Kitsilano is a lovely happening neighbourhood with great shops, beautiful beaches and fun restaurants. Kits as the locals call it is located just over the bridge from downtown and offers an attractive laid back beach vibes and a vibrant cultural fibre if living in a condo tower in town is not your thing, but you still want quick access to Vancouver’s business district and shopping
A diverse group of residents call Kitsilano home with a common thread being a love for outdoor recreation in common and enjoying beaches and green spaces. It’s about as close as you will get to the Southern California vibe in Canada. Of course, no Californian would be happy without a beach and at the northern edge of Kitsilano, or “Kits” as the locals say, is where you will find one of Canada’s best beaches – Kits Beach complete with miles of seaside biking and walking trails.
Kitsilano is a destination not only for Oceanside leisure but also for unique and original shopping. West 4th Ave in particular is well known for its stretch of local fashion boutiques and quaint restaurants, cafes and yoga studios. Historically Kits was something of an homage to and an enclave of Hippie movement of the 60’s. (Fun fact: Kitsilano is also the birthplace of international Yoga wear giant, LuLu Lemon).
Modern Kits adds to this laid-back vibe with a lovely mix of young families and professionals. Kits is home to great schools and central to downtown and the world-famous University of British Columbia This makes it a popular region for college kids from nearby UBC, and retired folks living the life of leisure.
The “North of Fourth” area of Kits is alive with beachgoers, shoppers, tourists and attendees of the annual beachside Shakespeare festival and frequent summer fireworks festivals out over English Bay. For those preferring a little less activity or perhaps simply looking at more quiet streets to call home and raise kids, the more southern parts of Kitsilano are predominantly quiet family neighbourhoods with bungalows tucked away beneath the canopy of trees that line the streets. Spring is a time of great beauty in Kitsilano as Magnolia, Cheery, Apple and other flowering trees join rhododendrons and spring bulbs in a riot or colour and sweetly scented air.
Currently, there are 153 homes
in Kitsilano, Vancouver BC for sale on the real estate market. The most common
property type at this moment
Price range: 440,000 - 17,800,000.
The History and Heritage of Kitsilano
The History of this neighbourhood began with the indigenous Squamish peoples who many thousands of years ago occupied the land at the mouth of False Creek and named their village Sun’hak. It would eventually be named Kitsilano, derived from the Family name Khatsalano which belonged to Squamish chief that inhabited those lands. This area was a pristine rainforest until the lumber trade was established in the late 1800’s when it was clear-cut and logged heavily leaving stumps and swamp lands behind.
Sam Greer was one of the early settlers of the area. He laid claim to the area now known as Kits beach and set up camp there. At that time, the beach was known as Greer Beach and was a popular summer camping and swimming destination for local wealthy families, mostly from the West End of Vancouver.
Around 1887, the province promised a parcel of land, which included what Sam Greer had laid claimed to, to CPR and Greer was forcefully removed for those lands. He is said to have shot the Sherriff who came to cast him off and was sent to Prison. Some time later the beach was renamed Kitsilano beach in acknowledgement of its longer historical association with the First nations peoples
In 1904, CPR began selling 66” plots of land for residential development between Yew and Trafalgar for $400 each. The following year, electric street car service to Kits beach began and the price of the lots soared to $5000. In 1909 the streetcar expanded service to West 4th and created yet another real estate boom in the area. This is when many of the Craftsman style homes that still stand today were built. As you can see, Kitsilano has a long history of being a desirable neighbourhood and good place to invest in real-estate particularly for your primary home.
The 1920’s brought construction of several apartment buildings along Cornwall which joined by more apartments in the coming decades. With the 1930’s came the building of the Art Deco landmark, the Burrard Bridge, the iconic Kits pool and the Showboat outdoor theatre, the Museum of Vancouver and the HR MacMillan space centre at the Vanier Park Site and the completion of the Seaforth Armory.
