The Shipyards at the foot of Lonsdale, originally known as Wallace Shipyards, was a working shipyard from 1906 to 1992. It defined the lower Lonsdale area for almost 100 years. There were more than 450 ships built here during its lifetime and it employed thousands of local men and women. It is no wonder, then, that its influence is an important part of Shipbuilders’ Square.
The old shipyard has recently been transformed into Shipbuilders’ Square. The feature of the square is a lively and exciting Night Market. All summer long a free concert series plays on the Shipbuilders’ Stage to 800-1000 people plus there are plays and festivals to enjoy as well. There are food trucks, live music, buskers, vendors, a beer and wine garden serving locally brewed beer on tap. There are bakers and farmers, jewellery makers and clothing designers, handmade soap and local honey and chocolate – lots of chocolate.
This mode of transportation is, indeed, very rare anywhere in the world. To be ferried across an inlet, aboard an aluminum catamaran, simply to go downtown shopping or to work in the city is not your average day for most people. But it is for those of us who live in the Lonsdale area. We happily hop aboard one of four ferries to travel 1.75 nautical miles at a cruising speed of 11.5 knots in about 10-12 minutes. Sure sometimes it’s choppy and rainy but for the most part the views are simply beyond description. And it is a true fact that the Lonsdale Quay was purposely built as the terminal for this ferry service and the connecting bus loop. What a gift that turned out to be.
At the foot of Lonsdale, right on the waterfront, sits the Lonsdale Quay. Allow some time to visit because there is a lot to see. It includes the Lonsdale Quay Hotel & Spa, the Lonsdale Quay Market with fresh local products, an international food court, local designers, kids’ shops, a play area, restaurants and more. Imagine the mouth-watering tastes and delicious smells coming from COBS Bread, Kin’s Farm Market, The Salmon Shop and The Cheshire Cheese. This special place has the potential to brighten anyone’s day.
This charming Lonsdale contemporary art space is a joint project between the City of North Vancouver and the North Vancouver Community Arts Council. Themed exhibitions are presented at the CityScape Community Art Space, 335 Lonsdale and the City Atrium Gallery in City Hall. The focus is on emerging and professional artists in all visual media and the performing arts and exhibitions are interactive.
A new home has been designed specifically for North Vancouver’s much loved Presentation House by Governor General Prize-winning Patkau Architects. There is now over 19,000 square feet of galleries, event areas and lecture space. The new building has been purposely designed to accommodate contemporary art, such as the large-format work of internationally renowned Vancouver School artists Jeff Wall, Ian Wallace, Rodney Graham and Ken Lum. This newest community member will add a cafe, bookstore and plaza space for visitors and locals to socialize, contemplate or simply soak up the artistic atmosphere.
Lonsdale Trails and Nature Walks
There are many trails and walks that criss-cross the Lonsdale area. They are well used by cyclists, runners, walkers, folks walking their dogs and as a quick and enjoyable route to get to shops and services. Much thought has gone into plans to join some existing trails to form walks that are not only alternatives to vehicle traffic but will reduce pollution in the process and also provide safe routes for the wildlife of our area since so many natural areas have been lost in our urban environment.
The Green Necklace is one such greenway and a work in progress that began with a vision in the 1907 City of North Vancouver’s first plan. The intention was and is for this seven kilometre urban greenway to encircle the centre of the Lonsdale area in a continuous loop. The first section completed in 2005 runs along Keith Road connecting Victoria Park and Queen Mary Elementary school. The second section recently completed runs along Jones Avenue from West Keith Road to West 21st Street near Carson Graham School.
The North Shore Spirit Trail is another greenway. This much loved portion of the pathway runs along the waterfront of Lower Lonsdale. The entire Spirit Trail is a work in progress and will eventually extend from Horseshoe Bay to Deep Cove. The Lonsdale Quay section of the Spirit Trail was completed in 2014. It connects Waterfront Park along Carrie Cates Court with the SeaBus Terminal. It features a public art installation called GroundWaterSeaLevel by artist Germaine Koh. And in the near future there is a planned section passing in front of the shipyards. The intention is that the entire City of North Vancouver part of the trail will be complete by 2017.
The Ravine Trail System includes the Mahon ravine park which connects to two other ravine parks – Mosquito Creek and Heywood. The plan for this trail system has always been to help protect the fish-bearing streams within it while providing bike, running and walking trails. With this in mind the soon to be finished Mosquito Creek greenway will connect the Lower Lonsdale waterfront to the Baden Powell Trail by including the beginning of the Trans Canada Trail.
