While travelling in Kenya, teatime became one of our favourite activities. Whether we were at our hotel in Nairobi on a cloudy day or watching hippos by the Mara River under the blazing hot sun, the locals always offered us a cup of tea. We have had our share of tea around the world, but there was something about Kenya's tea that made even the most loyal coffee drinker (Will) start drinking tea.

When we returned to Vancouver we searched everywhere for a tea that tasted like what we had in Kenya. After trying (what seemed like) a hundred different types of tea, we came across JusTea, a Vancouver owned company that prides itself on selling justly made Kenyan tea.  

JusTea started in 2012 when Vancouverite Grayson Bain travelled from Vancouver to Kenya in search of local entrepreneurs with businesses that were benefitting their immediate community. While in southwestern Kenya, he formed an instant connection with tea farmers in the Nandi Hills community. Grayson and his son Paul saw an opportunity to empower these tea farmers by creating a market to sell their tea leaves at a price that supported the needs of the community. Although Kenya is the world's largest exporter of tea, accounting for approximately 95% of the world's tea production, the farmers and pluckers working the tea fields and picking the leaves for buyers receive 20-30 cents a day. 

The Bains' partnered with Boaz Katah and his family from Nandi Hills. The Katah family was granted a 'Cottage Factory License' from the Tea Board of Kenya, allowing them to process their tea on site rather than selling the green tea leaves to a large corporation at unfair prices.  The 'cottage' nature of their processing plant means much of the work is done by hand or very simple machines in a small building. Unlike larger tea processing plants that cut and tear the tea leaves, the 'cottage' process maintains the whole leaf creating a richer and fuller flavour. JusTea currently employs 8 tea workers at the tea cottage, 30 people to hand-pluck leaves in the garden, and over 10 small-scale tea growers. They are committed to paying sustainable wages and investing in these rural communities.

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While on holiday in Bermuda, we developed a bit of an addiction to Barritt's Ginger Beer, a ginger soft drink that has been bottled in Bermuda since 1874. Unfortunately for us Canadians, it's only available outside Bermuda in the United States and the Caribbean. Upon returning to Vancouver, we started scouring the city for something that could replace our beloved ginger drink. We had just about given up on finding a ginger beer that tasted like something other than sugar, when we discovered Dickie's Ginger. 

Dickie's is the creation of  Vancouverite Stephen Tufts. Originally from the Okanagan, Stephen moved to Vancouver in 2012 after previously leaving his job as a software engineer to bicycle around Asia. Upon returning to Canada, Stephen wanted to do something that would contribute to the urban fabric, bringing people and their city together. Knowing of a successful ginger beer company in Seattle, Stephen started his crusade to create Vancouver's perfect ginger beer. 

After four months of trial and error, Stephen had found a recipe he was happy with and Dickie's was created. In 2014, Stephen started selling his product at Farmers Markets, carefully watching peoples' faces for feedback. By 2015, he had started bottling the product and distributing it around Vancouver. The recipe consists of three ingredients: real ginger, real lemon, and real organic cane sugar. The result is a drink that perfectly balances the taste of ginger and lemon, with a hint of sweetness. In addition to the original flavour, Stephen makes three additional flavours each week. All the batches are made weekly for maximum freshness. Due to the nature of cold pressed, unpasteurized juice, each batch good for up to four weeks.

Dickies Ginger is still sold at Farmers Markets (check the website for dates and locations). It is also available at stores and restaurants / bars in Vancouver, West Vancouver, North Vancouver, New Westminster, and Squamish (check the website for locations). Some places will even fill a growler - that's a lot of Dark 'N' Stormys.  

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Do you remember the days when you could buy an ice cream from a guy with a bicycle? Well, Johnny's Pops has taken that nostalgic idea and has given it a twist, selling popsicles made from locally sourced ingredients from the front of a bicycle he retrofitted himself.

Johnny grew up in Agassiz and made the big move to Vancouver in 2010. One day, he was inspired by someone in Atlanta making popsicles with interesting flavours. So, Johnny retrofitted a bicycle to hold a cooler for 100 popsicles, found some warehouse space with a kitchen, and in May 2013, Johnny's Pops was born.

