Culture + Style

More Than Its Market: A Guide to Vancouver’s Eclectic Granville Island

A visit to Granville Market is a must, but visitors will find so much more as they explore Granville Island. (Photo: Nikki Bayley)

With 10.5 million visitors each year, Granville Island is one of Canada’s most popular tourist attractions and sits squarely in Vancouver’s downtown core, surrounded by the waters of False Creek. While its indoor Public Market draws the lion’s share of tourist traffic, it’s only one part of Granville’s story.

Most visitors will stop by the market to snap obligatory shots of the colorful, piled-high fruits and veggies, tempting pastries and candies on display — and truly, it’s well worth a visit. But far too few make it further, missing out on a whole world of arts, crafts, theater and entertainment just beyond the Public Market’s doors.

Co-Design a Custom Jewelry Piece

Granville Island
Try it on for size: the tension-set rings at Forge and Form are stunners. (Photo: Nikki Bayley)

Goldsmith and silversmith Jürgen Schönheit of Forge and Form has been creating astonishingly beautiful custom jewelry and flatware for almost three decades on the island. Jürgen’s specialty is tension-set rings, which give the impression of the precious stone hanging suspended between the gold, platinum or silver band.

Steadfastly old-school, Forge and Form doesn’t have a website, “… or a cell phone or TV!”; you’ll have to visit to put in an order. His custom pieces start at around USD$1,500.

Contact: 1334 Cartwright St., Vancouver, BC, Canada; +1 604 684 6298

Discover British Columbia’s Ceramic Scene

Granville Island
Shop for eclectic art at Gallery of BC Ceramics. (Photo: Nikki Bayley)

Established by the Potters Guild of British Columbia in 1986, the Gallery of BC Ceramics is a nonprofit, one-stop shop dedicated to showcasing the work of emerging and established ceramics artists of the area. Browse delicate ceramic pendants and earrings, unique mugs, plates and charming noodle bowls, along with bigger sculpture pieces.

Head to the Theater

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Granville Island is home to a number of theaters. (Photo: Nikki Bayley)

Love performance arts? There are many spaces to choose from on Granville Island; different theater venues present everything from serious theater and musicals to stand-up and experimental productions.

The Improv Centre is home to the Vancouver TheatreSports League, which stages completely improvised live shows Wednesday through Saturday each week. If experimental theater is more your thing, Boca del Lupo thrives on it. The theater’s Micro Performance Series gives audience members the chance to become performers in pieces such as Red Phone.

Finally, the Carousel Theatre for Young People offers kids a chance to immerse themselves in the world of family friendly theater performances.

Sample a Taste of Locally Made Sake

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Sip a locally made sake. (Photo: Nikki Bayley)

As the first person in Canada to make sake with locally grown rice from British Columbia’s Fraser Valley, Masa Shiroki, Artisan Sake Maker, is something of local legend. When you try his smooth Osake, you’ll see why.

Visitors can learn more about this smooth sipper at a tasting. Sample a trio and get the lowdown on the brewing process. Book ahead and you can take a tour for the same price between 11:30 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Visit the Federation of Canadian Artists

Founded in 1941 as a not-for-profit by a collection of artists — including Lawren Harris, one of Canada’s most influential Group of Seven artists — this is Canada’s first artist-sponsored gallery. You’ll find it tucked away at the end of the island on Cartwright Street.

Hosting bimonthly exhibitions by emerging and established artists as well as a comprehensive program of classes in everything from improving brush technique to the joys of painting in plein-air, the gallery offers a chance to buy original art at an affordable price.

Indulge the Kids

At the Kids Market children not only get their own mini-door that’s far too small for adults to use, but also a whole shopping center filled with kid-friendly stores, games and play space.

Burn off energy on the second-floor Adventure Zone’s climbing equipment, jungle gym, ball pit and interactive iFloor. On the first floor, explore boutiques specializing in magic tricks, puppets, collectibles and pretty much everything else a kid could possibly want.

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