The Vancouver Cantonese Opera troupe 燕鳳鳴粵劇團 featuring an almost all-female cast performed a number of Peking Opera acts at the Ron Basford Park in Granville Island on July 08, 2012 as part of the All Over the Map, a series of music and dance performances from around the world as presented by New Works of Vancouver BC.
Dream of The Red Chamber 红楼梦 is one of the most famous Chinese novels written by Cao Xueqin 曹雪芹 that saw its first printed publication in 1791. The sad scene depicted in the video is the Flower Burial Swan Song 葬花吟.
VIDEO – Flower Burial in Red Chamber Dream 红楼梦葬花吟
The Drunken Beauty or Guifei Intoxicated贵妃醉酒 is a famous Peking Opera that tells the story of Yang who throws a banquet for Emperor Xuanzong only to discover that he has gone off to another concubine. Greatly disappointed, Yang gets drunk herself instead.
VIDEO – Imperial Consort Yang Intoxicated 贵妃醉酒
According to legend, Imperial Consort Yang Guifei 杨贵妃 born almost 1400 years ago was one of China’s most beautiful women and was the beloved concubine of Emperor Xuanzong 唐玄宗 of the Great Tang Dynasty. Yang was strangled to death at the age of 37 at the order of Xuanzong as the people demanded her death for being suspected of associated with a rebellion that Yang’s cousin was involved in at the time.
The Drunken Beauty was also one of the most favorite acts of Mei Lan Fong 梅兰芳, China’s greatest opera performer.
Mei, a man, was much appreciated for playing female roles in his time. He also single-handedly brought the art of Beijing Opera to the world stage.
In the 1930s, Mei Lan Fong toured Europe and America and was befriended by many Hollywood greats including Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks. German playwright Bertold Brecht was so taken by Mei’s work that Brecht later incorporated some of Beijing Opera’s techniques into his own work.
Traditionally, the Beijing Opera was an all-men troupe with male actors taking on cross-dressing female roles. Only boys were allowed entry to the academy and tutored under a very strict training system to become opera performers. But time has certainly changed. Since at least the 1960s, during the Cultural Revolution, different female roles of the Beijing Opera were routinely performed by female actors in many highly-charged political plays.
Interestingly, the Vancouver Cantonese Opera, a non-profit organization established in 2000, remains an overwhelmingly all-female troupe today.
Snow in Vancouver, Sunday February 27, 2011 at Robson Square, English Bay and Granville Island.
It is a little ironic that Sunday also happened to be the last day of the season for ice skating fans at Robson Square. To celebrate the occasion, TD Bank held a Winter Carnival that featured live DJ music, ice sculpting and street clowns. There were free coffee and chocolate drinks to go with the free skating for those who brought their own skates. Over at English Bay, the sandy beach was all covered in white, but that didn’t stop some ardent visitors who came to build a snowman or two. As one residents said, “Got to do somthing.” At Granville Island, cars parks were filled to 90% capacity. Many were enticed by the all-year round fresh seafood and vegetables, much of it from local suppliers.
Snow in other parts of Canada often turns into a headache for those who live in the city, but not in Vancouver. Much of the snow has already to began to melt in 24 hours as temperatures stayed a few degrees above freezing. VIDEO – 2011 snow in Vancouver Robson Square, English Bay & Granville ISland
1689 Johnston Street, Granville Island, Vancouver BC
Samgo-Mu uses three drums hanging on three sides of a wooden frame and this ancient Asian Three Drum Dance has become so popular that it is now an official part of Korean culture. This performance of the traditional Korean drum dance was performed on July 11, 2010 in Vancouver’s Granville Island as part of the All Over the Map 2010 dance series which is partially sponsored by Canadian Heritage.
Granville Island, 1218 Cartwright St, Vancouver BC
‘So Go’ means small drums in this Korean dance ensemble. Video has the finale of the Fan Dance of Royalty at the end. Don’t miss that. Choreographed by the Vancouver Korean Dance Society, this Korean dance performance on July 11, 2010 was part of the All Over The Map dance series organized by New Works and held in Vancouver’s Granville Island at Ron Basford Park. All Over The Map is supported by Canadian Heritage, Canada Council for the Arts, City of Vancouver among other organizations.
