Walking Tour of Gastown

Comments 5 by Rebecca Bollwitt

Walking Tour of GastownAfter gale-force winds ripped through Vancouver last night, the clouds parted and I set out on foot to do a walking tour of Gastown. I was invited along by Vancouver Urban Adventures to participate in their Gastown & Chinatown tour this afternoon.

Being a local history buff I was pretty curious to see if I would learn anything new during the walk and I’m pleased to say that I did. I won’t share too much (so I don’t spoil the tour for others) but I have a few history post ideas that were inspired by our walk today.

We started out at Waterfront Station and walked along Water Street, stopping into The Landing which used to be the home of Kelly, Douglas & Company (and their Nabob Coffee) at the turn of the last century. From there we continued down water to the infamous steamclock. I admit, I had my camera out for the entire trip but already looking like a tourist I wasn’t about to take any snaps of the timepiece (we have a bit of a history…).

Walking Tour of Gastown & Chinatown Walking Tour of Gastown & Chinatown

The photos of faces above are sculpted up high on the front of a building along Water Street. It’s funny how we often forget to look up when walking down the street. Mind you, it’s probably not the best idea in the world to head down a bustling sidewalk with your chin up but there were some great building details that our guide pointed out that I had never noticed before.

Walking Tour of Gastown & Chinatown

We rounded the corner at Maple Tree Square (where you can find “Gassy Jack” Deighton) and stopped into the Irish Heather for a sampling of Blue Buck beer. Gastown is the birthplace of Vancouver as we know it. Called Granville before its incorporation as Vancouver, almost everything happened in the area we now know as Gastown.

Making our way over to Chinatown we explored the history of Shanghai Alley. If you have the chance to take a quick stroll down there you’ll find some information placards detailing some of the area’s history.

Walking Tour of Gastown & Chinatown Walking Tour of Gastown & Chinatown

Walking Tour of Gastown & Chinatown Walking Tour of Gastown & Chinatown

Looping up across Main Street we stopped for some Oolong and Jasmin tea samples before looping back down through Chinatown and into Dr Sun Yat Sen Gardens. The urban oasis balances water, earth, stones and plant-life against a skyscraper backdrop.

Walking Tour of Gastown & Chinatown

Walking Tour of Gastown & Chinatown

I find that getting out and walking around your City is a great way to rediscover it and explore places both familiar and new.

Walking Tour of Gastown & Chinatown Walking Tour of Gastown & Chinatown

With regards to Urban Adventures, the walk was about 2 hours long but they broke it up nicely with the pit stop at the Irish Heather, the tea sample, and various other visits to galleries and shops along the way. The guides did supply useful information and I liked having the earpiece so I could hear their narration. They covered history, architecture, great places to catch a bite or lounge about, and the tour ran consistently on schedule.

Walking Tour of Gastown & Chinatown

The end of the stroll is at Tinseltown so you’ll be a bit displaced once it’s all over if you don’t know your way around the city or back to Waterfront. Otherwise, SkyTrain and bus are close-by. I would recommend the tour for friends or couples as the walking time (and alcohol) may not be suitable / comfortable for all ages.

The cost is $25, which is a good value taking into consideration the samples and the history lesson, however it may not be feasible for large families. As an afternoon activity for a group of friends, it’s well worth it and you’ll probably end up back at the Irish Heather or Salty Tongue for a full meal as you’ll work up an appetite.

Walking Tour of Gastown & Chinatown

Other walking tours I recommend would be…
The Sins of the City tour operated by the Vancouver Police Museum
The Miss Guides
The Gastown Business Improvement Society free walking tours of Gastown
The self-guided Silk Road walk
The self-guided Historic Mosaic Art Tile Tour (if it’s still around)

Disclosure: cmp.ly/1 – Unpaid. Admission was complimentary.

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5 Comments  —  Comments Are Closed

  1. Tyler IngramMonday, January 18th, 2010 — 5:15pm PST

    We were at the Dr Sun Yat Sen Gardens last night during the night photowalk, though it was closed of course. Cool to see it during the day, and I’m sure during the spring it would be more magnificent.

  2. Sally BuckTuesday, January 19th, 2010 — 11:06pm PST

    Thanks for a great article and vicarious tour Miss 604!

    And don’t forget to add to your list tours by Vancouver’s The Miss Guides. They have a brand new program and tour ready for February 12th. It’s part of the Cultural Olympiad.

  3. BriannaTuesday, January 19th, 2010 — 11:18pm PST

    Great pictures! I am glad you had a good time and I hope you we will see you for the Granville Island and Yaletown portion.

  4. Miss604Wednesday, January 20th, 2010 — 8:52am PST

    @Sally – Thanks! I actually had someone review the Miss Guides for this site a while back so I’ve added that to the list.

  5. toniTuesday, November 23rd, 2010 — 11:09am PST

    The Chinese Cultural Centre of Greater Vancouver, which is located in Chinatown at 50 East Pender, also provides great Chinatown Walking Tours year round. $9/adult.

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