Tuesday, June 14, 2016

West Vancouver, past and future

West Vancouver has always been a special place for me because my partner John grew up there, and loves it as only a native can. When I first came to B.C. in the early 1970s from Edmonton, one of the first places he took me was to a residential area near Lighthouse Park. Quaint old houses straight out of a storybook semi-circled a bay that was both calm and wild, spotted with logs and seaweed and bordered by huge trees. I was hooked. Why would anyone live on the prairies when something like this existed in the world?

As a child, John lived near the Ambleside waterfront, and he never got the smell of the ocean out of his nose. The beach was his playground, as was a nearby wild bush area with a slough and lots of deer; kids had to beware during hunting season. Rowboats could be rented for almost nothing, and he recalls taking them out into the ocean when he was still very young. Later in life, one of the things that drew him to Saltspring Island was its resemblance to West Vancouver in the 1950s and '60s.

Much has changed, of course, and right now, West Vancouver is undergoing the same growing pains as Vancouver. Big trees and cottagey old houses are being destroyed and replaced by really big houses and little trees. Concrete abounds. But hints of what used to be can still be spotted in some places, especially in public areas like the Ambleside waterfront. Here are a few glimpses of both the past and the future from recent visits to West Vancouver:

The Ambleside slough has been prettied up a lot from John's childhood days, but it still must have been an amazing playground for kids. On Tuesday, it was hosting families of duck and swans.

The Argyle Village Gardens, squeezed between two old houses on the Ambleside waterfront,  provides some of the prettiest garden plots in Canada.
 In front of the cars, a row of more than 30 trees have been chopped down at 23rd and Bellevue, presumably for a redevelopment of this site. Many of the units appear empty. 
On Sentinel Hill, a big new house is under construction, one of many such houses replacing the old ones in the area.

Across the street from it, a cottagey house recalls the past. 

1 comment:

  1. Lighthouse Park...so many picnics as a kid, as a teenager with friends, and with Jim. I'm not sure we ever took Richard there. Perhaps we should have as the Grouse Grind seems to be the way he introduced girlfriends to Vancouver.