Things to do in Vancouver Along the Skytrain Route

Page 2 of The Old Vancouver Townsite

Walking Tour of

The Downtown East Side

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Alleyway poster art.

The Downtown East Side -  Canada's Poorest Postal Code

Featuring The Carnegie Mosaics

Footprints Community Art Project

Donate to Carnegie


...Head back up southward to Alexander and turn left.  The mosaic is mid block on the north side.

7. 1942, Mid 400 block, Alexander Street

…around a Japanese symbol for learning… half circles symbolize joy, beauty and liveliness of culture.  Fish boats at the shore speak to the livelihood of the Japanese community and to the water and to the distance between home and here.  Fish boats tied to the shore begin to evoke images of confiscation.  Railway tracks lead away to mountains, away from the coast and community.  A suitcase, with the only allowed possessions, and a white circle.  The interned wore a circle to identify them.  The mountains are the unknown, the mountains are 1942…

        Japanese immigration started in 1883 and the area of the 200 and 300 blocks of Powell Street eventually grew into Japanese Town.  In 1942, 22,000 people were stripped of all possessions, except what they could fit into one suitcase, and shipped to internment camps far away from the coast.

The Japanese Hall was the original Japanese language school in Vancouver.  It was the only confiscated property returned to the Japanese community after WWII.

Parking meter calisthenics.  Parking by the orange one is free.

Head south up Dunlevy Street to Powell.  The next mosaic is on the northwest corner.

8. The Powell Street Grounds, Powell at Dunlevy

…inside the baselines of a ball yard is a Japanese symbol for festival.  It is surrounded by cherry blossoms and opened fans which represent the Japanese community encircling the grounds…

The Japanese Asahi Club played “little” ball games here winning many tournaments and championships and attracting a large following. It ended after 1941 when most of the young men were interned in labour camps far to the east.

The Powell Street Festival

Head west on Powell Street one block to Gore Ave.  The next mosaic is on the Southwest corner.

      9. 1907,  Powell at Gore

…jagged edges of a broken window, a used weapon.  Violence used to erase a culture, shattered glass, shattered peace…

        On September 8th, 1907 the Asiatic Exclusion League, comprised of members of a working men's association concerned about the impact on job opportunities of poorly paid Chinese workers, rioted in Chinatown causing considerable property damage. The anti-Asian riot then moved to Japanese town.  This mosaic appears to be situated in-between these two neighbourhoods.  


Precious Marie Jose' told me that she wasn't a drug user and that she needed money for a women's shelter.  I pray that she's still alive.

  "It was the instinctive denial with which Terry met all of her life;  He wouldn't, no, I never, no, I didn't."

"Lying was the only way that Terri knew how to meet her many accusers.  Yeah, all righ', go on, then, give it 'ere, and then, No, I never, no I ain', I never fuckin' did...      - J.K. Rowling, Casual Vacancy,  p. 122


Hey Sister

Surprise - surprise

that crack ain't making you any prettier

and that jib makes you look een shittier

so l'il sister had to be the one to tell you

that poison these dudes be sellin' you

give ugly a brand new dimension

makes you so awful to look at

don't even want to mention

only attention you be getting'

be some dude barfin'

at the crap you been scarfin'

down, sister, you're a floor below absolute

bottom, guess no one ever taught 'em

that poison is eating you alive

sister you gonna die

and everyone knows the reason why

so be smart: don't even start

hang on to your good looks

don't be hangin' with them crooks

what they doing is criminal

just tellin' you, that's all

- Zoltan Bodnerchuk, The Carnegie Newsletter, August 15, 2013

From the Heart of the Community, The powerful best of the Carnegie Newsletter written by residents available for $20.


Hard drugs are pure distilled selfishness.   The urge is the same as the institutional psychopathic greed that ruins the worldwide economy.  Whether wealthy or poor selfishness is 180 degrees in the wrong direction.


Donate:  Housing/Shelter Organizations   Drug and Alcohol Services

Global Charities


10. The Yellow Dog, Gore at Cordova

…to the pioneer spirit of Vancouver, a tent is portrayed.  The yellow dog is Gassy Jack’s and the sun is the hope of the land to that pioneer mentality.