The popsicle flavours are largely a result of trial and error. What started as an attempt to recreate ice cream flavours has moved to create unique and mouth-wateringly good popsicles. Flavours include raspberry lime, coconut, apricot salted caramel, and creamy strawberry lemonade. The fruit is largely sourced from Krause Berry Farms in Langley, which has been in operation for over 40 years.

Johnny reckons he has made more than 60,000 popsicles since 2013, which have been devoured everywhere from the Food Cart Fest, to the Vancouver Farmers Market, Khatsahlano, and at private catering functions. This year, Johnny will also be at the Vancouver Folk Music Festival, which in itself is a good reason to go. The popsicles are also sold at retail locations including Welk's General Store (3511 Main Street), Gigi Blin and soon at the Dirty Apron (540 Beatty Street).

So the next time you're craving something good (and cold) on a hot day, use the Vancouver Street Food App to find Johnny - he'll be the guy with the striped shirt and really really good popsicles. 

See more here



Vancouverites have a complex relationship with the city in which we live. We boast about the lush, green forests, but we complain about the rain that feeds them. We tell stories of long summer days filled with hiking and biking, forgetting that it is cloudy and wet for two thirds of the year. Westerly Goods was founded on this complex relationship as motivation to eliminate rain delays through good quality, well designed goods to encourage year-round adventures.

Duncan Gillespie and Bryan Pudney cofounded Westerly Goods in 2012 and launched their first umbrellas in winter of 2014. People living outside a temperate rain forest may not understand the importance of a good umbrella. But to Duncan and Brian, the perfect umbrella was a function of good quality and design to create a We(s)t Coast necessity. Westerly umbrellas include flexible, fibreglass ribs to bend in the wind, fabric prevents and rosettes to cover the sharp parts that can rip through the fabric, a wooden handle for a true west coast flavour. The designs achieve their goal of being beautiful - they are unique and eye-catching, with something for everyone. All these elements combine to create an umbrella that is not only functional but also hard to leave behind. 

And if holding an umbrella isn't your thing, Westerly also creates water-resistant headwear for those times when your adventure requires both hands.

W: westerlygoods.com



If you've been following us here or on social media, you'll know how excited we were for last week's Fall for Local. Organized by the amazing Kelly Turner, Fall for Local has been helping Vancouver's entrepreneurs connect for three years now. This year, Kelly added a daytime forum to the annual Pop Up Shop Soirée. We were fortunate enough to attend both, which not only gave us some great ideas for The Local Visitor, but also gave us the opportunity to connect with some amazing local entrepreneurs and businesses.

From 12-5pm, a group of entrepreneurs / entrepreneurs-in-the-making / interested people gathered at Heritage Hall to make new connections, collaborate, and listen to other entrepreneurs talk about their paths to success. They discussed everything from being an entrepreneur, to where to find funding, tips for visual media, and the importance of buying local (something we fully encourage!). 

The place was then transformed for The Pop Up Shop Soirée, which showcased some of Vancouver's established and emerging local shops and entrepreneurs. This portion of the day was open to the public, so watch out for it next year if you missed this year's! We met more great people doing more great things, and are looking forward to showcasing some of those great people and things here in the future.

Go here for a list of the speakers and businesses involved with the forum portion of Fall for Local, and here for some of the local businesses that showcased their stuff at The Pop Up Shop Soirée!

All week long we are collaborating with Fall For Local to feature 5 local businesses that will be participating at the Fall for Local event on October 22.  You can read a new post each day during this Week of Local on the Fall for Local blog.


Up until a few years ago, we might have convinced you that Vancouver was still bound by the principles that were put in place during the prohibition. The recent changes to liquor laws, however, have been slowly modernizing the province’s alcohol consumption. This has brought on the recent proliferation of microbreweries, which have been popping up all over Vancouver. More recently, micro-distilleries have been taking advantage of this growing interest in local, small-scale production.

Located in North Vancouver, the Sons of Vancouver is one such distillery, which is dedicated to making good quality, local spirits. Cofounders Richard Klaus and James Lester are originally from Northern British Columbia, where they started learning to brew their own beer in junior high. After a series of events that included early “retirement” and traveling through Mexico, they relocated to Vancouver and decided to open a distillery together. They interned at distilleries in Washington and Portland until they were confident they knew enough to open their own.

