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Posts Tagged ‘Vancouver B.C.’

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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!***

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Above photo is of a lovely & prolific climbing rose, name unknown. Spring, 2017.

The boulevard grass at our daughter’s place is gradually disappearing, being replaced with flowering herbs, perennials and vegetables. The bees love it, and so do we! People walking by on the sidewalk now see a changing “panorama” of greenery and blooms, all year long. Having a boulevard garden helps to create a feeling of community, providing the opportunity to talk with neighbours and others who happen to pass by when the gardener is out there working. And I get my exercise all during the growing season! I’m very grateful for the chance to work (play) in this great little garden!

All my hurts my garden spade can heal.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Here’s how the boulevard garden is shaping up:

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Chives, Oregano, & Mint growing by the sidewalk. These easygoing herbs attract a multitude of bees, which are such valuable pollinators!

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Pinks, which have a gorgeous, spicy fragrance, and Creeping Charlie, despised by some gardeners, but appreciated by me for its ability to be a freely spreading ground cover, thus keeping out the weeds! As a bonus, Charlie has tiny mauve flowers in the spring, which to my eye are very pretty.

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Sage, blooming in June. I tucked this plant into a bed near the vegetable patch. Sage is such a strong plant, with amazingly “pungent” leaves!

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Newly built planter boxes…squash plants in this one. It’s surprising, and very gratifying, to see how much food can be grown once the grass is replaced with vegetable beds and boxes.

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Hosta blooms. This one is quite imposing!

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Canterbury Bells. (*see note below)

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Can anyone tell me, is this a butterfly on the Aster flower, or a moth? I’m guessing butterfly. Beautiful, isn’t it?

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And finally, a very welcome bumblebee on the Aster plant. The pollinators (all sorts of bees and butterflies) are attracted to these Asters, and to the flowering herbs, just around the corner of the boulevard.

***Please remember not to use insecticides, herbicides, or any genetically modified seeds or plants in your gardens! GMO’s contain hidden pesticides. All of these toxic products are causing drastic losses in the bee and  butterfly populations.  Without these wonderful insects, our ability to produce food will be greatly reduced.

I can enjoy flowers quite happily without translating them into Latin.

–Cornelia Otis Skinner

*Note: Me too, Cornelia! However, the Latin name for the Canterbury Bells pictured above, in case anyone wonders, is:

Campanula poscharskyana, (Serbian bellflower, trailing bellflower), a semi-evergreen trailing perennial. Native to the Dinaric Alps in former Yugoslavia, along the Western edge of the Balkan Peninsula.

Here it is, December 21st, 2017, the Winter Solstice, also known as Midwinter. And that’s a wrap for the 2017 Boulevard Garden Highlights!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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On Sunday, September 24th, 2017 my friend and I joined in with thousands of other people to take part in the Walk for Reconciliation, here in Vancouver. What an amazing, positive experience that was! And the sun shone, making it all the more amazing here on the “Wet Coast,” aka the West Coast of Canada.

For over 500 years the Indigenous People of North and South America (and all over the world, actually) have been shoved aside, downtrodden, frowned upon, stolen from, mistreated, and on goes the list of abuses they have suffered. Colonizers tried to make Indigenous People invisible, tried to actually get rid of them entirely, but they failed. The original people of these lands have not only survived, but they have kept their cultures alive and are working on keeping their languages alive as well. In fact, they are gaining in strength. Just look at these wonderful photographs of the Walk, from Reconciliation Canada:

http://reconciliationcanada.ca/walk-for-reconciliation-2017/thank-you-merci/

Two definitions for the word Reconciliation:

—the restoration of friendly relations;

—the action of making one view or belief compatible with another.

Here’s a link explaining more about Reconciliation Canada:

http://reconciliationcanada.ca/about/about-us/

The time has finally come for the true history of Canada to be taught in schools and learned by everyone. “Truth and Reconciliation,” the truth, that is, about residential schools, about what actually happened to the Indigenous People of Canada and about the loss of their lands. As Chief Robert Joseph, a survivor of the residential school system (where he spent eleven years away from his family as a child), said:

“Our future, and the well-being of all our children rests with the kind of relationships we build today.”—Chief Robert Joseph, Hereditary Chief of the Gwawaenuk First Nation, and Co-founder of Reconciliation Canada.

Along with the Reconciliation process, there are so many complex and ongoing issues for all of us to learn about and try to understand: land claims, court cases, treaties, human rights, and questions around social justice.

RESPECT is key here, and learning to listen with open minds!

Hopefully, someday the First Nations of Canada will be on an equal footing with the Canadian government and the governments of other countries. Undoubtedly this will take time and a lot of work!

PLEASE NOTE: the photographs in the above link were not taken by me, but by:

reconciliationcanada.ca

 

 

 

 

 

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One of the places we love to visit on our “Urban Trekking” outings in Vancouver is the wonderful VanDusen Botanical Garden, located on Oak St., at West 37th Avenue.

At one time, all of what is now Vancouver was a rain forest, part of the Indigenous Musqueam Nation’s land. Then “the settlers” came, in the mid to late 1800’s, and the logging began. What is now the VanDusen “property” was turned into a golf course, but in 1975 the Vancouver Park Board took it over and created this beautiful 55 acre (22 hectare) botanical garden.

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

http://vancouver.ca/parks-recreation-culture/vandusen-botanical-garden.aspx

Recently we “trekked” there, and focused on trees and greenery, rather than specifically on flowers. Here are a few photos from that day:

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Sedums in bloom at entrance to gardens.

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Grasses blowing in the wind….

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Sedums growing on a huge boulder, with no soil! Beautiful.

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Golden Japanese Cedar tree. (Cryptomeria japonica “Sekkan-sugi”)

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Lilies…the white ones seem to have the loveliest fragrance…

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Trident Maple tree. (Acer buergerianum)

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Giant Sequoia tree, (Sequoiadendron giganteum), with Western Sword Fern (fern native to this area)

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Dalmatian Cranesbill (Geranium dalmaticum)

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Masterwort (Astrantia)

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Succulents in concrete containers on the patio.

“What was Paradise but a Garden?”

—William Coles

 

 

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Nāma=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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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http://www.thenaam.com

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

…an old saying…

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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

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The Japanese Hall, built in 1928.

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One of Vancouver’s famous “food trucks”.

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

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

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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

 

 

 

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Walkway at Iona Beach Regional Park.

Walkway at Iona Beach Regional Park.

Who would have guessed that a primary sewage treatment plant would eventually become this beautiful park?!

Find more here.

Iona Beach Regional Park is in West Richmond, B.C., adjacent to Vancouver International Airport. This past spring, I took these photos of its dream-like landscape. The walkway pictured is 8 km round trip or 4 km each way, and seems to stretch into infinity. In the distance to the west are the misty mountains of Vancouver Island, across the Salish Sea from B.C.’s West Coast.

An animal refuge, a park, and a primary sewage treatment plant, Iona was once an island, but is now a peninsula joined to Sea Island by a causeway and Ferguson Road. Sea Island is the home of YVR, Vancouver’s International Airport, and sits in the North Arm of the Fraser River.

Even though it’s so close to the airport, Iona is peaceful and quiet. Gentle breezes, fresh air, sunshine, blue sky, puffy white clouds, native yellow irises, purple-blue lupins, blackberry bushes, and grasses. And so many birds! I saw red-winged blackbirds, gulls, crows, a hummingbird and barn swallows. Glorious, and definitely worth a day-trip!

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Today’s Quotation:

It matters not where or how far you travel–the farther commonly the worse–but how much alive you are.

—Henry David Thoreau

 

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