Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

News stories from the Renfrew-Collingwood community in East Vancouver


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Skytrain Rambler: Evergreen line connects history from Renfrew-Collingwood to Port Moody

BY JULIE CHENG

As a young boy my husband lived for a while in Port Moody. Since the opening of the Evergreen Skytrain extension in December 2016, I’ve been thinking of visiting that area of the Lower Mainland. Along with tracing the roots of my husband’s childhood, I discovered history connections between Port Moody and our little corner of Vancouver, Renfrew-Collingwood.

Skytrain Station: Renfrew station at East 12th Avenue/Hebb and Renfrew to Inlet Centre Station. Travel time: 28 minutes. Roundtrip with a walk in between takes two to three hours.

Evergreen_Line_map

From Renfrew station, take the Lafarge Lake-Douglas train going east and stop at Inlet Centre Station. Source: Translink

From Renfrew station, take the Lafarge Lake-Douglas train. Along the way you’ll pass by Brentwood Mall, Production Way-University and Lougheed Skytrain stations, interspersed with industrial warehouses. At Burquitlam you can see the east side of Simon Fraser University on top of the hill before entering a tunnel that will take you into Port Moody.

As you glide into Inlet Centre Station, you’ll notice the railcars sitting on the tracks running parallel to the Skytrain line.

Port Moody Train

The railway figures prominently in Port Moody history. Photos by Julie Cheng

Port Moody is a historical railway town. As a port, it was the original destination for the railway terminus for the Transcontinental Railway (CPR) before land speculators got a hold of it and moved it to Vancouver where the Seabus building now stands. Apparently Port Moody didn’t have enough flat land to put the railyards, says my history-buff husband. This is why we have the tunnel (now the Skytrain tunnel) to Yaletown, which became the railyard flats.

Check out the artwork inside and outside Inlet Centre Station before you turn left and follow Ioco Road to Sherbrooke. Turn left at Suter Brook Village and go through the village. This is your chance to grab a juice or coffee before your trek.

[photo 4] Check out the artwork inside and outside Inlet Centre Station.

Check out the artwork inside and outside Inlet Centre Station.

Cross Murray Street and go left, following the bike trail. Along the edge of the wooded area you’ll see nurse stumps, which are tree stumps left over from old forestry logging. Take the Sutter Brook Creek trail and go through the community centre parking lot with tennis courts on your left. Pass by the Trasolini soccer field and you’ll see a trailhead straight ahead. Go right and follow the rail lines with the soccer field to your right. Cross the railway line and follow signs into Shoreline Park.

The map shows you can turn right to Old Orchard Park, where you’ll see old logging equipment along the way, or you can turn left to Rocky Point Park, which loops you back into Port Moody.

From the map, we head straight and found we had met up with the TransCanada Trail. In front of us are mud flats – the head of the Burrard Inlet and a tidal area. My husband remembers as a three year old walking with his dad across the mud flats at low tide from his house on Ioco Road all the way to Rocky Point (now marked by a large green shed that’s a sulphur storage plant).

The tidal mud flat in Shoreline Park is at the head of Burrard Inlet.

The tidal mud flat in Shoreline Park is at the head of Burrard Inlet.

Turning left across a small bridge onto the TransCanada Trail, destination Rocky Point, you’ll see the mud flats become marsh. My husband imagines native peoples living in middens throughout this area, with its rich food sources from the sea. This is where the sea meets fresh water, and an area that salmon would travel on their way to their spawning grounds. It’s important to catch the salmon close to the sea as salmon start to deteriorate once they hit fresh water.

It’s a leisurely walk over boardwalk and trail along the edge of the water. Take your time reading the TransCanada Trail signs and learning about local history and flora and fauna.

It’s a leisurely walk over boardwalk and trail.

It’s a leisurely walk over boardwalk and trail.

