Learn about our newest Sins of the City walking tour in Vancouver with Tour Guide Catherine Driver!
Our Sins of the City Walking Tours are in full swing this summer, and we’re excited to get an inside look at our newest addition: Soul Food and Shotguns. This is an immersive walking tour that unearths the fascinating history of behind Vancouver’s ethnic communities in the Strathcona district.
Get the inside scoop on what to expect on this 90-minute walk, and see why these areas are so culturally important to our city.
Q: What is the name of the tour you lead?
CD: Soul Food and Shotguns
Q: What are some of the most fascinating aspects of the Soul Food and Shotguns Tour?
CD: Vancouver’s African-Canadian community was such an important part of our city’s history. Most Vancouverites are not aware of the role the African-Canadians played here due to the displacement of their neighbourhood when the viaducts were built, so it is exciting to highlight their stories and contributions in this tour. We are also in an interesting time in our city in terms of development and gentrification, so it is fascinating to take a walk around Strathcona, a historically multi-cultural and working-class neighbourhood, and see how all of this is affecting this part of the city. I find tour guests have been really keen to participate in discussions about this topic.
Nora Hendrix as featured on a commemorative stamp celebrating African-Canadian history and Hogan’s Alley. Learn about Nora and her relation to Jimmy Hendrix during our Soul Food and Shotguns Tour.
Q: Which areas of Vancouver do you explore on this tour? What is one of the best landmarks and why?
CD: We explore the streets of Strathcona. I think this is Vancouver’s most colourful and interesting neighbourhood. My favourite landmark on this tour is the Fountain Chapel which was the heart and soul of the African-Canadian community for decades. It’s such a beautiful building and it is really fun to imagine all of the worship, meetings, gatherings, music and potlucks that happened behind those doors.
Q: Most tours highlight captivating characters or famed Vancouverites from eras gone by–who is your favourite and why?
CD: Nora Hendrix is my favourite character on this tour. She was not only Jimi Hendrix’s grandmother, but an amazing leader and activist in her own right. I love a strong woman! We also talk about some bad boys and girls because it is a Police Museum tour after all! The baddies are always fun too.
Q: What are some interesting facts you’ve learned by leading this tour?
CD: Just like many locals, I had no idea about the African-Canadian history of Vancouver, but in researching it, I believe it’s such an important story that needs to be told. It’s been so interesting to learn about the role the community played in the railways, and how that really grew the community here. I also was not aware of how involved they have been with the new development which will be happening in the neighbourhood once the viaducts come down. It’s very exciting to think that the community could once again have a strong presence in this part of Vancouver if things go according to plan.
Q: What do customers usually say about the tour after walking through it?
CD: Because this tour features both old and recent events and places, many guests are familiar with the places I talk about (especially the nightclubs and the VPD Dry Squad doing patrols) and the neighbourhood itself and love sharing their personal stories–I love that. Many tour guests have also never explored Strathcona and love the colourful houses and how pretty the neighbourhood is.
Q: Why should people take this tour?
CD: Many of us are familiar with the popular stories of certain communities in our city, like the Chinese and First Nations communities, and this tour explores another community that hasn’t been as talked about. And a wal