#LoveVancouver Neighbourhoods: Yaletown & The West End

Situated at opposite ends of the downtown core and connected by our iconic seawall, our next two neighbourhoods in our #LoveVancouver series grew up similarly from earnest beginnings tied to the Canadian Pacific Railway that helped shaped so much of Vancouver as we know it. Today both Yaletown and the West End have combined their storied heritage with modern flair into two of the most desirable neighbourhoods, not just in Vancouver, but in the entire country.

Yaletown

In 1887, the Canadian Pacific Railway made its maiden voyage to the young town of Vancouver, terminating its Western line at the northern bank of False Creek. Soon the company would relocate its settlement here from Yale in the Fraser Canyon, bringing along with it many of its workers who would christen their new home, naturally, Yaletown. As business boomed into the new century, the city laid out a new eight-block district exclusively for the red-bricked warehouses that served the new wholesaling capital of Western Canada.

But it wasn’t until Expo 86 descended on neighbouring, then-industrial lands that the chic Yaletown we know and love came to be. A seawall was built around the perimeter, and the long empty warehouses and working-class quarters were converted into shops, restaurants and nightspots directly below loft-style living. Thanks to strict guidelines put in place to create substantial public land, the neighbourhood boasts tons of green spaces and waterfront access like the sprawling David Lam Park, home to some of Vancouver’s favourite traditions such as the Jazz Festival every June.

Yaletown’s rich heritage stock was protected in the initial planning, as well. In fact, the exterior platforms built onto the old warehouses to expedite the loading of goods onto trains have today given Yaletown it’s distinct al fresco vibe, with the largest selection of patio space in the city.

Some of the best restaurants in the city take prime advantage of this, from old-school favourites like Blue Water Cafe and Cioppino’s to unique local upstarts like Minami and The Flying Pig. But the crown of Vancouver’s patios is fittingly way up high on the rooftop of the Keg, with its plush booths and sweeping views of the city.

Perhaps the most stalwart holdout from Yaletown’s earliest days, and still the anchor of the community, is the Roundhouse Community Centre, an old CPR roundhouse whose engine turntable acts as an small outdoor amphitheater. You can even visit Engine 374 here, which once pulled the first transcontinental passengers into Vancouver, a city’s lifetime ago.

Hidden gems we love in Yaletown:

Chancho

A truly authentic tortilleria in the heart of Vancouver, Chancho serves up artisanal tortillas prepared the ancient way from corn grown on small Mexcian farms. Of course you’ll want to stuff them with heaps of locally sourced carnitas or veggies.

Noah’s Cafe

Combing the best of Japanese cuisine with Canadian cafe favorites into something entirely its own, Noah’s Cafe has made a name for itself with the brunch crowd here, but it’s ever-surprising delight is served up all day long.

B49 Bakery & Coffee

Vancouver’s home for Viennoiserie (translation: best puff pastry you’ve ever had), plus cheese tarts, cream puffs and cheesecakes — oh my!

Learn more about Yaletown by visiting www.yaletowninfo.com.

The West End

Just fifteen years before that first steam engine rolled into Vancouver, the banks along English Bay were still a heavy swath of mossy ground and Douglas fir trees. The land now known as the West End was purchased in 1862 by three enterprising young men who would come to be known as the Three Greenhorn Englishmen on account of paying too much for ground they believed was full of clay they could mine for porcelain. It was not. So when their plan went bust, they sold to investors intent on developing the area into “New Liverpool.” That idea too was short lived, but the gridded framework for the West End had been laid down much as it exists today.

Bordered by the magnificent Stanley Park and some of the most popular beaches in the city, the West End became Vancouver’s most upscale neighbourhood. While the railway workers toiled away over in Yaletown, the rail tycoons settled here, many along Georgia Street that came to be known as Blue Blood Alley, a backhanded nod to another working class area in Gastown.

Today the West End boasts a rich diversity among low rise apartments and heritage homes, and as demand grows, more and more high rise living. It is central to Vancouver’s gay community, particularly along Davie Street and is the vivid and boistourous culmination of the city’s Pride Week and Parade every August.

On any given day, but especially the sunny ones, you’ll find the whole neighbourhood buzzing on two wheels. With dedicated streets and its proximity to the park and the seawall, biking is big here. Tourists and locals flock to the many bike rental shops here like EezeeRiders and spend the day cruising to the many sidewalk cafes, restaurants and logs along First, Second and Third Beach. Picnics can be culled from the world of tastes available on Denman Street: local seafood from Papi’s Oyster Bar, Italian delicacies from D’oro Gelato e Caffee, British pub fare from the Three Brits and much more.

To get a true feel for what life was like here way back when, a visit to the Roedde House Museum introduces you to the life of an immigrant family in Vancouver at the turn of the 20th century, with original artifacts and architecture from a time in our city’s history when the Three Greenhorns were headed back to England, tail between their legs, unaware of the legacy their nearsighted ambition would leave.

Hidden gems we love in the West End

Greenhorn

A true hidden gem, if you don’t live nearby, you may not even know it’s there. But this cozy cafe and their incredible housemade soups, baguettes and bennys is well worth seeking out.

Espana

More world flavours can be found inside this elegant Spanish tapas bar. Sit at the long wood bar and dig into delicious small plates with your date, or try their daily paella for two.

Lucifer’s House of Heat

Hot heads rejoice at Vancouver’s one-stop-shop for all things spicy, from hot sauces to seasonings to snacks and candy you won’t find anywhere else.

Learn more about The West End by visiting www.westendbia.com.

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

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