deck, but I opted to sit indoors, surrounded by vintage furniture and old memorabilia from days gone by.

Walking on up the hill of Bowen Trunk Road, I stopped in to see the historical Orchard Cottages, built in the early 1900’s for vacationers. There are gnarled old apple trees in what used to be the orchard. Hopefully these still habitable old cottages will be saved, and Bowen Islanders will agree that it is wise to save some historical buildings, especially in their beautiful, original setting.

There are quaint little shops to venture into, hidden lanes to explore, and a wonderful, “countrified” atmosphere on Bowen Island. It’s a delight to visit “The Happy Isle”!

 

 

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Small is beautiful.

-E.F. Schumacher

Back in the 1970’s and 1980’s, here in Vancouver B.C., there was a brief burst of “Thin Houses” being built.

The lots which these thin houses were built on are usually 16.5 feet wide, and approximately 120 feet deep, but the depth can vary. They were created when wider lots, usually about 50 feet in width, were divided up, leaving the existing house on a 33 foot lot, and making room for the new, skinnier house to be added in.

The beauty of these houses lies in their simplicity. They are on a private lot, but with lower taxes, lower maintenance because of smaller size, and lower heating costs, among other advantages. There is room for a small garden, front and back. It’s like living in a townhouse or condo, minus the strata council!

Here in Vancouver land is at a premium, due in part to the city’s location, tucked in snugly beside the towering Coast Mountains and crisscrossed by waterways and bridges. It’s a popular place to live, and has become one of the most expensive cities in North America, making living here almost impossible for many people. So building “infill housing”, such as the thin houses, was a good idea, creating higher density in established neighbourhoods. But therein lay the problem! Thin houses were not universally popular, and building them went out of fashion soon after the trend had begun.

There are probably around fifty or fewer of these thin houses in Vancouver, scattered in amongst the “regular” homes. I’m always pleasantly surprised to come across thin houses on drives and walks in the city, and I’m including photos of six of them.

As far as densifying the city goes these days, “Laneway Houses” are now being built city-wide, and are a practical and attractive addition to our city. Not without their detractors, laneway houses nevertheless are enabling more people to share in living in this beautiful place.

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Second in the series “Hidden Treasures of Vancouver”, is a lovely but not too well-known spot called the Jericho Sailing Centre. Situated between Locarno Beach on the west and Jericho Beach on the east, this delightful centre offers memberships to owners of non-motorized boats. Not only does it have proper launching ramps and safe storage, but also an enclosed space to work on your boat. The caretaker’s cottage is a gem, and can be seen in the first two photos here. But best of all, there’s great beer on tap in the Jericho Galley Cafe, not to mention the delicious sweet potato fries and salmon burgers. And the view! Fantastic sunsets, and a great way to end a day of sailing, paddling or rowing. Hard to believe this is right in Vancouver. It’s a great escape!

Jericho Sailing Centre Caretaker's Cottage

Jericho Sailing Centre Caretaker’s Cottage

One-of-a-kind garden decor!

One-of-a-kind garden decor!

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View from the boat shed

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“Skip”, a work in progress

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Sailboats at Jericho and Vancouver skyline

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Brisk Westerly blowing the B.C. flag. “Sleeping Beauty” mountains in background.

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Looking West, toward the Strait of Georgia, also known as the Salish Sea.

Ready to set sail!

Today’s quotation:

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely seas and the sky.

And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by.

-from: “Sea Fever”, by John Masefield

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Walking around our city, I have discovered beautiful “hidden treasures”, right in our own midst!

Here is the first in a series: Earthrise Garden Store/Florist Shop on West Fourth Avenue, at Bayswater Street.

Red Roses

Red Roses

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Vase in Earthrise shop

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Eclectic selection

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Entrance to the Earthrise “Nursery”, behind shop

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Old treasures

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Garden Angel

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Under the Begonias

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Reaching for the sky

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Vancouver Banana Tree

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Sunlight and Shadows

Today’s quotation:

A happy life must be to a great extent a quiet life, for it is only in an atmosphere of quiet that true joy can live.

-Bertrand Russell

 ***Sadly, as of 2017, this shop is now closed. We will miss it!

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