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Vancouver Neighbourhoods: Fairview/Granville Island

Vancouver General Hospital. Mountain Equipment Co-op. Granville Island. These are all things that make the Fairview neighbourhood of Vancouver special. Whether you’re a tourist or someone working for the city, Fairview is a family friendly place that is perfect for everyone.

Of course, it’s our home too, so we’re a little biased! When you phone the Breakfast Courier, your calls for breakfast are answered from a little office in the vibrant fairview neighbourhood.

Anyway, back to Fairview. Slightly removed from the hustle and bustle of downtown, Fairview is a bit quieter than the core. But don’t let that fool you. There is plenty to do in this section of Vancouver’s character.

For starters, if you’re living in Fairview, odds are you’re only a short walk from Granville Island, home of fresh fruit and vegetable markets, artisan meats, cheeses and spreads. The island also features its fair share of artistic delights, from local theatres, to famous artisan glass studios, to the iconic Emily Carr school of art and design.

Buskers draw crowds of tourists in the summer, but locals know there is nothing like sitting on the pier on a sunny day, taking in the Vancouver sunshine and enjoying a freshly baked pastry from the market.

Back in Fairview’s South Granville area, you can treat yourself to a swanky shopping experience, as the area is known for its variety and quality of shops. Broadway, too, features a myriad of wonderful stores and restaurants, including the first ever location of the Memphis Blues BBQ restaurant (nearly an institution in its own right) and the much loved Mountain Equipment Co-op.

Incidentally, one of those Broadway shops has an especially fun story. According to this Visible City post and to one of those stories I was told way too many times growing up, the Bowmac sign on West Broadway has been there since the 1950’s. When the company sold the building to Toys-R-Us in the nineties, one of the conditions was that the sign stayed, even though the toy store behemoth wanted to tear it down and put its own sign up. So what did Toys-R-Us do? They built their sign directly in front of Bowmac’s of course! Awkward, to say the least, but I suppose Toys-R-Us really wanted everyone to know they were there.

For those of you who have always wondered about this, now you know. You’re welcome.

However, Fairview isn’t all about tourists. There are several cornerstones of Van City in this neighbourhood, notably, Vancouver’s City Hall and Vancouver General Hospital. While visitors may enjoy all that Fairview has to offer, and rightly so, Vancouverites are also getting it done in this neighbourhood. From nurses to city workers, to the swaths of UBC students coming through on the 99 B-line every day, there are always plenty of greater Vancouver natives coming and going from Fairview.

Another thing that gives Fairview its Vancouver character? The bike dedicated streets. A few blocks south of Broadway, there are not just bike lanes, but entire streets that are known biking routes, completely taken over by cyclists. It’s a green thing to do, a Vancouver thing to do, and a testament to Vancouver’s disposition towards bikes and biking culture.

You can see why we love it here.

By Teresa Matich

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