During the early years of my childhood, my family moved to Macao and I had little recollection of North Vancouver till we returned in 1997. This was where I was born, with mountains and forest in the backdrop and a landscape of hills and valleys. All of it has been here, yet it was only in the recent years that I began to discover the North Shore anew.
The community here is small. Various types of red cedar, Douglas fir, and Sitka spruce fill the landscape with trails carving their way across. Roads wind and bend along the terrain—some leading to unexpected ends and cul-de-sacs. On most days, clouds from the south journey here and rest just by the mountain side. It’s a safe bet to predict cloudy and rainy weather here though the sun would occasionally tease us every now and then. There is an overall stillness and clarity here that I’ve come to appreciate after a long week of work.
Residents in North Vancouver really value the outdoors, community and the pace of life on this side of the waters. Yet what I’ve valued recently is the uniqueness of the homes here as well. In the past couple of months, I have been enamoured of West Coast modern homes—researching past works of architects, reading books and watching documentaries. All of which was initiated by the realization that those homes have been here all along.
Being from the North Shore was never something I was quite proud of when I was younger. Friends and family living on the opposite end did not hesitate to note the lack of chinese food, disappointing malls, and the lack of access by transit. Most childhood friends moved out of the area and it convinced me that moving away from the North Shore was a sign of growing up.
Uncovering pieces of North Vancouver’s history has been therapeutic for me. It makes sense why architects in the 1950’s designed homes the way they did—embracing the unique landscape, relishing in the quietness and privacy of the mountain side and desiring to connect with the outdoors. I was reminded of all of this on a short walk with my father this morning. He must have saw the something about North Vancouver that convinced him to move our family here twenty plus years ago and I’m starting to see it now.
Photo credit: OMB Architect + Designers