In the world of real estate, the commonly recited mantra is location, location, location. With this in mind, it is no wonder that people find Dunbar to be one of Vancouver’s most desirable neighbourhoods to call home. Majestic heritage trees line the streets, and ornamental cherry trees display their bursts of colour each spring. Block after block, Dunbar houses are an architectural delight. Parks are abundant, and right on the doorstep is the Grande dame of them all, Pacific Spirit Regional Park, which is a walkers, runners, and dog walkers paradise, in fact, the park welcomes an average of 360,000 dogs per year!
Known for being a safe and quiet community, with the active assistance of the volunteer Dunbar Community Patrol, organized by the Dunbar Residents’ Association, Dunbar is a place where you feel far from the madding crowd. At the same time, it is conveniently close to the University of British Columbia, while being a hop, skip and jump away from downtown Vancouver and the Vancouver International Airport (approximately a 20-minute drive in either direction if you are counting!)
Although businesses have come and gone over the years, Dunbar remains instantly recognizable, with familiar businesses and institutions such as St. George’s School (built in 1912, it was originally Convent of the Sacred Heart), Dunbar Cycles (1927), Stong’s Market (1931), the Dunbar Theatre (1935) and the Dunbar Branch of the Vancouver Public Library (1950) still going strong.
Dunbar is known for its excellent public and private schools. With St. George’s School, Crofton House School, and Immaculate Conception School all in the area, many families have chosen to locate nearby for the quality education their children receive.
A successful community draws people together and makes them feel connected. It can be on a large scale, with organized public events, or on a more intimate level, with block parties scattered throughout Dunbar. The Dunbar Residents’ Association is largely responsible for making Dunbar a better place to live. They promote community spirit; inform residents about important issues that have an impact on the neighbourhood and work to make sure that the views of Dunbar residents are heard at City Hall.
Synonymous with May and spring in Dunbar is Salmonberry Days, a unique month long environmental festival to build awareness of Dunbar’s natural surroundings. The Dunbar Residents’ Association created this brilliant event fourteen years ago and it is going strong. The culminating event of Salmonberry Days is the Salmonberry Days Community Fair at West Memorial Park. This event includes displays, crafts, face painting, and entertainment. Salmonberry Days receives assistance from the Dunbar Community Centre, the Dunbar Village Business Association, the City of Vancouver, and many dedicated volunteers.
The Dunbar Village Business Association (DVBA), which formed in April 2008, and their publication Dunbar Life, have been responsible for shining the spotlight on activities and businesses in the Village. The DVBA organizes special events, which bring Dunbar to life throughout the year. Dunbar Village Harvest Festival, Trick-or-Treat in Dunbar and Dunbar Village for the Holidays are not to be missed.
The Dunbar Village business district includes all businesses and property owners along Dunbar Street from W 16th Avenue to W 41st Avenue and east along W 41st to Collingwood Street. With over 300 shops to choose from, you will find restaurants, coffee shops, bookshops, pet supplies, groceries, clothing shops, bakeries, and a host of services to meet all your needs.
If you are searching for a decadent treat, Butter Baked Goods is the place to go (now located 4907 Mackenzie Street). Butter opened in 2007 but the site has operated as a Dunbar bakery since 1923. Butter creates many divine homemade baked goods, however my daughters always ask for the cupcakes, and they always leave with a big smile, and some frosting, on their faces.
True to its name, The Celtic Treasure Chest carries British imports and deli products, and saves you a trip across the pond if you are hankering for a taste of the United Kingdom.
There is a restaurant to satisfy every craving in Dunbar, from the north to the south end of the Village, including British, Italian, Mexican, Japanese, Chinese, Indian, and Indonesian cuisine. One of the hot spots is Jethro’s Fine Grub with line-ups for their plate sized pancakes and comfort food galore. In coffee crazy Vancouver, a cuppa joe is always close by. Kokopelli Café (with a fantastic children’s play area) and Starbucks are nice spots to slow down and refuel.
Parks are plentiful in the area and include Camosun, Chaldecott, Deering Island, Memorial West, Musqueam, Quadra West and Valdez. Soccer and baseball leagues are active in the community. In the summer heat, you will find children merrily cooling down at Chaldecott Water Park. Pack a picnic basket and enjoy a summer afternoon close to home. This large park features a mix of open soccer fields and treed areas for shade. Balaclava Park is a pleasant place to walk or run. A little park history, the running track was completed in time for the 1954 British Empire Games and served as the number two training facility. The large grassy fields are well used by sports teams, and to the delight of dog owners, it is also has an off-leash section.
Dunbar has easy access to farmland with sister community Southlands straight down the hill, and Southlands Farm is a jewel in the crown. Located on Balaclava Street at W 51st Avenue, they are a small, family and friend run working farm that educates about friendly food systems and provides an opportunity for people of all ages to experience farm life without leaving the City of Vancouver. Education for young farmers, special events, a farmers market, horse riding and a pumpkin patch all make up the magic of Southlands Farm.