Ron Basford Park, 1218 Cartwright St, Vancouver BC
CANADA DAY PARADE. 7PM. East on Georgia Street then Hornby and onto Dunsmuir. Finish 8PM at Thurlow and Melville. 2010 OLYMPIC CAULDRON. Will be relit at Vancouver Convention Centre plaza. CANADA PLACE. 10AM-7PM. RCMP Mounties, music, shows, performances etc. CANADA DAY FIREWORKS. 10:30PM. Burrard Inlet. Two barges: one at Coal Harbor, the other off the shore of Dundarave, West Vancouver. Good places to watch include the downtown waterfront, Canada Place (ticket sales available), Stanley Park (both east and west side), UBC, Kitsilano, and locations throughout North and West Vancouver with a direct sightline of water. Fireworks viewing not available at English Bay. CANADA DAY GRANVILLE ISLAND. 8AM-11PM. Parade, music, family entertainment and more. YALETOWN GRAND PRIX BIKE RACE. 1PM. Starts at Mainland and Nelson and winds through Helmecken, Hamilton, Davie, Homer streets.
Look up the ROAD CLOSED MAP and plan your Canada Day celebration in Vancouver. For example, much of Georgia Street in downtown from 3PM—8PM will be closed to traffic for the parade.
Vancouver’s Olympic Line streetcar has a demonstration run between Granville Island and the Olympic Village station during the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Many who had taken advantage of the free ride were smitten. So when the trail ended its 60-day run on Mar 21, 2010, many were left with a sense of nostalgia and yearned for the Olympic Line to return. But the two Bombardier Flexity streetcars were promptly returned to Belgium where they came from. Although streetcars are much less expensive than a Skytrain system, the Olympic Line even with its short distance of just 1.8 km still requires a capital cost of $90 million to operate. At a time when Translink is diligently looking for $400 million to cover the cost of building the expected Evergreen Line, spending any extra dollar in maintaining the Olympic Line which may not see much passengers when the line may no longer be free as during the trial is not a very convincing proposition. However, there might be some other ways to make it work.
So what is so good about the Bombardier Flexity Olympic Line Streetcar?
Urban railcar system is one of the world’s most sustainable mode of transportation. It enables lower energy consumption, decrease land usage, less congestion, fewer accidents and greater accessibility for all passengers. Modern electric streetcar or a magnetic levitation railcar system like Vancouver’s Skytrain are sustainable forms of transportation. Bombardier Transportation claimed its rail car systems, such as the Flexity line used in the Vancouver trail “actively maximizing the environmental benefits of rail travel”. They are built on four “cornerstones: energy, efficiency, economy, ecology.” That is why the company had the message “The Climate is Right For Trains” printed on the sides of the two Olympic Line streetcars for use in Vancouver. Physical and functional attractive features of the streetcar are low floor entry (even wheelchair riders or small children could easily get on with a minimal effort) and large windows which invite riders to look out the window to not only enjoy the view but also check out the street scene and the shops that are along the streets. Sure beats driving in which your mainly concentration is on the road. That is why it is well-known that streetcars promote street life and stimulate commercial development of the areas where they serve. The Olympic Line streetcar also traveled at a slow and leisurely speed which was intentionally way under what the streetcar was capable of. For a fast and efficient way of getting from one place to another, there is the Skytrain system which Bombardier also manufactures. The system was built to coincide with Expo 86. The Vancouver’s World’s Fair which has two major themes, transportation and communication.