Rocky Point has a children’s playground and a nice wharf. It’s still a working waterfront, with an active mill near the wharf. A sign at the beginning of the wharf tells the history of Port Moody’s namesake, Colonel Richard Moody. “You know,” my husband says, “Colonel Moody and his ‘sappers’ did all the surveying in Collingwood.” A quick search confirms this tidbit of history (see box).

 

My husband remembers walking with his father clear across the inlet from Ioco Road to Rocky Point as a young boy.

My husband remembers walking with his father clear across the inlet from Ioco Road to Rocky Point as a young boy.

 

Pajo's at Rocky Point

Feeling hungry from your walk? This is a perfect time stop by for “world-famous” fish and chips from Pajo’s.

By now you may be ready to head home, or you can head into Port Moody to see what the shops and restaurants have to offer. To head home, take the overpass. To the right is the Port Moody Railway Museum and to the left is the Moody Centre Skytrain station, around five minutes’ walk from Pajo’s.

On the way back we transferred at Lougheed Station and took the Expo line back to Collingwood. Just walk across the platform at Lougheed and take the Expo line train heading to Waterfront.

Along the way we saw more working waterfront. Around Sapperton (named after Colonel Moody’s sappers) in New Westminster there’s the hospital and the Brewery District, where Labatt’s Brewery used to be. To your left up the hill is the former B.C. Penitentiary, opened in 1878 and closed in 1980. Just before you pull into New Westminster station you’ll pass the red brick buildings of the New Westminster courthouse, first built in 1891.

New Westminster, too, was established before Vancouver in the 1859 and for a short time was the capital. Kingsway was a trail and the quickest way from New Westminster to Vancouver.

Before rolling into Royal Oak station, I look south for the ocean views and the Gulf Islands in the distance. So much more history to discover.

Julie Cheng loves taking the Skytrain. She has been the editor of the Renfrew-Collingwood Community News for 10 years.

Colonel Moody and Collingwood

According to the Collingwood Neighbourhood House:

“In the 1860s Colonel Richard Moody of the Royal Engineers took a fancy to a lake that sat between what are now Kingsway and Vanness Avenue. He laid claim to the lake and the surrounding land. Moody and other early European settlers were attracted to this area because they were able to drain the lake and grow food in the fertile soil.

“Kingsway, once part of an early military trail to Burrard Inlet, follows the route of earlier Aboriginal trails that ran parallel to the lake shore. Streets in the neighbourhood were built in orientation to Kingsway and are therefore at odd angles with the rest of Vancouver’s grid-like layout.” (www.cnh.bc.ca/neighbourhood-stuff-to-do/neighbourhood-history/)

Copyright (c) 2017 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News


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August 2017 issue of RCC News is here

Renfrew-Collingwood Community News August 2017

This issue of the Renfrew-Collingwood Community News is full of the many wonderful people, events and programs happening in our neighbourhood!

Get your latest issue of the RCC News at your local coffee shop, grocery store, library and community centre.

Or click on the cover image to view the new issue.

In this issue:

  • Skytrain Rambler: Evergreen line connects history from Renfrew-Collingwood to Port Moody
  • Lots happening at Still Moon Arts Society
  • Photos of informal learning in Renfrew-Collingwood by John Mendoza
  • Homeless program raising funds in the neighbourhood
  • Shop local farmers markets
  • Gathering of canoes – Photo montage by Penny Lim
  • Read On! Many reasons to love Renfrew-Collingwood by Tony Wanless
  • Latin festival returns to new venues – Swangard Stadium and Rickshaw Theatre

Do you have a local story to tell or an event to share? We’d love to hear about it! Email rccnews-editorial@cnh.bc.ca.

The deadline for the September 2017 issue is August 10. We welcome story submissions from 300 to 400 words long. Accompanying photos must be high resolution in a jpg file at least 1 MB large and include a photo caption and the name of the photographer.


