Community Gardens in Vancouver

Comments 7 by Rebecca Bollwitt

In recent years more park spaces and vacant lots in Vancouver have been turned into community gardens – sometimes where you would least expect them.

Photo credit: 0x on Flickr

In the summer heat, sunflowers stretch toward the sky in a plot of land where gasoline and diesel were once poured into tanks. A Shell gas station once stood at Davie and Burrard where the thriving David Village Community Garden now lies. Vegetables and flowers blossom within the yarn-bombed fences of this oasis.

Photo credit: danielabsilva on Flickr

A few years ago I saw a story on the local news where a lot in the Downtown Eastside had been turned into a community garden. After some research I realized it is the old location of the Smiling Buddha Cabaret. The other day when I was writing a post about parks I stumbled upon so many listings for community gardens and didn’t realize we had so many scattered throughout the city.

Vancouver is filled with diverse neighbourhoods and robust communities from the Downtown core, all the way out to Boundary, and down to the Fraser. Our City has always had a legacy of creating public green spaces for all to enjoy and in recent years these have included community gardens.

I made a map below to indicate all community gardens however you’ll wan to visit the City of Vancouver’s Community Garden Listing for full details and contact information.

View Vancouver Community Gardens in a larger map

If you would like to explore several of these community gardens, the City of Vancouver has setup walking tours that will guide you from one neighbourhood to the next.

Photo credit: Zero-X on Flickr

With assistance from groups such as the Vancouver Public Spaces Network, these are sprouting up all over the place. The VPSN (among other services) helps neighbourhoods get community garden projects underway by providing support when it comes to capacity-building and planning out these spaces. They have handled the administration of the Davie Village Garden (Davie & Burrard), the Yaletown Garden (formerly known as the Onni Garden at Pacific and Seymour), and 15 Oaks Garden (Oak & 15th). You can learn more about all of their public spaces projects on the VPSN website.

There’s also the SOLEfood Inner City Farm campaign that recently raise a community farm near the Astoria on Hastings.

Photo credit: lisa-parker on Flickr

It’s nice to explore and take part in something truly fruitful such as a community garden project. It not only beautifies the neighbourhood, but it brings people together and produces the ultimate local produce. If you have a green thumb yourself it may be a great way to volunteer your time. If not, the next time you’re out looking for a park to stroll through or a flower to photograph, consider checking out your nearest community garden.

Dragons' Den: Sisters Secret Gourmet Foods

Comments 33 by Rebecca Bollwitt

Tomorrow the CBC show Dragons’ Den will see contestants from BC take the floor to pitch their business idea to the Dragons.

Sisters Secret Gourmet Foods is a local company run by (you guessed it) sisters Marsha Simons, Salli Pateman and Joanna Spady. Their business produces all natural products such as granola, chili and sauces and although their products can be found in stores across Canada and the US, they are looking to expand.

The episode on which you’ll see Sisters Secret Gourmet Foods face the Dragons airs tomorrow on the CBC at 8:00pm and I’ve been offered a gift basket that I can give away to a reader.

The Sisters Secret Gourmet Foods gift basket contains:

Sisters Secret Fragrant Chili
Sisters Secret Fragrant Chili Mild
Fragrant Chili Aioli
Original Deluxe Gourmet Granola

To enter to win, simply leave a comment on this post or re-tweet the link (including @Miss604 so I can track the entry).

I’ll draw a winner tomorrow afternoon before the show airs so that you can look forward to snacking on your prize as you see the ladies in action with the Dragons.

Fine print: Valid to residents of BC only as the prize will be shipped. Estimated value is $50.
Related post: Dragons’ Den Auditions in Vancouver

Update January 13, 2010: I drew a winner from the comments and re-tweets and it’s @jessicarozitis! Thanks to everyone for entering and spreading the word about this local company.

Vancouver 2010 Where Will You Be?

Comments 13 by Rebecca Bollwitt

As Vancouver prepares to host nations, athletes, media and visitors for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games I’m wondering what everyone will be doing. For the last seven years we’ve been anticipating this event and for at least the last six months I’ve had someone ask me daily, “What will you be doing for the Games?

Photo credit: PiscesDreamer on Flickr / From the Miss604 Flickr Group

When Vancouver welcomed the world for Expo 86 my family would drive in every weekend to check out different elements of the fair; from the monorail to the pavilions each with their unique transportation vehicles fitting the exposition’s theme. As a six year old it was fun for me, I remember rides, mascots, and showing out of town friends and family around — it was always a great time. At that age it was nothing more than a weekly trip into the city with my family to go play around with some of the coolest exhibits I’ve ever seen.

This time around, I’m right in the middle of the action. We live downtown, sandwiched between pedestrian lanes and red zones, and unlike some others, we’ll be staying in town throughout the Games. John’s day job in radio dictates that he’ll be mighty busy and I have been accredited for the BC International Media Centre at Robson Square. The benefit of being at the BCMC for me will be to get news, post updates, and profile athletes, whose talents are the true reason everyone’s converging on Vancouver this year.

It was a post yesterday by John Biehler that made me realize I haven’t even share or outlined my own plans publicly yet. During the Games we’ll get a few Tweetups, meetups and photowalks going through True North Media House (as mentioned in Biehler’s post) and try our best to enjoy the festival-like atmosphere as best we can with friends from around the globe.

