A visit to the beautiful beachside Vancouver suburb of Kitsilano (or Kits in the local lingo) soon reveals a mixed-bag of residents and attractions. From heritage-listed buildings to seaside arty stalls, the first question which springs to mind is “Is this the newest suburb in town, or the oldest?” Well, to be honest, it’s actually both! Rent a Vancouver holiday apartment in Kits and step into its multicolored past.
Kistilano was named after a Squamish Chief, and reflects the influx of the early settlers, who moved in at the beginning of the 19th Century to partake in the areas’ earliest commercial ventures. These Indian natives were eventually evicted from the land when mass-urbanization began; but in 2001 an 11-acre Native Reserve was set up to honor Kits’ early residents.
Kits was initially set to become one of the country’s foremost coal-mining regions, but the project never really took off. At the beginning of the 1960s the land was purchased by the government and turned into a communal living neighborhood. This unusual turn of events lead Kits to become one of the hippiest areas in Vancouver; the low-cost housing attracted the city’s struggling artists and immigrants and this, together with the splendid background of coast-meets-mountains, also attracted the most ardent tree-huggers around. Not surprisingly, it was right in Kits that both Greenpeace and the Green Party were founded.
Whilst the area has never really shaken off this unconventional image, things are slowly changing, and Kits is swiftly running the risk of becoming one of the most elite suburbs in Vancouver. The irony!
In fact, Kits is so popular nowadays, that property prices are soaring and attracting a whole different crowd downtown. Having said that, however, it’s not all bad news! If yuppies are to the 21st century what the hippies were to the 20th century, then the change to Kits may not be as dreadful as initially feared. They may be coming here with hoards of cash; but they’re also bringing along their spiritual leaders, yoga mats and crystal collections. And lots of dogs to water the trees! Now how environmentally friendly can one get?
We agree that it’s a pity that one of the landmark open-air concert venues of the 60s has now been turned into an ultra-modern shopping centre; but to be honest the amount of alternative stores, vegetarian restaurants and organic produce stores in Kits is still outstanding. The former influx of Russian and Greek immigrants has also withstood the test of time; making Kits one of the most interesting multicultural suburbs in Vancouver.
For an authentic taste of what Kits has to offer, head to Vancouver this summer and catch a glimpse of the Vancouver Folk Music Festival or, if your desires are more gastronomically inclined, the Greek Fest. The former is held over a July week-end, whilst the latter is usually held in June. The Folk Fest is in its third decade and attracts acts, and visitors, from all over the world and is a fantastic way to experience a little of Kits’ hippie past.
So get in touch with your spiritual yoga-pant-wearing self and head to Vancouver Kitsilano on your next vacation. Spend a few days exploring lively Kits and re-energize your soul! Crystals are optional.