Out for a family stroll in the neighbourhood, circa January 2013.

Out for a family stroll in the neighbourhood. Photo by Jinny.

It’s no secret that I love where we live. After my rant about Earls, I thought it would be nice to balance things off with a tribute to some of the wonderful people and places in my neighbourhood that make it a whole lot of fun to raise a kid around here. In no particular order:

The two guys who work the morning shift at Blenz Coffee on Robson and Cardero. The way their eyes light up when I walk in with Oliver is absolutely heartwarming. They always know how to cheer him up when he’s cranky — doing silly things like putting macaroons over their eyes and popping up from behind the counter, or making funny faces. They know about Oliver’s penchant for bananas, and if it’s a day that we’re not buying a banana, they’ll actually remove them from Oliver’s sight so he doesn’t get upset (I’ve never asked them to do this, by the way). One particularly trying day, when I was absolutely at my wits’ end dealing with temper tantrums, one of them told me, “He’s sooo good. He’s, like, my favourite kid that ever comes in here.” I don’t think he had any idea how much I really needed to hear those words at that particular moment.

The firefighters at Hall 6 and Hall 7. Besides the obvious reasons — like watching them have water fights while washing their trucks in the summer 🙂 — they always, always take the time to smile and wave at us when they drive by. Now that Oliver is finally old enough to really appreciate the firetrucks, we will be sure to take them up on their offers to visit the stations.

Theresa, who works at the cheese counter at Whole Foods Robson. She has known Oliver since he was only 18 hours old! Every time we see her she greets us with a big smile. She has even been known to sneak free cheese samples to my hungry little guy on occasion — with my permission, of course :). Actually, pretty much everyone who works at that store is awesome and knows Oliver by name. It almost makes us feel better about dropping half a day’s pay on groceries.

Patrick, the random guy we run into several times a week. Ever since Ollie was an infant, Patrick has stopped to chat with me and tell me how cool he thinks Oliver is. What parent wouldn’t want to hear that? Now that Oliver is older, Patrick and Ollie chat, too. Oliver recognizes Patrick and knows him by name.

Joseph, the FedEx driver. To be fair, Joseph is also one of the part-time staff in our building, so he’s known Oliver since birth, but it’s fun to run into him making his delivery rounds when we are out and about for a walk.

Random grandmotherly women who want to hug, kiss, hold hands with or otherwise dote on Oliver. Some parents might find this intrusive, but mostly I find it really sweet. A few weeks ago, Ollie and I were walking to the bank when a woman approached me and asked if it would be okay to hold Oliver’s hand and walk with us for a bit. As Oliver seemed perfectly comfortable taking her hand, I said, “Sure, why not,” and the three of us walked together hand-in-hand for about a block. She then thanked us profusely, said her goodbyes, and headed off on her way. Ollie called after her longingly, “Hand…?”

Any dog owner who has ever stopped to let Oliver pet their dog. Oliver just adores dogs, and I always appreciate the kindness and patience of dog owners who are willing to take a few minutes out of their day to brighten Oliver’s.

The people at Miko Sushi. We ate here a lot while I was pregnant (yes, I ate sushi). Once Oliver was born, it became easier for us to order takeout most of the time, but they continued to encourage us to dine in, whenever we were ready to do so. Each time J or I went to pick up our takeout order, they would ask after Oliver and remind us that babies are always welcome there. They even went as far as to reassure me that nobody minds if a small baby cries in a restaurant, and that I should feel completely free to breastfeed there (they said that, for real!).

Visiting language students from Asia who “flirt” with Oliver and want to take his picture. It’s really not as weird as it sounds and it happens more often than you’d think, as we have several large ESL schools nearby. I’m not particularly paranoid when it comes to people photographing my child (they always ask first, and really, if we’re in public anybody could be photographing him without my knowledge). Sometimes we even get these photos emailed to us later, as in the case of the photo above, which was one of several taken by a Korean visitor we met in January.

Other mommies and their babies. Our neighbourhood is densely populated but geographically quite small, so we pretty much can’t even walk a block and a half to the grocery store without running into at least one other mom and baby pair that we know. It’s so nice to see the same familiar faces day after day, and it really makes this place feel like somewhere we belong.

Who are the people in your neighbourhood?


  1. We moved to a nice little neighborhood a few months before my son was born. I love the dog sitter who always lets C pet his dogs, Tom who also lets C pet is dogs, and even walk them on a leash to the corner. I love that Max is just a few houses away and his mom and I get to let some much needed toddler energy out when they’re together, even for 20 minutes. I love that I caught E and R out for a walk holding hands, each with one of their adopted children strapped to their chest. It was such a sweet moment and they don’t even know I saw their smiles…

  2. There is no doubt about it. Cities are becoming more and more amenable to families. As they need to be. Vancouver has done a spectacular job in this regard. This is a great read and perhaps appropriate for a newspaper article!

    • Thanks, Wendy 🙂

      Other than the whole housing affordability issue, I think Vancouver is a pretty spectacular place to raise a family. I really couldn’t imagine doing it anywhere else.

  3. I lived in Vancouver for five years and loved reading this. While I didn’t interact with as many folks in my neighbourhood as you do, there were certainly people I saw regularly who I still think of… the cute bartender at my stumbling distance pub (the now defunct Nevermind in Kits), the sweet little girl with her grandfather on my morning bus (#4 or #7 to downtown), the quirky guy at the video store (something also defunct on Broadway), the ultra-efficient cashier at the grocery store on Denman… funny how these people become part of your landscape!

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