I moved into Kogawa House (pictured above) on September 15 and that evening a group of volunteers and friends of Kogawa House showed up for dinner. Bringing dinner with them! There to welcome me to Vancouver and the Marpole neighbourhood.
What has changed about Vancouver since my last long stay? All the indie bookstores I knew and haunted are gone, save the venerable Macleod’s Book down on Pender Street and Banyen Books in Kitsilano. Ditto the video rental places I used — Alpha Video on the Drive and even Videomatica. Old familiar mainstays I am glad to see again:the Kitchen Corner stores, Famous Foods, and 3 Vets where you can still get enamelware basins, dishes and pots.
But right now the Vancouver Film Festival is playing, and later in October the annual Heart of the City Festival takes place in the Downtown Eastside. This is one of my favourite places in Vancouver, actually. Not only because of the memory of the famous fish place called The Only which was located on Hastings near the Carnegie Centre at Main, but because of Chinatown and Strathcona and the vibrant arts community there. The Heart of the City Festival grew out of that, and my friend Terry Hunter’s Vancouver Moving Theatre which has been operating there for twenty years or more. The downtown eastside is not what you read about in the papers. Yes, there are poor and troubled folks living there, but it is a community and it works.