One of the most memorable experiences I went through in University happened on the first day. At UBC, we were asked to come dressed in our Department colours and as an Arts student, I was dressed in a purple blouse that I was quite fond of – I was feeling very posh.
We were divided into groups of about a dozen and started the conversation with a few ‘get to know you’ questions. We went in a circle, introducing ourselves by our name, the city we came from, and offered an interesting fact about ourselves. When it was my turn, I didn’t make it to the interest fact before sharing that I had come from East Vancouver when – gasp – two of my classmates earnestly asked, “how did you make it out alive?” At the time, I was a little confused but it’s rather funny to think back on… and of course, makes for a great conversation piece.
Sure, East Vancouver isn’t the first consideration when awarding for safety, but it’s home to a number of neighbourhoods that through this local’s perspective, are pretty darn cool. Here is my list of the top 3 neighbourhoods in ‘East Van’.
- Hastings-Sunrise: Foodie heaven and trendy thrift shops
My first childhood memories come from Wallie’s on Hastings. I would spend hours afterschool sorting through the different Spice Girls memorabilia and reading the free comic books. When I was hungry, I’d visit Bao Chau, the neighbourhood go-to for Vietnamese spring rolls. On days when it was nice out, I would hang out at the Skate Park next to the PNE or watch the highschool kids play basketball at Hasting’s Community Centre. That was over twenty years ago, but little has changed about this neighbourhood. Today, Hasting’s street is lined with family-run businesses that range from thrift stores to cafes, local markets to pho restaurants. If you’re looking for some delicious eats and trendy finds, this is your hood.
For more on this hood, I loved this article from the Georgia Straight, titled:
Hasting’s-Sunrise basks in the area’s rebirth
- Renfrew-Collingwood: Diverse families with an active community spirit
My parents bought their first home in Renfrew-Collingwood on Moscrop Street, just north of Joyce skytrain station. On move-in day, we were greeted by this adorable Portuguese couple next door. I couldn’t tell you how many times I misplaced my keys and spent the afternoon hanging out with them as I waited for my parents to return home from work. Let’s just say that I’ve since picked up um monte de português. The neighbourhood is full of warm and welcoming families just like them, but from different backgrounds and in different stages of their lives. The one thing that connects everyone though, is this shared active community spirit. You can always count that there’s something fun going on at either Renfrew or Collingwood Community Centre. Oh, and don’t forget about the countless Chinese restaurants, pizzerias, or bubble tea shops along Kingsway.
The best look into this community-oriented neighbourhood is from the vancouver.ca website, where you can read about their latest initiatives: turning streets into mini-parksand revamping the Renfrew Ravine.
- Victoria Fraserview: Little Saigon with an urban twist
As an adult, this is where Matt (my significant other) and I chose to open our first business. Why? Because it’s really an up-and-coming part of the city that’s home to some of the most unique and charming businesses. Victoria Drive is full of vibrant and clever takes on ethnic foods. My favourite is Chau Veggie, a modern-day twist on fusion vegetarian cuisine. Along this Drive, you can find dispensaries, fresh produce markets, the best noodle shops in town, and in paying homage to my ancestry, parts of ‘Little Saigon’. There’s a quaint little park right across our supplement shop that plays host to a number of soccer games and down the street is Trout Lake, home to the annual Lantern Festival.
There you have it: my top 3 East Vancouver neighbourhoods. Yes, I’ve included every neighbourhood that I’ve lived in, in some capacity. It should be no wonder now how “I made it out alive.” The question should really be how I ever left in the first place. In the last few years, I’ve moved to Richmond – stay tuned for blogs on my favourite spots in this city.
They’ve since taken down the wall in between Satori Factory and Chau, but this is one of my favourite shots of the people in the Victoria-Fraserview community at the Vegetarian eatery.
For more on East Vancouver and to find out what your perfect neighbourhood match is, visit Lett.io – don’t forget to sign up for beta-testing!