Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

News stories from the Renfrew-Collingwood community in East Vancouver

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Let’s get outside and celebrate spring


Reconciliation pole raising at UBC

There were many hands eager to help at the reconciliation pole raising at the University of B.C. on Apr. 1, 2017. A day of history. Photos by Penny Lim

The sun is shining, the flowers are blooming, the birds are chirping – spring is here at last! And that means stepping outdoors and getting together at the many events and activities happening around our neighbourhood. Here are a few ideas.

Join in a community celebration. Whether it’s a school carnival, a European festival or Collingwood Days, there are plenty of fun local celebrations for the family to enjoy. Come on out and meet your neighbours and discover local talents!

Explore by Skytrain. Spring is a great time to shop at local farmers’ markets, enjoy new food trucks or discover new neighbourhoods – it just takes a short hop by Skytrain to get there. For ideas check out the RCC News’ Skytrain Rambler series.

Show the Renfrew Ravine some love. Still Moon Arts Society runs workshops in the Renfrew Ravine and has an online guide to ravine self-walking tours. Evergreen runs its Uncover Your Creeks program in the Renfrew Ravine once a month.

Volunteer at a local garden. Dig into the opportunities at the Collingwood Neighbourhood House Rooftop Garden or the Norquay Learning Orchard, run by the local Food Security Institute.

Join a walking club. Drop by your local community centre or neighbourhood house to find a walking club or group day trip program that’ll take to you near and far.

Cranes Reifel Bird Sanctuary

The group taking the Killarney Community Centre trip to the Reifel Bird Sanctuary in late March saw gorgeous birds such as these sand cranes and mallard ducks.

Ducks Reifel Bird Sanctuary

Julie Cheng is the editor of the Renfrew-Collingwood Community News. She has lived in Renfrew-Collingwood for 20 years and loves to get some vitamin D from the sun while gardening, cycling or walking outdoors.

Copyright (c) 2017 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News


Collingwood Corner: Joyce Street in 1914



If you live in the Joyce-Collingwood area you will have noticed the recent upgrades to the Skytrain station, and will be aware that big changes are coming over the next 20 years. I recently filled out a survey from the city asking what sort of shops and amenities I’d like to see along Joyce Street in the near future. I put down my suggestions and then I wondered what used to be here way back in 1914, when Joyce Street was first mentioned in Henderson’s Directory.

henderson-directoryJoyce Street was named after Abraham Joyce, a school trustee for Carleton Elementary from 1897 to 1898. I discovered a 1914 map of the Collingwood area in the Vancouver Archive website. By comparing the map with the 1914 directory of street names it’s interesting to note the changes and additions to the area.

For instance, the address for Collingwood Baptist Church is 617 Joyce near Price Road. But anyone familiar with this area knows it is located near Monmouth Avenue and the current address is 4847 Joyce, but in 1914 Monmouth Avenue didn’t exist.

By studying the BC Directories online (1860-1955) sponsored by the Vancouver Public Library, you will become something of a sleuth! The website is easy to navigate. Here is the link:

The 1914 directory lists residents and businesses with names of cross streets. There are names of the early settlers, along with many shops. A few are vacant, but there is a dry goods store near Archimedes, plus a Collingwood Electric Co., a grocer, and a Watson and Wood shoemakers.

Near Euclid there is a physician, three vacant stores, a shoemaker, a meat store, a barber and pool place, a dentist, a druggist and a dry goods store. Near Vanness there is an associated brokerage company, Fraser Brothers grocers, a postmaster, a Collingwood E. post office, a real estate agent, a bank of Vancouver Collingwood East branch, a restaurant, William H. and Son second hand dealer, a tailor, and even a Collingwood Theatre near Wellington Avenue.

Past Wellington there are homes plus Collingwood Baptist Church. I was amazed at the variety of businesses. Joyce Street had it all!

Near the west side of the Skytrain there was the Collingwood East station for the BCER tram that travelled from downtown Vancouver to New Westminster. Near Rupert Street the Collingwood West station was located, and near Boundary and Vanness the Park Street station was located.

These are shown on the 1914 map. There were also quite a few stations near Central Park, along the same track route that we now take on Skytrain to Metrotown Station in Burnaby.

Do you think the residents of Collingwood were better off in 1914? Or do you think that the future of Collingwood will compare to the variety of lifestyle once available here?

Loretta Houben is a long-time resident of Collingwood and coordinates the Seniors Connection section of the RCC News.

Copyright (c) 2017 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

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Why I love Renfrew-Collingwood: Livable, accessible, friendly

A spring day on a quiet street in Renfrew-Collingwood, with Grouse Mountain and Seymour Mountain in the background. Photos by Julie Cheng

A spring day on a quiet street in Renfrew-Collingwood, with Grouse Mountain and Seymour Mountain in the background. Photos by Julie Cheng


Renfrew-Collingwood is a special place where its warm and friendly residents of diverse cultures—pioneers and newcomers, young and old—live together in harmony and feel like they belong. The locals come out in droves to two annual festivals to celebrate this diversity: Collingwood Days and the Renfrew Ravine Harvest Moon Festival.

Still Creek runs through Renfrew Ravine.

