Love Thy Neighbour(hood)

When I told my friends nearly three years ago that Dustin and I would be moving to the neighbourhood of South Hill, the response was the same from every one.


That one word reaction followed with a confused look made me laugh, and I’m not going to lie, a little defensive. Dustin and myself had been growing tired of our endless search for a home that would suit our wants and needs, and in an area that was always highly sought after.  So we branched out a little, and found what we were looking for thirty blocks south.

When we went to look at the apartment, we had never known what actually existed up the hill past Fraser street and 33rd avenue.  What we found was a bustling little community full of mom and pop shops, produce stores, authentic asian cuisine and more. Basically anything you would need to go out and get to maintain your daily life, is within ten small city blocks.  We were excited to call this area our new home.


Fast forward to a year and a half year later, we find out I’m pregnant.  Dustin and myself considered moving to upgrade our square footage, but quickly realized that this community would be ideal for us as new parents.  I found a midwife/birth program two blocks away from our apartment, and we were then set to stay in our beloved neighbourhood. When our son Milo arrived, having everything surrounding us, made our lives with a newborn very easy with no added stress of hauling a car seat in and out of a vehicle.  As the weeks went on and I found my groove in my new mom shoes, I began to walk everywhere.  As I would stroll around, I found that I noticed certain shops I had not seen in my pre baby days. Before it was the regular routine of the grocery store, the bank, the occasional take out chinese or Thai, and some times a quick trip to the pharmacy or post office.  Now my eyes, much like a newborn, have been opened up and I have been reintroduced to those first few days of living here when every storefront was something new and different.

I decided to take a walk the other day and explore a little more of our neighbourhood, and speak with the faces behind some of the businesses of the South Hill community.

First of all, this area is full of produce shops.  So many that I can say there are a few I have never stepped inside of, you kind of pick your favorites and stick to them. There is one right beside our building that features the usual produce selection, and a small stand by the check out with some delicious candies.

On 46th avenue is Rokko Sarees and Fabrics.  Walking into this family owned store,  I was immediately smiling at all the stunning colors displayed around the entire space.  They specialize in bright bold fabrics and custom orders. The staff is overwhelmingly nice and are ready to help you with whatever you need.

Next stop is Brekka Bakery.  Located just south of 49th avenue and Fraser, this busy european style bakery is always busy.  Everything is made in-house and their coffee is organic and fair trade. There are tables inside and out to sit, relax and enjoy.  Walking in and looking at their selection of sweets always makes me feel like a little kid again, what shall I choose?  Call me old-fashioned, but I went for their glazed doughnut.  I feel good about my decision.  Did I mention this joint is open 24 hours a day? It makes for a wonderful place to visit when your new baby decides to go on a sleep strike.  Midnight snack? I’ll take three please.

Stopping in to the local barber shop made for a good conversation with a gentleman who was in getting his routine cut. Larry has lived here for nearly six years now and says he has no plans to leave. He spoke of how the people are friendly, the neighbourhood is diverse in culture and that everyone seems to get along well.  Sam, the owner and barber, bought the shop twelve years ago but told me that it originally opened in 1963.  Inside, the shop is simple and straight to the point, cuts and shaves.

Milo accompanied me on our walk, and being the social baby he is, he loved every moment of it.  All the different places and people, his cheeks must have hurt from all the smiles he gave.  When I was a young girl, I was quite shy and always felt uncomfortable speaking with people, especially adults.  As I grew older I found I would stop saying no to opportunities that would arise to help deplete that shyness, and in turn build confidence.  The walk that we took that day is a prime example of how I still push myself in that direction.  Talking to someone I have never met, and asking to take their picture? If only the seven-year old me could see me now!  We continued on and spoke with a florist, a jewelry, watch and clock repair man, and a friendly server at the local diner called Dockers.  I agree with Larry, everyone IS very friendly. The florist however, is extremely timid and likes to hide behind her floral bouquets, but still very nice.

I made a new friend recently in this neighbourhood. It turns out she lived right down the lane from us the entire time.  At the end of this month she is packing up and moving to a new home with her husband and seven month old baby.  She tells me frequently that although she is so excited for their new place, the thought of leaving the South Hill community makes her a little sad.  This is a place where if you forgot the cucumber for your salad with dinner, you can get one right next door. Or if there is a power outage, the diner nearby stays open later, with their staff running tirelessly to keep people fed and warm. I myself found a great friend in this neighbourhood, I will be forever thankful for that.  Also to all those friendly faces that greet us when we pop in to grab our groceries, pick up a parcel, order some take out, or indulge in a doughnut,  I will say thank you. Especially to the ones who hold the door open for a stroller.

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