7 Things You Didn’t Know About Granville Island

Posted on April 24, 2017 - One of the best places in Vancouver for artisan shopping, festivals, theatre, food stalls and water views is definitely Granville Island. Visitors and locals alike love the little Vancouver oasis for its charm and culture. Where else can you pick up fresh fruit, sway in a hammock, watch buskers perform, take in an improv show, admire sailboats, sip a fresh brew, browse glassware and fight off seagulls for the last of your french fries?

Oh Granville Island, what a gem!

Now that Granville Island is on the brink of change thanks to the Granville Island 2040 project, a dynamic vision for the future of the island, we thought it would be a good time to look back. To learn more about one of Vancouver’s favourite spots, check out our list of seven things you may not know about Granville Island.

It’s not actually an island

You read that right. Granville Island isn’t actually an island! It’s a manmade peninsula situated under the Granville Street Bridge. One side of the “island” is completed connected to the mainland. So while it may feel like you’re on a little island adventure with the water all around you, you’re actually spending the day on Granville Peninsula. “Granville Peninsula” just doesn’t sound as catchy.

Granville Island is busy!

This probably comes as no surprise if you’ve ever been to Granville Island on a sunny summer weekend. The place is perpetually packed with tourists, locals, vendors and buskers. Not to mention hotel guests, sailors and students heading to Emily Carr.

But just how busy is it? Granville Island is home to almost 300 businesses and employs more than 2,500 people every year. And whatever those employees are doing is working – Granville Island generates more than $215 million every year!

Most of Granville Island Brewing beers aren’t brewed on Granville Island

The famous Granville Island Brewing Co. opened their business on Granville Island in 1984. But the majority of their brewing is now done off-site, like at their base of operations in Kelowna.

However, they do still brew small batches of select beers at the Granville Island location. Plus, the brewery is still open for tastings, tours and has a dine in restaurant, bar and retail shop. So despite not being the main site where the beer is brewed, there’s lots to enjoy for GIB fans at the original brewery location on Granville Island.

It was originally called Industrial Island

Before Granville Island became home to farmers’ markets and artisan shops, it was the centre of industry in Vancouver. The island was mainly comprised of factories in the 1920s.

During WWII, Granville Island was home to industries of war such as Wright’s Canadian Ropes which supplied heavy-duty wire rope to the troops overseas. So originally, the island was named Industrial Island after its businesses. But since the Granville Street Bridge ran overhead, the name “Granville Island” stuck instead.

There’s a reason there are no sidewalks

Ever get confused walking around Granville Island? First of all, there seems to be endless paths to walk around and lots of secret streets. You can spend all afternoon on Granville Island and still only see half of it.

And as you’re walking, you may think because of the hordes of people and cobble streets that Granville Island is pedestrian only. But then a car barrels down the road! What gives Granville? Turns out, Granville Island was purposefully designed without curbs or sidewalks so that trucks, trolleys and forklifts could get down the streets unobstructed. But these days, most visitors to Granville Island decide the entire road is their sidewalk.

Only BC artists can sell their work at the Public Market

The Public Market is one of the landmarks on Granville Island where you can pick up fresh produce in the grocery section, lunch at the food court or browse the day vendors who set up shop in the middle of the market with their pieces of art, pottery, jewelry and the like.

About 40 vendors rotate on a weekly basis to sell their wares at the Public Market. But did you know that only BC residents are permitted to be day vendors? The day vendors must be artists or artisans that permanently reside in BC for the majority of the year. Which means the art you’re browsing is made locally and any purchases support local artists!

Granville Island is home to tons of festivals

If every time you head to Granville Island it seems like some event is happening, that’s because it is. Granville Island is home to many festivals like the Vancouver International Children’s Festival, the Vancouver Fringe Festival and the Vancouver Writers Fest.

This February the island will host Winterruption, a winter festival of music, art, theatre and food. Later in the spring, head to Granville Island for the Yoga Film Festival and Vancouver Web Fest.

What’s your favourite thing to do on Granville Island?

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