Literary City Guide | VANCOUVER, CANADA
Tour Guide: Rachelle Delaney
Rachelle Delaney is a writer of children’s novels, nonfiction, and communications for not-for-profit organizations. She also teaches creative writing, dabbles in editing, and has lately been scheming about podcasting. An insatiable traveller, she spends as much time as possible exploring (at home and abroad), hiking, trail running, reading, and every now and then climbing a tree. Visit her on Twitter and Instagram.
Relationship to Vancouver: I moved here for grad school in 2005, stayed for nine years, and recently returned after a few years away.
Writer you’d like to invite to dinner: Isabelle Allende. And if I could invite two, I’d add Ann Patchett.
Chef you’d like to prepare the meal: Since we’re dreaming, I’ll go with Julia Child
Writing soundtrack: First Aid Kit, Beirut, and Patrick Watson
Pen or Pencil: Pen
Coffee or Tea? Coffee
Paperback or Hardback? Paperback for ease of travel
Kidsbooks. One of the best children’s bookstores in Canada lives here, in the lovely green neighbourhood of Kitsilano. No matter your age, you’ll want to stay a while and explore its extensive collection for kids, teens, and even adults. Bonus points for stellar window displays.
Paper Hound. This quirky and cozy downtown shop sells new, used, and rare books.
Lucky’s Comics Books. Easily overlooked, this tiny Main Street gem has a well-curated collection of graphic novels, comics, and children’s books.
Vancouver Public Library, Central Branch. Named one of the most beautiful libraries in the world by Travel + Leisure, VPL’s Central Branch was designed as a postmodern version of a Roman Coliseum. Inside, skylights illuminate a huge foyer lined with cafes. The Central branch also boasts an Inspiration Lab equipped with recording studios and digital/audio editing software for public use.
READINGS & CONFERENCES
Vancouver International Writers Festival. The highlight of every book-loving Vancouverite’s year, this festival brings internationally acclaimed writers to Granville Island for a week of readings, panel discussions, and parties.
Word Vancouver. Held every year in late September, Word Vancouver is a free, four-day festival of writing and reading held at venues throughout the city. The main event takes place on Sunday at the Central library branch.
Vancouver is a city of writers, so you don’t have to look far for an intimate reading series or open mic night. Notable series include Locution, which features grad students from the University of British Columbia’s Creative Writing program, and the Writers Studio Reading Series at Simon Fraser University.
Raincity Chronicles. This popular live storytelling series features both seasoned local storytellers and complete newbies. Complete with live music, food, and drinks, it’s always an inspiring night.
The Regional Assembly of Text. This sweet stationery shop on Main Street features cards and gifts from the popular Regional Assembly line. Drop by the first Thursday evening of every month for Letter Writing Club.
Literary Landmarks. Plaques on lampposts throughout the city celebrate notable authors and their connection to the city. Children’s authors are no exception; this interactive map can help you find them all.
Vancouver in Literature. To help you prepare for your trip, the VPL has assembled a guide to books set in Vancouver, conveniently arranged by neighborhood.
Matchstick. Delicious coffee, locally roasted beans, and three beautiful locations: in Chinatown, on Fraser Street, and in Riley Park. Of Vancouver’s many (many) coffeeshops, this is my personal favorite.
Le Marche St George. This lovely old house a few blocks east of Main Street has been converted into a café, general store, and friendly community gathering place.
Medina. Excellent coffee, but also a very popular destination for breakfast, brunch, and lunch. Their Belgian waffles are delightful, especially accompanied by a lavender latte. Arrive early; there will always be a crowd.
Revolver. Many argue that this is Vancouver’s best coffee. Stop by this hip Gastown café to judge for yourself.
A PROPER MEAL
Les Faux Bourgeois. One of my favorite restaurants in the city, Les Faux is a casual French bistro on a bustling half-block at the intersection of Fraser and Kingsway.
The Acorn. A vegetarian’s (and vegan’s) delight, this South Main restaurant serves beautiful brunches, dinners, and delicious cocktails, all made with locally sourced ingredients.
La Taqueria Pinche Taco Shop. Vancouver has a solid selection of taco offerings. La Taqueria is a bright, no-frills kind of place that never disappoints. There are now four locations throughout the city. If you haven’t quite satisfied your taco cravings, try Tacofino.
Kin Kao. As a friend of mine recently surmised: “Best Thai food in Vancouver. The end.”
Beaucoup Bakery. this lovely little place near Granville Island is known for baking (arguably) the best croissants in the city.
Gluten Free Epicurean. As a celiac, my life changed when this amazing bakery opened its doors. Even my gluten-loving friends go crazy for their salted chocolate chip cookies and apple fritters.
Earnest Ice Cream. These days, Vancouverites are all about ice cream. While the city abounds with excellent options, it’s hard to turn down Earnest’s Whiskey Hazelnut or Blackberry Coriander Ice Cream. The Quebec St. location is just a few blocks from the seawall, so you can take a stroll after indulging.
Purebread. For years, Vancouverites had to drive two hours north to Whistler to get their Purebread fix. But recently, this bakery opened a shop in Gastown, which practically overflows with breads, cakes, scones, pastries, and tarts.
RACHELLE's 5 Favorites
1. Favorite view: I love the view from Dog Mountain, which overlooks the city from the North Shore. It’s especially wonderful on foggy winter days when you can climb up above the clouds into the sun.
2. Favorite place to write: I do some of my best writing while travelling—like, actually in motion. For some reason, I find writing on a train or plane or the local ferry wonderfully comforting and immersive.
3. Favorite museum: The Vancouver Art Gallery is an excellent place to spend a rainy afternoon (and we get a lot of those). In the summer, its patio is perfect for wine-sipping and people-watching.
4. Favorite coffee shop: It’s so hard to choose! But I’m going to go with Matchstick—the sunny Riley Park location.
5. Favorite thing about Vancouver: The proximity to the mountains, for hiking in the summer and snowshoeing in winter. And the Pacific Ocean isn’t bad either.