The glories of Marpole are not much bandied about by those who don’t live there; to most, the nail salons and gas pumps that gird Granville Street at the city’s southern extreme are familiar only because of the string of stoplights one idles at while driving to the airport. A recent tour, though, unearthed signs of change. At Characters, the used bookshop, Eleanor reports that “We had to put a lock on the bathroom door because of all the junkies shooting up in there. It was never like that a couple years ago.” Urban signifiers (be they junkies or yuppies) are certainly scouting outward from the downtown core in concentric circles. At 65th, a branch of the townie favourite Bean Around the World has sprouted, and gay couples now share the New York Times with fleece-ensconced grandmothers native to the hood. If Marpole was meant to replace Surrey as the hinterland you don’t want to come from, it’s unlikely to be a joke target for long. A 20-minute bus ride connects this clutch of stucco walk-ups and Vancouver Specials with the city’s high-rise heart.


Kogawa House, 1450 W. 64th Ave.

Despite the best efforts of developers, the childhood home of author Joy Kogawa has been preserved as an abode for writers in residence. The mid-century Tudor building was confiscated and sold during the Second World War, when Kogawa and her family were interned. That experience, and Marpole itself, play heavily in her war novel Obasan.