Written by Samantha Matheson

Apart from my brief but defining time in Japan, I have mostly lived my life in Vancouver. Admittedly, I’m so used to life here that sometimes, days go by and I barely notice the so-called “struggle.” But inevitably, I do hear the complaints about, the prices, the rain, the flaky people, the lack of much of a nightlife etc… And though I recognize that this is partially because we are still a relatively young city with not nearly the history or population density of a place like say – New York, I’m thrilled that there are those of us still here willing to do our part to make Vancouver awesome. In particular, I’m overjoyed that Bob Kronbauer, the founder and editor-in-chief of Vancouver Is Awesome, has joined our team at Glacier Media.

In the spirit of 500 Coffees, I’m actually sitting here enjoying a morning coffee with him in our very own community kitchen. In my mind, he is one of Vancouver’s great advocates for arts and culture, but in his humility, Bob would probably never quite say it like that.

Delighted by the fact that our coffee machine doles out lattes and not just a regular cup of drip, Bob finally sits down where he becomes instantly fascinated by my DSLR camera. “I actually used to work as a portrait photographer for a number of years for magazines when I lived in L.A. When I moved back to Vancouver I did some stuff for magazines like Nuvo. But I also did some fine art photography as well.”

Bob has lived a skater-punks dream – like Bart Simpson all grown up.

He will openly tell you that though he barely got through high school, he was also just never afraid to live his life. Thus he found himself in L.A. freelancing and eventually working at Girl Skateboards in the art department. There, he got to meet famous director Spike Jonze who is also the co-owner of Girl Skateboards. Spike mentored Bob and helped out with a lot of the shoots he was involved in.

In spite these experiences it only took about 6 years before he started to miss his life in Vancouver. Bob grew up surrounded by the beauty of our mountains, camping and fishing every weekend and he missed his close community of friends in Vancouver. “All of the stereotypes about LA become true if you spend enough time there,” he confesses. “And it suddenly dawned on me that I could still work with my clients while working remotely in Vancouver.” So in 2004, Bob moved back to Vancouver where the turn-of-phrase “No-fun-city” had become a thing and the louder voices you heard about Vancouver were the negative kind. “I use to visit a website called cuteoverload.com to sorta cleanse my palate at the end of the day,” says Bob. “I wanted to make something that talked about all the great things in Vancouver. I liked this sentiment of really fuzzy happy, puppy dogs and rainbows and so I turned it into this thing that is Vancouver is Awesome as a response to all the negative stuff.”

Bob tells me that in the very beginning it was 30 friends, totally unorganized and Bob would sign them up to share something awesome. “I only had two rules: no nudity because I didn’t want anything that contributed to the objectification of women on the internet and just no negativity. So, in the beginning, it was fun, but within a few months, it just started taking up half of my workday. I never thought it would make money. It was a side project, an outlet for positive news. But because it was taking up so much of my time I had to figure out a business plan… so it has been amazing to have the opportunity to grow and to utilize the resources that are here at Glacier Media. It’s also cool to look back.”


It was only just really hitting me how far Vancouver is Awesome has come – it’s been around for almost a decade. And so I asked him if he’d had an opportunity to meet some of his own heroes through this journey.

“Yeah! Rick Hansen. In 1986 when he finished his Man in Motion World Tour where he toured around the world in his wheelchair, he actually came to our small town in Vernon. He rode through where the rec centre was and we got the day off school so we all were out there and he rode by and he gave us all a high-five. And he has always been a real inspiration, also big into salmon conservation which is a thing most people don’t know about him. And over the years he has become one of my greatest heroes in Canada. In 2011 they did a 25th anniversary across the country where the idea was, that instead of just one person it was like 10,000 people on the same route. Change Maker was involved and I felt so honoured to be part of that. And at the very end of it, Rick Hansen rode into BC Place and there was a huge crowd there and all of the people who had run with him that day came with him and there were all these kids out from school and we were behind Rick and he went on stage to make a speech and I was walking through behind him and all these kids wanted a high-five from me. So it was just this perfect moment and it wouldn’t have happened without Vancouver is Awesome.”

I also got to listen to Bob’s hopes for Vancouver’s future. Like a vast majority of Vancouverites he is worried about the housing crisis. “I hope that we can keep young people in the city. I hope it doesn’t just become a playground for the rich. When I moved here in 1994, I could get a place for $600 but now it’s like – how can young people live here? I just worked at a gas station and I could afford my own place. Those young people are going to be the ones who turn this city into something and create something like Vancouver is Awesome from nothing, not from a pile of money, not from any privilege, and I don’t want that to go away. And I feel that if we don’t address the housing crisis that it’s just going to hollow out the city.”


It’s about that time of year again! 🎣 #fishingbc #salmonfishing

A post shared by Bob Kronbauer (@bobkronbauer) on

When Bob isn’t busy meeting awesome people, you’ll probably be able to find him out fishing where he volunteers or does commissions for the Pacific Salmon Foundation. Bob has had the opportunity to see where federal money is going through this organization which supports what is known as streamkeeper groups. Bob spiritedly tells me about how that everywhere you go there are many of such groups that are always there cleaning the rivers and making sure that there are always fish in the rivers. “So there are good stories and there are bad stories. And what you won’t hear are stories about how Chum salmon have been more abundant than they’ve ever been. So I’m more hopeful for the fish,” he says and with a sad chuckle adds, “but less so about housing here.”

Bonus Facts about Bob!

He’s a beer guy and really recommends a mint wheat beer from Faculty and if he could only listen to 5 bands for the rest of his life, he’d listen to stuff by Band of Horses, Radiohead, Dr. Dre and Tupac, Arcade Fire and Postal Service.