What’s Out There?
A cityphile’s guide to the ’burbs.
: though I’ve lived in Vancouver for almost 20 years, I’m not born and bred. I grew up in Ajax, a sleep-town for Toronto (named after a warship, rather than the household cleaner—the town was built around a munitions factory during the First World War, though the seeming reference to the latter possible namesake does make it more memorable). My teenage years had many of the marks of a classic suburban upbringing: I got my driver’s licence just a few months after turning 16 (ah, those sweet, very unsafe pre-graduated licence days), my friends and I had both bush parties and basement hangouts, and I ed for the city as soon as I could.
But I look back now at my childhood and realize there was a lot of sweetness to it, too: we lived near the lake and spent weekends combing the wetlands. I recently reminisced with friends about our last summer before we all left for university, when we hung out in my parents’ backyard and tie-dyed our sheets for our dorm rooms. My dad and I would clean his kayak there, too. We had plenty of room for it then—unlike where I live now in the West End, where nding a spot to wash down my kayak is exponentially more challenging.
Of course, I’ve been re ecting on this because of our rst o cial Suburbs Issue. As we started to consider the subject, a poll around the table at our editorial meeting clearly indicated we were all struggling to gure out exactly what de ned each suburb, let alone precisely how they were arranged geographically. We’d heard of the cool brewery district in Port Moody, great restaurants popping up in New West and Langley, a legendary adventure park in Richmond, beyond-beautiful beaches in Surrey—was it time for us to gure out what lies beyond Vancouver’s o cial borders?
And so, in this issue, writer Tyee Bridge shares his take on how he’s learned to love his new hometown of New Westminster, and Jennifer Van Evra tackles the task of nding out what makes each ’burb worth its while. And, for those of you who are considering a move out there, we’ve zeroed in on what exactly the all-dreaded commute times are, too—along with a general idea of real estate options.
While I’m a self-described cityphile, I recognize that there’s a shift happening. Some of what makes the suburbs work has always been there—see: my childhood— but some of it is part of a new world and worth some new exploration and consideration. (Perhaps over a beer or two at Steel and Oak in New West. I’ll see you there.)