Kitsilano, so named after Squamish First Nation chief August Jack Khatsahlano (1867-1971), is a vibrant residential neighbourhood of some 40,000 people. It starts from the shore of the south side of English Bay and extends south to Broadway (some would argue all the way to 16th Ave) and runs from Burrard St. west to McDonald St. (some argue Alma St., but most people consider that to be Point Grey).
“Kits” started out as something of a quiet, halcyon suburb of the emerging city of Vancouver, born out of swamp and thick forest, and only coming of age in the interwar period as a magnet to blue collar workers looking to put down picket fence roots (the completion of the Burrard Street Bridge in 1932 accelerated this). The 1960’s gave the area the laid back, politically aware and environmentally conscious vibe, as evidenced by its mid-wifing of both Greenpeace and the Green Party of Canada.
The neighbourhood became regionally notorious as one of two local bases of counter-culture operations during the Hippicene (the more base being Gastown), with an weedy identity hangover that lasted through the 1980’s and 1990’s. It was during this period that Kitsilano’s idyllic nature attracted the notice of the real estate market, which had no taste for sentiment or patchouli. Consequently, it has become a expensive place to live. Its main attractions are its bustling, iconic, eponymous stretch of beach, the people-watching patios of Yew Street, and the diverse multitude of shops and restaurants along West 4th Avenue and West Broadway.
Left to right: brown beach glass softened by the ocean (from spent and shattered beer bottles); the top layer of above-the-tide-line Kits Beach sand; open and broken mussel shell tri-colour; the brand colour of Whole Foods, which dominates the West 4th Ave. strip; the vinyl backed booths at Sophie’s Cosmic Cafe, the street front facade of Zulu Records, perfect summer day blue sky, Lululemon corporate identity, Culprit Coffee exterior, rain-soaked cherry blossom, August afternoon at Kits Pool.
THE FANTASTIC COLLECTION OF VINYL AT ZULU
A NATURAL AMPHITHEATRE FOR THE ENJOYMENT OF AMAZING SUNSETS
THE NEW-FANGLED MACHINES AT THE PLANETARIUM
THE INCREASINGLY INTERESTING MUSEUM OF VANCOUVER
THE SMELL OF HIGH QUALITY MARIJUANA
PEOPLE IN VARIOUS STATES OF UNDRESS AT KITS BEACH
A SHRINE TO EVERY SHOE YOU’VE EVER DREAMED OF
A CARTOGRAPHY NERD’S PARADISE
ONE OF VANCOUVER’S FINEST GENTLEMEN
– Kitsilano once boasted the largest saltwater swimming pool in North America: Kits Pool, which opened in 1931.
– Jericho Beach gets its name from local pioneer logger Jeremiah Rogers. The area was originally referred to as “Jerry’s Cove”. In the native Squamish language, it is called iy’a’l’mexw, meaning “good land”.
– Opened in the late 60’s, The Naam on 4th near MacDonald is one of the oldest continually operating restaurants in Vancouver. It is open 24 hours a day, shutting down only on Christmas Day.
– The tiny Arbutus Grocery at the corner of 6th and Arbutus was built in 1907 by Thomas F. Frazer.
– The famous Vancouver Museum and H.R. MacMillan Space Centre, opened in 1968, features a roof modeled after a First Nation’s woven basket hat.