Captain Vancouver, Royal Navy

As mentioned in a previous post about Vancouver City Hall, here's a sketch of the statue of Captain George Vancouver. It stands outside the north entrance of the building, overlooking the city and the north shore mountains. The caption on the plaque reads like this:

"On June 12th, 1792, Captain George Vancouver, R.N., celebrated mariner and intrepid explorer, under authority of His Majesty King George III of England, sailed into Burrard's Inlet and landed men on the site of the present City of Port Moody.

"To the memory of that enterprising mariner whose geographical accomplishments are venerated to this day and whose proud name this city bears, this memorial tablet is erected on behalf of the citizens of the City of Vancouver, this 22nd day of June, 1962."

Lowell's Restaurant at the Pike Place Market, Seattle

We recently visited Seattle's Pike Place Market, and stopped for brunch at Lowell's, a restaurant that has been serving customers under various names for almost 100 years. With windows overlooking Elliot Bay, you can sit and watch the ferry traffic coming and going from the port below. The restaurant is steps away from the original Starbucks coffee shop, which opened in 1971 in the market.

Lowell's Restaurant and Bar, with photos
Pike Place Market
Starbucks: photo of the original store at Pike Place Market

Time for a parade

Many thousands of people attended the annual Santa Claus parade in downtown Vancouver. The parade featured more than fifty floats, lots of marching bands, and the man who is naturally at the centre of it all, jolly old St. Nicholas.

Sponsored by Rogers, the parade is also a major event for the Greater Vancouver Food Bank. Volunteers collected donations throughout the route. Organizers said the public donated a total of about 4,000 kg of food and raised approximately $18,000 dollars at the event. This will bring a smile to many faces this Christmas season.

Reading the newspaper at the local coffee shop

Here's one of the pleasures of life: casually reading a newspaper in a comfortable chair at a coffee shop. When I saw this woman taking her time with her favourite pages, I must confess I pined for the pre-Internet days, when so many more of us followed the daily ritual of going through the paper. Now it feels like a bit of a luxury, often relegated to weekends and special occasions. Instead, we read electronic headlines, press our thumbs on tiny keyboards and gloss from topic to topic like flat stones skipping along the surface of the water.

Vancouver Public Library

Looking from the corner of Homer and Robson, this is the view of the main entrance of the Vancouver central library. The building, completed in 1995, was designed by renowned architect Moshe Safdie after a referendum and a design competition. According to Wikipedia, it was the largest capital project approved by the City of Vancouver at the time, costing more than 106 million dollars. The curved surfaces and colonnade make it one of the most unique public buildings in Canada. The Library Square project incorporates an office tower, coffee shops and a glass-ceiling galleria. It's a warm and inviting public space, especially on rainy days.

Fairmont Hotel Vancouver

This is the top of the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver, which is located at the corner of West Georgia Street and Burrard Street. It was completed in 1939. Like the other hotels that used to be part of the Canadian National and the Canadian Pacific railway groups, it exhibits old world gentility and an architectural style reminiscent of the French chateaux. It's almost 120 metres high and stands out among the more modern skyscrapers that surround it. At night, the roof is illuminated to create an appealing effect.

Another wet day in Vancouver

November is usually the wettest month in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, and this month is shaping up to be wetter than normal. Already more than 170 mm of precipitation has fallen in the greater Vancouver area and some communities have experienced flooding.

This is a collage of people I watched this morning at the corner of Cambie Street and 8th Avenue. Umbrellas are everyone's best friend these days, and a little rain is not enough to stop weekend shoppers.

Household objects

Due to the weather, my sketching lately has been confined to some common indoor objects.

Even though we often see household items as dull and ordinary, they seem to take on a life of their own when we recreate them on paper.

Still, I'm looking forward to getting outside again soon.

Vancouver City Hall

Located at the corner of Cambie Street and West 12th Avenue, Vancouver City Hall is an imposing building with a spectacular view across False Creek to the north and the densely populated downtown core.

Built in 1936, this 12-storey building exhibits art deco influences. A statue of Captain George Vancouver, in whose honour the city is named, stands near the front of the building near these trees. I will probably return to sketch the statue one of these days.

Under Granville Bridge, Vancouver

Granville Island is a popular Vancouver attraction. From its days as an industrial area, the island was transformed in the 1970s and 1980s into a popular destination for both residents and visitors of the city. A colourful public market offers a plentiful selection of fresh food of all types, while art galleries, pottery studios, a university, waterside restaurants and many different shops give people good reason to stroll the area for hours at a time.

My wife and I stopped for a cappuccino at the Blue Parrot coffee shop under the Granville Bridge, and I couldn't resist taking out my notebook. The view here is looking towards the north shore of False Creek.

