Strolling in Shaughnessy

Stately homes in Shaughnessy Photo: Rob Weiss

When you think of destinations for the rich and famous and the world’s most prestigious neighbourhoods, what comes to mind? Fifth Avenue in New York, Kensington or Chelsea in London, England, or perhaps Nob Hill in San Franciso? Well, closer to home, with prices as high as the Lions, immaculately maintained gardens, and a vibrant past lies Vancouver’s very own Shaughnessy. Steeped in history, this residential area was first conceived in the early 1900’s as an elite neighbourhood by the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR). In fact, this exclusive residential area is named after CPR President, Sir Thomas Shaughnessy and many streets like Angus and Marpole are named after former CPR Directors.

The Crescent Photo: Rob Weiss

Today, the elegant tree-lined streets are home to many historical buildings and heritage houses. As a closet history buff, strolling along The Crescent in Shaughnessy is one of my favourite fall walks. Curving streets, wide boulevards, incredible architecture and inspired landscaping, transport me to the days of yesteryear. During my recent walk, I paused for a moment to enjoy the peaceful setting, and I could literally picture carriages drawing up at the grand entrances of these stately homes. In my imagination, I envisioned uniformed staff bustling to welcome the arriving guests and I pictured myself savouring a meal in one of the elegant dining halls. If only these grand mansions could share their stories!

University Women’s Club Photo: Rob Weiss

Perhaps one of Shaughnessy’s most famous estates is Hycroft Manor. Built in 1909, this Edwardian mansion once featured a coach house, stables, swimming pool, tea room, pergolas and extensive gardens. Known at the time as the centre of Vancouver’s social scene, Hycroft Manor’s parties were legendary! However, the mansion’s glorious history isn’t all glitz and glam! During the second world war, the home was donated to the Canadian Government to be used as a convalescent hospital for war veterans. After numerous iterations, Hycroft Mansion has evolved and is currently home to The University Women’s Club of Vancouver.

Flickr Photo: Jeremy

Once considered to be on the edge of the city, modern day Shaughnessy has been absorbed by Vancouver, yet its unique character survives. To protect and preserve the area’s valuable pre-1940 heritage homes, First Shaughnessy is a designated Heritage Conservation area. As modern-day skyscrapers loom large in the distance, Shaughnessy remains relatively unchanged in our vibrant, dynamic, bustling city. I wonder what Sir Thomas would think?

Getting There:

The Shaughnessy neighbourhood is bordered by West 16th Avenue to the north and West 41st Avenue to the south. Arbutus Street and Oak Street mark the east and west boundaries. World famous Granville Street runs directly through the centre of the neighbourhood.

Flickr Photo: Nick Angiolillo

Visit this link for a self-guided walking tour of Shaughnessy.

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