Posted: 26 Jan 2012 04:56 PM PST
I was in East Vancouver today, willingly. It's not the most desirable areas the city has to offer, or so you'd think. The Strathcona neighbourhood, borders the DTES. (Downtown eastside) British Columbia's oldest residential neighbourhood. It is bordered by Chinatown to the west, Clark Drive to the east, Burrard Inlet on the north, and Canadian National Railway and Great Northern Railway to the south.
Being so close to the DTES, you would never know you're so close to the most dangerous part of the city in all of Canada after dark. The people, while sketchy looking, and smelling bad, only as a below the poverty line community can, there is beauty. Lots of it. People smile, and are warm, and kind.
While looking obviously lost, a very undesirable man approached me. Being raised in the city, you're always a little on guard when someone walks towards you like this. Prepared for him to ask me for money on a remote road, robbing me if he felt the urge; he asked if I was lost, and offered his expertise on the area with a kind smile, then went about his way. Knocked my pretentious ass down a few notches.
I was only supposed to be in East Vancouver for a small project I was doing for a friend. After getting distracted by hidden gem after hidden gem tucked away in this decrepit little neighbourhood that the rest of the city has written off, I fell in love; with East Vancouver. There are ghosts f old houses with huge yards, you could tell once stood a strong neighbourhood. Where people had gardens cos they probably couldn't afford to buy their fruit and veggies, cloth lines cos people knew how to conserve energy and money when you didn't have any other choice. A concept the city is realizing again, and has lifted the bylaw against cloth lines and owning chickens. J You want your province to flurioush again and "go green", then stop being such a prude and lift old bylaw bands you put in place cos you once thought they were an eyesore.
There is so much rich culture, history and not to mention the architect. Buildings that are colourful, charming and were probably once the boast of the town, when the milling, logging and railways were being built, now look like old forgotten movie sets. Now run down, barely standing, are sad reminders of an area that once flurioushed with love. You can tell this was, and still is a working town. Being less than a block off the Burrard Inlet, this industrial area still has a little shine in her with the Grouse Mountain so close; you could almost see the people doing the grind. Kidding, but you know you're somewhere special when you take a moment to look around.
Vancouver is worldwide known for its diversity in cultures. We have the largest Sikh community in North America in Delta, next to India itself. We have Chinatown, and little Italy. There is so much, much more than that. Get off the bus, get out of your car, and walk around. Tucked away in-between those stores, and designated areas, there is a Latin, Turk, and Ethiopia communities. A nice change from what we consider to be the norm here.
After spending an hour of my head exploding at the Antique & Marketing warehouse on Franklen Street, practically under the port bridge to the longshoremen area, there is this store. Walked in, and fell.in.love. All the pieces are rustic and well over a few hundred years old. Some doors have been converted into tables. I found one, and will spend the $1595.00 is cost and put my own legs on it. It's a must have. The staff was great, and non-pressuring. A hidden goldmine of amazing stuff; from buildings in our city that no longer exist, and some from the owner's own travels. Anyone with a pretty penny to send on a one of a kind piece of furniture, this is a must. To think in the near future, my dinning room table will be a 160-year-old door with its hinges still on it. Companies certainly don't make shit to last like that anymore. It will probably last another 160 years. Add some leather chairs, and whola, you have a piece that everyone will love.
Walking to the bus stop, I ended up in front of Latin Organic Coffee House on E.Hastings. Deciding to pop in and grab a latte for my ride home was by far the best thing I could have done all day. The gentleman behind the counter was a treat. Excited to have clientele. He went on to tell me his coffee would ruin me for all other coffee out there. Smiling to be polite, I thought, "sure it will", cos every coffee house on the planet claims this. Not being a fan of Starbucks or Timmy's, what did I have to lose? O.M.G. best damn latte ever! So much so, I went back in and bought a pound of their regular coffee, missing my bus in the process. Sold. I'm a coffee snob now.
Bothering Single & Picky at school with texts of excitement from my adventures, she was equally thrilled that I fell in love with it as she resides in the area. I'll be spending more time down there on nice days for sure. As I hopped back on the bus, and then the train, entering the hub of the rat race, I became sad, at the views of what now seem cold starch neighbours of townhouses without yards, no kids playing in the streets, no mum and pop shops. The rest of the city seems….. Cold, lifeless, and poor from the riches of true communities and culture. It should be everywhere, not just little corners tucked away that people forgot about cos the government doesn't think it's worth preserving or mentioning.
Do yourself a favour, and get out of your car, get off the bus and walk around in a neighbour you've avoided treading into cos the media said you should. Be smart about it of course. Chances are I wouldn't venture into the neighbour after dark without friends.
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