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Skytrain Rambler: Stop at Sperling-Burnaby Lake to see baby ducks and geese

More reasons to ♥ Skytrain

BY JULIE CHENG

Burnaby Lake Geese

A spring-time ride to the Sperling-Burnaby Lake Skytrain station takes you to the delightful baby geese that make their home at Burnaby Lake. Photos by Julie Cheng and Bryden Fergusson

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: I love the Skytrain. With two lines (Expo and Millennium) running through it, Renfrew-Collingwood has more Skytrain stops than any other community. The Skytrain can take you downtown and on to the North Shore by Seabus, east to Burnaby or Surrey, and south to Richmond.

The Skytrain saved me years ago when I was feeling isolated at home and searching for places to go with my two preschool kids. I’d pack them in the stroller and take the Skytrain to the family drop-in at Collingwood Neighbourhood House, the storytimes at the Central Branch library and onto the Seabus for a walk along the North Vancouver seawall.

Today the Skytrain gives my teenage kids freedom to move around the Lower Mainland. Sadly for me but happily for them, Skytrain takes them to the shops and restaurants on Robson Street or at Metrotown.

April is the perfect time to get outside and enjoy the sunshine. Hop on and take a Skytrain ride to a lovely spot in Burnaby that is linked by nature to Renfrew-Collingwood. You’ll see baby ducks and geese and more!

Skytrain stop: Sperling-Burnaby Lake

Zone 2 on the Millenium Line; about 10 minutes from Renfrew or Rupert Station OR 30 minutes from Nanaimo, 29th Avenue or Collingwood-Joyce Station. The longer route takes you past the beautiful waterfront of Sapperton in New Westminster.

Sperling-Burnaby Lake Skytrain Station Stained glass

The beautiful light from the stained glass greet you in the Sperling-Burnaby Lake Skytrain Station.

From the Sperling-Burnaby Lake station, it’s an easy 10-minute walk to Burnaby Lake and its lovely calm waters that are fed by Still Creek. This is the same creek that flows through our neighbourhood’s Renfrew Ravine.

Before coming out of the station, enjoy the beautiful light coming from the station’s stained glass. Then head south (away from the mountains) and take the overpass, where you’ll be rewarded with a glimpse of Still Creek and other great views.

Overpass to Burnaby Lake

You get great views from the overpass.

Bridge View

Follow the Central Valley signs to Burnaby Lake. Pass by the target range for the Burnaby Archery Club and head to the back side of the Burnaby Lake Sports Complex (includes the Bill Copeland ice rink).

Central Valley signs to Burnaby Lake

Follow the Central Valley signs to Burnaby Lake.

You’ll soon find one of the entrances to Burnaby Lake. Ahead of you is a path leading across a bridge and to your right another path leads to a large open field where people can be found flying model airplanes whenever the geese are not around. It’s your choice which route you take. Either one will take you around the lake’s entire 11 kilometres of trail.

You can download a map of Burnaby Lake Regional Park to help you get around.

Boats at Burnaby Lake boat house

You’ll see colourful boats and a gorgeous view of Burnaby Lake from the boat house.

If you don’t have much time to walk around the whole lake, continue to the right past the large field. You will cross a parking lot and across the boat house. The boat house (actually called a rowing pavilion) and spectator stands were built for the rowing events during the 1973 Canada Summer Games. More recently rowers trained here for the 2012 Summer Olympics, and the last time I visited, there was a wedding in full swing in the beautiful boat house. From here people also launch their rowboats or kayaks.

Skytrain is a fast, efficient and environmentally friendly option for transportation. It saves you parking and gas, and best of all, lets you enjoy beautiful natural spaces like Burnaby Lake.

Bird boat house

In addition to baby ducks and geese, Burnaby Lake is a great place to spot blue herons, bald eagles, kingfishers and osprey.

Julie Cheng is the editor of the Renfrew-Collingwood Community News. This story was first published in the April 2015 issue.

