Archive for the ‘Hidden Treasures of Vancouver’ Category

One of the “Hidden Treasures of Vancouver” is Cecil Green Park House and College, situated in the northwest corner of the campus at the University of British Columbia (UBC).

Here’s a short history:

We visited this beautiful location one day recently, on the last day of summer.

Venerable Oak tree on the grounds of Cecil Green Park

Peek-a-boo view of Cecil Green House

Looking north west, toward Howe Sound and Bowen Island, across Burrard Inlet.

This mysterious “welcoming” sign is actually on Musqueam Nation territory, but the “host” referred to is from the Squamish Nation, across the water from Cecil Green Park. The name on the sign is “Hock E Aye VI Edgar Heap of Birds. 2007”. Indigenous people have lived in this part of North America for many thousands of years. From “time immemorial”, as they say.

Nearing the end of summer, this glorious tree glows golden in the late afternoon sun. Can anyone name this tree? ūüėČ

Commissioned and designed in 1912 by the architect Samuel Maclure, the structure now known as “Cecil Green House” would have been built with wonderful old growth wood from the surrounding forests. No wonder it’s still so solid!

Too bad the door handle and plaque are missing! But it’s still a striking-looking door, don’t you agree?

And the windows—Wow! Leaded, stained glass. Nice!

Imposing entry-way. I can picture a horse-drawn carriage arriving here:)

Prior to “pandemic times”, wedding receptions and other events were held here at Cecil Green Park House, and will be again, eventually!

Around every corner, another intriguing spot to explore.

Bravely carrying on blooming near summer’s end, a small patch of flowers brightens the end of the driveway.

Fenced-off and guarded by these imposing Cedar trees, Green College lies just to the east of the Guest House. (that’s my long, late-day shadow, wearing my “Outback” hat;)

Heading west along Marine Drive, just a short distance from Cecil Green Park you’ll find the Museum of Anthropology, another great place to visit!

Read Full Post »

SL White Horse 2

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.



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

sign 1

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.

water in ditch

Water is precious, even in a ditch!

river trail

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”)!


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?

old bridge

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:


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

















Read Full Post »

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAhttp://www.vancouverchinesegarden.com/

Being a port city on the west coast of Canada, Vancouver is blessed with many cultures, and many people from all over the world. We have a close connection with other countries whose shores are also on the “Pacific Rim”, including China.

If you want to “escape” the rush and bustle of the city while still remaining in it, a visit to the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden will make you feel, at least briefly, that you have entered a little paradise. This glorious Asian garden is what I like to call one of the “Hidden Treasures of Vancouver”. Situated right in the middle of Vancouver’s original “Chinatown”, the garden is a true gem. See the link above, under the first photograph, to read more about the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, which is located at 578 Carrall Street.

On the day I took these photographs, my camera played a wonderful trick on me, and turned everything a beautiful shade of blue! Sometime in the future, I’ll do a blog post about how I acquired my camera, an older Olympus, as a gift from a friend. The gift came with no instructions, so I just learn as I go along with it, which is fun and challenging at the same time. I decided to post my blue pictures, and hope you enjoy them. Blue is such a soothing, peaceful, calming colour!












Next week, February 16th will be Chinese New Year, celebrating the Year of the Dog.

Gung Hay Fat Choy! Happy New Year!











Read Full Post »



NńĀma=Sanskrit for Name

These photos were taken on two different days at the Naam restaurant on West 4th Avenue in Vancouver’s Kitsilano district. Opened in the late 1960’s, the Naam is Vancouver’s oldest vegetarian restaurant, and is my absolute favourite.


Wholesome food, a comfortable rustic patio and outdoor deck, open 24 hours, 7 days a week!


The Naam is renowned for its relaxed atmosphere, and hasn’t really changed much since we began to go there when it first opened in 1968.


Those were the days when 4th Avenue was sometimes called “Rainbow Road”, and was a hippie haven. Times have changed, but somehow the Naam has stayed magical, retaining some of the old character of the 1960’s.

Everything changes, everything stays the same.

–Buddhist saying

Be prepared for large servings of delicious vegetarian food, and possible lineups at the door during lunch and dinner hours and all day on weekends. For me, it’s well worth the wait. The Naam burger plate, with salad and Naam fries, is my favourite.