After taking over a North Vancouver space in March 2014, the pair started a crowd-funding campaign on Indiegogo to outfit their tasting room. They officially opened their doors in February 2015, with a fully outfitted tasting room where they offer samples of their three products: amaretto, vodka, and chili vodka.

Amaretto No. 82 is named after the 81 failed attempts that came before it, and is the first craft amaretto in North America (that they know of). The pair like the simplicity of old fashioned drinks (like the Old Fashioned), but thought it could be done a little differently. Their amaretto is sweetened with Demerera, BC blackberry honey simple syrup, and a combination of apricot kernels, Bourbon vanilla beans and orange peel. If your mouth isn’t already watering, it pairs so perfectly with ice cream that they teamed up with Earnest Ice Cream to create the Cherry Amaretto Sundae.

Their vodka is equally original, made with BC spring wheat, malted barley and fermented with champagne yeast. The result is a smooth vodka unlike any other you’ve previously tried at your local bar. Finally, if you’re really adventurous (or like to make really good Ceasars), try the Chili Vodka – it’s infused with Thai Dragon chilies and carries enough punch to really wake you up in the morning (or afternoon, or evening…).

The Sons of Vancouver Tasting Room is open Saturday and Sunday from 1:00 to 7:00pm. If you’re not looking to cross the bridge though, their products are available all over the city – check out their website for locations. 

We’re excited to let you know that we are collaborating with Fall for Local to feature five local businesses that will be part of the Fall for Local event on October 22nd. Starting today, the Fall for Local blog will post a different featured write up each day this week. Head over to fallinlovewithlocal.com/blog to see who we’ve been talking to.

Fall for Local was started by Kelly Turner in Ottawa in 2012 to promote local businesses and encourage collaboration between them. Kelly moved to Vancouver in 2012 and noticed that, despite all the local initiatives in the city, there was no promotion of knowledge sharing and cross collaboration. She teamed up with Pound & Grain, a local digital creative agency, and reached out to local businesses to participate in the city’s inaugural event. It has since grown from an evening soirée into a one-day networking and collaboration event.

This year’s event starts at noon on October 22nd at Heritage Hall (3102 Main Street) with a knowledge sharing “conference” that will feature a panel discussion, a hands-on workshop session, locally sourced snacks and goodies, prizes, an interactive photobooth, and more. A ticket also gets you access to the Pop Up Soirée, a showcase of some of Vancouver’s new and established shops and entrepreneurs. Tickets are $75 before October 8th ($95 after) and are available at fallinlovewithlocal.com


Heritage preservation in Vancouver recently came back to the forefront with the ongoing review of the Heritage Action Plan. Vancouverites have been lamenting the destruction of some of the city’s oldest homes, often replaced by large, characterless construction that seems out of place with the remaining streetscape. Despite our appreciation for the city’s built heritage, most Vancouverites are can identify with the saying ‘familiarity breeds contempt’ - we walk along city blocks without truly understanding how the streetscapes and neighbourhoods that we are trying to protect came to be.

Except John Atkin, whose familiarity with Vancouver’s neighbourhoods has bred insight and a deep appreciation for the city’s streetscapes and heritage conservation.

John grew up in Victoria, surrounded by conversations about heritage, architecture, and city planning. When he moved to Vancouver for art school, he realized there was little awareness of Vancouver’s history and how that had affected the built form. In 1991 John co-founded the Heritage Vancouver Society with Michael Kluckner, an independent heritage advocacy group dedicated to “Creating a Future for Vancouver’s Heritage”  (Heritage Vancouver Society). John also offers heritage walking tours, which are extraordinarily insightful and interesting – he is a walking repository of information and can tell you something interesting about almost every house on the block (check out his website for the next tour date).

We were fortunate enough to have John give us a walking tour of the Grandview-Woodland neighbourhood, and while we learned lots about a neighbourhood that we thought we already knew well, what we really got was a new way of looking at our streetscapes. Heritage preservation is about more than conserving perfectly restored houses with all the quintessential architectural elements. It’s about understanding how history has influenced a streetscape, the growth of a neighbourhood, and the landscape of the city.

