A WALK DOWN MAIN STREET
pictures, no chocolates, no publicity, out, out, out! '
It began as a romantic idea. A walk
up Main Street from Mt.Pleasant to beyond. Savour the atmosphere
of Vancouvers oldest neighbourhoods, samples the coffees and
pastries (of which there is much to taste) and take a look at the
second hand clothes, antiques and all manner of collectibles that
spread all the way from Fifth avenue and Main to the 40s block.
Its an afternoon adventure, so bring the kids, but dont,
whatever you do, start at 151 East 6th Street and Main.
Here stands the most curious chocolate factory in the whole of Canada.
Bains Hand Dipped Chocolates
The Adams family structure houses Bains Hand Dipped Candies and
Fine Chocolates and looks as though it was just plain forgotten
by time itself. Its wonderfully inviting and theres
an odd picture window with a painting in it that you almost feel
Uncle Mortimer created himself. You approach sensing a pleasurable
time with chocolate.
Id like to buy some chocolate.' You say.
No Pictures - No chocolate
No publicity, out, out, out.
I sincerely believe Mr Bains Hand Dipped Candies and Fine Chocolate
are well fancied citywide. I also believe the 90 year old man, with
a remarkable resemblance to the actor Peter Cushing, who shooed
me out of his tumbledown palace of chocolate was the legendary Mr.
Bains himself. I wouldnt be at all surprised if he has lived
there since the building was new and been making chocolate since
he was old enough to stir a pot. The display of hand made chocolates
look very tempting and should you feel brave enough to venture into
this curious structure, with the timbers vaguely held together by
time itself, you will want to savour the colourful wares. (But dont
blame me if they turn out to be a tad bitter). Call first at (604)
876 5833 and perhaps they will deliver. Someone was loading up with
trays and boxes of the stuff as I left- so I know it must be a thriving
For the book lover,
First Used Books is right opposite at 152 E 6th and a good place
to search for that book you always meant to read.
Secondhand Rose above
The Town Hall below
Pleasant Clock above- Liberty's Bakery below
Main Street kind of missed out on the urban growth spurt since Expo in
1986 and theres a small hallelujah for that. It probably hasnt
changed much since the 1930s and that means its low rise,
one or two floors in the majority, some older apartment blocks, no big
box stores, just rows and rows of small independent businesses, the kind
Wall-Mart are trying to obliterate. Its true that Main Street is
changing rapidly with Chinese, Korean and other Asian businesses building
up between Broadway and 16th but beyond that, the character is still maintained.
Its individualistic, personal, off beat.
Bains is not the only business that clings on in the face ofprogress.
Just around the corner lies Johns Jukes. Yes a shop
selling JukeBoxes with original 45s. Next door is the Acme
barbershop unchanged in 80 years. Skipping right by the Asian 'Fox'
Porn theatre (rest assured the only porn on the street) you can
find the wonderful Mt Pleasant clock.
Long ago neighbourhoods were proud of themselves and they erected
clocks to welcome you. Well Mt Pleasant is proud again and it stands
sentinel over Vancouver and FalseCreek spread below it.
Photo: John's Jukes Shop
You have to walk Main
Street. Drive and youll miss a a great deal. At 2418 Main and Broadway
youll find Pulpfiction Books who buy sci-fi books. You can
shop for original baby fashions at Motherland Clothing at 2539
Main. After 16th street blocks alternate between antique clothing, retro
objects and genuine collector furnishing (although skip anyone selling
thirties varnished oak, it just looks so naff).
The actor Peter New and friend in Soma
across from here is a great store selling stained glass windows.
Not just any stained glass, but huge frames with ornate cut glass
and scenic views taken from the mansions that Vancouver so easily
tore down in the rush to be new. (If you want to restore
your old home, Main Street is a great place to look for doors, windows,
and authentic fitments. From 7th all the way up to Rose Antiques
around 26th youll find what you want.)
Your first stop is the vibe filled café Soma. We know
it is cool because there was Peter New (left), the much loved star
of Velocity Zero and up and coming Vancouver actor/writer
rehearsing with a friend. Main Street is also where all the artists
live before they make it big and buy in Kits.
moving. Youll find bicycle shops, sofas, designer jewellery
and up on 26th and Main youll find Butchershop Gallery
This is an artists co-op run by and for final year Emily Carr students
and for fun they kind of buried a car in the building and covered
it with sods. Its conceptual, vaguely erotic, in a seventies
love machine kind of way.
be needing coffee again or something stronger. If you need liquor
and the company of gregarious folk then Reef Bar is your
place, if you just want coffee and the best blueberry scones in
the city, Liberty at 3699 Main will do the honours. (No microwaves,
they warm them in the oven here). You can nip next door to Eugene
Choo to catch up on designer fashions at a realistic price whilst
There is some development going on Main but it hasnt reached
the kind of frenzy that Robson Street endures, or Fourth Avenue
for that matter. There are still homes surviving on Main Street,
often in need of care, but you can tell this is a place for people
to live and enjoy. The neighbourhoods behind Main Street on
either side are full of older homes on large lots (some restored
or modernised with great style). It isnt cheap to live here.
But the lots are big and you can tell its a great family place.
Reef Bar on Main
need half a million dollars for a half way decent hut, but you get
the best array of cafés and small bars in town, a genuine
lived in neighbourhood and proximity to the city. Who needs the
suburbs? In fact, remind me again why people left? Everything is
here, what exactly were the suburbs going to offer except long drives
and sense of loss.
I met Bill, who was having difficulty in walking after some afternoon
drinking. Its a community man, got to keep an eye on
it, not let them build over it. Bill has lived here all his
life and likes the idea that it hasnt changed much. Safer
now, he ventured, before moving off.
At the mouth of Main at Mt Pleasant, there are still some remaining
and very solid apartment buildings erected about 90 odd years ago.
I love these red brick apartments. Huge spaces, great roof overhangs
and if respected and cared for, a better option than lofts. It is
in fact the original neighbourhood with spectacular views. Id
say an investment. Were going to miss the views when theyre
all gone. You might want to discover The Whip (209 E.Sixth Street
and Main) as well, a cool urban bistro with a lively menu and fair
Its great that somehow Mt Pleasant and Main Street has survived
without the usual city makeover. It now thrives as people learn
to value these kind of places again.
© Sam North October 2002
© Sam North 2002 )
Brass Beds Store
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