#WhatsTheLink: Your Major Road Network Leads to Kingsway
If you’ve ever walked along Kingsway, you might think, like I have, of its history. Originally a foot trail for local First Nations, it then became a wagon road in the mid-19th century. Stretching diagonally from Vancouver's Main Street just south of East 7th Avenue and becoming 12th Street at the Burnaby-New Westminster border, Kingsway is a living part of our region’s history and cultural fabric. Kingsway is also part of TransLink’s Major Road Network (MRN).
The MRN is a network of major arterial roads that stretches across the region and connects people and transports goods across municipal boundaries. In fact, if you stretched all 2,300 lane kilometres of major roads under TransLink’s responsibility from end to end, you’d end up in beautiful sunny Southern California.
I wandered around the north end of Kingsway where the street meets Main Street and talked to people in and around the many shops, salons, eateries and cafes to find out more about this busy road that connects people to our wider transportation system in Metro Vancouver.
The community at Kingsway and Main is diverse. People from around the world and close to home have made this triangle of major roads their place of business. That includes Jae, owner and manager of Gene Café.
Photo by Robert Willis
The café has been around for seven years, but Jae and her mother took over the space a little over a year ago. Originally from Seoul, Jae lived in Tokyo before moving to Vancouver.
“My mom has always wanted to run a café,” says Jae. According to Jae, the café reminds her of cafés in Japan more than other cafés in Metro Vancouver. While I sip a strong and bold Americano heated to just the right temperature, Jae tells me that she loves the area.
“It’s low key, there’s a good community here and there are regular customers. What Gene is today has naturally built up over the years. I really like that about this part of Kingsway. I’ve only been in Vancouver for a short time, but while I’ve been at Gene, I’ve noticed changes in the area. There are more buildings, and we’re a little busier now than we were a year ago.”
A community in transition is a theme Sam Armstrong, a stylist at East Vanity Parlour echoes when I chat with her. Sam grew up in Coquitlam and has been coming to Kingsway for the past two years.
Photo by Robert Willis
“The community is great. I have some clients who grew up around here, and they tell me it’s changed a lot over the years. They say it’s better now. The community is definitely eclectic. It seems to be a good mix of people who lived here before it was popular and people who have moved here now that it’s popular. So it’s this giant conversion of everything, which is really cool.”
Photo of Kingway and Main in 1908 by Philip Timms, Vancouver Public Library
Comparing what the corner of Kingsway and Main Street looked like in 1908 to what it looks like today, it’s plain to see how much the community has developed. New businesses and housing developments seem to pop up on a weekly basis along historic Kingsway. While the street and the Mount Pleasant community continues to change, it’s nice to know that whatever is in store for Kingsway, it will continue to be part of the MRN and accessible by foot, bike, car or bus from nearly anywhere in our region.