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Cultural Excursions Organized by the MLA

The MLA has organized a variety of cultural excursions that will take place during the 2015 MLA Annual Convention in Vancouver. The excursions give registrants an opportunity to experience Vancouver’s culture, cuisine, architecture, Indigenous history, and stunning landscape.

Space is limited, and there is an additional fee for each excursion. To participate, select an excursion and payment option when you complete your convention registration form. Convention registrants may also sign up a limited number of guests per excursion for an additional fee (the fee is the same for convention registrants and guests); guests must be signed up and accompanied by a convention registrant to attend an excursion. Please see the descriptions below for more information, including age restrictions and other details.

We regret that we cannot provide refunds for cancellations received after 8 December 2014.

If you have already registered for the convention and wish to attend an excursion, contact Please include your registration confirmation number in your request.

Granville Island Lunch and Tour with the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts (PICA)

A PICA student enjoying the fresh produce of Granville Island's Public Market
Photograph courtesy of the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts

  • Thursday, 8 January 2015
  • 9:45 a.m.–1:00 p.m.
  • Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts, 101–1505 West 2nd Avenue
  • Travel on your own, or meet at the Vancouver Convention Centre at 9:15 a.m. to share cabs to PICA (no shuttle bus).
  • $75 per person; up to two paid guests allowed per convention registrant

Discover what makes Granville Island one of Vancouver’s most popular destinations. If you plan to arrive in Vancouver on Wednesday, 7 January, or earlier, take advantage of this fun and tasty half-day excursion. Enjoy a light breakfast, three-course lunch, and guided tour through the novelties and history of Granville Island and experience the energy and passion of emerging chefs at the nearby Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts.

Breakfast and Granville Island Tour

9:45 a.m. Bakery 101
Meet at Bakery 101, PICA’s bakeshop and café. Select a fresh-baked pastry along with coffee or tea and receive a PICA tote bag as a gift (great for carrying market purchases).

10:00 a.m. Granville Island Tour
Join one of PICA’s chef instructors on a tour through Granville Island’s Public Market, and savor the wares of the market’s many globally influenced and locally impassioned artisans, farmers, and food purveyors. Stops will be made to point out what makes the island both a sensory and historic delight, including possible visits with a fishmonger, charcutier, cheesemonger, and other produce suppliers and artisans. Throughout the tour, your chef and guide will provide culinary tips and tricks focusing on sustainability, locally sourced ingredients, and delicious cooking.

Bistro 101, PICA's fine-dining restaurant
Photograph courtesy of Tracey Kusiewicz of Foodie Photography

Behind-the-Scenes PICA Tour and Lunch

After returning to PICA, take a behind-the-scenes look at the school’s facilities. Observe the professional-diploma students in their classes and training kitchens, learning to create delectable treats and even preparing your lunch.

11:45 a.m. Bistro 101
Sit for lunch at Bistro 101, PICA’s elegant marina-view dining room, and enjoy a three-course meal prepared and served for you by PICA’s newest graduating class. Wine flights paired with the meal will be available for an additional charge.

PICA is located at 101–1505 West 2nd Avenue, under the Granville Street Bridge, about a ten- to fifteen-minute taxi ride from the MLA’s convention hotels and the Vancouver Convention Centre. For public transportation, take the 50 False Creek South bus to the Second Avenue and Anderson Street stop. Registrants who wish to share cabs should meet at the VCC by 9:15 a.m. An MLA representative will be on hand to assist.

Vancouver Art Gallery Private Tour

Vancouver Art Gallery
Photograph courtesy of Vancouver Art Gallery

  • Friday, 9 January 2015
  • 8:50–11:00 a.m. (tour 9:00–11:00 a.m.)
  • 750 Hornby Street
  • Travel on your own (close to most convention hotels and public transportation).
  • $35 per person; two paid guests allowed per convention registrant

The Vancouver Art Gallery was established in 1931, and its collection of over 10,000 works of art represents the most comprehensive resource for visual culture in British Columbia. It is a principal repository of works produced in this region and of related works by other Canadian and international artists. The gallery owns the largest and most significant group of paintings and works on paper by the modernist landscape painter Emily Carr.

