Joyce-Collingwood Precinct – a brief history

Welcome to my hood. This is Joyce-Collingwood. I’m still not used to the long version of the Skytrain station name. I still just call it Joyce Station. However, Collingwood is the official name of the neighbourhood, hence the hyphenated name.

Joyce Collingwood 3D model capture

Well before I was ever around, this area of Collingwood was a lake where the Musqueam nation used to hunt and gather food. When colonial settlement happened, European settlers found that they could drain the lake and use the fertile soil for farming. In 1891, the Interurban tram opened along the very same alignment as today’s SkyTrain. The Interurban brought people, housing and businesses into the area.

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Walking Vancouver – Strathcona in March (2)

After walking from Dunlevy and Hastings to MacLean Park, then onto Hawkes and Prior, we crossed busy Prior Street to the Strathcona Community Gardens.  These gardens are very well used.  On a sunny day like this day, it was full of community gardeners tending to their tiny little plots.  It seems like the local gardeners knew each other and were sharing tips and stories of how their plants were growing.

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Walking Vancouver – Strathcona in March (1)

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.

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What makes a Canadian community great? – The Globe and Mail

What makes a Canadian community great? – The Globe and Mail.

Photo by Rafal Gerszak for The Globe and Mail

A cute little article from the Globe and Mail on what makes a Canadian community great.  I would think that the question wouldn’t be solely a Canadian question, but a very universal one at that.  However, I guess Canadians are different enough that we have our own sort of community.

I think these 3 paragraphs within the article sum up what the likely answer to the headline is.

People who brag about their neighbourhoods today talk about a place where people know one another, where they are loved. These are places, we are told, where you can walk to the bookstore and the grocery store, to your kid’s school and your own office. These are places where green space is not just found around the large “P” marking the nearest multistory parking lot, but where a connection to nature is part of the urban plan.

These places are easy to get around, but are not one size or one style. Some are urban, some are rural and some occupy the tree-lined spaces in between.

In these communities there is a mix of people of different backgrounds, different ages, different jobs, all of whom take part in the same rituals, from summer festivals to evening strolls.

I know I’ve been looking at moving to a community like that, but often these are more expensive neighbourhoods to move to.  The easy way in is to rent a place in these neighbourhoods.  The hard way would be to actually buy a place.  Pretty tough in Vancouver to buy a place in these popular communities.

A PDF version is available from 8-80 Cities website here.

What Seattle should learn from Toronto

What Seattle should learn from Toronto.

An interesting comparison of Seattle to Toronto is given by native Seattlelite, Mr. Robinson.  He describes the urban neighbourhoods of Toronto pretty well.  After a year in Toronto myself, I would say that Toronto has a lot of things going for it.

On a recent trip to Toronto, I also spent a great Friday evening with a friend just walking around the neighbourhoods just west of the downtown core.  There was no plan except to just walk and explore.

Mr. Robinson is also spot on about the trash.  It doesn’t help that Toronto collects their garbage straight off the sidewalk because of the lack of lanes.  It’s quite a putrid smell in the middle of a typical humid Toronto summer.

There are lots of outside places to eat, drink, and sit. Generally people in Toronto seemed happier to relax and enjoy the conversation and views — a little more of a European feel. Or maybe they don’t drink as much coffee as we do and aren’t so jumpy?

People in Toronto seemed happier to relax and enjoy??  I would have thought that Seattle would be similarly laid-back like Vancouver, but perhaps I’m wrong.  I’ve run into more unhappy store clerks in Toronto than anywhere else in Canada, if that’s any indicator of happiness.  A lot of Toronto cashiers just seem to be going through the motions.

People smoke more in Toronto. Maybe it’s the European thing or Asian culture. Whatever, walking on the street is walking in someone’s fumes.

His observation on smoking is incorrect in my opinion.  He attributes the higher incidence of smoking in Toronto to European or Asian culture.  Although those two may be a factor, I think the bigger factor is that the further east you go in North America, the higher the rate of smoking.  He should have gone to Quebec and Halifax.  I was really running into smoke everywhere I walked there.  We are really blessed on the West Coast to have such low smoking rates.