Blood Alley, Judas Goats and Sushi: A Typical Vancouver Saturday Afternoon

High ceilings overhead at Waterfront Station, Vancouver, Canada.

I emerged around lunchtime at Waterfront Station in Vancouver, with its dramatic heritage ceiling overhead keeping me dry from the fitful rain outside. I was off on a Saturday afternoon mission to find vintage fashions in historic Gastown. Outside, some of Vancouver’s oldest buildings loomed in the mist.

Along Water Street with its cool furniture shops. Note frolicking hipsters to right.

West Cordova Street leaving Waterfront Station and heading East to Gastown.

Vancouver is a very young city, as far as cities go. Founded in the 1880s, Vancouver is so new that it barely clings to the west coast of North America, the Pacific Ocean lapping its infant shores. I should say, Vancouver is a new city to the British colonials, Chinese and South Asian immigrants that first settled here in the late 19th century, but certainly not to the First Nations peoples who had villages along its shores for millennia. For the recent arrivals, Gastown was Vancouver’s first neighbourhood proper. Locals marvel of the antiquity of the area, while European visitors smirk at the newness of it all. When I was in London, the Victorian house I lived in was built in the 1850s – older than Canada’s existence as a nation! Age is relative.

Gastown’s famous steam clock belching steam before the quarter hour.

Boulet Western boots, a must for cowboys and cowgirls the world over. I have a pair myself.

I wandered deeper into Gastown on my search, walking a familiar path. Gastown is an intriguing place, a clash of the downtrodden have-nots bordering the area on Vancouver’s notorious East Side, and the yuppie gentrification of upscale developments. Amid all this, there are some amazing indie and discount shops, mod furniture stores, art galleries, and night clubs taking advantage of the usually low rents. Gastown is never boring.

Blood Alley. One of the scariest places in Vancouver.

Did you miss it? Look again. Blood Alley. There’s a name to grab the attention. Locals say that it was originally named Blood Alley because of all the butcher shops that used to line the street decades ago. The street would run with blood by the end of the day’s work. If that wasn’t gruesome enough, Blood Alley Square was the venue for Vancouver’s executions when capital punishment was still viable here. Today, Blood Alley is better known for its trendy upscale eateries like Salt Tasting Room and Judas Goat. By the by, a Judas goat, in case you were curious like me for an explanation, is a goat that leads others, especially sheep and cattle, to the slaughterhouse, while the goat’s life is spared for its deceit. I guess there’s a reason why Cake wrote that song about sheep going to heaven and goats going to hell.

Typically mysterious Gastown alley. Anything could be going on down there.

After finishing my secret vintage mission, I was hungry. Not quite able to afford the pricey restaurants above, I moved on via Skytrain to Granville Street. There, I enjoyed some of the cheap sushi eats that Vancouver has to offer thanks to its large Asian population. Yum!

Delicious cheap sushi, avocado and wild salmon.

Feeling refreshed, I headed out onto Granville Street, also known as the Granville Street Entertainment District. Granville Street has been enjoying a facelift over the past decade or so, transforming from its seedy old self to something glossier.

Granville Street on a bustling Saturday afternoon.

But even poor Granville Street isn’t free from the hand of gentrification.  Conspicuous by its absence and currently replaced by a large hole in the ground, is an old building that stood at the corner of Granville and Robson.

The hole in the ground and old facade.

Rumour has it that it will be yet another condo tower. Part of the old facade still stands, doubtless in an effort to lend the new building some vintage street cred. How ironic that they’ve gutted the old girl and now try to tart the new gal to look the part of the old. Blood Alley and Judas goats indeed. Authenticity doesn’t seem to matter here. It’s like buying a new shirt that’s been made to look vintage – it’s missing the point entirely. There’s no backstory, no tangible history or testament to time. It’s totally out of context.

As for that vintage clothing I mentioned earlier, you asked? No, I haven’t forgotten. I promise to share my finds with you tomorrow, so please visit again!

x Rena


  1. I’m stoked to see all these sweet new posts!

  2. Great post! Too bad my building didn’t feature in the part about Gastown gentrification 😉

    Also, great to know what a Judas Goat is!

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