Vancouver 2013, Part 1: The Misadventures of Mac

Hello from Vancouver! Today was my first whole day in this wicked city and I’ve already walked a good portion of it. When I set off from the hostel this morning (I’m back at the Samesun Backpackers Lodge…why stay anywhere else?), my goal was to hit up the Vancouver Art Gallery and the Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art. However, my meandering feet took me elsewhere.The walk from the hostel to the art gallery took all of ten minutes. When I arrived they weren’t even open yet, so I decided to kill some time by walking down Burrard Street to see the Marine Building (an amazing example of Art Deco architecture. If you’re ever in the city, visit it!). From the Marine Building you can see the waterfront, which is less than a block away. I’ve always been naturally drawn to water, so with time to kill still, I wandered over.

As soon as I hit the harbourfront my plans to stay indoors all day looking at art disappeared. One thing I had on my list of “to-dos/to-sees” while I’m here was locate the Burrard Yacht Club. Any puzzled looks out there? Why on earth would I want to visit a yacht club? Did I bring my loafers and preppy clothes for my visit? Nah. Let me explain.

Over Christmas I visited my father and made him dig up all of the family memorabilia that he could find. I’ve grown up seeing these items every now and then, but revisiting them with the deeper appreciation of an adult really changes how you look at them. One of these items is a trophy my great-grandfather Archie won from, wait for it, *drum roll please*…the Burrard Yacht Club! Huzzah!

The trophy is engraved with the following:

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First place baby! I smile every time I look at this. “Cruachan” was Archie’s boat (a boat that my father still talks about to this day). Seems like a natural pull to the water is in my blood. And also a drive for competition!

Armed with nothing more than the above photo, the club name, and location for the club as relayed by my phone’s GPS, I hopped on the SeaBus and crossed over into North Vancouver in search of some yacht enthusiasts.

I (sort of) got lost, only because there was construction happening on the street I needed to walk down to the club, but with some help from a friendly girl behind the counter at a pet store in the area, I finally arrived at the yacht club.

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I know that yacht clubs have a certain sense of propriety and exclusiveness about them, so walking through the wrought iron gate up their driveway felt a bit mischievous to me. However, no one was around to stop me so in I went. Besides, it only consisted of a small building and some docks, nothing like the yacht clubs portrayed on TV or in the movies (don’t judge me, that’s the only impression of yacht clubs I had to go by).

I hesitantly entered the office and found an older lady sitting at a desk. It took her a little while to warm up to me, but once I explained why I was there she allowed me access to the docks so I could take pictures for my father. After I took a few shots though, she popped her head out of a window to call me over.

“What year did you say your great-grandfather was a member?” she asked. “Sometime in the 1930s is all I know” I replied. “Ah, well, this isn’t where he would have been then. It occurred to me when you were taking photos.”

What?! I traipsed my ass all the way to North Van to take photos of a yacht club that wasn’t even the right one? What the eff…turns out there’s a huge debacle of a story behind this though…

The Burrard Yacht Club, established in 1932, was originally formed out of the Vancouver Rowing Club and was located in the Vancouver harbour on Stanley Park Drive. Sometime in the 1970s the rowing club and the yacht club had a difference of opinion and split, with the yacht club relocating to their present day residence in North Van. Each time I asked someone new about the move they all mentioned how the yacht club even took the docks with them (“They literally roped the docks to the boats and drove off”).

After I found this out from the nice woman at the present day yacht club I hoofed it back to downtown Vancouver and walked on over to the rowing club. This is where my great-grandfather would have frequented:

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This building was originally shared by both clubs and is even deemed a Historic Site of Vancouver. The docks might be different, but the location is the same. It felt nice to walk around knowing that he, and probably our other family members, had spent time there. Plus, the location is pristine. Boats were moored, Stanley Park was a stone’s throw away, the seaplanes were flying in over head and for the first time since I got here the sun was out!

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All in all it was a quiet but great start to my trip. I crossed off two things from my list (I also visited the Bill Reid Gallery in between my trip to North Van and my walk to the rowing club, so that was #2), I got a lot of fresh air and worked the “office leg” out of my gams, and now I’m enjoying a pint at the Samesun pub, The Beaver (which is also named after a boat…it’s nautical day!). Day one down, ten more to go.

Tomorrow’s going to be a good one. I do have to work for half the day but tomorrow night I’m meeting up with one of my Moose Mates…Sarah M.!! I’m so stoked and excited!

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