The Olympic Line Streetcar Has Heritage Values in Vancouver
The city of Vancouver was incorporated in 1886 and the first electric streetcar came into service in 1890, according to Heather Conn’s book Vancouver’s glory years: public transit, 1890-1915. The Vancouver streetcar played a critical role in helping the city to expand and grow. In the beginning, there was only a single line of service for Main St., Chinatown, Gastown and what is now downtown Vancouver on Granville Street. Then came the Interurban lines in the early 1900s which connected the city core to outlaying areas in Steveston, Burnaby, Surrey, Abbortsford etc. Two of these Interurban trains were preserved and restored which The Downtown Historic Railway used as a tourist streetcar service between Granville Island and Science World every summer. The 2010 Olympic Line streetcar also used this same line after the city spent $8 million improving the tracks. One of the original trams, the Interurban bus #1207 was actually built for use in 1905 connecting Marpole and Steveston. Two months after the 2010 Olympic Line finished its run, currently there is no word on when The Downtown Historic Railway will return to service again. That brings us the interesting question of heritage values of streetcars. It is not just the Good Old Days way of thinking. As mentioned earlier, streetcars were almost as old as the city of Vancouver itself. These electric trams not only enabled commerce by moving people from their homes to their place of work, especially the line that had daily runs from Marpole to Steveston where the BC fishery industry was. But for those who could afford to have a more leisurely lifestyle, the streetcar was also a convenient way to get shoppers from one specialty store to another. For those reasons and some intangible ones, streetcars have become a symbol of city development and community building. That is where its heritage value comes in and rightfully earned plenty of nostalgia in the hearts of many who had the streetcar as part of their lives growing up in Vancouver. The last of the Vancouver streetcars ceased their operation in when the rubber tires hit the road literally in the late 1950s.
Vancouver’s Granville Island Could be San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf
Much like San Francisco’s Nob Hill and Fisherman’s Wharf, Vancouver’s downtown core is where a streetcar system like the Olympic Line could really shine. A run from the Granville Island to Olympic Village then to Science World, Chinatown, Gastown, Coal Harbor and finally ending at Chilco St. in Stanley Park with a possible sideway track to Yaletown truly make sense. Streetcars for the Arbutus Corridor would someday become a reality too pending on more commercial and residential real estate development. Although right now, there is a great deal of sentiments regarding the return of the streetcar to the Kitsilano, Arbutus, Marpole and Kerrisdale areas.
So what is the official line?
Recently, Gregor Robertson, the Mayor of Vancouver, indicated that the city’s transportation priority should be on the Broadway Corridor. It s hard to argue with that as that is a much more heavily trafficed route. Furthermore, he said, funding opportunities for the Olympic Line simply do not exist at the present time. Mr. Robertson also stated that “it will take years to bring back” the Olympic Line, likely after the Evergreen Line is operational in 2014.
Alternative ways to support the Olympic Line
Some have suggested that to make the Olympic Line sustainable, corporate sponsorship, naming rights and other creative ways to fund the project could be worked out. As a transportation service line, it might have limited use. But as a tourist attraction, corporate marketing tool, or a nostalgic object of desire, this streetcar could have a much bigger role to play for the community. I think in the long run, the streetcar in Vancouver would become a reality, or at least it should, especially the Granville Island to Stanley Park route. The extension to UBC would possibly be better served via a faster light rail mode of transportation. If the Olympic Line were to become a more immediate reality, some creative thinking and partnership and marketing skills could make that happen. Personally, I do like to see that as a quicker fact, instead of waiting for some other factors like the Evergreen Line or the Broadway Corridor transit to determine its fate. Of course, the Olympic Line would be fully integrated into the overall transit network but it could stand on its own as it has enough potentials that can be exploited by those who know how. Ultimately, whichever way the streetcar line may end up, to be successful, this sleek guided-by-rail and on-the-street transit vehicle would have to focus more on being a streetcar named desire than merely a transportation vehicle. In other words, the Olympic Line could have a greater value in serving a different clientele than those who are looking for a quick way to go from A to B.
