It’s kind of turning into interview week here on the blog, but let’s just run with it!
So local environmental educator Noam Dolgin put pen to paper last year and came up with Canada Line Adventures, a slim pocket guide to help you explore the neighbourhoods near the new Canada Line stations in Vancouver and Richmond.
I thought I’d chat with him about the guide and what drove him to put it together, and just what kind of adventures are in store for you once you pick it up.
So why did you decide to write this guide?
On opening day and in my personal conversations, I saw how excited people in the city were about Canada Line, and I decided to give people the tools to take advantage of it. Rapid transit offers enormous opportunity for environmentally friendly recreation, as an environmental educator and advocate, I wanted to capitalize on that enthusiasm to help get people using the train for recreation.
In addition, I grew up near what is now Canada Line, in the Cambie corridor, and am very proud of what my neighbourhood offers. After having lived in New York for seven years, relying entirely on trains for my transportation needs, when I moved back to Vancouver, I was excited about the expansion in our train system and wanted to share my experience and expertise with the rest of Vancouver.
I remember saying to myself, ‘I want to show people what the Cambie corridor has to offer and explore Richmond and Sea Island.’ I was excited about transit, about showing off my neighbourhood and about exploring new neighbourhoods. I hope that comes across through the pocket guide.
Every station has nine categories of things to do around that station, from restaurants and bars, to children’s activities and a neighbourhood walking tour. It’s intentionally written to be small, easily fit in any pocket or bag, yet packed with information. Good for residents or tourists.
So what kind of adventures can people expect from the guide?
Each page you have same nine categories and a map of the neighbourhood: a suggested restaurant, bar, a café, entertainment, special points of interest, a children’s activity, heritage buildings, picnic spot, and a walking tour. It’s everything you need to spend anywhere from two hours to a whole day in the community surrounding each station. The guide provides a beautifully designed, easy to read map of each neighbourdood outlining the locations of each activity mentioned and showing the walking tour.
Out of the 16 stations, 15 have walking tours and only one is a bike tour. For Templeton Station, there’s nothing nearby by foot, but there’s wonderful destinations within biking distance: Iona Jetty and Macdonald Beach. So it’s really 15 walking tours and one bike tour.
Are there any particular favourites that you’d like to highlight?
I think for me what’s most interesting about the process was discovering Richmond.
Growing up in Vancouver, Richmond wasn’t accessible to me and I didn’t see much reason to go there. But now that getting to Richmond is easy, I’ve found the offers of places like Minoru Park, an amazing urban park. Many people know Vancouver’s Stanley Park or Queen Elizabeth Park, but few know of Richmond’s Minoru Park with it range of community buildings, sports complexes, a chapel, and a park with waterfall, lake and bunnies hopping everywhere. You can sit there and have no idea you are in middle of the hustle and bustle of central Richmond.
In my own neighbourhood, I particularly was excited about discovering Schoolhouse #472, one of Vancouver’s original one room schoolhouses — it’s now a shed in someone’s backyard! The house is on a corner lot so you can go up to it along Laurel Street. I had no idea it existed and it’s a ten minute walk from where I grew up.
How long did it take to put the guide together?
Well, I had the idea on the opening day of the Canada Line and the pocket guide came out before the Olympics, on February 12. So it took about six months in total.
The research and writing took a couple of months. I had the advantage of knowing some neighbourhoods already, so I wasn’t starting from scratch. I talked to people and used expertise of friends and contacts. And then it was two fun months of going out a few days a week, checking out the neighbourhoods, and finding the exciting things that existed there.
What took longer was development of the maps. Maps are all copyrighted and you can’t just take them and put your stuff on it. So I had a wonderful cartographer who made 17 original maps, including a 3D map for YVR airport.
Was it hard finding a publisher?
The guide is self published. It’s available on my website, www.canadalineadventures.com, and at more than 18 stores up and down the line. In addition, groups are now selling it as a fundraiser in the community. I am looking for more ways to distribute the guide so readers should contact me through the website if they are interested.
Stores selling the guide include: 3 Vets on Yukon Street and 6th Avenue, any of the Book Warehouse locations, and at a number of corner stores and mini marts up and down the line such as Broadway Mini Mart across from Broadway-City Hall Station and Plaza Market by Marine Drive Station.
What’s next for the guide? How can people get in touch with you if they want to know more?
At this point what’s next for the guide is PR and promotion, getting people to know about it and use it. Some folks have suggested I should lead regular tours, but the goal right now is to get it in people’s hands so they can run their own tours. People should know that if they’re interested in giving the guide as a gift or selling it as a fundraiser, there are bulk purchase and commission sales rates available.
Thanks for your enthusiasm Jhenifer, it has been a pleasure talking with you.
Thanks Noam, and best of luck with the guide!