One of my favorite markets anywhere is the Granville Island Public Market in Vancouver. Situated on a piece of reclaimed land, it’s become a peninsula and is an island in name only. It adjoins False Creek and Burrard Inlet south of downtown Vancouver and is one of those places everyone visiting Vancouver for a few days should see. It’s not the prettiest setting, not the fanciest facility, but is a colorful venue with a wonderful assortment of food and eateries, and personable vendors (you’d expect no less from Canadians, eh?)
In the early 1900s, Granville Island was an industrial setting and not at all gentrified. The island was home to factories, plants and sawmills. After the second World War, Granville Island entered a period of decline and decay. It wasn’t until the 1960s and ’70s that plans for a pedestrian and tourist friendly island were formed and improvements began, in time yielding the complex you visit today. A daily farmers’ market has been ongoing since the early 1990s – the first contemporary farmers’ market in Vancouver.
The Granville Island Public Market features not just a farmers’ market but a variety of day vendors and artists offering local Vancouver goods. There are fifty permanent retailers and over one-hundred day vendors throughout the market selling a variety of artisan foods and crafts (some on a rotating basis).
Besides its Public Market, Granville Island has interesting shops and galleries, a broad assortment of restaurants, and a number of theaters. Granville Island prides itself in its community of craft studios including: a glassblowing studio, printmaking studios, a master saké maker, jewelers, the B.C. Potter’s Guild, boat-builders, a woodworkers studios, etc. Outfitters offer sea kayaking tours and rentals. There are also fishing charters, whale-watching tours, boat tours and sailing adventures available. So it’s easy to spend a full day on Granville Island and never get hungry, thirsty or bored.
The Public Market farmer’s market is open year round as it’s indoors. Besides the fresh produce and such, there are more than 70 places to grab a bite to eat. It’s bustling in the evenings and especially on the weekends, which is a great time to people watch. The place is popular with locals and with tourists and draws millions of visitors a year.
Being in the Pacific Northwest, the seafood at the market was especially impressive to me. Wonderful fresh and smoked fish, especially salmon. Also there were several excellent bakers in the market and I think I could have gained at least 10 pounds sampling all of their tasty treats. Everytime I go to Granville Island Market I find one or two vendors whose handicrafts I must have. Their work isn’t cheap, but often very clever and beautiful. I am now looking at a beautiful birch-wood salad bowl I bought there years ago. This time around I purchased my wife’s Christmas present at the Granville Market around (hope she likes it!).
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