Granville Island

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Granville Island entrance

A once declining industrial area in the 1970s,
Granville Island is now a top Vancouver tourist attraction
with waterfront restaurants. theatres, galleries, unique shops and a fresh food market

Today, Granville Island contains unique shops offering a variety of goods, including unusual trinkets, souvenirs, locally designed clothing, kitchen wares, home decor items, books, crystals and high-end art. The island is small and easy to walk around, making for a pleasant day or afternoon of strolling and browsing. There are several restaurant choices. A number of theatres draw artsĀ lovers. Festivals, such as the Vancouvers Writers Fest, are held here.

Granville Island shops
A few of the shops on the island

The history of Granville Island dates back to the 1800s. It began as two sandbars on the tidal flats of False Creek, an inlet in the heart of Vancouver, British Columbia that separates the downtown from the rest of the city. False Creek was then more than twice the size it is now. A rickety wooden bridge spanned the sandbars. In 1909 a second Granville Street bridge was built, this one of steel. In 1935, a 35-acre reclamation project began, a project in which almost a million cubic yards of fill were dredged from False Creek to create a land area under the bridge. The first tenants were businesses servicing the forest, mining, construction and shipping sectors. The original name was “industrial island”, but the name that stuck came from the overhead bridge.

Granville Island was a booming industrial area in the early 1900s. At its height in 1930, 1,200 people worked here, most arriving by streetcar. The Great Depression ended the boom and several sawmills closed. A shantytown emerged. The island experienced a secondary boom during World War II, but demand for industrial output declined postwar. Sawmills and factories became fire traps. False Creek, once a fertile fishing area, was a toxic sewer. The island’s inner city location was no longer attractive to industrialists. In the 1970s, a plan emerged to turn the space into a people-friendly place with various uses, from parkland to housing to public exhibition space.

on walkway to Granville Island
Today’s view walking into Granville Island
Gravnille Island murals
Murals on cement factory silos, one of the few industries still on the island
Granville Island Market
Assorted images from The Public Market

A large building on the island houses Granville Island Public Market. Assorted stalls carry fresh produce, baked treats and homemade products. One aisle contains artisan and craft vendors. There is also a food court, where one can have lunch or a snack. If you choose to take your food outside to eat on the boardwalk, a sign warns you to watch that seagulls don’t try to steal your food.

Granville Island entertainers
Street entertainers can be found at various places on the island
Ducks on Granville Island
This pair of ducks seemed to be enjoying the music from one of the entertainers
Granville Island view
Part of the charm of the island is its setting and views of Vancouver’s skyline

Granville Island is accessible by car. Parking is available, but limited. The island is geared to pedestrians and drivers are warned to be careful. You can also get there by bus, by foot, by bicycle, by aquabus (in the summer) and by the False Creek Ferry. The Granville Island website contains more detail on how to get there.

Granville Island


Granville Island is a top Vancouver tourist attraction with waterfront restaurants. theatres, galleries, unique shops and a fresh food market. #Vancouver #BritishColumbia #Canada

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  1. Never heard of Granville Island! It looks and sounds like a perfectly charming place. I need to get to Vancouver. You’ve shown me so many cool places here:)

  2. Me too, Never heard of Granville Island.
    It’s beautiful place! Great photos as well.
    Thanks for me taking me along Donna x

  3. I only recently came across the descriptive term post-industrial. It was used to describe cities in the U.S. that had reinvented themselves after being depressed because of the disappearance of the industry that dominated the economy. So I guess you could call Glanville a post-industrial island. Whatever, it looks like a pretty nice place to spend a day.

    1. Ken, the term post-industrial is new to me too, but it does seem like a good fit. I can think of a few places that term would apply to.

  4. Donna, I really enjoyed this trip. Your photos are wonderful and descriptive. I love the very first one, the murals on the silos, the market and is that a little tourist boat in the bottom picture? I would love a ride on it. I also think the street musicians would add just the right “I’m enjoying this” touch. Too bad it’s 3000km or more away.

    1. Thanks Lenie. The boat in the photo isn’t a real boat – I think it is more of a play structure. But there are other places on the island to catch a boat ride.

  5. I’ve been to Vancouver a few times but don’t recall hearing about Granville Island. This looks like just the kind of place I like to get lost in for an afternoon!

    1. Maybe you’ll get to Granville Island on your next visit to Vancouver and get lose an afternoon there.

  6. I hadn’t heard of Granville Island. It looks like a fun place to visit. I really like the Murals on cement factory silos. Very funny and bright.

    1. Beth, I love coming across unexpected murals and art like that on the cement factory silos.

  7. This is the first I’ve heard of Granville Island. It looks like a really nice place to visit for a long weekend. I love the street musicians and, of course, those fun silos.

  8. I have been to Vancouver only once and remember it as gorgeous. I don’t know if I made it to Granville Island but as I read your post I did have small bells go off in my head so am thinking I made it there; I usually gravitate towards water and islands so it wouldn’t surprise me.