Meanwhile, my husband tucks into his Naam Dragon Bowl, brimming with rice and vegetables, sprouts and a special sauce.

I’ve noticed that the Naam’s present-day clientele is for the most part quite young. People in their 20’s and 30’s seem to love going there. But every age group is welcome!



The original art work on the walls is always changing, and is usually for sale. Every evening of the week there is live music, and the Naam is licensed.




Everything old is new again. (even the Naam!)

…an old saying…

Read Full Post »


Before launching into my Railtown photos, I’d like to re-state my main reasons for creating this blog: to “share the beauty”, and to “accentuate the positive”.

A few years ago, I experienced an unsettling health issue, as everyone does, sooner or later! In order to cope with tests and treatments, some of which are ongoing, I decided to aim for a positive attitude and positive thoughts.

“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.”

–William James

I found that the practice of CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), combined with Mindfulness Meditation, leads to increased calmness and acceptance of even difficult situations. (see my previous blog post, “Happy Talk”, March 13, 2014.)

CBT’s “Re-frame that thought” is a simple but valuable concept which means to change negative thoughts to positive ones. It’s not easy, but is possible with practice.

Having a blog helps to keep me on track, and at the same time is a good way to share with others the beauty I see everywhere. My blog stats show “views” from people in many different parts of the world, probably because they want to learn about Vancouver. We live in such a lovely city, in spite of its problems and growing pains, and there are “HIDDEN TREASURES” everywhere. Here’s one that we discovered recently, in a most unlikely spot:

RAILTOWN: a district in the oldest part of Vancouver, formerly housing mainly light industry, factories, warehouses and access to shipping docks and railroad lines.


Above is a map of the Railtown area in Vancouver, B.C.


Formerly the American Can Company building, now housing offices.

The area now called “Railtown” is located next to the shoreline of Burrard Inlet and the railway tracks of the original CPR (Canadian Pacific Railway). Because Vancouver is the largest working port on the West Coast of Canada, its harbour, docks, and railyards have always been central to the evolution of the city.


A view down an alley, looking North, towards the railway tracks, the docks on Burrard Inlet, and the North Shore mountains.

The port of Vancouver is ideally situated, lying in a protected inlet, miles from the open Pacific Ocean. Every ship that enters our inner harbour has to pass underneath Lions Gate Bridge, which connects Vancouver to the North Shore. Grains, lumber, sulphur, and hundreds of other products are transported worldwide, some arriving by rail, and most leaving the port via freighters. Vancouver is in the midst of an ongoing fight over whether an existing oil pipeline will be given the go-ahead to double its capacity. Oil from the Alberta tar sands is loaded into freighters in our harbour, then shipped around the world. Many people are concerned about possible oil spills in Vancouver’s fairly pristine waters,¬† and also about climate change, resulting partly from the extraction and use of fossil fuels. Time will tell what decision is made. I know where I stand!

Today, the area now called Railtown is changing into an interesting mix of housing, restaurants, offices, some light industry, artists’ lofts and the ongoing port and rail activities.


We had great panini here for lunch, (note: Italian: “panini” is plural, “panino” is singular!) at the Railtown Cafe. It’s very popular with young office workers in the area.


The old “Empire Stevedoring” building, which once housed the Longshoremens’ Hall, where longshoremen were dispatched to various work sites on the docks. Now home to the Railtown Cafe and other offices.


Nifty elevator for people who work in or visit the building which used to be the American Can Company.


“DON’T”….Vancouver graffiti at its best. ūüôā


Old red brick building…not so great if an earthquake hits! Let’s hope it never does.


The Japanese Hall, built in 1928.


One of Vancouver’s famous “food trucks”.


An unusual, dark “grotto” of some sort, in a parking lot! Kind of lovely, in its own way.


The old B.C. Sugar Refining Company, by the railway tracks.


Imperial Rice Milling Company Building.

One of the reasons I like this area is that the old buildings are being saved, not demolished, at least so far. This is very unusual for Vancouver, which is undergoing massive change, with demolitions everywhere. Construction cranes dot our skyline, and tall new buildings are popping up at an alarming rate. To see some of these lovely old, art-deco buildings from the 20’s and 30’s being given new life in Railtown is gratifying!

