#LoveVancouver Neighbourhoods: Granville Island

One of Vancouver’s most iconic neighbourhoods, the area now known as Granville Island has been many things to many people over the years, even if an actual island has never been one of them.

At least 200 years ago, the Salish people settled in a nearby village they called Sen̓áḵw, and frequented the area around what is now Granville Island and the sandbar on which it stands to hunt for wild game such as deer, bear and duck. The waters were so rich with seafood, the locals had a saying that translates to “when the tide went out, the table was set.” They could walk out with the tide to harvest enough clams, oysters, and urchins to bring back directly to their families.

In 1915, the sandbar was fortified to create a 35-acre industrial manufacturing area and was connected to the mainland by road and rail to support the growing Port of Vancouver. They tried to call it Industrial Island, but Granville Island, called after Vancouver’s original name and the bridge that runs directly overhead, won out. The first business to move in was B.C. Equipment Ltd. with their corrugated tin walls that set an aesthetic still seen among the buildings there today. That original structure today houses part of the crown jewel of the neighbourhood, the Granville Island Public Market.

The Public Market opened in 1979 around the time the area was transitioning from the now abandoned industrial wasteland into one of the city’s premiere tourist attractions. A souped-up farmer’s market, the famous red building houses over 50 vendors hawking locally sourced fare, some of which have been there since the very beginning, including the popular Lee’s Donuts and Dussa’s Ham and Cheese Ltd.

With a dozen world-class restaurants on Granville Island, the market is certainly not the only place to grab a bite for hungry explorers. Two of the big players here are the aptly named Sandbar Restaurant and it’s bevvy of local seafood, and Bridges at the western end with its incredible patio situated right along the waters of False Creek directly between its namesakes. Both offer incredible views of downtown as you sit and pore over the treasures you found browsing Railspur Alley, a little path off the beaten one, lined with charming and eclectic artisan studios and shops.

Granville Island is a true hub for the arts in Vancouver as well, home to some of the city’s most beloved annual festivals including the Fringe, the Jazz Festival and the International Children’s Festival and anchored by Performance Works, The Arts Club Granville Island Stage, Arts Club Theaters. The newly expanded Arts Umbrella campus is opening up even more exciting opportunities for young creatives. And as we move into the next phases of recovery, music will once again fill the air thanks to an amazing busker program that brings some of the city’s top talents to these storied cobblestoned streets.

Hidden Gems we love on Granville Island:

Longliner Seafoods – Another original tenant of the Public Market, this specialty store has been run by three generations of the Moorehead family who offer fresh and smoked local seafoods to enjoy right out on the dock, or packed up for air travel anywhere in the world.

Wickaninnish Gallery – Opened in 1987 and located inside the Net Loft, this indigenous-owned gallery showcases the artwork of both emerging and established indigenous artists including traditional jewelry and clothing, and more modern designs that make truly unique West Coast gifts.

Artisan Sake Maker – Master sake maker Masa Shitoki still presides over this boutique premium sake winery, the first of its kind in Canada. Since 2015, they have been making sake from entirely Canadian ingredients in small batches that change with the seasons.

How to get there:

From downtown, board the #50 False Creek bus and get off at West 2nd Avenue and Anderson Street.

From the Skytrain, take the #84 UBC to West 4th and Fir Street.

Learn more about Granville Island by visiting www.granvilleisland.com.

Visit www.tourismvancouver.com/love for vacation inspiration, special offers, and more.


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