Culture. What is it? The art, humanity, lifestyle, foods, and variety that make life rich and define a society. Vancouver is a city of neighborhoods, each with its own unique quirks, attractions and cultures. Commercial Drive, Main Street, Chinatown and Hastings-Sunrise all get credit for being multicultural melting pots of the city. Kitsilano is usually not in the running for multicultural status, except once a year for Greek Day on Broadway.
Some may argue that Kitsilano is void of international diversity, and residents through self-selection have built their own health-focused ‘Kits’ culture. Sure, we may love yoga and eating local, we may have great bodies on the volleyball courts, and a green smoothie in our hands, but that doesn’t mean the entire neighbourhood is conformist.
This post features some great spots in Kits to find worldly culture, ranging from cultural centres to artifacts, restaurants and markets. Go on. Discover the international experiences within your own backyard.
“Bonjour!” Au Comptoir is a classic Parisien cafe with prime real estate on Kitilanos 4th Ave. Walk by this small cafe and you may mistake it for just another coffee shop, but take a closer look and you will be pleasantly surprised. From the French-speaking staff to the intimate atmosphere, Au Comptoir is the perfect spot for a glass of red wine, an elaborate pastry and espresso ou un petit-dejeuner. If they’re full up, head a few doors down to the venerable French Bistro Pastis, also run by French expats.
“Zdravstvuj!” Kitsilano is home to Vancouver’s Russian Community Centre where you can participate in concerts, dances and bazaars (food fairs) on West 4th Ave. More than 50 years of celebrating Russian culture, their largest public events are held in November (the Christmas bazaar) and March (Easter bazaar) where you can find authentic food, music, arts and crafts of Russian culture.
“Xaipete!” Not only is there over six Greek restaurants nestled within Kitsilano (Simpatico, Maria’s Taverna, Parthenon, Apollonia, Athene’s, Summer in Greece Souvlaki, Minerva’s Med Deli) but it is also home to the largest Greek festival in Vancouver. Every year “Greek Day on Broadway” kicks off between MacDonald and Bleinheim street celebrating Greek heritage and culture with spit roasted lamb, music, craft markets and interactive education.
First Nations’ culture
The totem pole in Hadden Park was carved in the 1950’s and through multiple efforts to keep it standing, still reigns 30 meters proud at the bottom of Cypress Street. If you visit this icon near the Maritime Museum you may notice there is no information or history about this totem pole. The totem pole is an exact duplicate of one standing in Windsor Great Park in England carved by Kwakwaka’wakw chief and artist Mungo Martin and his family out of a 600 year old red cedar from Haida Gwaii. There are 10 figures that decorate the carving, each one representing a crest of one of the 10 Kwakiwaka’wakw clans. This carving was ironically commissioned to commemorate the passage of 100 years since the creation of the Colony of British Columbia on First Nations land. The totem pole was presented to Queen Elizabeth to mark B.C.’s centennial year.
Silk Road culture
“Namaste!” East is East is a chai house with a fusion of East Indian culture, food and ambiance. The original owners of Afgan decent traveled throughout India and created this space upon immigration to Canada as a new approach to ethnic food, music and art. Retaining an essence of Eastern heritage, east to east is a great place to enjoy the meditative music and soothing warmth of chai tea.
“Hola!” Pepitas (Spanish for pumpkin seed) is a small mom-and-pop Mexican restaurant located on the corner of Burrard and West 4th. Its a small, hot, excessively decorated and hidden away but delivers a more authentic fare than most. Live Latin music every Friday and Saturday, margaritas, are what keep me coming to this hidden Latin gem for a great time.
Take a walk around Kits. Go on, travel!
Last modified: October 21, 2015