Photos by PEB




Read Full Post »

220px-Pacific_Tree_Frog_(Pseudacris_regilla)_3 400px-Pacifictreefrog2kjfmartin

We are fortunate to be able to hear the Spring-time chorus of frogs from our home every April and May. It’s magical! And it is becoming more rare, as many species of amphibians world-wide are now endangered. Due to habitat loss, covering over of wetlands, possibly also to climate change, and for other, unknown reasons, frogs are vanishing.

On May 2nd of this year, with an almost full moon shining above us, we followed the lovely sound of the frog songs to their source, near Pacific Spirit Park. These are PACIFIC CHORUS FROGS, Pseudacris regilla, also known as PACIFIC TREE FROGS. Apparently they are not considered at risk or threatened here in B.C. But with the rapid “development” going on in our area, many of the choruses have gone quiet.

Last year, I watched as a back-hoe destroyed a boggy, treed piece of land at UBC, readying it for a condo development. I had heard frogs there in the past.

What can we do to help them? Here are a few suggestions I received from Monica M. Pearson, R.P. Bio, of Balance Ecological:

1.  Documentation: In B.C., the Frog Watch program gives B.C. residents an opportunity to get their sightings into the Provincial databases. Let them know when and where you hear frogs.


2.  Retain or restore frog habitat: frogs need ponds to breed in and plants to hide in.

3.  Our own yards can be maintained as habitat: maintain a diversity of plants at a diversity of scale. Fishless water features and ponds will help.

4.  Encourage politicians to support the creation of frog habitats in new developments.

5. ¬†“Amphibian Crossings” can be built on roads known to be frog migration routes when new roads go in.

Other websites to check out:




I hope you will enjoy listening to the following songs of the Pacific Chorus Frogs (Pseudacris regilla), also known as Pacific Tree Frogs, which we recorded on the 2nd of May, 2015, here in Vancouver.


Read Full Post »

Mossy stairs to nowhere, at Shaughnessy United Church on West 33rd Avenue.

Mossy stairs to nowhere, at Shaughnessy United Church on West 33rd Avenue.

Some people trek through the wilds of Patagonia, or the Himalayas, or Malaysia. I trek through my home-town of Vancouver. I call this “Urban Trekking”.

Instead of complaining about all of the changes and rapid “development” which are happening around us here, I’m looking for¬†pockets of magical beauty in the city.

Here are a few recently discovered beautiful spaces, nestled inside the urban wilderness.

Gastown Alley

Gastown Alley

Shop in Gastown

Shop in Gastown

Display of succulent plants in Gastown shop

Display of succulent plants in Gastown shop

Trilliums in my back garden

Trilliums in my back garden

Today’s Quotation:

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

—Marcel Proust

Read Full Post »


Tea Towel (Indaba Home Passion label)

Tea Towel (Indaba Home Passion label)

Dunbar Greetings shop teapots.

Dunbar Greetings shop teapots.

There is much to learn about the story of “Tea” and how tea-drinking reached the West, travelling from China, first along land and then maritime trading routes. Like the study of anything else, it seems that the more one finds out about its history, the more there is to learn about tea.

Suffice it to say, I love tea! To keep things simple, I’ll begin with Wikipedia’s introduction to tea:

The history of tea goes back 5000 years, and according to legend, tea was first discovered by the Chinese emperor and herbalist, Shennong (Shen Nong or Chen Nung) in 2737 BCE.

It is said that the emperor liked his drinking water boiled before he drank it so it would be clean, so that is what his servants did.

One day, on a trip to a distant region, he and his army stopped to rest. A servant began boiling water for him to drink, and a dead leaf from the wild tea bush fell into the water. It turned a brownish colour, but it was un-noticed and presented to the emperor anyway. The emperor drank it and found it very refreshing, and “cha” (tea) came into being.

–from Wikipedia

Dunbar Street antique shop.

Dunbar Street antique shop.

“Drink a cup of tea and forget the cares of the world.”

–T’ien Yiheng

One of my earliest memories is of Grandma’s kitchen, with the kettle boiling on her coal and wood stove. Being Scottish, Grandma loved her tea, and when we visited her in the little house on Haig Street, scones or biscuits and a cup of tea were served. Until I was old enough to enjoy the real thing, I would have “Cambric tea”, which was simply weak black tea with a little sugar and lots of milk added.