Copyright (c) 2017 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News


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Skytrain Rambler: Vancouver Art Gallery’s spectacular Picasso exhibit is just a few stops away

Picasso: The Artist and His Muses is now showing at the Vancouver Art Gallery until Sunday, October 2, 2016

Picasso exhibit at the Vancouver Art Gallery

The Picasso exhibit is showing at the Vancouver Art Gallery until October 2. Photo by Julie Cheng

BY JOHN MENDOZA

If you want to inject a little more creativity and leisure into your life, start with a visit to the Vancouver Art Gallery this summer and check out this show on the first level, and wander around at the other three floors. You might be surprised at the value and pleasure derived from sauntering through an art gallery—you might even leave inspired.

Directions: Take Skytrain on the Expo Line westbound from Joyce/Collingwood station to either Granville Station or Burrard Station. For information on admission rates and opening hours, check http://www.vanartgallery.bc.ca. Admission by donation is Tuesday nights from 5 to 9 pm. If a recent Tuesday in mid-June is any indication, expect long lineups and certainly do not wait until the last minute to see the exhibit.

Let’s go back to October 2010. I’m at the Seattle Art Museum. It’s a monumental art show to say the least. Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musee National Picasso, Paris, takes up the top floor of the museum, and it features artistic highlights from Pablo Picasso. Its placement is apt. It’s right next to the arts of Africa and Oceania; people queued next to a stark display of African masks. (Picasso was influenced by the arts of Africa and Oceania.)

I follow the other museum visitors into the first crowded room. What I discovered was not only the results of an imaginative and unusual artist, but roomfuls of the different ways one can approach life in the name of creativity.

A good example of Picasso’s ability to think creatively was Bull’s Head. The name reflects the idea and shape of the sculpture, but what’s surprising is the medium of the work: a bicycle seat, some handle bars. Picasso had found these items in a pile of garbage in Paris. He simply welded the metal seat to the metal handlebars, mashing together two found objects to create a modern work of art.

There’s something still alien and uncommon about being able to see beauty and potential in discarded objects thought of as trash. Furthermore, sometimes context is everything. Picasso created Bull’s Head in the early 1940s during the Second World War. To create something beautiful is incredibly life affirming, especially in the face of turbulence and turmoil.

In total, I spent four hours looking at Picasso’s art that day in Seattle.

Fast forward to 2016, and the Vancouver Art Gallery in downtown Vancouver is exhibiting Picasso: The Artist and His Muses, a summer exhibition of Picasso’s artworks influenced by the many women in his life.

The pieces come from as close as the collections of the Vancouver Art Gallery and as far away as places like France. One particular artwork supposedly is still in the frame that Picasso himself picked out and is making a rare appearance outside of its usual museum home.

If you ever have been the least bit curious about Picasso’s life and career, it’s definitely a recommended excursion. You’ll find that publicly funded museums and art galleries are not bastions of elitism, but places where all can be transformed by the experience of seeing art.

If you are a night owl, don’t miss their FUSE program where the Vancouver Art Gallery opens late from 8 pm to midnight, and augments their art exhibitions with performance and music. Next one will be Friday, July 15, 2016. And don’t forget the admission-by-donation Tuesday nights from 5 to 9 pm.

John Mendoza is a long-time resident of Renfrew-Collingwood and a regular contributor to the Renfrew-Collingwood Community News.

Copyright (c) 2016 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News


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Skytrain Rambler: The Seabus—A unique Vancouver experience

BY JOHN MENDOZA

Seabus

The view from the Seabus is amazing. Photos by Julie Cheng

The scene is a familiar one: silver-grey surroundings, the echoes of footsteps on the ramp, the sign counting down to the departure time. However, the voice is new.

It’s a rare fare check. “Please have your tickets ready for inspection,” said the transit employee.

Awakened by this change of routine, I showed my transit fare and proceeded to go through the turnstiles. Even though my commute takes 45 minutes to one hour to get home to East Vancouver, I look forward to this part of my commute—the 15-minute crossing from Lonsdale Quay in North Vancouver to downtown Vancouver’s Waterfront Station. It is one of Lower Mainland’s most graceful and fulfilling urban experiences.