Just as units of the Olympic Village are being put up for sale, another piece of waterfront real estate belonging to the Squamish Nation is being developed in Vancouver’s Burrard Bridge south. The development is still in a very preliminary stage, with more details coming in 10 months to a year. However, initial drawings done by Kasian Architecture, the firm that was responsible for the YVR airport Canada Line station, indicated that it might contain towers that could be as high as 35 storeys. The Squamish Nation reclaimed the traditional land that their ancestors were living on after the B.C. Court of Appeal ruled in 2002 that the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) should return the land to the native band. CPR took the land from what was known as the Coastal Salish people back in 1886 and 1902 for the construction of the railway. The native population living there at the time was uprooted and relocated to the Northshore with their dwellings and whatever was left behind totally destroyed. Then in the 1980s, the railway company offered the property for sale which triggered the current reversal of ownership.
It is an odd-shaped piece of property with Whyte St. in the NW, the Molson Brewery in the SW and the Falsecreek shoreline in the NE with a southern section of the Burrard Bridge cut right through it before the bridge itself merged with Cornwall Ave. Standing tall in the land right now is a large 30 ft (w) x 10 ft (h) LED billboard on the west side of the Burrard Bridge that has drawn quite a bit of controversy a few months back when it was erected. The Squamish Nation receives revenue from the sale of advertising space on the billboard in a 30-year agreement with Astral Media Outdoor.
The land which is located at the western tip of the Granville Island and Falsecreek was appraised in 2002 at about $20 million. Yet when fully developed, the 8.67-acre land will carry a price tag as much as $1 Billion. Squamish Nation intends to become a developer this time around instead playing the traditional role of being a leaser of real estate. It will have a mix of residential and commercial towers. Furthermore, the land will be developed to Squamish Nation’s specification which does not require city approval since it is rested on native land, though water and sewage would still have to be provided by the city. On Monday May 17, 2010, Mayor Gregor Robertson of the city of Vancouver and Chief Gibby Jacob of Squamish Nation signed a memorandum of understanding and protocol agreement. This MOU was not specifically created to deal with the development project, but rather called for both sides to set up a steering committee to meet at once a year to discuss economic development, tourism and environmental issues. Gibby Davis said that one of the objectives of the Burrard land development is to provide aboriginal youths with housings before they become elders. Currently, 60% of Squamish Nation population is 25 or under.
All that brings into sharp focus the future of the Olympic Line streetcar which has a trial run during the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games. At the time, two streetcars were borrowed from Belgium for the test and operated between Granville Island and the Olympic Village station on the Canada Line for 2 months. But even back then, the grand vision for this eco-friendly form of transportation (the streetcar ran on electricity) was to extend it from Granville Island all the way to Stanley Park and may also one day revived the streetcar system that once traveled from the city’s Kitsilano area to Steveston in Richmond BC via the Arbutus Corridor. For now, all of that remain a dream as the city put the streetcar plan on hold after spending $8 million to upgrade the test tracks. This was not to say that the Olympic Line streetcar test was not a success. It was. In 60 days, the two streetcars carried more than 550,000 passengers and made 13,000 one-way trips without a single reported problem. Globally, about 100 cities have decided to go with the Bombardier streetcar system including the city of Toronto which had ordered 204 of them for the TTC (Toronto Transit Commission.) Yet, Vancouver decided to wait and see. The obvious reason is that Vancouver still needs to have more real estate development to bring more people to live in the various Falsecreek and adjacent areas in order to make the streetcar a truly sustainable people-mover. The question for now is will this Squamish Burrard land development be enough to kick-start the plan to put the Bombardier Flexity streetcar back into gear so it can move on to its destined future?
Squamish Nation is developing this land at Burrard Bridge south
Part of the Squamish development will go around this condos building
Waterfront view of Granville Island from the development site
Currently, under the Burrard Bridge is where some dragon boats are stored
The Burrard land also has this Squamish LED billboard on it (displaying a Sex and The City 2 movie ad)
The Burrard land also has the old CP rail track that was used for the Arbutus Corridor
The Arbutus Corridor today. The streetcar line once linked up Vancouver’s West End and Steveston, Richmond BC
Vancouver Bombardier Olympic Line streetcar on test during the 2010 Olympics
First Day riders of the Vancouver Olympic Line streetcar