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Vancouver: Granville Island - arts, culture, food and festivities under the bridge

 

Visit butchers, bakers and florists inside the Public Market
01/11 
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It would be hard to sum up Granville Island in a single word, but one thing is certain: it’s always in motion. Like many areas of Vancouver, Granville Island — once a mud flat on the shores of False Creek— was home to industry in the late 1880s when the Canadian Pacific Railway arrived. For a short time, Granville Island was called “Industrial Island” after the machine shops, sawmills and accompanying shanty towns that occupied the area. Eventually, when the steel Granville Street Bridge replaced the original wooden bridge overhead, the island got its permanent name.

As industry declined beneath the bridge, so did the island, until it experienced a rebirth in the 1970s. Government and private companies reclaimed many of the old corrugated metal buildings, Granville Island grew into a thriving metropolis, where people work, live and play.

Artists abound here. There are glassblowers, potters and crafters of all kinds, busy at work in their studios. Galleries and museums pay tribute to the Aboriginal people that first lived here, and to the rich maritime history of the region. The Kids Market enthralls children and families. But one of Granville Island’s greatest charms is its access to the water. People can rent kayaks and speedboats, or climb aboard a charter boat to go fishing, whale watching or enjoy a dinner cruise and tour of English Bay.

For most people, though, the Public Market is the heart of Granville Island. Farmers sell seasonal fruits and vegetables. Bakers, butchers and fishmongers tempt locals and visitors with dazzling displays of fine foods. And artists are part of the mix, selling paintings, jewelry, clothing and other wares, all to the soundtrack of musicians entertaining the weekend crowds.

And with the surrounding scenery — the sparkle of False Creek, the backdrop of mountains, and the quaint houseboats — it’s no surprise that people come here, day and night. Some even stay at the Granville Island Hotel, which often hosts weddings.

Comedy acts reign at the Vancouver Theatre Sports League. Performance Works and the Arts Club Theatre Company host an array of stage performances. Restaurants such as Bridges, which has a new Sugar Bar that offers decadent desserts, and Sandbar, which serves made-to-order sushi, each reel in the crowds with the promise of great food amid stunning views. Not to be undone by the food scene, beer is crafted at Granville Island Brewing, and sake is brewed at Artisan Sake Maker.