With the sharp toot of the Seabus’ horn, the sleek catamaran slowly makes its way out of the station and into the busy waters of Burrard Inlet. Inside the modern cabins of the newest Seabuses, the scene usually starts with an audiovisual reminder of the emergency evacuation procedures, but then gives way to one of the city’s most interesting people-watching scenes.

Seabus terminal

When you reach Waterfront, it’s worth checking out the beautiful Seabus building, which was originally a Canadian Pacific Railway Station.

During the afternoon, the scene is of commuters checking their smart phones, catching a quick nap or talking to coworkers on the journey home. For a more interesting scene, I prefer a night-time commute. While the night-time trips from the North Shore are not as frequent compared to the daylight hours, the scene is compelling. Subdued shift workers share the marine vessel with the North Shore’s bright young things dressed for the city’s nightlife, and it feels more spacious.

Outside the windows yields a dramatic urban panorama. To the north, you see the stately Coast Range Mountains green and verdant in summer, snowcapped and frequently shrouded in clouds in winter. There are familiar landmarks: the yellow piles of sulphur; the spinning Q of Lonsdale Quay market, the newish condominium towers sprouting around the Seabus terminal, the stoic, muscular grain elevators well to the east. To the west, you see the green oasis that is Stanley Park and the lattice work of Lions Gate Bridge linking downtown to West Vancouver.

Personally, I like sitting at the south end of the Seabus. I enjoy seeing the glass skyscrapers of downtown Vancouver, the graceful sails of Canada Place and the buzz of the seaplanes landing and taking off from the harbour waters. There is much dignity in this part of the transit commute: civilized conditions and some interesting scenery help make the journey home worthwhile.

Fat Duck

Worth checking out are the food trucks Fat Duck and Arturo’s near the Seabus building, at the corners of Cordova and Howe.

There is no doubt that this is a highly idealized view of the transit experience. You are reminded that our transit systems has its shortcomings upon arrival at Waterfront station: the broken escalator, large crowds and the occasional Skytrain breakdowns remind us that our transit infrastructure needs to be taken care of and expanded as the city’s population grows and changes.

ArturosHowever, the Seabus part of our transit system is one of the city’s most spectacular yet relatively inexpensive experiences. It easily rivals that of other cities that use the water for their transit system, such as Hong Kong and New York City. If you haven’t yet experienced a ride on the Seabus, a mere purchase of a transit ticket affords you this most unique experience of life in Vancouver.

From East Vancouver, travel to Waterfront Station on the Expo line, then transfer at Waterfront Station and follow the signs to the Seabus. Your transit fare is good for about 90 minutes.

John Mendoza has been a long-time resident of Renfrew Collingwood. His interests include travel and books.

Copyright (c) 2015 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News


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Skytrain Rambler: Get fresh at farmers markets

BY JULIE CHENG

Get kohlrabi and more fresh produce at your local farmers market

Julie Cheng’s purchases from a recent trip to Trout Lake Market include a crisp kohlrabi, which her kids love to eat raw.

September is an especially good time to take advantage of the summer harvest. For great taste and nutrition, there’s nothing better than just-picked fruits and veggies from the farm. In Renfrew-Collingwood, we’re lucky we can hop on the Skytrain and find ourselves at a local farmers market within 15 minutes on various days of the week.

My kids love it when I pick up a fresh kohlrabi from the market. They eat it raw, sliced thin. For them it’s a refreshing, yummy treat; for me it’s a good source of vitamin C (which helps your body absorb iron) and B vitamins (good for the nerves and brain), potassium and calcium.

Let’s hop aboard and meet at the market!

Skytrain stop: Nanaimo
Zone 1; 5 minutes from Renfrew-Collingwood stations

Strawberry planter in community garden

On the way to Trout Lake Market, check out this innovative space-saving strawberry planter at the community garden. Photo by Julie Cheng

From Joyce-Collingwood or 29th Avenue stations, take the Expo or Millennium line, heading to Waterfront station.