A bird surprises a bird watcher

This sketch was inspired by a Life magazine photograph from 1990 by Norbert Rosing.

I had fun doing this some time ago. Drawing is for me a new way to view the world and exercise parts of my mind that I don't use often. I find that drawing or sketching at the end of the day can also be a way to enjoy a zen-like tranquillity where time doesn't seem to matter so much.

More articles at Zanepost.


Getting around by bike is popular in Vancouver. These were resting against a wall outside an outdoor gear supply store.

Trees at Cypress Mountain

I enjoyed sketching these trees on a weekend visit to Cypress Mountain, just outside Vancouver. Cypress is the site of the freestyle skiing and snowboarding events in the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. It's also a richly forested area, with some ancient trees said to be as old as 2,000 years.

The ones I chose to draw are much younger, although one was just a bark shell; but I liked where they stood, in a gully between the road on this side and a stone retaining wall on the far side.

St. Paul's Hospital

As mentioned in Zanepost, this is a view of part of the roof of St. Paul's Hospital on Burrard Street, Vancouver.

Completed in 1894 by the Sisters of Providence, a Catholic women's religious order, the hospital grew throughout the decades into an important research and teaching facility serving the Lower Mainland of British Columbia.

In a city that is largely dominated by modern glass and steel architecture, the hospital stands out as an example of a previous time period. The building caught my eye and so I stopped and drew it from a coffee shop across the street.

Armchair travel

I was riding on the subway in Toronto one day when I saw an advertisement for adventure travel.

The scene reminds me of so many comic strips and graphic novels I used to read as a child. Hugo Pratt's Corto Maltese and the Tintin stories by Herge' come to mind.

Jericho Beach

West of Vancouver's downtown lies the Kitsilano neighbourhood and a great stretch of beaches, which include Jericho, Locarno and the Spanish Banks. These popular beaches attract many people during the warm summer months. Activities include swimming, sailing, biking on the nearby path system, volleyball, kayaking and windsurfing. Some of the beaches are designated as "quiet beaches" (Locarno and Spanish Bank West) where amplified music is not permitted by the municipality.

Another beach is Sunset Beach, closer to the downtown core. See "English Bay" below.

At the airport

Like many people, I enjoy looking at planes when I'm at the airport. I did this drawing while I was awaiting a flight in Toronto a few months ago. Commercial airliners are complex, large machines that take off and land thousands of times without incident. They're a testament to the people who continually strive for improvements in safety, technology and communication on behalf of the travelling public.

Getting by

I was at a fast food restaurant the other day and saw this homeless man catching forty winks in an easy chair. It looked like a comfortable spot. He had finished his drink and dozed off, warm and safe.

The restaurant is in the downtown area of Vancouver and many poor people seem to hang out there in the evening hours.

Florida breezes

A summer memory: we went to the Tampa area earlier this year and one evening dined at this restaurant. The Columbian Restaurant at St. Armands Circle is a wonderful spot for an open-air dinner on a warm evening. It occupies a premier spot in this trendy area on the outskirts of Sarasota. The ocean breeze wafts through from nearby Lido Beach and lots of people come for the dining, art galleries and evening shopping. The character of the Circle can be described as a mix of European and Spanish American influences. It's a great meeting place and a good location to unwind.

Outdoor patio

This was the scene at a restaurant patio in the Yaletown area of Vancouver, earlier in the summer. My wife and I were waiting for an important phone call and I decided to spend the time doing a little sketching. These were some of the people at the nearby tables.

The shade of a large patio umbrella is always a welcome thing.

English Bay

Here's one of my sketches of English Bay from Vancouver's West End.

From this densely populated area of apartment buildings and hotels the view looking out to sea is spectacular, especially at sunset. Tankers arrive from far away ports and wait in the Bay to be called in to the harbour for loading. They have become an integral part of the city's view. At twighlight, they turn their navigation lights on and they twinkle out on the water. The building on the right with the dark ring around it is the Empire Landmark Hotel, which sports a rotating restaurant on the top floor.

According to, the area acquired its name from the 1792 meeting between the British sea captain Vancouver and his Spanish counterparts Valdez and Galiano. The same meeting resulted in the naming of the Spanish Banks nearby, an area which is home to three of Vancouver's best beaches.

False Creek

This is a view looking across False Creek, facing north towards the hockey arena (GM Place) to the Vancouver Lookout tower built on top of the Harbour Centre office complex and the condos downtown.

The odd-looking boat in the foreground is a water taxi that services False Creek.

Grouse Mountain

Hello ! This is where I plan to post my sketches. I've got a lot to learn, but I look forward to having fun at the same time.

This is a sketch from the deck at Grouse Mountain, just above Vancouver