Main Street and community. In these parts, those words just fit together. This project is not only about documenting Main Street as it was in the summer of 2011, it’s also about you and the stories you have personally lived out right here on Main Street. We’d love to hear your thoughts, memories, anecdotes, and images on the 32 blocks of Main Street we’ve covered. Take a moment and find a block – East or West – to reflect on first times, last times and in between times.
We will be collecting these stories and compiling them on this page to create a running narrative of life on Main Street. Please join us!
First visit to Heritage Hall
We left Calgary at lunchtime on a Friday. The wedding was at 7pm. We drove a blue Pontiac Transport minivan like it was a Cold War space shuttle. But there are only so many hours one can pick up crossing the Rockies. We got one on the time zone change at the BC border, and three-quarters of another on an empty Coquihalla.
In our haste, we hadn’t brought a map—nor an address for Heritage Hall—we just knew it was in Vancouver on Main Street. So that summer evening I caught quick, scattered glimpses of the street from the corner of my eye. I remember seeing the constituency office of Libby Davies. I remember Margaret Mead quotes plastered onto the side of an old building. I remember thinking how easy life would be if sushi were as cheap and plentiful as it appeared to be on Main Street, and that a small group of people really could change the world.
Behind a dumpster on Watson, we changed into crinkled wedding guest attire. We had missed the ceremony, managing to conspicuously slip in just after dinner. A stranger at our table, a musician, had saved us two plates of food, and made eager introductions. It turned out the groom had recorded, engineered and mixed a big chunk of the music we would listen to that night—much of it created by those in attendance. There was a table with musicians from 54-40. At another, a photographer, who had exhibited work about the neighbourhood at the Tate Modern. Relaxing, finally, with a very hoppy beer, on the steps of Heritage Hall, after our white knuckle drive, I had two thoughts. The first: so THIS is Vancouver’s Main Street. (I had drastically underestimated its larger significance.) The second, which hasn’t left my subconscious several years later: Who is Eugene Choo? And where had he been?
In the years that followed the wedding, Main Street became my first stop on any visit to Vancouver. Then it became a temporary base. And then my home. (I had lived off Centre Street in Calgary and always felt an affinity for the declivity of Main.) I would attend little art shows and comic conventions and Diwali celebrations and rigged rezoning hearings at Heritage Hall. And, of course, more weddings. The couple from the first wedding now has two girls. And not a week goes by that I don’t wonder about Eugene Choo. My short-term relationship with this street can be summed up as: “late.” But also as having somehow returned myself.
If you google Eugene Choo, you’ll find as lovely a description of the neighbourhood as I have come across:
“Mount Pleasant started out as a densely wooded hilltop marked only with a deeply rutted wagon trail, a few isolated farms attempting to carve orchards out of rain forest and a simple cottage that acted as mercantile.
Today that cottage is Eugene Choo. Racks that once held fishing rods, woolens and bolts of cloth now carry the necessities of a modern life. Tailored suits, hoodies and dresses line the walls alongside books, t-shirts and handmade shoes.
Proprietor Kildare Curtis is proud to sell the best in Canadian and international design, in the community of Mount Pleasant since 2000.
Posted June 13, 2012 by Chris Koentges in East: 15th – 16th Avenue
I miss Happy Bats! I loved going to a real video store and browsing their fine collection…organized by director or genre or country, not on how many days you can rent it for. Their horror section was screamingly awesome! Happy Bats was a community shrine that was unfairly removed and I will forever mourn that empty space when I walk by…
Posted May 1, 2012 by Sandra Allen in East: 12th – 13th Avenue
Really liking this. I own Whoa! Nellie. A bikeshop that opened in September 2011 on the Kafka’s block. We have good feelings about the area. A little worried about what will go in beside Tim Horton’s there but our fingers are crossed that we will be able to survive on Main for years and years along side our other Mom & Pops.
Posted April 26, 2012 by Christopher Quine in Welcome…
Hi, I have lived all around Main st. since 1986, I moved there as a teen, to a house on 13th. That somehow now still looks exactly the same! I don’t know about anyone else, but I have never had a bad or scary situation in Mains hood, it is a true neighborhood, as if its very solidness of community created a forcefield of safety, it is the only street I remotely feel I have roots here on, it still looks familiar, I don’t feel that sad empty feeling as if I’m 212 years old and don’t recognize the place, like I feel on 4th ave. Good luck Main st. I’m leaving Vancouver, I can’t afford a condo, and have been asked to leave the city! kidding, peace and hope, Lisa North
Posted April 18, 2012 by Lisa North in About