But “tea” was not simply a beverage. Not at all! The preparing and serving of this refreshing drink seemed almost to be a ritual. Best served in fine china tea cups, on saucers, of course, tea provided a welcome break from the day’s chores and duties. It was not until my family began to drink coffee, back in the late 1950’s, that we discovered “coffee mugs”. Tea just isn’t as good when served in a thick, heavy mug, at least not to ¬†my taste. A good quality china mug or cup makes all the difference!

As for teapots, my mom liked her “Brown Betty” teapot best, and said that it brewed the finest cup of tea. Plain brown earthenware with beige stripes, it is a sturdy, heavy teapot, and comes in various sizes. Ideally, it should be made in England for the real Brown Betty experience!

In my family, a teapot in the old days usually wore a “tea cozy”, almost always knitted or crocheted by a family member.

Brown Betty teapot.

Brown Betty teapot.


Crocheted Tea Cozy.

Crocheted Tea Cozy.

For years, before the advent of teabags, my English/Scottish/Canadian family brewed loose, black tea leaves, often purchased from Murchie’s, which still has shops in our city to this day. My mom didn’t use a strainer when pouring the tea, because she liked to “read” the dregs of tea leaves which draped up the inside of the cup when it was emptied. She invented the most interesting stories, predictions and scenarios from the pictures she saw in the wet tea leaves. Never negative, her teacup readings always predicted a rosy future!

Recently, I’ve discovered the refreshing and healthful qualities of green tea. Instead of coffee in the morning, I drink green tea, which is full of immune-system boosting anti-oxidants. Then in the afternoon, I have a cup of regular black tea, an organic blend of Indian, African and Sri Lankan tea leaves. With a little milk and honey added, it provides a brisk “pick-me-up” for the rest of the day.

1940's Tea drinker.

1940’s Tea drinker.


Tea served in a mug with a single teabag, string attached and tied to the handle? Never!! Who invented such an impatient way to serve tea? Tea is best when steeped in the teapot, for varying lengths of time, depending on how strong or weak you like your brew.

And finally, remember to always pre-heat your teapot with a bit of boiling water, (which is then discarded), before making your pot of tea.

For everything you want to know about tea in one handy volume, see “The Little Book of Tea”, published by Mariage Freres-Flammarion.

There’s nothing like relaxing over a cup of tea while chatting with a friend or family member. Here in Vancouver, tea shops are making a re-appearance, and are a treat to visit. Even some of our numerous coffee establishments serve a variety of teas. Here are a few of my favourites:

Cultivate, Tea Brew Bar on Main Street.

Cultivate, Tea Brew Bar on Main Street.

Tea at Cultivate.

Tea at Cultivate.

Cultivate's daily tea offerings.

Cultivate’s daily tea offerings.

Cultivate Tea.

Cultivate Tea.

Cultivate, on Main Street.

Cultivate, on Main Street.

“I don’t care about immortality, just the taste of tea.”

–Lu T’ung, Chinese poet. (Eighth century)

Urban Tea Merchant, on West Georgia Street.

Urban Tea Merchant, on West Georgia Street.

Afternoon tea at Urban Tea Merchant.

Afternoon tea at Urban Tea Merchant.

Urban Tea Merchant's tea cups and teapots.

Urban Tea Merchant’s tea cups and teapots.

Tea varieties at Urban Tea Merchant on West Georgia Street.

Tea varieties at Urban Tea Merchant on West Georgia Street.

“There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.”

–Henry James (1843-1916) from: “Portrait of a Lady”.

Tea at Cafe Artigiano in Kerrisdale, West 41st Avenue.

Tea at Cafe Artigiano in Kerrisdale, West 41st Avenue.

“Thank God for tea! What would the world do without tea? How did it exist? I am glad I was not born before tea.”

–Sidney Smith (1711-1845)

Secret Garden Tea Room, West Boulevard, in Kerrisdale.

Secret Garden Tea Room, West Boulevard, in Kerrisdale.

“If man has no tea in him, he is incapable of understanding truth and beauty.”