The eastern boundary of the Grandview-Woodland neighbourhood is at Nanaimo Street (everything east of Nanaimo Street was the Hastings Townsite which didn’t join the city until 1912). Investors in the area thought the advent of the Nanaimo Street streetcar would help open up the area, but with limited service on a single track development in this area lagged behind that centred around Commercial Drive’s Interurban streetcar line. Instead, development around Nanaimo Street came gradually, though the School board did construct Lord Nelson Elementary School at Charles Street and Garden Drive, which opened in 1911.

Development in Grandview-Woodland occurred in waves, which is evident in the character of the streetscape. Looking along Charles Street, the Arts and Crafts and Edwardian homes were built by small-scale builders prior to the start of the depression in 1913. John is an expert at describing the events and people involved in shaping the neighbourhood. He has researched the history of Grandview-Woodland, as well as most other neighborhoods in Vancouver, with a level of rigour that would rival that of a crime detective. With this knowledge, John describes different urban planning phenomena such as the large retaining walls that hold back the front lawns of several houses. These are a byproduct of the city levelling the street grades and therefore lowering the elevation of the land in front of existing homes. The walls were constructed to prevent the homes from tumbling into the new road. John also describes the history behind street names, such as Kitchener Street, known as Bismarck Street prior to World War I. Residents living on Bismarck Street demanded that the German name of their street be changed to something that showed their support of the British Empire. The evidence of this name change can still be seen on the sidewalk where city labourers removed the concrete embossed with Bismarck and replaced it with Kitchener.

The Canadian Pacific Railway was instrumental in shaping Vancouver west of Ontario Street – as the developers, the company was able to lay down a comprehensive grid system and prescribe things like setbacks and building height. East of Ontario Street, however, the road layout developed organically, as development occurred at different times and by small-scale builders. As a result, the grid system is arbitrary in some areas with roads dead-ending at what was formerly a field or orchard. The small-scale developers that first built in the neighbourhood typically owned enough land to construct two or three houses and repeated the design to save money. Today, these "house twins" are often disguised by nearly one hundred years of renovations. However, John is quick to point out the similarities in the windows, the design of the roof line, and the layout of the front porch. One developer built eight homes along Lakewood Drive using the same plan. Today, however, their likeness is almost indistinguishable. 

Building largely stopped until after World War I, at which time infill houses were built around the previous developments. Vancouver Specials popped up in the 1960s, followed by another surge of new buildings in the 1990s. While some might overlook this patchwork streetscape, John showed us how this lack of consistency has created the neighbourhood’s character (though arguably some houses have more character than others). Hundred year old homes that have been painted in vibrant colours and smaller infill modern homes that recall the vernacular architecture of the area are a new phenomena that allow the neighborhood to evolve and remain liveable.  It seems that the historical houses and planning anomalies have fostered a neighbouhood that is active, engaged, and forward-thinking.  This is seems to be the true value of heritage and neighbourhood preservation.

John offers several other walking tours, which can be found on his website.  They are each as fascinating as the last for both visitors and locals and are, in our opinion, the only way to learn the true history behind the city. The next time you are wandering down a city street, take some time to look at how the neighbourhood developed around transit, schools, and economic forces. Not only does each house have its own story, so too does each street.


Vancouverites are unapologetically proud of their city and display their affection at every opportunity in any way possible, from sports paraphernalia to Van City t-shirts to bottles of 'I Love Van' water. The Vancouver Candle Company (VCC) has developed a completely different (and arguably much more sophisticated) way of displaying their love - through candles.

The company started in 2014 as an alternative to the chemical-infused candles that could be found in stores. Instead of paraffin, lead, and chemicals to create their candles, the Vancouver Candle Company uses soy-based wax and 100% cotton wicks. They use perfume-grade fragrance oils to create their scents, and look for locally-sourced materials as much as possible. Even after all this, their candles still stack up to the alternatives - VCC's candles burn for 60 hours and won't force you into debt.

Each candle is carefully handcrafted by Nick Rabuchin in their 150 square foot studio in Mount Pleasant. Nick produces the candles in batches of 50, numbering and signing each box (which he also folds). It truly is a labour of love!

To date, Vancouver Candle Company has six scents: Gastown (also known as the 'mandle' for its musky leather and tobacco scent), Mount Pleasant, Fairview, Strathcona, Point Grey, and Kitsilano. The company chose to name the candles after some of their favourite neighbourhoods to set themselves apart from the candle-naming trend of flowery names. The boxes are also beautifully designed with geometric patterns in bright colours, allowing them to stand out from the traditional white and ivory packaging. 

