Vancouver: Gastown

The keynote speaker at the Pro-D conference I was at on the past Friday was a blogger who had some tips for aspiring bloggers. Well, hello to you too, prime learning experience.

One of the pieces of advice she gave was to blog about the place you lived in. And if it don’t beat all, I’ve got a few articles about places I’ve been to around Vancouver to write on. Ain’t that a coincidence?

Sorry, I don’t know why I started speaking like that o-o. Let’s put on our hipster glasses instead and walk into Gastown.

Photo credit to Cubmundo @ Flickr via Creative Commons.

One sunny afternoon, Swan and I went off to explore Gastown. I waited at King Edward Station to meet up with her and my waiting turned into an adventure of its own, but we’ll save that for another time. Instead, here’s a picture of Vancouver’s transit just so you can get a sense of how much more developed their transit is.

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Crazy, right? I thought it was crazy. The Skytrains here are really fast; most stops take between 1-2 minutes to reach. We got on the Canada line (that runs up Cambie Street) and got off at Waterfront, where we were greeted by this:

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The Waterfront train station really does look kinda grand. Nearby was a statue of an angel bearing a fallen Caucasian man commemorating the fallen workers of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR). Normally race doesn’t matter much to me, but for some reason this monument caused me some irritation. Y’know, I’m sure there were many willing European employees in that entire project, but I was surprised to find myself a little frustrated at the lack of remembrance for the Chinese labourers that were equally as important as the Europeans that were employed in building the CPR. Personally I think of the CPR as something made possible largely because of the Chinese labour brought into Canada, so seeing such a monument blatantly disregard the work of the Asiatic population (who very likely did not build the CPR for “king and country” but to live and support a family) frankly felt unfair.

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Upon entering Gastown we passed by a series of shops that all catered to tourists; when I say this, I mean there were tons of “I love Canada” t-shirts everywhere, plenty of Aboriginal art pieces and maple things everywhere. There was maple seasoning salt, maple sugar, maple-based tea blends and maple marinades galore. Even though Swan and I have both lived in Canada for quite a while, we still found everything pretty interesting and entertaining, even if some of the signage wasn’t always spot-on XD.

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For some reason a sushi house even had Bible verses on their menu. I couldn’t tell whether they were trying to encourage diners to be brave and try new things, or if they wanted to just encourage people who passed by and read their menus though, haha. Swan dined there on a separate occasion afterwards and mentioned that the chopstick wrappers (or something or other) also said “Jesus Loves You.” Cute.

2013-09-07 15.19.49In fact, I really enjoyed acting like a tourist the whole time. We got to snap pictures and chatter about how strange everything was. Like this double-decker.

We also found the Gastown clock, which runs on steam! Or at least, steam shoots out and it gives the town quite a steampunk-y feel. Fun facts time: Gastown used to be formed almost entirely of warehouses and piles, since it was right by the harbor. After the Great Vancouver Fire in 1886 it was rebuilt, with only two original buildings having survived the blazes. Though busy, the area continued to go somewhat downhill, becomes home to bars, cheap hotels and hiring halls. As you can read from the plaque though, Vancouver’s citizens decided to “rehabilitate” and beautify the streets.

I did mention the hipster aspect and to some extent it’s true. There are a lot of hipster-esque places here, kinda like Calgary’s Kensington. Hipster or not though, there’s always something interesting to see, especially with Gastown’s charming blend of the modern and the retro.

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They aren’t the most exciting or exhilarating photos, and I’m no great shakes at being a photographer, but there is something really fun about walking through the streets and attempting to capture the sights that define your initial impression of a new location.

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And that concludes our first visit to Gastown together! There were definitely a few more photos, but those can be saved for another time. Hope you enjoyed the mini-exploration (=

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