–Japanese Proverb

Not to forget “Chai”, that wonderful, spicy Indian tea which I love. And all the herbal teas, like peppermint and chamomile, and so many others. And then there’s nettle tea, best brewed with fresh young nettle leaves in the spring. So healthful!

“The best quality tea must have creases like the leather boots of Tartar horsemen, curl like the dewlap of a mighty bullock, unfold like a mist rising out of a ravine, gleam like a lake touched by a zephyr, and be wet and soft like fine earth newly swept by rain.”

–Lu Yu (d. 804), Chinese sage, hermit.

Here’s to Tea!










































































































































































































































Read Full Post »

Today’s quotations:

More than anything, I must have flowers, always, always.

–Claude Monet


You mustn’t rely on flowers to make your garden attractive. A good bone structure must come first, with an intelligent use of evergreen plants so that the garden is always clothed no matter what time of year. Flowers are an added delight, but a good garden is the garden you enjoy looking at even in the depth of winter.

–Margery Fish




Now that we’re in the midst of summer, Southlands Nursery is much quieter than it was in late May, when I posted the first half of this entry. But it is still just as beautiful!

Surrounded by greenery, close to many riding stables, within walking distance of the Fraser River’s North Arm, and a neighbour to the Musqueam Nation, Southlands Nursery is in a very special location.

As always, this nursery is a work of art. It is obvious that the owners care very much about what they are doing, and it involves more than simply making money, important as that may be!





Read Full Post »



Tucked in between the North Arm of the Fraser River and Marine Drive in South Vancouver sits an area called “Southlands”. Stretching for a few miles, it is a wonderfully “country-like” district, and is home to numerous horse stables, lovely homes, several golf courses, and best of all, Southlands Nursery, which is located at 6550 Balaclava St.

When I was a kid, I was lucky enough to be invited to share in a few riding lessons in the Southlands area with my best friend Pat and her three sisters. Even way back then, going down to “The Flats”, as we called Southlands, was always a special experience. A part of the city of Vancouver, at the same time it is removed from the hustle and bustle of city life. It’s peaceful there.

And that’s why I love going to visit Southlands Nursery, a magical, other-worldly place of exceptional beauty. Not simply a place which sells plants, this gorgeous nursery is a work of art, a little piece of Paradise within the city. Around each corner appears another stunningly beautiful display of plants, pots, garden statuary, supplies and greenhouses.

Southlands Nursery is the ongoing creation of its owners: Thomas Hobbs and Brent Beattie, who opened it in 1991.

See their website for more details.

I always feel rejuvenated, peaceful and inspired after visiting Southlands Nursery. (And no, I don’t work for them! I just want to share another of my favourite Vancouver Treasures with you readers and fellow bloggers.)

To be continued…




























Today’s Quotations:

If you would like to be happy your whole life long, become a gardener.

–Old Chinese Proverb

When the world wearies and society ceases to satisfy, there is always the garden.

–Minnie Aumonier




Read Full Post »

Older Posts »


Costumes from Movies

Musings of a Wanderer

Love Travel Meditate

Vancouver Big Tree Hiking Guide

Your ecological, unbelievable, and practical guide to local big trees

A Sliver of Life

A harmony of hues, melodies, aromas, flavours and textures that underlies our existence!


Philosophy is all about being curious, asking basic questions. And it can be fun!

Ally's Notebook

Thoughts To Share

Climate Steps

Personal, Social, & Political Steps for Individuals to Fight Climate Change

Green for Victory!

Vintage Sustainability

The Squirrelbasket

It's a ragbag stuffed full of words and pictures - mainly about nature, nostalgia and design...

Foxgloves and Bumblebees

A Nature Journal

The Mindful Gardener

The sensory pleasures and earthy delights of gardening.

Chaotic Shapes

Art and Lifestyle by Brandon Knoll

alan frost photography

in monochrome with occasional colour lapses

Kristah Price

A Creative Journey

The Frustrated Gardener

The life and loves of a time-poor plantsman

Wolves in London

Houseplant boxes and plant care guides

The Wildlife Gardener

"The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe, the less taste we shall have for destruction." - Rachel Carson

Positive Potential Medicine

Achieve Your Potential for Health and Happiness

Bealtaine Cottage, Ireland

Colette O'Neill... Environmentalist, Author, Publisher, Photographer. Creator of Goddess Permaculture.