Vancouver

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The whole first week we were in Vancouver it poured with rain. Poured, bucketed, poured some more. We were living in a pretty dank and dingy basement apartment anyway, and the rain on top of everything else made the first week pretty miserable. Fortunately, during that time, Lucy bonded with the pleather couch.

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It may have been her favourite couch ever.

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It even tasted pretty good.

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This was the first picture I took in Vancouver. It’s the flower dump at the Little Mountain cemetery, and it seemed to sum up the week.

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We did venture out a couple of times, and saw the Vancouver Ugly and Wilding Vancouver exhibitions at the Museum of Vancouver.

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The Vancouver Ugly exhibition was about (ongoing) debates over neon lighting in the city.

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The Wilding Vancouver one was about the past, present and future of Wild Vancouver. There were some super interesting moments – there used to be humpback whales living in Burrard Inlet (they were hunted to extinction, which was a theme). There was a whole section on invasive species, including blackberries (!), iconic blackberries climbing over *everything* in Vancouver are invasive! I had no idea. And also a problematic – myna birds were introduced to Vancouver. They are/were not a native species, but they flourished for a time. However, by the late 1990s they were nearly extinct and city authorities had to decide whether or not to protect them. They decided not to, and the last pair were killed by a car in 2003 (they are actually extinct in North America, I found out later). Most of the “re-wilding” had to do with the success of certain animals (racoons) and the cleaning up of salmon spawning creeks. We both thought afterwards that we would have liked to see more. It was a good way to spend a rainy day though.

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When it finally cleared up, we ventured tentatively out to Stanley Park. We were all so happy that it wasn’t pouring that we kept on going and going, and before we knew it had walked the whole 11km way around and ended up at the ice cream store. Surprise!

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Sulphur pile in the clouds (it wasn’t looking good, weather-wise, at this point).

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But the clouds started lifting (heron in front of Cole Harbour!).

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Sunshine at Third Beach. And a tonne of grain freighters waiting for all the grain held up by the demise of the Wheat Board … oops, I mean by the cold weather. Ha.

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Seagull feasting on a starfish.

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Dog dreaming of feasting on gelato.

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On our way to Fraser’s house in Lynn Valley we stopped for a walk through Lynn Canyon. I’m fairly certain that in the 11 years I lived in Lynn Valley, I was only in the canyon when it was sunny a handful of times (because it’s NEVER sunny in Lynn Valley). But it was sunny on March 14th and just so nice! Also, the water was higher than I think I’ve ever seen it.

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We were in Lynn Valley on March 15, for my Grandad’s 100th birthday. We couldn’t be in England, so we gathered at my brother’s house and skyped in to the party that was taking place in Charlbury (near Oxford) at my aunt’s house. It was a lot more fun than I thought it would be to be a part of a skype party.

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Fraser and Connor wishing Grandad a happy birthday.

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Grandad marveling at the technology.

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Card from the Queen.

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Watching the cake cutting.

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Auntie Margs helping Connor blow out the candles from 1000s of km away.

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Eating cake with Granny.

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Yum.

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Saw a couple of other shows. Ed Burtynsky at the VAG – it was okay. I liked it a lot more than the Lawren Harris downstairs, which I found very boring.

We also went to the Vancouver Police Museum. The museum is an odd combo. Half of it is quirky: there’s an old morgue (with a portrait of Errol Flynn who was dissected on a table RIGHT THERE), and a room of hand-made weapons. The other half is a display of various things that can incapacitate protesters, including a display of numerous canisters of tear gas, and a corner where kids can try on riot gear. I’m sure I’ll analyze it in a chapter somewhere.

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Speaking of protests, we teamed up with a poet and an artist to do the trial run of an activist walk that will take place along the Kinder Morgan pipeline in Burnaby. It’s a longer story than there is space for here (Tim made a longer post here), but National Energy Board hearings are currently underway over the proposed massive expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline, which runs from Alberta to the Westbridge Marine Terminal in Burnaby. There’s a great deal of resistance (including from the Mayor of Burnaby), and the walk will follow the path of the pipeline, up a green hillside, beside a school, under a playground, through several salmon spawning creeks and then out to the Inlet. It was fascinating – both to hear the walk being organized, but also to see how the landscape in Burnaby has carved itself out around the pipeline, which both fades into the background and is ubiquitously visible if one starts looking (and thinking about the bitumen sludging its sticky way through there).

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The pipeline is under the grass. No trees so the roots won’t rupture it.

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Water and oil (underneath).

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Coming out of the forest, oil tanks line the hill.

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Kinder Morgan entrance, and also the start of the Trans Mountain path.

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That’s the Environmental Protection Unit.

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No smoking! (in case there are any fumes – the whole place could go up in flames)

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The pipeline veers away from the hill here, and goes through an expensive suburb.

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We had to bail before the end of the walk, but it went by another, similar suburb where there was a rupture in the line 5 years ago, dousing houses and lawns in oil, and then ended at the port, where the bitumen is then shipped out.

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From there, we had a week of beautiful days, although this picture is proof that no matter what it’s doing in the rest of the city, it’s probably raining in Lynn Valley.

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Crazy light off Kingsway.

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This was at the Regional Assembly of Text, where I went with my friend Jen. But then I opened a drawer, and suddenly I was back at Elsewhere!

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We found a Twin Peaks/camping-themed bar called the Black Lodge.

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Tim’s review of the Poutine-Dog was that it was not great. But he ate the whole thing … so….

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We also went to Exotic World, on Main St. It used to be a museum, which opened in 1989 in the front rooms of a painting store on Main St. It was owned by Barbara and Harold Morgan. It was and is a kind of colonial fantasy/road side attraction, full of “educational” tidbits and artefacts that they picked up on their travels. There’s a pretty good story about it here. Where it becomes more than a kind of typical colonial fantasy (or possibly where it reaches the logical end point of a colonial fantasy) is that when Harold died, Barbara sold the collection to an Antiques dealer down the road. It’s still in his store, but now complete with urns holding the ashes of the two Morgans (this is a photo from the Facebook page, as is the one above – the museum was in a bit of disarray when we were there):

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The Morgans are essentially artefacts in their own museum. From the Alexander Lamb Antique Store (the current location of Exotic World), we went to Neptoon Records, which is the current business in the former paint store/original Exotic World. We found a couple of pretty special records at Neptoon (the accordions stayed behind), but when I asked the owner about Exotic World, he told me that he had had an informal agreement with the Morgans that when the basement of the Neptoon building was redone, the Morgan’s ashes would be mixed into the concrete – in place forever. Or until the big earthquake. It’s a pretty great story. I’d like to dig deeper, but I didn’t get very far with the current antique store owner. He did tell me that we were the first people to go there in some time, so if you’re looking for something to do in Vancouver go to Exotic World (but I’d say, take a critical eye with you!)

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On our second to last day in Vancouver, we took part in an Unlearning Walk organized by the UNIT/Pitt Gallery as part of the Spaces of Contestation series (for which I’m giving a talk next month). The idea is to use walking to explore certain ideas, to get closer to the earth, or even as a kind of therapy. We went out to Iona Beach and spent a couple of hours out there. Here’s the group at the start.

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Out on the mud flats at low tide.

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Moving alone, together.

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Building a bridge.

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Running to the horizon

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We found a log see-saw – a great trampoline jumping off spot.

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Giddy joy ensued.

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Grounded again.

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Really grounded.

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A procession back.

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Vancouver.

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2 thoughts on “Vancouver

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