Even before I went off to Boston for my conference, I spent a oddly warm, but very welcome, Saturday afternoon with the Rain City Social group for an exploration of Strathcona.
Strathcona is often referred to as Vancouver’s first neighbourhood. It is not the birthplace of Vancouver. That honour belongs to Gastown. However, it is probably the first neighbourhood dedicated to residential homes.
Our walk on a sunny March 25th started at the Dunlevy Cafe. The cafe is on Dunlevy just a few doors down from the infamous East Hastings of the Downtown Eastside. It’s a very trendy and hip cafe to be found just off a rougher stretch in Canada’s postal code. I already had lunch before coming, but apparently there wasn’t much on the menu. The setting is definitely trendy, though.
Strathcona is a unique mix of buildings. There are a few churches in the neighbourhood and one of Vancouver’s oldest schools, Strathcona Elementary. Even the houses are more varied than most Vancouver neighbourhoods. Normally, you just find single-detached homes all over the city, but Strathcona has single-detached and attached homes alike. I don’t think there is another neighbourhood with so many row houses. The lots are different sizes compared to the rest of the city. There is a very different feel to homes because of these unique lot sizes.
In the middle of Strathcona is the spacious MacLean Park. A lot of people were out in the park enjoying the newly minted spring warmth. We stumbled across a group playing some good old jump rope. I was never good as a kid and I was not about to get myself entangled in the rope. But one of our group was very excited to join in for a session of jump rope in the park. It was a Vancouver moment that doesn’t happen very often.
We walked south from MacLean Park and stumbled across a labyrinth at Hawkes and Prior. Labyrinths are meant for meditation when you follow the path in and then back out. We were sort of doing the labyrinth and sort of not. This is the only public meditation labyrinth that I’ve seen in the city. I’d be interested to know if there are any more out there. South of the busy Prior Street is the even larger Strathcona Park and the Strathcona Community Gardens.