“I’ve never seen this place that empty!” a friend of mine was surprised to see my photos of the town on facebook. Gastown, the best tourist attraction in Vancouver, was amazingly deserted when I arrived. It was probably because of the terrible weather in the morning. It was too good to be true, but it had stopped raining completely when I set foot at the port on the opposite shore from North Vancouver. I was able to walk around the popular tourist area without an umbrella or being jostled in the crowds of people.
According to some guidebooks, it is difficult to take photos of the Steam Clock because of the crowd. The clock is the most popular item in the area. But, as you see, there was no one around the clock when I stood before it.
Gastown is a national historic site known as “Birthplace of Vancouver” and has a 19th century atmospheres with cobblestone streets still now. This place was named after “Gassy” Jack Deighton, who was a sailor from Yorkshire and opened the first bar in that area in 1867. It is interesting that Vancouver started developing through a bar, which must have been the oasis for seamen.
It used be one of the best places for business and entertainment, but Gastown fell into disrepair after the Great Depression in the 1930s and had been forgotten until the beginning of 1960 when local people started a movement for preserving the district as a historic site, and nowadays this area is a unique town mixing historical architectures and contemporary fashions.
An old department store of Woodward’s was abandoned after being closed in the early 1990s. But the derelict building was reopened with new shops in 2010. This redevelopment has triggered the rise of preserving other old buildings, such as Flack Block and Dominion Building. It is nice to see those aged architectures preserved among glass-walled skyscrapers.
Leaving Gastown, I toured galleries downtown: The Vancouver Art Gallery (VAG), the Pendulum Gallery, and the Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art. Those three galleries are a few-minute walk from each other. Actually, I was going to visit the Vancouver Art Gallery on my first day, which was Tuesday. You can enter the art museum by donating some money (Most people seem to pay from $5 to $10) on Tuesday night (5 p.m. to 9 p.m.) But my stamina had run out by the donation time previous day…
So, I paid $21 and entered the gallery. I enjoyed a relaxing time by looking at Lawren Harris’s half abstract landscape paintings and geometric abstractions, Emily Carr’s paintings of Canadian nature, Edward Burtynsky’s photos of Canadian nature and man-made landscapes, and Myfanwy Macleod’s powerful modern art. After spending a luxury time of art appreciation, I dropped into the gallery shop and almost lost my sense of time there. I like looking for something interesting in museum shops. I bought some parody cards of famous artists and paintings there for my friends.
Then I walked to the Pendulum Gallery, which is just across from the VAG. The gallery is on the first floor of the HSBC building. Just as the name suggests, it has a pendulum. A very big pendulum. It swings slowly and regularly above exhibited objects in the atrium. It was a photo exhibition of Ansel Adams and Leonard Frank when I visited the gallery. Both of them are representatives of photographers in 1940s. The exhibition named Two Views showed lives of Japanese Americans and Japanese Canadians in internment camps during World War II.
I was interested in those photos because I had taken a special lecture about concentration camps for Japanese Americans in the U.S. at Aichi Gakuin University, which had invited a professor from America for it. I looked at many illustrations drawn by a Japanese woman who had been in a concentration camp at that time. I thought the photos of the exhibition were milder than those drawings. Probably it was because the chosen photos had been focused on the vitality of incarcerated people, not on their hardship. The gallery is public. You can look at exhibits for free.
My Travel in Vancouver 1 is HERE
My Travel in Vancouver 2 is HERE
My Travel in Vancouver 3 is HERE
Japanese Version is HERE.