Stroll down Commercial Drive - Vancouver

notes from Jenavieve


I'm going to tell you a story, which you might find funny.  Last week Mom and Dad had an urge to visit Commercial Drive.  In their day it was known as the Italian district of Vancouver, and they wanted to see what it was like now.  Apparently Dad used to take Mom out to an Italian Restaurant called "Il Corsaro", and the owner always gave each lady a red rose.  Mom brought that up because Dad hasn't given her long-stem roses since they first dated over 20 years ago.

Anyway, we got there around 1:30 in the afternoon, thinking we'd have lunch.  It looked like the perfect place.  I've never seen so many food places.  There must've been two dozen coffee houses alone.  Mom was set.  Dad however had a craving for a Reuben sandwich with sauerkraut.  We found out, after the umpteenth deli, that Italians don't eat Reuben sandwiches with sauerkraut.  It was only after Dad settled for a Donair that we stumbled across "La Grotta," a deli selling custom-made sandwiches!  In the meantime Coleman and I discovered ice-cream heaven at "Dolce D'Amore."  Talk about yummy or what.  Too bad I couldn't talk Mom into more than one scoop.

Anyway, at least we got lunch out of the way, and could turn our attention to more serious business - shopping.  The only problem is once you weed out the restaurants, delis, coffee shops, pastry shops, and produce markets there isn't much left.  We did find one whole toy store, but it didn't last long.  Then there was an expensive shoe store called "Kaleena's," but Mom said, "window shopping only."  What fun is that?  "Dad took me into a shop called "Spank", which believe it or not is a ladies clothing store.  He said it was called "Spank" because all parents were allowed to spank their kids there.  Yah right Dad.

Nate would have liked the bike shop.  Too bad for him, he didn't come with us.  Nathan wants a new bike, one with full suspension.  Lucky me, I get his hand-me-down (again).  He tells me it's still in perfect condition, but I hear him tell Mom and Dad it's a piece of junk.

Dad said some of the shops on Commercial Drive sent him back to the 70's, because they burned incense and sold hippy-look-alike clothes.  That's over 30 years ago.  I can't imagine what it was like being alive that long ago.  Mom described Commercial Drive as "eclectic," a little bit of everything.

I think the biggest fun my little brother Coleman had was at Britannia Community Centre.  Talk about huge.  It has everything: swimming pool, skating rink, playground, skateboarding park and that's not all.  Dad said even my grandfather went to Britannia High School.  Judging by how much grey hair Dad has, that must've been a long, long time ago.

Age group:

I would say Commercial Drive is more interesting to big people.  Coleman was just getting into all kinds of trouble until we hit the park.  Mom, on the other hand was totally in her element - food, food, and more food.

Expense rating:

I suppose if you actually bought a pair of Italian shoes, you could spend lots of money.  The restaurants we checked out though were quite reasonable.  Dad's Donair was only $3.50.  Mom spent about 30 minutes in "La Grotta Delicatessen," buying olive oil and balsamic vinegar at bargain prices.  And Mom said the produce markets were cheaper than in our neighbourhood.  I mean who can resist eggplant at 69 cents a pound ?!


Ya know, sometimes I get bored of going to the same old stores in the same old neighbourhood.  It was kind of neat to bust out of our box and see something different.  Mom said Commercial Drive is a melting pot of people from all over.  The restaurants and stores are like that too.  You can buy Greek donairs, Indian Samosas, Mexican Chimichangas, and of course Italian pizza and ice-cream, all within 5 small blocks.  So, if you're in the mood for something "different," try Commercial Drive.  You may not find a Reuben sandwich, but I'm sure you'll see something to tickle your taste buds.


To tell you the truth, I thought Commercial Drive was a big yawner.  I mean what kid is gonna get excited about eggplant and olive oil?  The joy of one toy store doesn't last long.  My advice to big people is not to stray too far from the playground.


Commercial Drive is a long street so you want to make sure you go to the right part.  The shopping area that we went to is between Venables and 3rd Avenue.  You can get to that spot a whole bunch of ways.  We went along Hastings Street, and turned south on Commercial Drive.  It's only a few blocks away.

Websites:  and


East Vancouver


Commercial Drive is definitely the type of place you want to visit when it's dry.  There are no indoor malls so you'd get wet for sure if it rained

Educational highlights:

Did you know Commercial Drive was once known as Little Italy, because so many Italian people lived there?  It still today has an Italian flavor, but it's watered down quite a bit.

Fun for the adult?:

Mom can hardly wait to go back and get another 6 bottles of olive oil.  Dad wants to continue his search for the Reuben sandwich.  All I can say is I hope I don't get like them when I grow up.