Vancouver Neighbourhoods: South Granville

Welcome to South Granville! (courtesy South Granville BIA)

The area between Granville Bridge and West 16th Avenue is known as South Granville, a stylish multiblock district boasting excellent restaurants, vintage and high-end shopping, and plenty of spa and beauty services. South Granville also encompasses Vancouver’s ritzy Shaughnessy neighbourhood, home to some of the city’s oldest and most elegant mansions.

History

The area that is now South Granville used to be pristine wilderness – in fact, Vancouver residents often pitched their tents there. In 1907, the street was renamed from Center to Granville Street; and plans were drawn for Shaughnessy Heights, a prestigious subdivision owned by the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR). It was named after CPR president Sir Thomas Shaughnessy, and envisioned as the “Nob Hill of Vancouver”, inspired by San Francisco’s poshest district. This is considered the official birthdate of South Granville.

Over the next few years, some of Vancouver’s grandest residences were built in Shaughnessy, some of which still stand today – a notable example is Glen Brae, which houses the Canuck Place hospice for children, considered one of the leading children’s hospices in the world.

Residents of Shaughnessy shopped along South Granville, which quickly became a hub for high-end boutiques, galleries and beauty services. The Stanley Industrial Alliance Theatre debuted in 1931, charging admission rates no more than 40 cents with shows comprising a feature production, comedy and newsreel. The landmark theatre was designed with neoclassical interior and art deco exterior, and finished with exquisite tiles, chandeliers and carpeting.

In 1939, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth visited Vancouver as part of their royal tour, and the merchants of South Granville exuberantly welcomed the couple with street decorations, flags and a welcome banner. In 2007, the community once again united to commemorate South Granville’s 100th birthday – a celebration that showcased historical stories, photos and a deep-rooted love for this special part of the city.

Dining and Nightlife

Stable House Bistro is one of many incredible dining options on South Granville. (courtesy South Granville BIA)

South Granville Street is packed with popular restaurants, under-the-radar eateries and gourmet grocers. Nourishing eats await at Heirloom Vegetarian (flavourful organic fare) and Jamjar (delicious Lebanese paired with creative cocktails); and date nights enjoy extra spice at romantic restaurants like The Stable House Bistro (seasonal share plates) and West Restaurant + Bar (upscale Pacific Northwest cuisine).

Gourmet food and wine shops like Meinhardt Fine Foods and The Marquis are great places to source picnic fixings for an al fresco meal in one of South Granville’s parks. Coffeehouse fans will find themselves in java heaven: South Granville is a fabulous place to lounge the day away in atmospheric cafes like Small Victory, Trees Organic Coffee + Roasting House and Bump ‘n Grind Café.

Shopping

South Granville is an Aladdin’s cave of chic retail finds. (courtesy South Granville BIA)

Many international fashion brands have set up shop along South Granville (Anthropologie, Max Mara and Free People, for example), though the multiblock shopping mecca also features locally made clothing and accessories (The Latest Scoop is a favourite for chic women’s fashions and exquisite lifestyle décor). Home décor and gift shops are rampant (try Atkinson’s and Goodge Place), as are beauty and spa services (book an appointment at Miraj Hammam Spa to experience a cleansing Middle East-inspired hammam and gommage treatment). Art lovers will appreciate the neighbourhood’s numerous art galleries, which exhibit everything from First Nations jewellery to artwork by globally renowned artists.

Things to See and Do

Don’t forget to snap a selfie at the Rainbow Wall! (courtesy South Granville BIA)

Oohing and aahing at the grand architecture and manicured gardens of South Granville’s majestic estates is a favoured activity among visitors. The area’s best-known mansion is Hycroft, a private club whose year-round public events invite guests to properly explore the fully restored Edwardian building and grounds.

South Granville boasts plenty of green spaces, though the grand dame is VanDusen Botanical Garden, an enchanting 22-hectare (55-acre) oasis showcasing year-round displays of floral splendor (picnics are encouraged, though the venue also features scenic patios at Shaughnessy Restaurant and Truffles Café).

Along the South Granville strip, you’ll find the Arts Club Theatre Company’s Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage, which originally opened in 1931 as a cinema and vaudeville house and now stages Broadway musicals and classic productions. Ouisi Bistro is also a good choice for live music: the New Orleans-style bistro features a picturesque garden courtyard where you can sip bourbon and listen to live jazz. Be sure to stroll by the colourful “Rainbow Wall” mural that adorns 2321 Granville Street, and serves as a psychedelic background for many an Instagram account.

Ready to explore South Granville? Click here.

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One Response to Vancouver Neighbourhoods: South Granville

  1. West – a Top Table joint near W 12th and Granville – is one of the best fine dining venues in the city, with particularly notable wine and bar programs.

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