Portrait of Emperor Qianlong's concubine in Chinese dress, Qing dynasty, Qianlong period
Photograph courtesy of The Palace Museum

Tour Details

Join one of the gallery’s professional guides for a private morning tour exploring two of the newest exhibits: The Forbidden City: Inside the Court of China’s Emperors, a showcase of nearly two hundred treasured objects from the collections of Beijing’s Palace Museum, many of which have never been shown outside China, and Unscrolled: Reframing Tradition in Chinese Art, works by Chinese contemporary artists who use new forms and media to examine tradition’s influence on visual culture in contemporary China.

The Forbidden City tour will begin before the museum opens to the public, providing attendees private access to this major historical exhibition. The tour will include highlights selected by the chief curator specifically for our group, with a focus on the strategies of imperial rule, from the ceremonial to the functional.

The tour will end at 11:00 a.m. Excursion participants are welcome to stay at the museum or to leave and return later that same day. The museum closes at 5:00 p.m.

UBC Museum of Anthropology Exhibit and Private Tour

Museum of Anthropology
Photograph courtesy of the Museum of Anthropology

  • Friday, 9 January 2015
  • 9:15 a.m.–1:00 p.m. (tour 10:00 a.m.–12:00 noon)
  • 6393 NW Marine Drive
  • Shuttle bus departs from the Vancouver Convention Centre at 9:15 a.m.
  • $45 per person; one paid guest allowed per convention registrant.

The Museum of Anthropology (MOA) at the University of British Columbia is world-renowned for its collections, research, teaching, public programs, and community connections. It is also acclaimed for its spectacular architecture and unique setting on the cliffs of Point Grey. MOA houses over 40,000 ethnographic objects from almost every part of the world, including over 6,300 First Nations objects from the Northwest Coast. In addition to its collection, the museum has created very close relationships with cultural communities, including with the Musqueam First Nation. The museum and the rest of UBC sit on the unceded and traditional territories of the Musqueam people.

Join museum staff members for a unique, two-part exploration of the Museum of Anthropology's support for First Nation language and culture in British Columbia.

Oral History and Language Lab

The Oral History and Language Lab (OHLL), a technology studio, supports media creation and digitization for the purposes of oral history, language, and material culture research. Gerry Lawson, a member of the Heilstuk First Nation and the OHLL coordinator, will speak about his work in the lab. Attendees will learn about the facilities, projects, and relationships that constitute the OHLL participation in indigenous language expression, revitalization, and preservation efforts.

Preview of the Exhibit, c̓əsnaʔəm: The City before the City

Join Susan Rowley and Jordan Wilson, the exhibit cocurators, for a special preview of this exhibit, which highlights the intangible aspects of cultural heritage connected to Musqueam's ancestral village and sacred burial ground of c̓əsnaʔəm, such as knowledge, values, and oral histories. Focusing on c̓əsnaʔəm, this exhibit demonstrates Musqueam's connection to territory over time and through experiential and reflexive installations seeks to replicate aspects of Musqueam ways of educating.

Totem pole detail
Photograph courtesy of the Museum of Anthropology

The tour will conclude at 12:00 noon, with another hour for continued exploration of the museum and grounds. The bus will depart from the museum at 1:00 p.m. to return to the Vancouver Convention Centre by 1:45 p.m. The bus will stop at the Bill Reid Gallery for any participants who signed up for the Bill Reid Gallery excursion.

Excursion participants are welcome to stay until the museum closes at 5:00 p.m. and return on their own. Public transportation to downtown is available from the UBC bus loop, or you can call for a taxi.

Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art Special Tour and Talk

Bill Reid Gallery exterior
Photograph courtesy of

  • Friday, 9 January 2015
  • 1:50–4:00 p.m. (tour 2:00–4:00 p.m.)
  • 639 Hornby Street
  • Travel on your own (close to most convention hotels and public transportation).
  • $30 per person; one paid guest allowed per convention registrant

Visit downtown Vancouver’s public gallery named after the acclaimed Haida artist Bill Reid (1920–98). The gallery is home to the Simon Fraser University Bill Reid Collection and changing exhibitions of contemporary Aboriginal art of the Northwest Coast.

Gallery highlights include over forty pieces of Bill Reid’s gold and silver jewelry, his bronze masterpiece Mythic Messengers, and a full-scale totem pole carved by James Hart of Haida Gwaii. The gallery gift shop sells original works and prints by contemporary Northwest Coast artists.

Bill Reid: Wolf Pendant, 1976
Photograph courtesy of Kenji Nagai


One of the museum’s docents, Meredith Areskoug, will lead an in-depth tour through the gallery’s permanent collection and a featured contemporary exhibition. Follow Bill Reid’s artistry as he evolved from classic European-influenced design to the traditional Haida designs that led to his increasingly complex and three-dimensional pieces.


Join Nika Collison (Jisgang), Bill Reid’s granddaughter and curator at the Haida Gwaii Museum at Kay Llnagaay, Skidegate, British Columbia, for a conversation about the Haida language and culture.

The tour and talk will end at 4:00 p.m. Excursion participants are welcome to stay until the museum closes at 5:00 p.m.

Vancouver Public Library Architecture and Special Collections Tours

Central branch of the Vancouver Public Library, promenade
Photograph courtesy of the Vancouver Public Library

  • Thursday, 8 January, Friday, 9 January, and Saturday, 10 January 2015
  • 8:20–10:00 a.m. (tour 8:30–10:00 a.m., before the library opens)
  • 350 West Georgia Street
  • Travel on your own (close to most convention hotels and public transportation).
  • $10 per person; up to two paid guests allowed per convention registrant

The Vancouver Public Library is one of Vancouver’s longest-standing institutions and is known as one of the world’s greatest civic libraries.

The central branch of the Vancouver Public Library, the busiest public building in the city, was designed by Moshe Safdie and opened in 1995. At that time, it was the largest capital project ever undertaken by the city of Vancouver. The building’s design is both modern and rooted in history, gesturing to Roman architecture. Its structure, a rectangular center within a curved outer wall, uses skylights and bridges to create a sense of openness and accessibility.

Central branch of the Vancouver Public Library, arial view
Photograph courtesy of the Vancouver Public Library

Each librarian-led tour will include

  • a tour of the building, highlighting its history and architecture
  • behind-the-scenes access to select areas, including the automated materials-handling section
  • access to the special collections, with highlights provided by the collection’s experts

The tour concludes at 10:00 a.m., when the library opens to the public. Excursion participants are welcome to stay until the library closes.

Italian Kitchen Canapé and Wine Pairing

Photo courtesy of Italian Kitchen

  • Saturday, 10 January 2015
  • 3:00–5:00 p.m.
  • 1037 Alberini Street
  • Travel on own (close to most convention hotels and public transportation)
  • $85 per person; two paid guests allowed per convention registrant
  • Participants must be 21 or older.

The Italian Kitchen features regional Italian dishes with a combination of local and imported ingredients. The wine expert Jaime Kowan, of Landmark Selections, a local wine import and distribution company, along with Italian Kitchen’s executive chef, Mark Greenfield, will lead the two-hour tasting in the restaurant’s upper room.

The tasting will incorporate wines from British Columbia and around the world, along with a selection of small plates and canapés, such as the Italian Kitchen’s signature meatball with tomato fondue and shaved parmesan and its grilled pecorino with charred leeks and truffled honey. Each pairing will highlight wines that are off the beaten path yet accessible. You’ll learn about the history and regions of the wines, why they pair well with certain foods, what makes them unique, and how wines from British Columbia compare with similar wines from around the world.

After the tasting, excursion participants are welcome to stay and continue talking with Jaime Kowan.


© 2015 Modern Language Association. Last updated 12/18/2014.