Granville Island’s evolution from a First Nations winter fishing village on a sandbar, to industrial island, to derelict wasteland, to thriving tourist destination and artistry hotspot that it is today, can be difficult to imagine.
Some remnants of its past are still visible. Railway tracks can be seen amongst the cobblestone streets and corrugated buildings. A drill-bit manufacturer and concrete factory still remain – subtle tributes to its days of cranking out manufactured goods.
As a successful model for brownfield redevelopment, Granville Island now sees over 10 million visitors every year.
While urban planners, architects, and developers speculate about its shrouded future, spend an afternoon checking out these 4 things you didn’t know about Granville Island.
4 Things You Didn’t Know About Granville Island
1. Famous works of art were created there
From the 1980s to the mid 1990s, the great Canadian Haida artist Bill Reid had his studio on Granville Island. There, together with his apprentices, he created some of his most monumental works including The Chief of the Undersea World in 1984 (the bronze killer whale sculpture at the entrance of the Vancouver Aquarium), and The Spirit of Haida Gwaii sculpture in 1991, which was commissioned for the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C. Reid’s former space is marked with a plaque on the exterior of the John Nutter Glass Studio in the Net Loft on Duranleau Street.
2. Find a perfect spot for brunch with a view
Smart Vancouver visitors know all about the dapper-looking Granville Island Hotel wrapped around the eastern edge of the Island. The recently renovated, 82-room boutique hotel features plush rooms, each with a unique decor, and many with glittering water and city views. Often referred to as one of Vancouver’s best kept secrets, the hotel also has an adjacent restaurant with a perfectly gorgeous patio – the best secret of all. This award-winning patio belongs to the Dockside Restaurant and is open seven days a week for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Brunch is served on weekends from 10:30am to 2:30pm. Tip: try getting one of the patio’s most coveted spots on the new gazebo, complete with open fireplaces for cooler, more typical Vancouver days.
3. Fermented rice brew anyone?
While craft beer is having a moment right now, back in 2007, Canada’s first locally produced sake was quietly being created on Granville Island. Located down the narrow Railspur Alley street, the Artisan SakeMaker ‘s future goal is to use only 100% BC grown rice for its Osake fermented drink line. Drop by for a tasting between 11:30 a.m. and 6 p.m for under $5.
4. True waterfront living exists there
Fan of the water? Then consider living on it, even temporarily. Sea Village on Granville Island’s east-side is an aquatic cul-de-sac with 13 floating homes (some of them with Coal Harbour roots), each one different from the next, all of them equally appealing. And from some you can even comfortably fish from, right out of the living room. Occasionally one of these candy-coloured boxes are available for rent or for purchase but you can also take a peek from the outside while strolling along the boardwalk there.
Last modified: July 23, 2014