The candles are available in stores in Gastown, South Granville, Kitsilano and may other neighbourhoods across the Lower Mainland. Vancouver Candle Company also sell their candles from their website making it easy to have your house to smell like Vancouver, even if you live somewhere else. They make a great gift (for someone else or for yourself) and every sale supports the local artisan community. 


Despite the temperature of the ocean that surrounds the Pacific Northwest, Vancouverites cannot resist the chance to jump in. From paddle boarding to windsurfing and surfing, we take pleasure in watching our extremities turn blue. The ocean affords you a unique perspective of the city that few get to experience.

Which is where Shaper Studios comes in. 

Both Mitch and Nate, owners of Shaper Studios Vancouver, learned to surf abroad - Mitch first jumped on a board 15 years ago during a trip to Australia, and then chased the waves in Costa Rica and New England during hurricane season. Nate comes from Hawaii, so chances are he learned to surf before he could walk. They started to teach themselves how to make their own surfboards out of a garage on King Edward Avenue, using YouTube videos and trial and error to create something that was both functional and beautiful. From that process, Learning Curves was established in 2013, providing the tools, materials and knowledge to teach everyone and anyone how to make their own boards. 

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Vancouver's stunning scenery often overshadows everything else the city has to offer.  However, beneath its outdoorsy persona is a thriving cultural scene. As much as The Local Visitor wants to introduce you to areas of Vancouver that you can't read about in your traditional guide book, we also want to introduce you to some of the people that contribute to making this one of the best cities in the world. 

In a house tucked within the Kensington-Cedar Cottage neighbourhood lies a room filled with an array of music equipment and electronics. The room (and the instruments within it) belongs to Joel Jasper, aka Kalibo, a self-described 'bedroom producer' who creates tracks using a mix of home recordings and found samples to create a unique sound. The music is uplifting and full of vibes, drawing on '80s funk lines and moving percussion. 

Joel's interest in dance music started at university where he started to make mixtapes and demos for house parties. He immersed himself in Vancouver's local music scene while advancing his musical education at home. He started to DJ at some of the more mainstream clubs and bars in the city but found he had little control over the set list, leaving him deflated with Vancouver's music scene and with his own creative development. In 2012, Joel moved to South Korea to teach English. It was there that he was able to find a venue for his musical creativity.

Joel started playing a weekly Friday night residency in Busan, South Korea, at an ex-pat bar fittingly called Almost Famous, which allowed Kalibo to have complete creative control. Having the freedom to experiment with an international audience reignited Joel's spark for DJing and producing. Upon his return to Vancouver, Joel organized a showcase of local producers and beat makers around the city. Meeting these likeminded people boosted his confidence in the scene and led to new collaborations. Joel continues to release new material frequently on his Soundcloud page and performs sets at some of the city's popular electronic based venues like 303 Columbia, Fortune Sound Club, The Waldorf, and Celebrities. He's working on a new live set using a control pad to trigger and manipulate his songs live, allowing him to better react to the energy of a show and to change his music accordingly. This method of preforming leads to more organic and natural feeling music, which would otherwise dive into the pitfall of structured and mechanized music.  

When he's not performing or making music, Joel can be found at Third Beach along the seawall or hiking the Cabin Lake or Eagle Bluffs trails on Cypress Mountain. 

You can see Kalibo perform this Sunday at The Waldorf before French House pioneer Fred Falke.


Elysian Coffee has been serving quality coffee from carefully roasted beans since 2000. The company has grown from its humble storefront on 5th Avenue at Burrard Street to include two additional cafés and a roasting facility. As a pioneer in Vancouver's speciality coffee scene, Elysian has always kept quality and customer experience at the forefront of their process to remain one of the city's favourite places to enjoy quality coffee.

Elysian focuses on creating connections with the people they come into contact with, starting with the coffee farmers that grow the beans and ending with the satisfied customer. This culminates at their newest location in Mount Pleasant where  their roasting facility is on full display (it's an interesting process if you haven't seen it before). Elysian encourages customers to engage in the process and understand where their coffee comes from, how it's roasted, and how quality is controlled.  

Read and see more here