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Tyee News

Pandemic Geographic: Tyee Readers Map Their New Worlds

Dogs, dishes and the blending of days. Thanks for drawing your lockdown life with us.

Tyee Readers 13 May 2020 |

Thank you, Tyee readers, for unleashing that inner cartographer that lives in all of us and charting what your lockdown life looks like now, from canine territory to the crowded “mask zones” of your communities.

A few weeks ago, inspired by a recent CityLab experiment, we asked you to send us a handmade map of your life today. And you delivered.

Many of you seem to be living in a Groundhog Day as you repeat the same routines over and over again. One reader drew Email Hell, where visitors are doomed to read “Hope you are well!” for the umpteenth time. Another is measuring time with toilet paper.

But there are also pleasures to be found in the time of a pandemic, whether in relative solitude, such as admiring the dandelions with young ones, or embracing what pleasures are available, such as diving into what one of you called the “snack vortex.”

Without further ado, here are your maps.

Life on the creek

Wonderful Tyee freelancer Jen St. Denis collaborated with her son to make her map.

There are no monsters to be found, only lovely West Coast wildlife. Lee’s Donuts on Granville Island — purveyor of what is probably the second-most popular pandemic item after toilet paper — is properly labelled as a “mask zone” due to lineups.

Note the label on the bottom left which reads “sometimes we go here but not very often,” which prompted a reaction from Mayor Gregor Robertson’s former chief of staff on Twitter: “vicious diss to Kits Point residents.”

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There and back again

Benjamin Cheung called his a “terrible attempt,” but we disagree! His map shows the simplicity that our lives have been reduced to.

“Wife works at SPH [St. Paul’s Hospital], so that’s basically the only place we go to,” wrote Cheung. “We drive to and fro to minimize her exposure.”


Food in Fairview

Randy Sutton called his map the result of “sad ms paint mapping skills.” We at The Tyee fully applaud his efforts to make art from the austere Microsoft program of yore.

“tho in review not soooo bad,” Sutton later wrote. “#privileged #lucky”

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Earlscourt Park reimagined

Another submission by a mother and daughter team: Rhya and Naomi Tamasauskas of Toronto.

“As you can see there are many strange things afoot!” they wrote.

“This map has been helping guide our daily expeditions in our park — amping up the excitement and peril, and of course, ensuring certain adventure!”

The duo has also been posting their Happy Fortune Friends around the park “to add a little magic.”

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Mountain love

“I moved from my home mountains to the mountains of B.C.,” wrote Gratianne Daum. “I think about them all the time and I spend as much time there as possible.

“Being in the mountains is primordial for me to be ‘be kind, be calm and be safe.’… Though we have been so lucky in Vancouver to continue living without a strict lockdown, as essential as it is to me, a trip to the North Shore was not reasonable in a COVID life. Luckily, the city and Kits in particular, have isles of respite for the big skies and nature's vagabond. So I only went by Dr. [Bonnie] Henry’s suggestions once a week to go and ‘enjoy fresh air,’ that is in the real outdoors, in the mountains.

“I dedicate this map to Dr. Henry, Minister Dix and all of their staff who took us so smoothly through this storm. Blue skies were always at sight thanks to their guidance.”

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Sarah’s island

“Even though it has felt strange and unusual, life at home in Victoria, B.C. has been fairly good,” writes Sarah MacGregor.

“My island has plenty to keep me entertained, and I’m one of the fortunate ones with a job that was easy to transition to home. During the weekdays I’ve been staying home. On the weekends, I venture out for groceries and for some fresh air in a park with an ocean view. The most important part of this has been the virtual connections with friends and family. It’s through these connections that I’ve enjoyed interactions with the world outside of my island.”

851px version of Maps-Sarah-MacGregor.jpg

Dishes, emails and the flames of late capitalism

Jackie Wong, also a wonderful long-time contributor to The Tyee, reminds us that the pandemic isn’t just redrawing our physical spaces.

“This is a map and depiction of my mental landscape and the stuff that fills my days.”

851px version of Maps-Jackie-Wong-3.jpg

Pandemic puppy

“After five years of procrastinating, we finally decided to get a dog this January 2020 — coincidentally in a pandemic, it’s a pretty fantastic choice because it’s all chaos anyway,” wrote Sam Bradd. “In this map you can see how much space he takes up in our place now!”

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To the Food Fort!

A big thank you to Kian in Burnaby who’s finishing Grade 7 this year. His map was inspired by our culture editor Dorothy Woodend’s map.

851px version of Maps-Kian-6.jpg

Time and toilet paper

“The weather is getting better outside,” writes Vanessa. “Here, inside my house, I see the world from screens from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sometimes I go check the amount of toilet paper remaining.”

851px version of Maps-Vanessa-4.jpg

Life between lattes

“It's funny how really simple, inexpensive things are the most treasured,” Suzanne Relick wrote.

“The map represents my daily activities since the beginning of the pandemic. It’s actually not too much different than my life before, as I am basically retired after teaching in B.C.’s public schools for 30 years. I do, however, miss going out for coffee with friends and hosting/attending potluck meals.”

While we may still be worrying about COVID-19, Relick’s map refers to something that we might worry about shedding later called the “COVID five”…

1200px version of Maps-Suzanne-Relick-5.jpg

‘Be a warrior, not a worrier’

An eye-popping masterpiece from Eve with good advice sprinkled throughout.

“Once I started, I couldn’t stop… Had loads of fun doing it,” wrote Eve. “I’ll treasure this map for a long time to come. OK, time to get out of my pajamas, it’s afternoon now.”



A mouth-watering map cooked up by Judy Nielsen.

“I call it ‘Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner-Sleep-Repeat’ because food has become very important... getting it, growing it, preparing it in new and old ways... and seems to be the thing we find a lot of comfort in. We are so very grateful for the abundance we enjoy.”

851px version of Maps-Judy-Nielsen.jpg

Expanse and isolation

A very relatable map from Jane Shi. Some days we may feel we’re in the Cave of Creativity. Other days, in Paranoia Park.

Some wise words from Shi:

“There have been times during self-isolation where I lean against the sink and wonder if there’s something about me (self, subject, spirit) that has irreparably collapsed from staying in the same place for so long. Drawing this internal map, a map of feelings, reminded me that despite how much my life has shrunk physically, my imagination and sense of self are still expansive and well-resourced. I can choose where to spend my time.”

1200px version of Maps-Jane-Shi-8.jpg

Once again, thank you all for sharing your ‘hoods, headspaces and heartspaces with us at a time when our borders are ever-changing. May you conquer Dish Mountain, escape Email Hell, find insights at Boundaries Beach and enjoy the solitude of the Valley of the Present Moment.  [Tyee]

Read more: Art, Coronavirus

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