Your Guide To A Day Of Art In The Shipyards District


When you spend time in a neighbourhood like The Shipyards District, it’s easy to see that art and culture are not only celebrated parts of everyday life here, but they also happen to be all around you. Nearly every street boasts a museum, art gallery, or celebrated piece of public art just waiting to be discovered and appreciated as you walk. With so many delicious restaurants and cafes to fuel you along the way too, there may be no better place in North Vancouver to enjoy a day of artistic inspiration. Ready to explore? Slip on your favourite walking shoes, prepare your inner artist to be delighted, and follow our lead:

Your Art Crawl Starts Here

For all you visual types out there, feel free to start by downloading this map and guide; it’ll help give you a lay of our day’s crawling territory, and also be a great reference in case you find yourself inspired to venture off-course at any point too. 

  • From the Seabus, head over to Lonsdale Quay Market and Food Hall to snag a coffee and a walking treat from one of their many food and beverage stalls; you might even pop into Shipyards Coffee for a seasonally-filled croissant and cold brew on tap! 


  • Once you’re caffeinated, you’ll be ready to go in search of the first of six public art pieces hidden in plain sight throughout our beloved neighbourhood. The “Joe Bustamente Trumpet” at the Pier Waterfront (letter A on your map) was inspired by the one-armed Chilean mariner who often used his trumpet to guide the ferries through the fog in the early 1900s. Take a moment to gaze out over the water from his post, and imagine what the wharf might have looked like in those days. 


  • Next, make your way over to the Burrard Dry Dock Pier where you’ll find our area’s newest mural designed by renowned xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) weaver and graphic designer, Debra Sparrow in collaboration with Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) Chief Janice George, Buddy Joseph, and səlilwətaɬ (Tseil-Waututh) artist Angela George. The mural is a visual retelling of the Great Vancouver Fire and how Indigenous first responders played brought people to safety across the Burrard Inlet. 


  • When you’re ready to continue on, head up to Carrie Cates Court and step through the doors of The Polygon Gallery. The works of world-renowned photographers and mixed media artists mingle here, and the building’s exquisite architecture is well worth a visit all on its own. Check out their lineup of upcoming exhibits to experience the very best in bold, adventurous, and thought-provoking art. 


Art Takes A Turn Through History

  • Further west on Carrie Cates Court, you’ll reach Inuit Gallery, whose collections of master Inuit, Northwest Coast, and Canadian aboriginal art never disappoint. The handmade Indigenous jewellery and gifts for sale are also stunning ways to take some of the area’s local craftsmanship home with you too. 


  • Next stop is to venture back in time at MONOVA around the corner on Esplanade. This museum is stocked full of historical artifacts, photographs, and prints that invite you to indulge in the history of Vancouver’s North Shore just by perusing their rotating exhibits, and experiencing their live shows and events. 


  • When you’re ready, head across Lonsdale Ave to seek out the second piece of public art, “Launch[B], which pairs two vessels suspended in time, as if to evoke both the past and present of this district and its rich maritime history. 


  • Feeling an urge for a recharge? Make a quick stop on East 1st Ave to grab a fried chicken lunch or donut at Cream Pony. For any vegetarians or vegans in the group, you could also pop into Buddha-Full Provisions on West 1st for a fresh salad, smoothie, or grain bowl that packs a super flavourful punch. 


  • Once you’ve filled up on delicious, it’s time to wander west on 1st Ave to discover the figures of “Timekeepers[C] which capture six different, first-hand experiences of life lived in North Vancouver. 


  • After that, you can loop up to “Voyage[E] on West 2nd Ave which invites your own interpretation with its more abstract design. Whether a tribute to the discovery of places unknown, or to the wonder that surrounds us every day, it’s up to you to decide. 


  • Back out to Lonsdale Ave, and up to 3rd Ave, be sure to keep an eye out for the “Lost Cows Of Lillooet[F], our next piece of public art. Nestled in and among the unsuspecting world of a modern cityscape, you’ll find 50 miniature cows grazing around bus shelters and in planter beds along Lonsdale, between East 1st and 3rd Avenues. Feel free to snap a selfie with one or two, because they’re certainly used to the attention.


  • Just past 3rd Ave, feel free to poke your head into CityScape Community ArtSpace for a community-based vibe that’s sure to intrigue your artistic inclinations. With everything from dynamic installations and local art exhibitions, to in-person art classes and one-of-a-kind pieces you can buy or even rent, this contemporary space is meant to encourage reflection, community involvement, and good conversation.


Winding Down A Day of Art

  • As you make your way back down Lonsdale Ave toward the sparkling water below, why not stop to treat yourself to a little happy hour? Browns Socialhouse on West 2nd offers “social hour” from 3-6 pm, and again from 6-9 pm, and that means crispy cauliflower, fiesta fries, a Social Hound or refreshing lager, just to name a few.


  • If you opt to keep discovering, however, there’s one final work of public art that was designed to reflect and celebrate the specific heritage of this unique neighbourhood. “Burgeoning [D] represents the community values of growth and prosperity through leafy vines that flourish in their urban environment, and it just so happens to adorn 111 Lonsdale on your way back down towards 1st Ave! 


  • After a full day of artistic appreciation, you might want to indulge in an intimate meal to commune with friends, and discuss the work you’ve seen. Fishworks on Lonsdale will welcome you in for sustainably sourced seafood and an excellent BC wine list, or if you continue downhill, and veer left on Victory Ship Way, you can also take your pick of a variety of other delicious options. The Lobby Restaurant is one of our favourite go-to’s for elegant, west coast dining, and the housemade pastas and woodfired pizzas at Nook are satisfying ways to complete a day of creative curiosity and fun. 


For a full selection of other amazing shops and restaurants to help round out your art crawl journey, be sure to check out our directory, and happy exploring!