|Southlands is full of horses, stables and horse-lovers, but I have other reasons for going there.|
|One of my reasons is right here -- a favourite gravel pathway lined with trees. It's across the road from a golf course.|
|Many properties, like this one, capitalize on the old English theme. Notice the brickwork, the sign and the red mailbox.|
The sign at the entrance to Vancouver's Southlands area describes it as an "equestrian neighbourhood" -- and yes, horses and stables abound. But for me, the charm of Southlands lies in other directions.
First, it feels like country. Whenever I need to hear roosters crow, see open spaces or smell farm manure, I walk due south from my house for 40 minutes, and I am back to the sights and sounds of my childhood. There are big vegetable gardens, tree-shaded paths, barns and even water-filled open ditches: Walk close enough and you can hear frogs plopping into the water.
One day, one spring -- and I've never been able to replicate the experience -- I came upon a patch of "fluttering and dancing" (as Wordsworth would have it) daffodils on a wild-looking field in Southlands. With the golden blossoms, the uncut green grass, the unpruned surrounding trees and bushes, it was like a sudden vision of Eden.
The second thing that draws me to Southlands is its love affair with old England. It's being eroded now, but the English influence is obvious in some of the older houses, the horse-friendly footpaths, the gardens and use of trees and hedges. There are English-looking brickwork, mailboxes and signs, and I recall an old riding-supply shop with a definite whiff of the old country.
One of my favourite "English" experiences in Southlands is walking the gravel path across the road from a golf course. Along the path are hedges and wooden fences, some of which have the unusual feature of old-fashioned lighting fixtures. That quiet green-shaded path -- hedge and fence one side, golf course the other -- is beautiful at any time. But at twilight, or in the mist, when the lights glow dimly into the greenery, it's like being in a Dickens novel.
Southlands is changing, as is everywhere in Vancouver. Extravagant modern mansions are replacing the old working-class houses with their adjacent stables and riding rings. When I passed one huge new house during a walk this week, two excavators were busily at work -- building who knows what? Elsewhere, a tall stand of trees was being cut down. But until all vestiges of country and old England are gone, Southlands will remain one of my favourite places in Vancouver.
|This is an open ditch by the side of the road. I could hear frogs jumping into the water when I got too close.|
|Beautiful horses like this are what Southlands has always been about.|
|Piles of horse manure happen everywhere. You just learn to watch your feet.|
|A barn, two horses, a horse trailer -- regular sights in this area.|
|This little bench is a mounting stand for riders. I thought the accompanying flower-filled planters were a nice touch.|
|One of the tree-lined pathways along the Fraser River used by horses (and pedestrians).|
|The light fixtures along a gravel pathway that turn it magical at twilight.|
|This fairly elaborate structure, with its window boxes, fancy windows and doors, is actually a garage.|
|This is a view through the gateway of one of the older houses across from the golf course.|
|Some properties have gardens so huge they could feed an entire city block.|
|An inviting looking entrance to well-treed property.|
|These trees looked healthy to me, and there are rules about cutting trees in Vancouver. I hope the cutters had permits to do this.|
|One of the big new houses that have been built in Southlands.|
|Another of the big mansions built in this area. It seems to be trying for a bit of English flair. The horse on the expansive lawn in front (if you can see it) is a statue.|
|Another of the big houses under construction in Southlands.|