Welcome to Granville Island!

People who are coming to Vancouver for Access have asked what touristy things I’d recommend. Stanley Park and Lynn Canyon are great if you like nature and it’s not raining. Granville Island was the place I used to go to pretend to be a tourist in my own city. I’d bike down, get a coffee and a croissant and wander around. Now that I work there it’s lost its touristy appeal, but it’s still a great places. I love corrugated metal and rust. There is plenty of both. The Vancouver International Writers Festival is on until October 23rd.

Many of you have been really sweet to me while I’ve been traveling through your town. I like to know what people enjoy in their neighbourhoods. I wish I could show you my favourite places on Granville Island, but as I’m on the organizing committee I can’t really skive off from the sessions to show you around, can I? So, I thought I’d jot down my favourite places for you.

Getting there

From the Hyatt, you can catch the #50 bus on Georgia @ Howe St. It’s about 15-20 minutes. Or, you can walk down to Yaletown or the Vancouver Aquatic Centre and catch one of the cute, wee ferries across the water. Or, you could take the Skytrain (Canada Line) to Olympic Village, and then walk along the sea wall. A taxi is probably about $15.

My favourite places

Emily Carr is worth taking a look at. There are two free galleries: the Charles H. Scott and the Concourse Gallery. Right now the Charles H. Scott has a exhibition on about shipwrecks. Not really my thing, but perhaps it’s yours? The library where I work is tiny (see! I told you!) but has a wicked collection of art and design materials. The magazines are especially delightful to browse–my favourite is Uppercase, a quirky magazine from Calgary that feels good in your hands. The South Building, where the library is located, was designed by Patkau Architects, who have designed a few libraries too. The second and third floors of this building are card access, but you might be able to sneak in and take a look. I like the light, the wacky walkways and the huge garage doors that open.

Behind Emily Carr there are some houseboats. If it’s sunny it’s wonderful to sit there and watch random things go by: sailboats, kyacks, cyclists and pedestrians on the downtown side of the seawall, birds, etc. It delights me that there are houseboats a 3 minute walk from my cube.

Behind the South Building of Emily Carr is Railspur Alley. Agro Cafe is the best cafe if you want to sit. They are really slow, so if you are feeling impatient, go to the Market instead. There are some artists who make beautiful things: Peter Kiss’ whimsical sculptures, Dalbergia Wood, artisan sake maker, and cute ceramics and gorgeous colourful felt at Funk Shui. i.e. creative is on the corner, and they made all sorts of amazing things, like kinetic sculptures. They made the one by the cement factory.

Things to eat

There are lots of tasty things to eat in the Market.

  • Terra Breads – tasty baked goods
  • Stock Pot – delicious soup
  • the burger place by the soup place
  • Granville Island tea – Cream Earl Grey and their Granville Island Blend (black tea with vanilla and pomegranate) are my current favourites
  • JJ Bean – good local coffee
  • Petit Ami – excellent coffee served with sass
  • Oyama Sausage – so much delicious meat
  • Siegal’s bagels – delicious Montreal style bagels, needless to say, if you are from Montreal you will probably be disappointed, get a burger instead
  • Apples – there’s a stand of fresh, crunchy apples from the Okanagan, BC’s fruit and wine region.

Sushi in Vancouver is generally delicious, fresh and cheap. One of the exceptions is Granville Island. Don’t get sushi here.

There are two places to get fish and chips on Granville Island–don’t. Instead walk 5 minutes to Go Fish, the fish and chips, the tacones, soup and whatever sandwiches they have on offer are all amazing. Plus, if it’s not raining you can see Rock Stacking Guy stacking rocks.

There are a bunch of kinda spendy, not super tasty restaurants. Sandbar has a good mussels/fries/beer special on from 3-6pm Monday to Friday. The view is pretty, but…there are much better places to eat.


The Net Loft has quite a few excellent shops: Granville Eyeland, Edie’s Hats, a posh craft store and a postcard shop. Paper-ya is a stationery fetishist’s dream–so many cute things and gorgeous paper. If you need to buy a crocheted moustache pin, you can get one here. There’s other places to shop on Granville Island, but I don’t. You might.

Oh yes! Back to Emily Carr, the bookstore, READ books, looks tiny (and it is) but it has a spectacular selection of contemporary art books and some awesome local stuff.

Kids Only Market might be fun if you have tiny people in your life. Even if you don’t, it’s fun to enter through the tiny people door. Across the street is Granville Island Brewing. There are tours and tastings. Apparently the Winter Ale is tasty.

The BC Ceramics Cooperative has some beautiful stuff, from chunky hippie stuff that my mum likes, to elegant modern white plain shapes that I adore. Claire Madill‘s porcelin vintage jars are really pretty and functional. Crafthouse sells Gailan Ngan‘s pottery, which is somewhere between my mum and my tastes.

I will be on Twitter most of my waking hours during the conference. Please let me know if you have any questions or need more recommendations. I hope you have a great time in Vancouver.

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