The local's guide to Strathcona: Discover your new favourite neighbourhood
Strathcona Safari: The Downtown Eastside is beautiful.
The original Finch's is on Pender and Homer, which is extremely close by, yet may as well be on a different planet. Finch's Strathcona has these whimsical candy-striped deck-chairs, which really come into their own during both of Vancouver's annual sunny days.
Strathcona is a bit of a mission to reach via public transportation, and driving there from anywhere else in the city will take you through some of the most painfully congested traffic points in Vancouver. By bicycle, though, it's hard to imagine a more well-connected neighbourhood.
As we walk, Gregory whips out his iPhone to snap photos of the blooming flowers. I often race through Strathcona on my bicycle on grey or drizzly days, but springtime brings with it a riot of color.
Gregory and I walk back via Strathcona School, the namesake of the neighbourhood and a big draw for families. We end up back at the Wilder Snail, where we see a young man asking passersby for ten cents, ostensibly for the bus. "He's been doing this all day, notes Gregory. He asks the guy to move along, telling him that the bus drivers driving along East Hastings won't care if he doesn't have bus fare. The guy moves along, but we hear him up his ask to twenty-five cents. There's an entrepreneurial lesson in there somewhere, DTES-style.
Gregory must race off on an errand for a friend, so we part ways. Strathcona seems somehow fixed in time: elements from the turn of the century, the Sixties, the Eighties punctuated with a few modern trappings.
Of course, Strathcona, like the whole Eastern Core and the whole of Vancouver, is changing. Will that change end up doing more harm than good? Earlier in the afternoon, on the way to meet Gregory, I saw a sight that has been stuck in my mind all day.
I walk westward through Chinatown, and catch the 22 towards Burrard Street. Strathcona already feels like a different planet, even though it's maybe three hundred metres away: everyone around me is now buried in their smartphones, nobody looking up, nobody looking at each other.
Neighbourhoods like Strathcona are small, and they're magical, and they're fragile.
I take out my own phone, then force myself to put it away. I sit back and think of cartoon houses.
Local's Map of Vancouver
Below you'll find the spots that Gregory and I visited on our Strathcona Safari. You can expand the map to find other neighbourhoods explored by the VO and our local friends; more are coming soon.
View Locals-Only Map of Vancouver in a larger map
Like the back of your hand
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