Another fabulous day today in beautiful Vancouver, and it’s been full on!
The highlight of today’s activities was a visit to the stunningly beautiful Hycroft Manor, better known to When Calls the Heart fans as the Thatcher Manor from season two of the show. This was a visit that we’d booked back in late July to coincide with our trip, and we were thrilled that they could accommodate us.
Construction on Hycroft Manor started in 1909 and was completed in 1911. It was home to businessman and later politician Alexander Duncan McRae, his wife and their three girls, and quickly became the centre of the Vancouver social scene. In 1942, the McRaes donated the estate to the Canadian federal government for one dollar for use by the Department of Veterans Affairs as a convalescent hospital for war veterans. It was later acquired by the University Women’s Club of Vancouver and remains their clubhouse to this day.
We know that the building looked magnificent on the small screen, but the snippets brought to our TV screens really don’t give you the sense of just how amazing this home is. The level of detail in the architecture and finishes is outstanding – from the beautiful leadlight windows, the tiles, to the ceiling roses and other ornate plasterwork – gives a real sense of the love and care that was poured into this building’s construction.
The rooms have been lovingly restored to their former glory by the University Women’s Club of Vancouver, and the grounds are immaculate. It obviously remains a very popular spot for weddings and is often used in a variety of feature films (including Deadpool 2!!) and Canadian TV productions. We’d like to give a special thanks to archivist Cathy Barford for going above and beyond to explain the history of this beautiful building and the people who lived there and being incredibly accommodating by allowing us to look into all the rooms of the building (even on the roof for one of the best views in town) and around the grounds. We are incredibly grateful and we now know a little more about this heritage listed building and its role in Vancouver’s history.
Given we were in the neighbourhood, we decided to catch a bus ride to Queen Elizabeth Park.
After playing in fallen leaves and trying to snap photos of black squirrels, we stopped into the Bloedel Conservatory to admire the stunning collection of plants and the variety of birds that call the dome their home. There were a number of Australian birds in the collection, including cockatoos, princess parrots, king parrots, budgies, Bourke parrots and a variety of finches.
We also ran into a familiar face – Janette Stephens, one of the administrators of HFR4, as she was admiring the view from the lookout in the park. After interacting on social media for a number of months, it was lovely to meet her in person, and we wish her and her team all the best with the final preparations for HFR4.
Next, we visited Gastown, one of the oldest parts of the city. It was here that we struck the first of many tourist shops, selling all things branded with Canada, mooses, bears and maple leaves. Our groaning suitcases will be just a little bit fuller on the way home, with lots of gifts to make the folks back home happy.
Kylie even found her Mountie (even if he was a cut out) and we feel good knowing that our purchases of Mountie goodies will benefit community policing.
We then wandered down to Six Acres for dinner (the venue where Jack and his brother Tom get tossed out of the bar in season two of When Calls the Heart), went back AGAIN to the souvenir shops for another tilt at Canadian merchandise, and after waiting to catch the steam clock doing its thing, we finally staggered into a taxi for the trip back to the hotel.
Tomorrow will be another incredibly busy and long day. We are rising very early to make the 7am ferry to Vancouver Island for the Burchart Gardens, whale watching and a seaplane ride back into Vancouver.
We hope you are enjoying our adventures in VanCity. Leave a comment below, we’d love to hear from you! 😁🇨🇦🇭🇲