Vancouver is a seaside town through-and-through with north, west, and south boundaries extending to either the Fraser River or Burrard Inlet. Home to Canada’s busiest port and some of the world’s best beaches, existing along the water is a way of life for locals. We get to enjoy diverse wildlife, the hustle and bustle of industry that relies on these flowing thoroughfares, sandy beaches, rocky shores, and incredible sunsets that kiss the sea. Today is the second post of a two-part profile of Vancouver’s Seawall.
In last week’s post the Stanley Park leg of the Seawall was the main focal point. This was where the Seawall began in 1917 (thanks to James Cunningham) and was extended throughout the decades, finally closing the loop around the park in 1980. Since then, the Seawall has been extended outside of Stanley Park, reaching all the way around False Creek, past Granville Island, around Vanier Park, and into Kitsilano.
While you’ve left the Stanley Park peninsula and forest trails given way to busy sidewalks and West End streets, the second half of the Seawall loop is peppered with parks, green spaces, patios, and almost as much to see in the water as there is on shore.
Continuing east along the Seawall past English Bay Beach and Sunset Beach (which has a dog off-leash area) you’ll pass under the Burrard and Granville Street Bridges and come out on the north side of False Creek at Yaletown.
Public art pieces stand in and out of the water, David Lam Park features soccer fields and basketball courts, water taxis zip back and forth, and boats come and go from the Yaletown marina.
You’ll duck under the Cambie Bridge next and pass BC Place, Rogers Arena, and the 400-tree Solefood urban orchard before reaching Science World at the eastern tip of False Creek. This area is man-made as False Creek used to extend all the way up to Clark Drive, with the False Creek Flats back-fill project starting just after the First World War.
The paved path curves around the perimeter of False Creek, bending down to South East False Creek and the home of The Village on False Creek. This area was built up as the Olympic Village for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games and amenities like the Creekside Community Centre have helped it thrive.
With a semi-circle of north, east, and south False Creek complete, the Seawall will lead you back under the Cambie Bridge and along the foot of Fairview as you head toward Granville Island. Here you’ll find another set of interesting features like the dog off-leash area at Charleson Park, the fantastic city views of Choklit Park (if you head up the trail, for a quick Seawall detour), and Leg in Boot Square.
Leg-in-Boot Square is the centrepiece of Phase One of what was the most extensive and visionary urban redevelopment scheme in Canada up to its time (mid-1970′s). It is a vehicle-free cobblestone and brick plaza. In its centre is a set of lines, the primary one which extends from a fountain to the water, and which points via a permanent sightline to the Lions (or Two Sisters) Mountains (and intersecting the old Vancouver Stock Exchange). The remaining twelve lines which emanate from a circle in the middle of the square are aligned to the orientation of Vancouver’s street grid.[Source]
A cobblestone plaza, boardwalks, and paved paths patch together the Seawall on the south west side of False Creek as it skims past Granville Island and its world-famous market.
This is the home stretch of the Seawall as it dissolves into beach-side paths and bike routes all the way out to Point Grey. After Granville Island you’ll see the underbelly of Granville Bridge and Burrard Bridge, and run parallel with the north side of the Seawall at Sunset Beach and English Bay — with False Creek in between.
Whether the Seawall leads you to a local attraction, market, patio, or restaurant, it’s a great way to get around either on foot, inline skating, or cycling. It could also be your destination as you plot a scenic running route around the city’s beautiful downtown and west side waterfront.
The Vancouver Waterfronts series continues next week as we move away from the downtown core and toward other local seaside attractions and neighbourhoods.