The Vancouver Heritage Foundation‘s walking tour is in full swing. I signed up for the last of the 3 Gastown walking tours. Again, the ever bubbly and informative Maurice Guibord was our guide today. We met at the intersection of Carrall and Water where the statue of Gassy Jack stands. We went through Blood Alley, Garage, and John Fluevog Shoes. Then we past the Gastown Steam Clock to the Landing. Now, we rounded back east onto Cordova Street.
Traditionally, I don’t think of Cordova Street as being part of Chinatown. Cordova Street has usually been a nothing street during my time. It’s the street between the busy tourist street of Water Street and the old traditional centre of activity along Hastings Street. There isn’t the same buzz as along Water Street and no brick street to demarcate a tourist area. However, this is still a part of Gastown.
There are a few shops and offices in this area. The most interesting of these to me was the Old Faithful Shop. They stock all these classic and simple items for daily living. Some of these items really are old school. They have lanterns, army blankets, canvas laundry baskets, good old soap, and rhubarb syrup to name a few. Most items really have a bygone days feel to them and displayed lovingly around the store.
A few doors down from the Old Faithful Shop are a few consignment clothing stores that may interest a few. Around the corner from those shops on Cambie Street is Danny’s Inn. My parents used to run a clothing store for a short period of time in that building. At that time, I was still in elementary school and remember walking from my parents store to the Woodward’s department store and a toy store on East Hastings I loved to visit. No trace of my parents’ shop is left.
Our tour ended on the corner of Cambie and Cordova. However, Maurice recommended that we walk up to the alley between Hastings and Cordova that runs from Homer and Richards Streets. A graffiti mural on both sides of alley is on display right now. The art installation is by Cold World. According to the Murals Vancouver website, the installation started in 2005 and has continued to grow. It says it extends through the alley on the other side of Homer towards Cambie.
If you are from Vancouver and haven’t explored Gastown, I think it is well worth the visit. A lot has changed over the years and some very neat shops have popped up in the neighbourhood. It is definitely more of a neighbourhood since I was last there. If you are not from Vancouver, you almost invariably find your way into this historic district. However, go past the tourist shops and explore the neighbourly sections of Gastown and duck into a store apart from the regular tourist fare.