His Gift for Entertaining Brings Tours to Life
This Vancouver Tour Guide Makes New Friends Every Day
The historic neighbourhood of Gastown is the original settlement that grew to become the heart of Vancouver. While the surrounding downtown areas are filled with skyscrapers and ultra-modern infrastructure, Gastown has preserved its vintage charm. Cobblestone streets and idyllic brick buildings attract crowds of tourists and locals, buzzing with energy through its busy intersections.
For Sean Sonier, a tour guide with Taste Vancouver Food Tours, revelling in the beauty and culture of Gastown is all in a day’s work. Groups of up to 16 guests enjoy delicious food from restaurants throughout the neighbourhood, plus a history lesson and plenty of entertaining banter, courtesy of Sean.
“If you’re just walking around, looking at buildings—that’s all you’re doing.
But having someone there to say, ‘This has been here since the 1800s! Let’s go inside and have some pasta!’ I think that’s a beautiful thing,” says Sean.
From local brewpubs to Japanese fare, vegetarian eats, waffles with ice cream, and of course, poutine—the classic Canadian dish that every out-of-towner must experience—Sean’s food tour has an impressive number of pitstops. Sometimes guests are worried they won’t get enough to eat, but Sean says they always leave full and satisfied!
Breaking Bread with New Friends
For first-time visitors to a city, Sean is a big believer in joining food tours to immerse yourself in the culture. You’ll learn the history and hotspots, discover new foods and restaurants, and even get recommendations on other places to visit. But for Sean, the most satisfying part of the tour is the new connections.
Throughout each tour, folks from all around the world gather and share their excitement. One day, two strangers from the same town in the Netherlands could meet. Another day, work colleagues might unexpectedly join the same tour and forge a newfound friendship. Sometimes, a young couple will bond with an older couple.
“And then, at the end of the tour, they’re exchanging phone numbers! I think that’s great. That’s what I try to bring to my tours—this sense of community. You’re now part of Gastown!” says Sean.
As the tour leader, Sean makes an effort to interact with every participant one-on-one, helping shy or nervous attendees feel included and welcomed. A voice actor and theatre performer by trade, his confidence and sense of humour make him a perfect fit for this dynamic job. His fluency in French is particularly helpful when francophone visitors take part.
Variety Is the Spice of Life
Sean’s job with Taste Vancouver Food Tours offers excellent flexibility as he juggles artistic pursuits. He still regularly performs and teaches acting workshops, and the skills he’s learned in the theatre are extremely valuable as a tour guide.
“What drew me to this job is the storytelling aspect, the presentational aspect, the entertaining—bringing people together through history, food, and getting a better understanding of Gastown or Vancouver. And it’s the sharing aspect of it as well. I have something that I’m offering them that they can then take away.”
Above all, Sean says the variety of the job is what motivates him. Sure, the schedule for the tour may remain the same—but every day, there are new people with different questions, stories, and perspectives. Though he’s travelled the route many times before, Sean never gets tired of watching people experience it for the first time.
“I live vicariously through them as I’m watching them have the food, biting into the Chicken Karaage that’s nice and tender. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve seen Gastown, walking back thousands of times. But getting to see it through a new set of eyes is quite magical.”
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