Exit Nanaimo station. Cross Nanaimo Street heading east and walk down the Skytrain path, stopping by the community gardens along the way.

Head north (towards the mountains) til you reach Trout Lake, also known as John Hendry Park.

If leaving from Rupert station, stop at Renfrew station and walk east along Grandview Highway (12th Avenue) for about 10 minutes. You’ll hit the north end of Trout Lake.

Head to the far north parking lot.

Andy and Dad entertain shoppers at Trout Lake Market

Andy and Dad entertain shoppers at Trout Lake Market. Photo by Julie Cheng

Trout Lake Market (every Saturday until October 19 from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm). One of the longest-running and most popular markets in Vancouver, Trout Lake Market is always jam-packed. There are often lineups for the food trucks such as Vij’s Railway Express.

It’s not all about food. The scene is colourful and festive with musicians playing and face-painting for kids and kids at heart. In addition to the fresh produce, from apples and peaches to beets and turnips, you can pick up fresh-baked bread and pies, meat and cheese, salmon and oysters, and lots more. If it’s organic, even better!

Skytrain stop: Main Street
Zone 1; 10 minutes from Renfrew-Collingwood stations

Take the Expo or Millennium line, heading to Waterfront station. Stop at Main Street station. The market is located at Main and Terminal, at Thornton Park and across from the VIA Rail Station.

Main Street Market (every Wednesday until October 2nd from 3:00 to 7:00 pm). This market is perfect for commuters heading home. Why not stop and pick up some dinner here? While here, check out the beaux-arts style VIA Rail Station, which was completed in 1919.

Skytrain stop: Yaletown-Roundhouse
Zone 1; 15 minutes from Renfrew-Collingwood stations

Take the Expo or Millennium line, heading to Waterfront station. Stop at Granville Station and transfer to the Canada Line heading to Richmond. Stop at the Yaletown-Roundhouse Station.

Yaletown Market (every Thursday until September 26 from 2:00 to 6:00 pm). Located in historic Yaletown just outside the Yaletown-Roundhouse Skytrain station, this is a new market for 2013. It’s on Mainland Street between Helmcken and Davie. Stay awhile to browse the neighbourhood boutiques afterwards or stop for a coffee or ice cream in a nearby café.

Find more info on the above farmers markets at EatLocal.org.

New urban farm at Van Tech high school

(R to L) Fresh Roots’ Marc Schutzbank, intern Damaris Galvez, Van Tech grade 12 student Karen Wasdeb and customer Sara Ross. Photo by Julie Cheng

Skytrain stop: Renfrew
There’s a new urban farm in our neighbourhood, and it’s run by local students with the help of the Fresh Roots Urban Farm Society.

Zone 1. From the Renfrew station, walk east to Slocan Street and up the hill. The farm is sandwiched between the soccer field and the tennis courts.

VanTech Schoolyard Market (every Wednesday until November from 3:30 to 6:30 pm and every second and fourth Sunday from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm). Stop by for some of the best prices in town for fresh, local produce. This is Fresh Roots’ first season growing at Vancouver Technical Secondary. It is a first-of-its-kind schoolyard market garden where the food is grown and sold back to the community and to the Van Tech café starting September.

Fresh Roots is working to make the urban farm sustainable. “Healthy, local food should be accessible, and it should work,” says Marc Schutzbank of Fresh Roots. More info and photos at freshroots.ca and facebook.com/freshrootsurbanfarm.

Skytrain stop: 29th Avenue
Harvest Fair (Saturday, September 21, 4:00 to 7:00 pm). For a change of pace, stop by the Harvest Fair held annually at Slocan Park as part of the Renfrew Ravine Moon Festival. Here neighbours showcase their summer harvest, from beefiest bean to largest sunflower to tubbiest tomato.

Walk with the lantern parade that starts at 7:00 pm along the ravine down to the Renfrew Park Community Centre, where more entertainment awaits alongside the magical lantern-lit stream.

