Granville Island is a celebration of blue. The gleaming blue glass of Vancouver’s famous architecture looks down on the blue water that reflects the blue skies of early summer.
The Granville website invites you to consider their Island as “Vancouver’s Town Centre”. Even out-of-season there is a pleasant buzz of life there. The motors of passing water-taxi’s hum as they career passengers across the water. Families and friends and tourists stroll in and out of the Public Market in the hope of bagging a bargain or a delicious snack.
There is a certain juxtaposition about the earthy, crafty, slightly bohemian air of the Market and what must amount to the millions of dollars bobbing on the water just outside. But that is Vancouver life – a meeting point between the beauty of nature and the comforts of 21st century life. The best of both worlds.
The Public Market is the main hub of the island. Inside are stalls and tables where merchants showcase their skills and talents. Leather, wood, jewels, gold, silver, crystal, stone. There is an expert master of each to be found there. There is also the finest and freshest food available, including the wares of one baker who was offering the most impressive, towering apple pies that you can imagine.
Surrounding the market are smaller independent shops, including those selling the ever-desirable souvenir bear-shaped mugs and moose-emblazoned shot glasses. There are art shops and galleries, beads shops and fabric stores. But the jewel in the crown was Paper-Ya. “Ya” means paper in Japanese and when the store first opened it “helped pioneer the celebration of paper in all its amazing forms!”. This is a gorgeous stationery store filled with notebooks, writing pads, jotters and wrapping paper. They also sell the most stunning leather-bound journals. These look like they deserve nothing less that the inner most profound thoughts of the worlds literary geniuses. This was a truly heavenly place for someone as attached to pen and paper as I am.
Granville Island is also where I came to discover Ten Thousand Villages, “the oldest and largest Fair Trade organization in North America”. It is full of intricate jewellery, unique trinkets and stunning home decor. In keeping with their ethical ideals, their website details the background of the people and projects behind their products. I purchased a beautiful purse of deep plum satin with colourful peacock-feather beading. I later discovered it was produced by Tara Projects, a group which “…works to change the lives of India’s “untouchables”, by eliminating unfair trade practices and child labour, fighting the exploitation of artisans and supporting Fair Trade and human dignity”. They don’t seem to ship overseas to the UK at the moment – but they also have a range of stores in the US that would certainly be worth looking out for.
Granville is a wonderful little place for a lazy afternoon of snooping and searching. It is hugely popular at the weekends so I was advised many times to visit mid-week. I was glad that I did as it allowed for plenty of space and time to have a good look around, something this place really deserves. A must-see stop on any Vancouver visit.