My coverage of the Olympics will include much of what I’ve touched on already; public events for all (downtown or in Richmond, Surrey, etc.), hospitality houses, and catching the sporting action among visitors and locals alike in a sports bar or in public viewing areas. Let’s not forget the massive Cultural Olympiad that will also be taking place across the Lower Mainland with entertainment, shows, and performances.

With our calendars being switched around and pieced together on a daily basis I thought I would take a quick poll…

[poll id=”42″]

The Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games are but 31 days away at this point so it’s time to start making those plans (for commuting, vacation, viewing etc.) if you haven’t already.

If your nation, company, or venue is hosting an event and you’d like to have some independent coverage, the True North Media House and folks like John Biehler are the ones to get you covered so feel free to contact us if you’d like to get some locals out to your events.

Birks Clock Back Again

Add a Comment by Rebecca Bollwitt

Photo: Kris Krug – 2005

Meeting under the Birks clock is as “Vancouver” as whistling the $1.49 Day Woodward’s jingle or stampeding through Army & Navy on shoe sale day.

The iconic timepiece stood outside Birks’ flagship store on Granville and Hastings and was moved to Georgia and Granville – spending time at town major downtown intersections over the years. It was then safely removed during Canada Line construction in about 2006 and today it was unveiled once more back at Granville and Hastings.

The clock however, once went by another name. Jeweler and Diamond Merchant George E. Trorey was the official Watch Inspector for the CPR back in the early days of Vancouver.

I am I.A.M. – 1984

The timepiece stood outside his shop on Granville and Hastings until Henry Birks & Sons of Montreal came to town and bought him out.

In 1907 they renamed the Trorey Clock to the Birks Clock, keeping Trorey on hand as a Manager of the company (source: VancouverHistory).

In 1913 when Birks opened up a new store on Granville and Georgia, the clock followed and stayed there until 1994, it was then sent back down the road where it sat until two years ago.

The clock’s name is actually so legendary that many know of “The Birks Clock” but some often confuse it for the Vancouver Block Clock Tower on Granville.

Photo provided by Birks

You can check out this slice of Vancouver history for yourself any time of day as it stands once again at the corner of Granville and Hastings.

Vancouver History Tidbits: Park Names

Add a Comment by Rebecca Bollwitt

Although Stanley is our most famous, there are more than 200 other parks in our City that range from wetland, dog parks, beachfront, forest trails, golf courses, and colourful playgrounds. Some parks are named for their neighbourhood or geographical location however many are named in honor of a person.

Fall Photowalk in Stanley Park
Lord Stanley – Stanley Park, Photo credit: John Bollwitt

I’ve played the name game with streets and trails before but I thought it would be exploring some namesakes of various Vancouver Parks in order to share a bit of history with residents and visitors.

Alexandra Park
Location: West End, 1755 Beach Avenue at Bidwell

History: Originally known as English Bay Park, it was developed at the turn of the 20th Century. In 1911 it was renamed Alexandra after Queen Alexandra, Britain’s King Edward VII’s consort. The bandstand was built in 1914. (Vancouver Parks)

Other: You can find a drinking fountain dedicated to Joe Fortes in the Park. Also, the original fountain outside the Vancouver Art Gallery was a tribute to King Edward VII. It still stands today but has been moved over to the North/West side of the building on Hornby Street.

Choklit Park
Location: Fairview, West 7th Avenue at Spruce Street

History: The name is no coincidence, this was the original location of the Prudy’s Chocolate Factory. (Vancouver Parks)

Photo credit: kazecki on Flickr

Discovery Square
Location: Downtown, 625 Burrard Street at Melville Street

History: The park was named in the mid-1980s after Captain Vancouver’s ship, the Discovery. (Vancouver Parks)

Other: This is actually the plaza area that surrounds the Burrard SkyTrain station. In the spring it’s a actually a beautiful site with dozens of cherry blossoms powdering the canopy in pink.

Photo credit: random dude on Flickr

Dusty Greenwell Park
Location: Hastings Sunrise, 2799 Wall Street at North Kaslo Street

History: The park was named for popular community activist and Hastings Community Centre volunteer Dusty Greenwell. (Vancouver Parks)

Major Matthews Park
Location: Mount Pleasant, 2627 Manitoba Street at West 11th Avenue

History: Named after Major James Skit Matthews, Vancouver’s first Archivist. You may notice that in some of my Then and Now photo series posts, many of the images from the City of Vancouver Archives are from the Major Matthews Collection. Without him, we wouldn’t have thousands of photographs and memorabilia documenting the growth of our city. (Vancouver Parks)

Norquay Park
Location: Renfrew-Collingwood, 5050 Wales Street at Kingsway

History: The park was named for the nearby school in 1909 when it fell within the district of South Vancouver (before the city was amalgamated in 1929). The name comes from an eminent Canadian, John Norquay, who was Premier of Manitoba when he first visited Vancouver in 1886. (Vancouver Parks)

Other: Our softball team has played there a few times and I was always curious about the name so I had to include Norquay in today’s post.

Pandora Park
Location: Grandview-Woodland, 2325 Franklin Street at Garden Drive

History: The park was named on February 11, 1914 after its bounding street. The street was named for HMS Pandora which was lost in the south sea while seeking the mutineers of the HMS Bounty.

Other: The park also has a community garden.


Many parks in Vancouver are named after members of the community, the BC Legislature, or the Royal family. I decided to highlight a few here that were a bit unique or that I was a bit curious about myself. If you have a park in your neighbourhood and would like to know its origin or history, please feel free to mention it in the comments.