If you’re feeling hungry, stop for a slice of pizza from Ragazzi’s, at 22nd Avenue and Nootka (across from Renfrew Library). Don’t miss their Caprese Salad, made with tomatoes and baby bocconcini cheese—so simple yet so delicious.

Julie Cheng loves to eat healthy but is a bad cook, so she appreciates simple recipes. She is the editor of the Renfrew-Collingwood Community News.

Marc’s Market Salad

While at Van Tech I purchased ingredients—picked just that morning—for a colourful, flavourful salad. It included purslane, which Marc Schutzbank of Fresh Roots says is a source of the hard-to-find omega-3 essential fatty acid that’s such good brain food. Purslane adds a robust taste and crisp crunch to the salad. I did indeed serve this with salmon and the meal was amazing. Thanks Marc!

Fresh salad ingredients from the Van Tech urban farmschool

Fresh salad ingredients from the Van Tech urban farmschool. Photo by Julie Cheng

For salad:
Van Tech salad mix
Purslane leaves
Bunch onion tops, sliced thin
Nasturtium flowers

For dressing:
Place 2 parts olive oil, 1 part white wine vinegar, 1 tsp good mustard in a jar and shake it all up.

To serve:
Place salad veggies in a large bowl and drizzle with dressing. Optional: add a half cup of sesame seeds for crunch and carmelized leeks for sweetness.

Serve with grilled salmon. Enjoy!

—JC

Copyright (c) 2013 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News


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Skytrain Rambler: Stadium-Chinatown

Favourite places to go and eat by Skytrain

BY JULIE CHENG

Banana cream pie from VCC's Seiffert Market

Banana cream pie was Gilligan’s favourite and is one of the best deals from VCC’s Seiffert Market. Photos by Julie Cheng

“Banana cream pie!” My husband’s eyes lit up. “That was Gilligan’s favourite. Mary Ann always made it for him.”

“Did you like Mary Ann or Ginger?” I asked. Mary Ann and Ginger are two very different but hot castaways from the iconic TV series Gilligan’s Island.

Pause. “I liked Mrs. Howell; she had lots of money,” he said.

The banana cream pie was just one of the deals I picked up from Seiffert Market at Vancouver Community College, located downtown at Pender and Cambie. That day I was lucky to get my hands on fresh-baked muffins (still warm, six for $2.50), whole-wheat buns (12 for $1.50), shepherd’s pie ($4.00) and chicken dinner ($2.50, reduced from $4.50). But the fresh pies are really the best deal in town: $3.50.

Sieffert Market is just one of my favourite places I’ll talk about in a new series: the Skytrain Rambler.

Why Skytrain Rambler?
I love the Skytrain. With two lines (Expo and Millennium) running through it, Renfrew-Collingwood has more Skytrain stops than any other community. The Skytrain can take you downtown and on to the North Shore, east to Burnaby, Coquitlam or Surrey, and south to Richmond.

The Skytrain saved me years ago when I was searching for places to go with my two preschool kids. I’d take them to the Central Branch library, Metrotown, Central Park, Seabus and North Vancouver. When they started to fuss with hunger we’d always find a good meal just around the corner.

Today the Skytrain gives my teenage kids the freedom to go to these very same places and discover their own favourite eating spot. It’s a fast, efficient and environmentally friendly option for mass transportation. You save on parking and gas and you’ll enjoy amazing views.

Stadium-Chinatown Skytrain station map

Go up the stairs or escalator and stop outside the Stadium Smoke Shoppe. Under the Plan Your Trip Here sign you’ll find a map showing where you can walk to within five minutes from the station.

So hop on and take a ride!

Skytrain stop: Stadium-Chinatown
Zone 1; 10-15 minutes from Renfrew-Collingwood stations

From Joyce-Collingwood, 29th Avenue or Nanaimo stations, take the Expo line or Millennium line, heading to Waterfront station.