      After the beach was called Luck-Luck-ee by the Squamish Nation, and before the first official provincial name of the city was Granville, the townsite was known as Gassy’s Town after Gassy Jack Deighton, a verbose and larger-than-life saloon proprietor. The yellow dog is Gassy’s.

Gassy's dog howled for a while

The mosaic sits beside The Firehall Arts Centre  This building was built in 1908 and headquartered the Vancouver Fire Department.  It was the last Fire Hall using horse-drawn wagons.

This giant dragon mosaic is situated right around the corner beside the Firehall Arts Centre. Just beyond the Firehall, further down the street, is the Vancouver Police Museum.  In summer the area reeks of urine.

Dragon Mosaic Detail.  See all the faces?

Dragon Mosaic Detail 2.  Railroad spikes.

11.  March to Ottawa, Cordova at Jackson

…a solid left hand firmly holds a dockworkers iron bar.  The tool is held as if in defence against a leafy green background.  The hand is not in the midst of using the device, it is being carried, upright and strong…

        The west coast has seen intense labour organizing and, in early Vancouver, most such public events took place at the Powel Street Grounds.  During the great depression men living in relief camps were working for $2/day when the federal government, and soldiers, took over lowering wages to 20 cents per day.  1000 men boarded freight trains “On to Ottawa”.  They got to Regina before the police were summoned to intervene and started a riot.  A policeman died and the movement effectively came to an end.

12.  Lord Strathcona School, Pender at Jackson.

The expression of Strathcona students within an eight pointed star.  Most telling are the human figures, coloured in the human rainbow that quarter the image.  There is a heart for their love of place and a coal stove remembered to honour the school’s past…

        Built in 1888 as the “East School” it was renamed after the fellow who drove the last spike in the railway. The entire neighbourhood, identifying with the school, took on its name.  The school’s students designed the mosaic.

13. Time and Distance, Pender at Heatley

…forefront, a woman kneels, waiting, with a child.  A path behind her, leads away, over the horizon.  Points on the curve, a piece of an arc, hide ghostly male figures…

Separation was common for early working class families in Strathcona.  Some men lead the way to Vancouver leaving their families behind overseas. Others worked, away from their wives and families in Vancouver, in forests, mines, and for railways across the province. They endured loneliness, difficulty and danger.  Many were never reunited.

The mosaic sits outside Benny's Market where, I hear, they have great sandwiches.


14. Colours of the Night, Hawks at Hastings

…on a Chrystal cold, clear, dark night, vision focuses tighter.  The dominating black is stark and remote, and when the colour comes it seems more vivid than it should.  A flicker, a flash, and neon glow gives the darkness a rainbow hue…

        Vancouver has a cherished, lively, colourful, nocturnal, neon heritage. 

Across the intersection on Hastings Street sits the Astoria Hotel with its neon sign.  It was built in 1912 as the Toronto Apartments and it has one of the city's oldest boxing rings in its basement.

15.  Militant Mothers of Raymur, Campbell at Keefer

…female figures linked arm in arm, a moving locomotive, railway tracks lead to the vanishing point…

        Ordinary people making a difference the residents of Strathcona have a history of successfully protesting against transit authorities.  In 1970 mothers from Raymur Public Project blocked Burlington Northern Railway passage until they were promised the railway overpass now found at Campbell and Keefer.

East end of the Railway Overpass.  More.

The mosaic sits outside Wayne Grocery

Sacred Heart Church rests across the street.  It was built by the Italian community in 1905.

This mural with a native story-telling theme is on the wall of a house which appears to be related to the church next door.

Around the corner on Campbell Avenue this beautiful mural graces the Russian Hall.


16.  Community in Bloom,  E. Georgia at Hawks

Shiplap siding and peaked roofs are almost hidden, seen through cherry blossom boughs, alive in bloom.  Against the trunk of the tree rests a woman, basking in spring glory, coastal mountains giving context to an idyllic day...

        Cherry blossoms add to the atmosphere of the Strathcona Community Gardens, once a garbage dump slated to be playing fields. No one person owns this wholly organic garden with personal lots surrounding a communal central plot.

