The Dales House at 414 Alexander Street circa 1890 CVA Photo SGN 490

Thursday, August 27, 2015

If You Enjoy My Posts on House History, You Will Enjoy My History Walks in Vancouver's Heritage Neighbourhoods

Departs: 10am SE Corner of Commercial Drive & Venables Street and ends near Commercial & Graveley. 
Duration 2.5 hours
Cost: $20

Content: HISTORY, HORTICULTURE, HERITAGE & CAFFEINATED HIP - Come along on a History Walk through Vancouver's hippest, historic neighbourhood, “Grandview”. Vancouver’s Grandview is a neighbourhood unlike any other. Originally promoted as a middle class alternative to the West End and Shaughnessy, Grandview, which straddles both sides of Commercial Drive, is a fascinating mix of elegant Edwardian mansions, and edgy Bohemian chic, interspersed with interestingly repurposed heritage churches, monasteries and former monasteries, beautiful gardens and some of the best affordable restaurants and hippest coffee shops in the city. 

You will see the mansions of theologian, scientist, comparative ethnologist and British Israelite Professor Edward Odlum; Kurrajong—the elegant turreted home of Australian-born realtor and PNE founder John James Miller; 

the former home of author Joy Kogawa; the one-time home of Canadian rockabilly legend Ray Condo; a pre-fabricated Presbyterian church building which was later converted into a Fijian Hindu Temple and is now strata apartments; the site of Jeff Walls “The Pine on the Corner”; as well as what have to be Vancouver’s shortest and cutest streets, Lily and Rose Streets, and much much more.

The tour departs from the SE corner of Commercial and Venables near the site of the neighbourhood’s first electric light and ends near Commercial and Gravely in front of the site of Grandview’s first house.

It is not necessary to pre-book a space. Just turn up at the right time at the right place and everything will be fine. 

For more information, or if you absolutely want to book a place on the tour, please e-mail me at 


Departs: 10am SE Corner of Robson & Bute and ends at English Bay near Denman and Davie. 
Duration: 2.5 hours
Cost: $20
Content: My interest in Vancouver neighbourhood history was born when I moved into my first apartment in the West End. Walking to and from my workplace downtown I would choose a slightly different route each time and I was fascinated by what I saw. Back in the 1980s, the West End had many more of its original houses. Sadly, most but not all of the West End’s early buildings have been demolished, but you can still find some unexpected jewels hidden here and there among the high-rises and hidden behind storefronts.

These houses still stand on the east side of Denman hidden behind storefronts.

This tour, which lasts usually just over two and a half hours, snakes its way through the West End from Robson Street to English Bay. On the way you will see the site of an unusual roof-top airplane crash, the location of the mansions of two of Vancouver’s mayors, the house in which the first English version of O Canada was written, the Gustav Roedde House and the beautifully restored houses of Barclay Heritage Square, the site of North America’s first Fire Hall designed for mechanical fire trucks, the location of X-Files’ Agent Dana Scully’s apartment, the apartment building where actor Errol Flynn died, Sugar magnate Benjamin Tingley Roger’s magnificent stone mansion Gabriola, the home of one of the British Empire’s most renowned sharpshooters, the location of English Bay’s first life guard Joe Fortes’ cabin, and much much more.

As with all of my history walks, I supplement what we are able to see today with peeks back into time using archival images to help recreate the lost Victorian and Edwardian streetscapes of the West End.  

It is not necessary to pre-book a space. Just turn up at the right time at the right place and everything will be fine. 

For more information, or if you absolutely want to book a place on the tour, please e-mail me at 


Departs: 10am - Corner of Raymur & Malkin (opposite the Cottonwood Community Gardens) and ends at 1000 Parker. Duration: 2-2.5 hours
Cost: $20
Content: This new East End Itinerary was developed last year as a photographer's Walking Tour of Strathcona. This route is a History Walk through what I call the Working/Wild Side of Vancouver’s East End.

The fascinating immigrant history and architectural charm of residential Strathcona, Vancouver’s old East End, have come to be appreciated by many through a diversity of tours escorted by civic historian John Atkin, the BC Jewish Museum & Archives, the Architectural Institute of BC, and the Vancouver Police Museum.

On this tour I focus on the lesser known, but equally interesting and photogenic, southern and eastern peripheries of Strathcona, Kiwassa, 

Vancouver's East End in the 1890s. The bottom of the map is North and the top is South

and the old False Creek Flats. Highlights of the tour include a walk by the old Restmore Manufacturing Buildings, known today as the Artist Studios of 1000 Parker, the Cottonwood and Strathcona Community Gardens (once the sites of Vancouver’s city dump and home during the Great Depression of a sizeable hobo village), 

CVA Photo Re N8.2 Three unemployed men in the hobo jungles at the City Dump, September 1931

the birthplace of Venice Bakery, Malkin Avenue and Prior Street, the birthplace of character actor John Qualen, 

John Qualen from the Grapes of Wrath

and a walk down Union Street to see the home of Michael Bublé's maternal grandparents, the home of boxing legend Jimmy McLarnin, the Union Market (which started as a Chinese laundry and was once a bootlegging joint), the birthplace of BC Premier Dave Barrett, Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Church, the apartments were music legend k.d. lang lived, the site of a short-lived pre-World War I era brothel, the site of the railway blockade by the Militant Mothers of Raymur, and the historic Admiral Seymour School.

CVA 1376-238 - Admiral Seymour School class early 1900s

To reserve a space on this tour or ask any questions about my History Walks, or to book me for a private History Walk (available in English, Japanese and Italian) please contact me at

Parking: There is plenty of free parking along Raymur Avenue and Malkin.

See TripAdvisor ReviewsHistory Walks in Vancouver have received an Award of Excellence from TripAdvisor. Currently ranked 40 of 124 Tours and Activities in Vancouver, it is the top rated "one man show" of all these tours and activities.