From Rupert or Renfrew stations take the Millennium line to VCC Clark then transfer to Expo or Millennium line heading to Waterfront station.

Get off at the Stadium-Chinatown stop. Head up the stairs or escalator, past the Blenz and up another flight of stairs. Exit at Beatty and Dunsmuir.

Seiffert Market. One block west along Dunsmuir, you’ll hit the back entrance of Vancouver Community College (main entrance is 250 West Pender Street; walking time from station is 5 minutes). Upstairs, Seiffert Market sells fresh muffins, pies, cakes, lunch entrees and more made by VCC baking and culinary arts students.

Hedley has worked at Vancouver Community College for 25 years

While at Seiffert Market, be sure to say hello to the smiling guy behind the counter, Hedley, who has worked at VCC for 25 years.

On any given day you can get treats and staples for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert, from delicious croissants and cakes to ready-made soups and salads to uncooked racks of lamb and salmon filets.

The lunchtime scene reminds me of Woodward’s $1.49 Day sales as customers scramble for the best deals that day. Watch the elbows! Also check out the student-run cafeteria or JJ’s restaurant. Downstairs in the salon, you can get your hair cut for $7.50.

Exit VCC at Hamilton and Dunsmuir. Walk south up Hamilton Street, past the Canada Post office to Georgia Street (3 minutes).

Central Branch, Vancouver Public Library (350 West Georgia Street). It was always a treat to take my kids to the Central Branch of the Vancouver Public Library. Under the soaring lobby outside the branch you can enjoy a coffee/hot chocolate and muffin with your kids before going to one of the children’s storytime and checking out the terrific collection of books.

Head west down Robson Street to Howe Street (10 minutes).

Seafood tacos from one of the food carts at Robson Square

At Robson Square you can enjoy amazing food like this perfectly seared scallop with mango salsa taco from Feastro the Rolling Bistro food cart. Photo by Puspa Affandi

Robson Square. Here’s another great place to people watch. Take your pick of delicious multi-ethinic food from the food carts surrounding the square. The Vancouver Art Gallery is also right there, housed in a beautiful former provincial courthouse. Admission for children under 5 is free and is by donation on Tuesdays 5:00 to 9:00 pm.

Across from the Vancouver Art Gallery, on Georgia Street, the Hong Kong Bank building features a stunning piece of art hanging from its lobby: a 90-foot (27.5 metre) aluminum pendulum by sculptor Alan Storey.

Chinatown. Head north til you hit Dunsmuir Street again and walk east til you’re back at the Stadium-Chinatown Skytrain station. Walking this will take you at least 25 minutes so think about hopping onto the Skytrain at Granville station (Dunsmuir entrance is before Seymour Street) and making your way back to Stadium-Chinatown. Once there, exit to the right of the transit Lost Property office, through the concourse level down the stairs to Keefer Place and past T&T supermarket.

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden in Vancouver's Chinatown

Opened in 1986, the Sun Yat-Sen garden is an urban oasis set amidst new high rises.

Head down Keefer until you hit the back side of the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden (578 Carrall Street between Keefer and Pender). There is a free section of the garden that is run by the Vancouver Park Board.

Chinatown has changed a lot since I enjoyed the breakfast butterhorns from BC Royal Café and the apple tarts from Hong Kong Café. Those wonderful cafes have long gone but you can still get apple tarts at the busy New Town Bakery (148 East Pender)—they’re not quite the same but still pretty good. While at New Town, take out a Dai Bao, which one friend described as a Chinese hamburger.

If the timing is right, check out the Vancouver Chinatown night market, running til September 8, every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 6:00 to 11:00 pm, along Keefer Street between Main and Columbia.

That’s the end of the first Skytrain trek. Back home, the banana cream pie must have earned an A+ for its maker. Gilligan and Mary Ann would have approved.

Julie Cheng loves to ride the Skytrain. She is the editor of the Renfrew-Collingwood Community News.

Copyright (c) 2013 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News