#LoveVancouver Neighbourhoods: Marpole & Chinatown

Our next two neighbourhoods in our #LoveVancouver Neighbourhoods Series may look very different from street-view, but they share equally important roles in the diverse cultural makeup of our city. Marpole sits on the southern edge of Vancouver along the Fraser River just before the bridge to the airport and the rest of the world, while Chinatown has long been a lively convergence of trade, political and cultural activity in its historic pocket of downtown.

Marpole

One of Vancouver’s oldest neighbourhoods, modern Marpole sits on the unceded territory of the Musqueam First Nation. The National Historic Site at Musqueam Midden cairn at Marpole Park represents recognition of the discovery of a massive midden site – c̓əsnaʔəm – that contains the remains of a Coast Salish winter village as well as shellfish remains and artifacts from early inhabitants of the site, dating from 1500 to 2900 years ago. It was discovered by workers in 1889 during the extension of Granville Street and proved to be one of the largest village sites ever found in North America.

The first non-native inhabitants settled here in the 1860s and dubbed it Eburne Station after Harry Eburne, the area’s first storekeeper and postmaster. It quickly grew into a working-class community mostly related to logging and fishing along the Fraser River. Marpole became a part of Vancouver in 1929 and has since grown into a multi-ethnic and diverse neighbourhood, no doubt related to its position as gateway to the city for international visitors coming in from YVR Airport. 


One can just look to the world of flavours on offer here at local restaurants like Sushi Bar Shu where Chef Hyunki Shin brings his eighteen years of culinary experience locally and in Japan to a true, intimate and personal omakase experience. Or there’s Mirchi Restaurant, a cozy long-time family owned spot behind the bright green door serving up the best of Pakistani and Indian cuisine. Support these local restaurants and more in the neighbourhood with a takeout meal or check to see if they offer outdoor dining!

 

Hidden gems we love in Marpole:

Red Star Seafood Restaurant – New world meets old ways in this elegant dining room offering traditional Cantonese cuisine and dim sum.

Wildlife Thrift Store – A sister store to the legend of the Granville Strip, this treasure trove of second-hand gems turns profit into service by donating to local charities with a focus on helping those dealing with homelessness and mental health issues.                                                                                    

Armadillo Boutique – The very first high end discount boutique in Vancouver, Armadillo is celebrating 40 years in the business of offering European and American luxury brands at modest Canadian prices.                                                                      

Learn more about Marpole by visiting www.marpolevillage.ca.

 

Chinatown

The largest of its kind in Canada, with its distinct heritage buildings, historic alleyways, and colourful characters, Vancouver’s Chinatown continues to tell the fascinating tales of Chinese pioneers in our city. 

As far back as 1886, Chinese immigrants began to settle around Carrall Street and Pender Street, called Dupont back then. Just four years in, it was home to over one thousand Chinese residents. The community soon grew up around, among other things, the first of three Chinese opera houses in the 1890s. By 1904, two very important areas emerged as Shanghai and Canton Alleys, housing mostly workers in tenements above while shops opened at street level to foster the expansion of Chinatown. 

In fact, it was such expansion that led to the curious case of the Sam Kee Building, the narrowest commercial building in the world. When Pender Street was widened in 1912, landowner Sam Kee was left with a roughly six-foot-wide swath of his original standard-sized lot. Instead of selling the land, Sam Kee took a bet that he wouldn’t be able to use it for anything and erected his building to house public baths, offices, shops and living quarters. It still stands today as a testament to the tenacity and resilience of the people that built Vancouver’s Chinatown. 

Today, Chinatown is a National Historic Site thanks in part to important cultural centres like Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, a Ming-Dynasty-style garden home that is the first of its kind to be built outside of China. The Garden has re-opened and is welcoming visitors again with new safety protocols and time-slot based tickets that can be booked in advance online. At the same time, the area has welcomed a bevvy of modern eateries that spin new takes on traditional fare, such as The Union and it’s elevated Asian street food, and Harvest Community Foods, a chef-owned locally sourced grocery store and noodle soup cafe. Show your support for these local eateries and more in the neighbourhood by ordering take out or dining on a local patio.

 

Hidden gems we love in Chinatown:

China Houseware Discount Centre – Like a dollar store on steroids, this endlessly plunderable collection of affordable Chinese ceramics, decor and Asian snacks and candy is an afternoon unto itself.

Ai & Om Knives – For professionals and amateur cooks alike, this is a Japanese knife shop providing quality edged instruments founded by local chef Douglas Chang.

Floata Seafood Restaurant – This 1,000-seat restaurant is the biggest Chinese Restaurant in Canada. Floata is currently open for take out or dining on their outdoor balcony.

Learn more about Chinatown by visiting www.vancouver-chinatown.com.

Visit www.tourismvancouver.com/love for staycation inspiration and special offers for locals.

#LoveVancouver
#CanadaNice

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