The Strathcona Community Garden at Hawks & Prior, Labour Day weekend 2013.  More

The Red Fox Drummers, from the Friendship Centre, performing in MacLean Park

    Chris Barry (Purple),  A.J. Williams - (Rose), Randy Eely - (Foreground Blue), and Mebel Jams (Rear Blue) perform Cree Nation Prairie style chanting and drumming on a grandfather drum.  A Strathcona neighbourhood Junior Youth program organizer commented on what a pleasure it was to listen to such beautiful talent.  It's what's inside that counts.

MacLean Waterpark Children listening to the chanting drummers.

The WiLdEr Snail on the northeast corner of MacLean Park. 

The top floor banner reads: "From there to here, and here to there, amazing things are everywhere".

Case in point: A Biker, 2 puppies & official greeter.


17.  False Creek, Hawks at Union

…bulrushes front a heron and a toad, an arching bridge moves off the horizon, water dominates the canvas…

False Creek originally extended seven kilometers west almost as far as Jackson Avenue.  Main Street, originally Westminster Street, in 1872, traversed the tidal flats with Westminster Bridge. 

The tidal flats were drained to put in the CN track to Main Street Station the start of a separate False Creek Walking Tour.      

Main Street Station Mosaics

Surrounded by little parks this mosaic is situated in a lovely area.

Just south of the mosaic a mom sits with her two children at the centre of a painted labyrinth.

18.  A Canadian Mosaic, Union at Princess

…mother with child cocooned, surrounded with the rainbow of humanity, set against the timelessness and scale of nature  …sun, earth, sea…

British, Chinese, Japanese, Blacks, Hawaiians, Russians, Jews and more all came to Strathcona, as the city was settled, left their impression, and moved on.  It began as Vancouver’s first upper class community before other areas were developed.

19. Chief Malcom Maclennan, East Georgia at Jackson

…a police badge is encircled by poppies of remembrance, a linked chain reflects the penal system of the day and tiled mosaic designs evoke the entranceways to houses of prostitution…

        In 1917 a drug addict shot dead an 11 year old little boy, George Robb, from his window.  Later he would also shoot dead the popular and respected Police Chief during an assault on his apartment which once stood at 522 E. Georgia.  It had been the Police Chief’s son’s 10th birthday.

The mosaic sits outside Finch's Market wherein they serve 'STILL' lemonade from mason jars.

20.  Lotus and Koi, Gore at Keefer

Soft curves and softer lines melt together in startling movement.  There is flow and change from tone to hue and each glance seems different and new.  Swimming, circling, a push of the tail and the picture changes again.  Under the surface, there is another world…  Chinatown

        We have a charming Chinatown.

21.  The Raven Created the World, Hastings at Gore

…black bird, opened mouthed, crested wings tucked back and tail feathers straight down.  Inside the belly of the bird is a star-like figure, with human facial features.  Almost black and almost red, colours on sky-blue background…

The Raven, the First Nation’s trickster, could be greedy, foolish, crude or stupid depending on the moral of the story. He’s a transformer and can turn night into day.  He placed the sun in the sky and populated Earth. He taught how to hunt and make fire; to survive. Raven always survives to return again.

Norma Jean.  Two minutes earlier she had been asleep.  Can trickster transform night into day?

22.  The Heart of the Community, Hastings at Main.

...demanding the view is the red on red heart, which shifts into a bear's paw, the heart appears to move, to throb.  The heart is buttressed by a lone column, nestled between a feather and leaf... 

        This corner has been a community gathering place, and public transportation nexus, since it was built.  City hall was once nearby and profitable business thrived here throughout the ‘50s.

More recently street-wise residents have called the corner “Wastings and Pain” and Main Street “Mean Street”.  Not long ago the area was frequented by wine-softened drunks and mellow dope smokers.  Now it’s a marketplace for harder drugs including a Bozo selling “Benzos” – a pharmaceutical? 


23.  The Carnegie, Main at Hastings

Set against intertwined branches, four hands, four colours of humanity, hold tight to a brass ring.  Inside, representing learning, a lighthouse beacon calling...