World War II prompted many of the large, older estates to be transformed into rooming houses and the 1950’s brought about a zoning change that allowed for more housing density. More apartment buildings were built and Kitsilano became an affordable place to live which attracted University students and in the 60’s, the transient hippies. Kitsilano became gentrified in the coming decades by the “yuppies” looking for a reprieve from the bustling city centre and made its final transformation into the upscale but laid back, recreational paradise close to the city it is today. Contrasted with Downtown’s high rise vibe Kits has largely remained low rise residential and stand alone housing focused which have helped keep its laid-back vibe intact.
Types of Housing in Kitsilano
The homes that stand within Kitsilano’s borders are just as diverse as the residents that live there and unlike many other neighbourhoods, different types and styles intermingle closely through most of the neighbourhood.
“Kits Point”, the most northern tip of Kitsilano is a good example; here you will find grand single family homes with ocean views alongside well-appointed duplexes and townhomes with a handful of low density apartment buildings. There are a handful of new mid to high rise buildings along the business corridors of Burrard and Broadway but Kits is better known for its collection of charming vintage buildings of different shapes and sizes.
Perhaps one of the most well-known styles of house in Kits are the beautiful Craftsman style houses built during the 1910-1912 building boom times. With their decorative brackets, exposed rafter ends, mock trusses in the gables, expansive, low-pitched gable roofs and charming front porches, they are quite distinctive. Many of these homes that were once home to one family, have been converted into multiple family dwellings with 2 to 4 smaller suites in the home as a solution to gently increase density while retaining the history and character of the streetscapes.
Schools in Kitsilano
Kitsilano has great public and private schools for children of all ages whatever their academic needs are. The public elementary schools offer programs in both French and English as does Kitsilano High School which has just completed a beautiful new building to house its students.
International students and those with multilingual needs are well served by St Johns International school. St Augustine’s serves the Catholic Community and is one of the oldest Catholic Schools in the Archdiocese. Fraser Academy has excellent programs for kids k-12 that have specific learning needs such as dyslexia.
Recreation in Kitsilano
Kitsilano is a recreational sports enthusiast’s paradise, especially in the warmer months. Kit’s beach comes alive in the summer with tournaments on the beach volleyball and ocean side basketball and tennis courts. Kit’s pool, Canada’s longest and saltwater pool which perches on the seaside, is filled with swimmers and splashing kids. Kayakers and paddle borders mingle with the boats on the ocean. Runners, bikers and walkers wind along the miles of trails that lay next to the waterfront. Yogi’s stretch and bend in the acres of lush green parks and dogs run and play off leash in the designated off leash dog parks and beaches.
Shops, Dining, Culture in Kitsilano
Kitsilano is packed with places to eat, drink, shop and play. Beachside you will find the patio at “Local” is always packed with Locals on a sunny day and people are elbow to elbow at the bar by night sipping on their legendary Caesars.
Around the corner is the favorite local bakery “Viva” and some of the best pizza in town at Nook. Just across the street is one of the few spots in town you can still catch great live Jazz music at the Blue Martini. A few blocks north you will find yourself on fourth avenue where you shops like Kate French and Gravity Pope offer great finds for your wardrobe. Major brands such as North Face, Patagonia and Lululemon also have stores on 4th thus ensuring whatever you are in the mood for, you can find great shopping options.
Take a break from shopping for a bite to eat at new and critically acclaimed Fable, Au Comptoir or Maenamm or at long time classics Bishops or Bistro Pastis. Not to be forgotten is the iconic vegetarian restaurant “The Naam”, a favorite with locals since the 60’s.
Every summer brings Bard on the Beach to Vanier park where you can watch performances of Shakespeare’s classic in an outdoor Oceanside setting as well as the Khatsalano street festival which brings live music and entertainment and vendors of all sorts together to close down fourth avenue for a party fit for all ages.
Transportation in Kitsilano
One of the things that makes Kits so great is that it feels far from the business of the city but it’s very quick and easy to get to and from downtown a mere 7 minutes in the car. There are a number of regular bus routes that will take you straight from the beach into downtown in a matter of minutes or off to class at UBC. Taxis and community automobile stands are also easily accessed when longer or faster trips are required.
Cycling is quick and convenient as there are paved separated bike lanes that will take you east, west, north or south. Of course walking is always a great option as the streets are picturesque and anything you need is always close by.