Chickpea Soup and Dreams on Granville Island

January 13, 2009 

One my favourite things about Vancouver in January is Granville Island. Not only does the market seem suspended in some sort of gentle hybrid season (regardless of the bitter cold), but the crowds are mercifully thinner.
Over the years I have learned to adapt my shopping schedule to the ebb and flow of the tourist season, for in the summer months the seemingly straightforward statement of “I’ll just nip down to the Market to grab a few things” has become an insane one to make. January is a different bag, however, and I’ll always be jonesing for a good donut.
So when I found myself with a bit of time to kill between my last business appointment of the day and my first social engagement of the evening on Thursday last week, I decided to hop the Aquabus and wander it for a while.
It was freezing so as soon as I walked in that I headed for the Stock Market for soup. All three of the day’s offerings were appealing but I settled on the chickpea with kale and tomato (gotta get that kale in whenever you can), and then made straight for Lee’s Donuts for a honey dip (my usual). They are best at about ten in the morning, when they’re still warm and sticky, but after such a long hiatus this late afternoon treat was heavenly.
Next – over to the Net Loft. I have a serious weakness for paper products and both the Postcard Place and Paper-Ya are part of my GI ritual (right after the donut, I usually aim for the granola bars at Terra Breads and red wine prosciutto from Oyama). I saw plenty of things that I wanted at both, but managed to leave with only two postcards and a notebook from the Postcard Place.
As I was leaving I noticed that the space next door had changed hands since the last time I’d visited. Gone was the textile dye shop, and in its place is now a smaller, ‘edited’ version of Dream – the Cordova Street clothing store (across from The Block) famous for supporting Vancouver designers by keeping 98% of their stock local. The downtown shop is a great place to find a unique outfit but it can get crowded and does require a bit of a time commitment. This Granville Island location is small and easy to navigate, and judging by the ease with which I browsed the word might not yet be fully out on it. Lines carried at this location are also on the hangers downtown – but they look fresher in this uncluttered space, and therefore begging to be bought. Definitely worth checking out.
I then stopped in at Maiwa to buy some incense and admired some beautifully crafted leather purses and, of course, many magnificent textiles. Noting that they have a 30% off sale starting Monday the 13th and running until Sunday the 25th, I resisted the urge to buy (for the time being).
I cut back through the Market on my way to grab the ferry, but just as I was leaving I stumbled upon the best find of the day. At a booth near the Market’s main notice board was Jeweller Emma Bracefield. Her silver stuff caught my eye – it was so simple and clean. Her rings feel like dense pebbles polished by centuries of waves – so heavy and smooth – and I really dig her philosphy:
Jewellery for me is about more than adornment. It’s steeped in history, sentiment and nostalgia. It can act as a diary, a measure of time or it can be an intimate form of self expression. It holds personal significance for each individual and becomes a part of someone’s life, becomes a part of their identity.
Sitting at Chambar an hour later, beer in hand, my mind raced back to her wares. I seem to always find lots of beautiful and well-made “almost” pieces that I try to make into “me” things, but in Bracefield’s work I found exactly what I like (without ever having previously known it). To see what I’m rambling on about, visit her website or catch her at the market Friday, January 23rd to Sunday, January 25th.


Michelle Sproule grew up in Kitsilano and attended Bond University in Australia and the University of Victoria before receiving her graduate degree in Library Sciences from The University of Toronto. She lives by the beach in Vancouver and enjoys wandering aimlessly through the city’s shops and streets with her best friend – a beat up, sticky, grimy, and uncooperative camera.


  • Jane

    You take amazing photos. I just want to jump into my computer and quietly consume all of the beautiful images you photo. I love everything, the fruit , the color, the textures, the feeling and I do not even have to read the words to understand the passion behind the photo’s .

  • Claudette


    When I browse through your site, I get the urge to get up from my computer and start exploring. There is so much to discover. What a shame we have to work! I agree with Emma Bracefield’s philosphy about jewellery. Our favorite pieces do become part of our identity and are a record of our lives.

    Keep it up and keep us informed about this beautiful and interesting place where we live. By the way, you might want to roam through Steveston one day. It’s not only a place that people visit, it’s also one where people live and work and that makes it interesting.