        Completed in 1903 the Carnegie Library was the last major public building to be constructed on the city’s east side.  From 1958 to 1967 it served as the Vancouver’s museum.  Since 1980 it has been the Carnegie Community (epi-)Center.

Donate to Carnegie  the  Heart of the Community


24. Gold Mountain, Pender at Columbia

…the separation is jarring, muted gold and fiery red divided, inset circles harbour man and woman, moon and sun…

To Chinese living in China in 1860 and thereafter the name for Vancouver was Gum San, "Gold Mountain", due to the promise of prosperity that the city held for them.

25. Bridge to China, Keefer at Columbia

Concentric circles leading to a central image, the character symbol for harmony, five other figures for harmony guard the emotion.

    Situated outside the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Gardens this mosaic indicates that the Ming dynasty philosopher’s garden is a bridge to a place left far behind.


26. The Associations, Pender at Carrall.

A snaking, curved, symbol for abundance and prosperity separates quadrants rife with the signs of peaches, blossoms, gold fish and gold encase the characters that represent culture and tradition.

    When newcomers from China came to Vancouver they could find comradeship and assistance at benevolent associations based on surname, place of origin, and occupation.

27. The Interurban, Hastings at Carrall

…rail tracks fork on the pavement, an empty rail car with an open door appears poised to travel straight ahead, ignoring the turn…

    The Vancouver Electric Railway and Light Company coupled with New Westminster’s streetcars in the 1890’s to start North America’s first Interurban Line.  This caused a huge building boom and nearby businesses flourished.  By 1955 public transit had completely transited from “rails to rubber”.

 28. Granville, Hastings @ Abbott

…a salmon egg moon shines through towering evergreens, a dog salmon curls and bends to snap its tail and move away from a sandy, crescent shaped beach…

    Vancouver’s earliest official provincial name was Granville. When it was so named it marked the end of the pioneer way of life.  Gastown’s streets met, at a diagonal with, the CPR’s street grid and development was underway across the land.

29. The Great Fire, Pender at Hamilton 

…heat from flames fanned by winds, danger in the middle distance, homes and lives unprotected, cool blue water and snow-peaked mountains too far away…

In June 1886 a Yaletown rubbish fire blew up into an inferno that incinerated Vancouver in about 30 minutes. 3000 were left homeless but, with railroad funding and an ample workforce, by the end of the year, the incident was already a distant memory.

30. Vancouver Corner, Hamilton at Hastings

Shadows and light create dimension and depth as a lone figure comes into focus.  A profound sadness is felt as the helmet, rifle butt and insignia give context to the figure.  In the background is a map, Belgium 1917…

    In western Belgium there’s a place called “Vancouver Corner”.  A 10 metre high granite monument stands there; a Canadian soldier, hands clasped and head bowed, watching over the 2000 Canadian men burried there since World War 1.  This mosaic rests on the Northwest corner of Vancouver’s Victory Square which features a Cenotaph also commemorating the fallen of the Great War.  Freedom today is blithely taken for granted by most Vancouverites.  Take it away, however, and you too will give your life to regain it for your children.

The Victory Square Cenotaph lest we forget


Architectural view.  The Dominion (Trust) Building is on the left.  When it was built, in 1910, Vancouver citizens chipped in because it was to be point of pride for the city.  It became the tallest skyscraper in the British Empire and so it had dominion.

31. The Phoenix, Hastings at Cambie

…fire burns below a sharp-winged bird raising its pointed wingtips to a great arc.  Each wing holds a human form, male and female for balance.  At its centre is the face of a woman, poised for renewal, for rebirth, for the future…

The Phoenix myth is known in many cultures by many names; Yel amongst the First People’s of the province, Yhel is the Raven, Feng-Huang in China, Ho-oo in Japan, Firebird in Russia, and Benu in Egypt. Like a city it’s always changing, disintegrating, transforming, renewing.  The Phoenix represents the greater endless life cycle and perpetual renewal indefinitely.

  Note that the N, S, E, & W markers are missing.  Resurrection is inevitable but from which direction?


