Victorian Charm in Vancouver’s West End
by Jane & Brent Cassie
Contributors to Travelink Publishing
A piece of Canadian heritage rings out from this fabulously restored west end home, where in 1909 Ewing Buchan wrote the original lyrics to our national anthem.
Just steps away from the bustling city centre, we ‘took time to smell the roses’ from O Canada’s tranquil garden setting, as vines of wisteria, manicured marigolds, and pots overflowing with petunias created a splendid palate of colour. Crossing the home’s threshold was like taking a journey back in time where precious antiques depicted the early 1900’s and two adjacent guest parlors exhibited historical memorabilia. A fire flickered, a pre-dinner tipple of sherry was offered and a serene mood was set by the mellowing sounds of soft jazz.
Since the massive refurbishing and restoration of O Canada House in 1994, hosts Jim Britten and Mike Browne have captured the home’s late Victorian ambiance through the charming decor and their polished service. Whether enjoying the North room’s city view, the spacious penthouse, one of the other three inviting guest rooms or the detached cozy cottage, welcoming teddy bears don each comfy sleeping quarter and warm taupe tones accent delicately laced windows. Although varied artwork throughout the home were reminiscent of our ancestor’s times, we were spoiled with the modern day conveniences of our room’s T.V., phone, and concealed fridge. Freshly cut and dried bouquets added that special touch, and plush terry robes made getting out of private showers or claw foot tubs a cozy experience. We shared the welcome gift of home-baked cookies, and to deal with any attacks of munchitis, the main floor’s guest pantry offers a selection of beverages and baked goods twenty-four hours a day.
Leaving our cocoon of old world charm, we ventured into the city excitement and headed half a dozen blocks to the water’s edge en route to our evening destination of Granville Island. Located on the opposite side of False Creek, this once saw mill/industrial sector is now home to one of Vancouver’s trendy tourist stops, where alongside its public market are a gala of galleries, oodles of shops, some of Vancouver’s hottest dining spots, and of course, plenty of people and never enough parking. We were able to solve this dilemma by hopping an Aquabus which bridged these waters in four minutes flat, and offered scenic bobbing that was a lot more enjoyable than fighting the traffic!
Melodies from various musicians filtered through the air as we meandered the courtyards and waterfront docks. Bridges Restaurant offered a varied menu, and from it’s picturesque patio location, the buzz of boating activity around us continually entertained. From sail and dragon boats, to yachts and kayaks, with Stanley Park’s greenery and majestic coastal peaks as a backdrop, it’s no wonder that so many boaters enjoy trolling here!
Though the evening had been exhilarating, we looked forward to escaping back in time, where our eiderdown draped king was fit for royalty. Following a blissful slumber, in the formal dining room, we were served a sensationally sumptuous breakfast of fresh-baked scones and a delicious fruit cup followed by delectable Eggs Benedict. As for the rest of our stay... perfect in every way and truly an experience John A. MacDonald, Canada’s first Prime Minister, would have delighted in.
If You Go:
O Canada House
1114 Barclay St.
Vancouver, British Columbia Canada V6E 1H1
Web site: www.bbcanada/919.html
Vancouver and other lower mainland travelers: enter Vancouver downtown core.
For our State-side Neighbors: Through Blaine, taking either the Douglas or Pacific border crossing.
Follow Vancouver signs and enter Vancouver downtown core.
Barclay runs parallel to and between Robson and Davie Streets
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