We are introducing a brand new series of Photo Essays! Have a look at amazing Photo Sets all shot by talented photographers. Explore the vibe of the city, its hidden treasures, explore Vancouver! After we already covered Vancouver's Strathcona, Kitsilano and Shaughnessy neighbourhoods, let's have a look at the next one, South Cambie, through the lens of Davis Chan!
South Cambie: The Smallest of Vancouver's Neighbourhoods
You might have heard about the famous "Hobbit House" in Vancouver. The fairytale little home looks like it's definitely not from this era. Well, it really does exist, and you can find it in one of Vancouver's smallest neighbourhoods, South Cambie. The small strip of land that makes up South Cambie (only 217 hectares) is wedged between two completely different areas of the city. You have the beautiful Queen Elizabeth Park with the best views of the city on one side and the upscale and high-priced Shaughnessy on the other. The neighbourhood is bounded by Oak and Cambie streets, and West 16th and 41st avenues.
There are some facts from the neighbourhood's history that you might find pretty interesting. Cambie Street, which gives the neighbourhood its name, was itself named after Canadian Pacific Railway engineer Henry Cambie, who was responsible for building a large portion of the transcontinental railway across BC in the 1880s. Today's Douglas Park was once an elk pasture, and this land was one of the first areas developed after a gold miner, William Mackie, bought the land. Around 1910, there was a Chinese vegetable garden in this area. Some of the original heritage homes from the beginning of the 20th century are in the northern part of South Cambie. The 1912 Tudor-style home of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police definitely deserves a mention.
What's the main draw of this area? South Cambie is known for some of the top hospitals in BC: Shaughnessy Hospital, BC Children's Hospital, and BC Women's Hospital and Health Centre. For such a small area, you'll also find quite a lot of educational institutions here, including Eric Hamber Secondary School, Emily Carr Elementary School, Edith Cavell Elementary School, and the francophone Rose-des-Vents and École secondaire Jules-Verne schools. Particularly along Oak Street, you can see the diversity of Vancouver's Jewish community, with five synagogues, a Jewish elementary school, a high school, and a community centre.
South Cambie is definitely not in the very heart of Vancouver — yet there are some pretty important places here. For example, take Vancouver's City Hall. Located at Cambie Street and West 12th Avenue, some people might wonder why it's so far away from downtown. But this location made perfect sense back in 1929, when the three separate municipalities of Point Grey, Vancouver, and South Vancouver merged and chose this spot. Since then, the area has seen a lot of change and development — mainly because of the newly built Canada Line that runs through the neighbourhood and caused many local businesses to move or close down. After a lot or construction, the area is coming back to life again, with its many eateries, one-of-a-kind stores, and bars. Condos are also entering this neighbourhood. The newest is the 45-storey condo tower at Oakridge Mall. So it's hard to tell if the area will lose its quiet charm due to accelerated development and higher population density now that the Canada Line connects it to the rest of the city so conveniently.
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Meet the Photographer
I am a Vancouver based photographer. Although I shoot commercially, my real passion lies in landscapes, street and social documentary. Among all the genres in landscape photography, capturing aging urban areas and industrial sites interest me the most.