The Trans Canada Trail starts at the SeaBus, twists and turns along the waterfront until it meets Mosquito Creek. It then follows the creek up the mountain to join the other 23,000 kilometres of trails that connect Canada from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean to the Arctic Ocean. The whole project is almost done with a target date of July 1st, 2017 – Canada’s 150th birthday. A staggering vision that is 75% complete.
The Upper Levels Greenway System is the icing on the cake of the Lonsdale area trail and walking areas. It too is a work in progress and there are some interesting plans in the works. This system covers a large area from the Harry Jerome Rec Centre to Loutet Park just past Grand Boulevard and it roughly follows the Upper Levels Highway. The big news is the planned pedestrian/bicycle crossing over the highway at the top of Loutet Park. This will open up the Lonsdale area to the trail systems above the highway and a whole new world.
Parks & Recreation
Whether you enjoy indoor or outdoor recreation, there is something to keep to you moving every day of the year. Check out the resources below – they are just a jumping -off point for any number of healthy adventures!
There is a multitude of parks beautifully designed and maintained surrounding the Lonsdale area. In fact, a park is pretty much a short walk away from any spot on Lonsdale and its surrounding neighbourhoods. From quiet shady benches to large playgrounds to a quick green space to walk your dog – there are many choices for a breath of fresh air away from the urban bustle of the Lonsdale business corridor. We offer here a smorgasbord of tasty park treats:
- Mahon Park & Waterpark has a running track and a stadium that hosts outdoor games most of the year
- Ray Perrault Park – formerly Boulevard Park – has tennis courts, a very kid friendly playground and soccer fields hosting games most summer nights
- Carisbrooke Park is a loved upper Lonsdale green space
- Greenwood Park is great for dog walking
- Victoria Park is part of the Green Necklace and spans both sides of Lonsdale with a charming walking path
- Norseman Park is well known for track field
- Waterfront Park has a playground that will delight the kids while we get to sit and enjoy the astounding city views
- Andrews Park is the ultimate dream park for the parents of toddlers. It is fenced. Yes, it’s really true. A toddler can be let loose in this park full of toys – all of which have been donated by users of the park by the way – and your child can not get out. Yay!
- Loutet Park. Now this is a very unusual park. Yes, it has a great kid’s playground and lots of fields for soccer, flag football even Frisbee football. And then is has, at its southern border, an organic urban vegetable farm. It is a joint project between North Shore Neighbourhood House, North Vancouver City and UBC. And every Wednesday afternoon from 4-6 pm and Saturday morning from 10-noon – Spring to Fall – they sell the fresh produce grown on the farm. It is simply delicious
- Crickmay Park is a small park next to the Harry Jerome rec centre. A nice place to go before a class
- Cloverly Park is a hidden gem with a playground and lots of shade for those hot summer days
- Grand Boulevard has a wonderful walking path that begins at Keith Road and ends at 19th Street
- Ray Sargent Park for a picnic
- A Skate Board Park located next to the Centennial Theatre at 23rd and Lonsdale
- The Lower Lonsdale Community Garden located at 2nd Street and St. Georges
And there are many more such as:
- Chief August Jack Park
- Brooksbank Park
- Michael Park
- Saint Albans Park
- Wagg Creek Park
For a map of all the locations of these great parks click here.
Recreation centres are plentiful and accessible in the Lonsdale area. And there is something for everyone to enjoy – from swimming to skating and yoga to dancing. Gyms are readily available too, so no excuses people.
Located at 123 East 23rd Street across from the Centennial Theatre this centre has it all. Fitness centre, swimming pool with sauna and whirlpool, skating rink and even a small café that serves delicious lunches. Then there are all the classes and programs provided here that take up a whole calendar that is updated twice a year.
This community centre also has a fitness centre and it is a true family resource centre. There are classes and groups geared for all ages. The focus is around children and the many classes given to help raise healthy and vibrant kids. There is even childminding available.
Located at 225 East 2nd Street this facility has a concession, drop in centre, gymnasium and licensed preschool
Located at St. Andrews and East 23rd Street this small recreation centre has a gym and a performing arts centre. There are lots of programs plus a wonderful drop in centre for parents and young children that takes place most mornings. Check the current program guides for more information and times
St. Andrews and East 23rd is where to find this gem tucked behind the courthouse. There is a gym with a toddler drop in program that is a lot of fun for the little ones. There is also a Performing Arts room with dance programs for all ages.
Check out the North Vancouver Rec Centre website for locations and to find out all the activities available.