A Neighbourhood Stroll Down Broughton
Story and Photos by Dianne Maguire
(click photos to enlarge)
Not all the statuary and water features in the West End are one-of-a-kind or specifically designed for the space. As you stroll across the neighbourhood on Broughton you are treated to an amazing range of interesting items – familiar water features, heritage homes and modern public art.
I have walked past the Guardian Angels Catholic Church at 1161 Broughton Street many times, so when I asked a friend: “Have you seen any statues lately?” I thought his reply was meant as a teasing joke: “How about the Madonna at the Guardian Angels?” But when I set out to collect items for this article, there it was – a statue of the Madonna, complete with water tinkling into a pond surrounded by shrubs and flowers. It is set back into an alcove at the side of the church. So it’s not situated to attract the casual passerby. It offers a place for quiet contemplation.
Several potted blooms at the foot of the Lady of the Pond suggest that she has had visitors recently, offering thanks in pink and yellow blossoms for the peace she has brought them.
In the heat of the summer, a familiar sound of water splashing into water can be heard as you pass the Ocean Park Place at 990 Broughton at Nelson. There is a large sign and a high well-trimmed hedge that hides the source of the sound. But if you walk up Nelson St. from the corner and watch for an opening in the hedge, you will see a traditional four-tiered fountain with water sprouting and splashing down into the largest of the petal-like bowls. It creates a restful atmosphere that must be treasured by the inhabitants of this attractively presented rental accommodation.
The Lauren at 1051 Broughton is a relatively new building on the corner of Comox. It was built in 2014 as a multi-purpose dwelling, offering townhouses for families and shelter aid for elderly renters under the SAFER program.
The design of the large sculpture pays tribute to St. John’s United Church, which occupied the land from 1906, by including stain glass and wooden beams from the original building as part of the multi-surfaced piece called “Triumph of the Technocrat” by Reese Terris.
The major installation and landscaping complement each other as a trough from the geometric disc becomes a stream-like water feature that winds down a gentle slope to an outdoor seating space and children’s play area with checker boards and ticktacktoe blocks. The stream “wall” has a lengthy and thought-provoking quotation that ends with the title of the imposing sculpture.
Tucked among the trees on the corner of Broughton and Barclay is a well preserved heritage home at 1415 Barclay, the Roedde House Museum. This Queen Anne style home was built by Gustav and Matilda Roedde for their family in 1898.
Gustav Roedde was the first bookbinder in Vancouver. Inside the museum are displays of his work, the family’s treasures and fascinating period items.
The charming home also serves as a venue for classical concerts sometimes performed in the gazebo on the Broughton side of the building. It features a hexagonal platform with a pointed roof and a ramp which allows access to the stage by disabled musicians. When I walked by recently, I noticed that the Roedde House Preservation Society had begun to give the outside of the building a fresh coat of paint.