“Little pieces of grace were everywhere if you looked.”   -  Angels Flight by Michael Connelly


Much of the Downtown East Side is populated by:


The beaten, raped and burned - The jobless - The physically disabled - The mentally ill - The simple-minded - The elderly who've outlived their income - The down-on-their-luck

And those who selfishly make it so much harder for everyone else:

The drug dealers, the alcoholics, and other drug addicts.



Regarding the poverty of the lowest income postal code in Canada.


Walk softly on the Vancouver Townsite tour regarding the photographing of individuals.  Always ask permission before or afterwards.  Please be advised that "poorism" (aka. slum tourism) can give rise to community residents feeling humiliation, victimization, and zooification if gawking becomes too obtrusive.  This is their living room and, if they are treated like entertaining attractions it can be considered to be a non-consensual intrusion and privacy rights violation.  Please be discreet and kind to all of God's children. Also, experts agree, for a variety of reasons, that the best way to donate to panhandlers is through the local charities that assist them. 




On Addiction


Social isolation, not loneliness, is linked with earlier death... The findings from a study suggest that even brief social contact that does not involve a close emotional bond - such as small talk with a neighbour or a bus driver -could extend a person's life.   - The proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA.

Donate: Drug and Alcohol Services


What if we just gave the poor a large sum of money?

"Good magazine found a British non-profit that identified 15 long-term homeless people ("rough sleepers," as they're known across the pond), asked what they needed to change their lives, and just bought it for them. Some asked for items as simple as shoes, or cash to repay a loan. One asked for a camper van. Another wanted a TV to make his hostel more liveable. All were accommodated with 3,000 pounds and a "broker" to help them manage their budget. Of the 13 who agreed to take part, 11 were off the street within a year, and several entered treatment for addiction."  - The Atlantic

The Joseph Roundtree Foundation issued the report.    The "Rough Sleeper" Report      The Experiment Story in Good Magazine


"Gentrification" is an issue in the DTES as the neighbourhood is redeveloped for wealthier people.  The doggy above was sporting a cool "Razorback" summer haircut; a tuft of fir extending upward the length of its spine.  The fellow on the left hadn't had a haircut in a while and was wearing his warm coat on a hot August day.  In the DTES it's not kosher to photograph anyone without their permission.  I didn't ask for permission from the white-haired guy above but sporting the "Santa Claus" look is common among mature DTES gentlemen and with his hat n' shades, there's not much left of him to recognize.  Give to those who would help him with a hair cut and shelter. 

Donate:  Housing/Shelter Organizations

Note: Some street people state that DTES accommodation is so poor, ie mouse addled and bedbug ridden, that people prefer to sleep on the street.


 A Gastown pub.  Not much sensitivity it the name.

More Sensitivity...

"I used to be a volunteer tutor there at the downtown Eastside Education Centre.  I met a few colourful characters.  The residents I encountered have learning disabilities (some severe) that certainly assisted in their ascent to the DTES. There is danger and despair, but also a lot of heart to be found there too.
And another thing I have noted through my encounters through volunteer tutoring and at St Paul's Hospital (both the Aids and Palliative Care Units), as well as meeting residents at the bin and in various pubs, is that everyone's story is unique.  People end up there for different reasons and come from assorted back grounds.  An extreme example is a fellow I used to know from a pub in Kits. He was a meteorologist who lost his leg to a motorcycle accident who never recovered from it emotionally.  The last I saw him was in the DES in a soup line up.  He is a drug addict now living on the streets (or was when I last saw him). Just another example of why one should never jump to conclusions about others."  - Barb

"Spending money on others is linked to greater increases in a person's happiness than spending on oneself."  - Scientific American Mind, Sept/Oct 2013, p. 8

"To feel good about yourself, think less about yourself, think less about you and more about others."  by Jennifer Crocker and Jessica J. Carnvale

Consider all of the times that you've passed by someone holding their hat out for money and thought that you'd make a donation if you could know that it wasn't going towards a bottle or a fix.  With all those occasions in mind here are some Downtown East Side Charitable Resources to whom donations can be made right now:


DONATE to Carnegie

Leave a message there to find someone.

"Anything that isn't given is lost." - Unknown


Positive Natural Resources for Depression

Shared Learnings poverty research/resources (current to 2007)

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