Still Creek runs through the heart of Renfrew Ravine.

This historic residential neighbourhood is tucked away on the eastern edge of Vancouver on the border of Burnaby, B.C. The neighbourhood is home to hidden gems, from unexpected sweeping mountain views and the Renfrew Ravine (an urban forest with a salmon-bearing creek running through it) to Carleton School (one of the oldest schoolhouses in Vancouver) to many authentic, ethnic restaurants including Chinese, Japanese, Malaysian, Filipino, Italian and Indian.

Residents travel by Skytrain and cycle paths alike in Renfrew-Collingwood.

Residents travel by Skytrain and cycle paths alike in Renfrew-Collingwood.

It’s always been an easy neighbourhood to get to. In the 1890s the interurban tram connected Renfrew-Collingwood to the rest of Vancouver. Today two Skytrain lines run through it, carrying residents to and from work in a matter of minutes, north to Port Moody (on the brand-new Evergreen line), east to Burnaby and Surrey and west to downtown Vancouver. Walking or cycling is a great way to discover the neighbourhood.

Why do you love Renfrew-Collingwood? Please let us know! Email

Julie Cheng has loved living in Renfrew-Collingwood for 20 years. She is the editor of the Renfrew-Collingwood Community News.

Copyright (c) 2017 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

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Skytrain 30 years ago

Skytrain Upgrades January 2016

The east side of the Joyce Station where upgrades are taking place place. Photo courtesy of Loretta Houben


The year 1986 was the year of Expo, a world fair to celebrate Vancouver’s 100th birthday. The year many things changed in the Joyce Collingwood area.

For one thing, SkyTrain opened for service on December 11, 1985. Do you remember the excitement of riding for free that month? My husband and I tried it out one foggy day, travelling from Joyce Station to Metrotown Station. The huge mall wasn’t complete, and we got off at Patterson Station by mistake and decided to walk the rest of the way as the trains were so packed. We nearly got lost in the maze of old warehouse buildings which were still standing at that time.

Do you remember the fare was $1.15 for single zone and $2.20 for three zones for adults? And do you remember having to push a button to open the doors when the SkyTrain stopped, as not everyone got off at all stations?

What a change in the Collingwood area since then! Have you been keeping up with the new development planned for this area in the coming years? There have been a few open houses at Collingwood Neighbourhood House.

Exciting and innovative changes are coming for the Joyce SkyTrain Station, too! I live in the area, and since January 2016, the old exercise gym near the community gardens on Translink property has been taken down, along with a few trees including a lovely Kanzan cherry blossom tree, in order for equipment and mobile housing to be stored while the massive upgrades are done.

Loads of gravel have been put in to replace the boggy land along the old suburban pathway. An elevator for the east side will be installed, along with escalators and bike lockers.

SkyTrain’s name was coined for the BC Transit ALRT (advanced light rapid transit) system in 1986 because the first Expo line runs on an elevated guideway, giving passengers a scenic view of the city. Be sure to check out On Track: Early SkyTrain Project Film from 1983 on Youtube, provided by the Buzzer. Going to Town—1985 is another fantastic YouTube clip, showing the changing skyline of our city.

Work began on the SkyTrain line in the spring of 1982. I can remember the huge cement pillars going up in the Joyce area, and I was pleased that such a modern means of transportation was available, although doubtful about riding on a train without an actual person driving on board. In fact, when the trial run took place for free at Main Street station, one of my sisters refused to get on as she thought the train would fall off the track!

SkyTrain was such a new and novel idea, that a pamphlet was printed to show how to use it.  Please see:

If you have memories of SkyTrain and the way it’s affected your life, please share them with us. We’d love to read them. Email

Loretta Houben is a long-time resident of Collingwood. She coordinates the Seniors Connection page of the Renfrew-Collingwood Community News.

Copyright (c) 2016 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

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Vancouver’s first Italian Night Market kicks off today – August 15 at the Italian Cultural Centre

Italian Night Market at Il Centro Italian Cultural CentreIl Centro Italian Cultural Centre is proud to present Il Mercato, the city’s first Farmer and Italian Night Market starting Friday, August 15 at 3:00 pm. The Italian Cultural Centre is located at 3075 Slocan Street at Grandview Highway in East Vancouver.

The mercato will run every third Friday of the month until November 21, 2014.

This market is the first of its kind in Vancouver bringing together the tastes of Italy with the produce grown from local farms. The community is invited to come shop for a vibrant assortment of fresh fruit and vegetables, handmade products from local artisans and delicious food prepared by Il Centro’s chef.

Stay for live Italian music featuring the classic mandolin and accordion, and children’s activities provided by Il Centro’s Italian school teachers.

The Italian Cultural Centre is conveniently located close to the Renfrew Skytrain station and the Central Valley Greenway bike path. It’s worth a stop on your way home from work to get a taste of Italy!


The first 50 shoppers to the mercato on Friday, August 15 will receive a coupon for a 10% discout on Italian language classes offered at Il Centro.


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Skytrain Rambler: Get fresh at farmers markets


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

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 and

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!


Copyright (c) 2013 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

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Skytrain Rambler: Stadium-Chinatown

Favourite places to go and eat by Skytrain


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