Blog: Something's aStir in Ladner

Delta BC

Freelance writer and blogger Cathalynn Labonte-Smith reviews cafes and tea houses from the point-of-view of writers and other people who work in such places regularly.

She recently reviewed a pair of Delta establishments in her blog, The Write Cup.

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Here is her review of Stir Coffee House:

This can’t possibly be humble Ladner, the gateway to Reifel Bird Sanctuary? I pass a restaurant so bespoke there’s no name to be found on its fresh white walls. Upon further research, the pavilion with the crisp white linens is Taverna Gorgona ( I pass upscale boutiques in a tidy row, that might be more expected on Whidbey Island, Friday Harbour, or lining the streets of posh Sydney on Vancouver Island, before arriving at Stir Coffee House (

In case of emergency, read a book. - courtesy Cathalynn Labonte-Smith

In front of the quaint brick building is a serendipitously placed and intricately carved free library box. If you find yourself staring blankly at your screen or notepad, read from the books behind the glass on the bench, while sipping your Stir beverage until the muse returns.

Side view of library box with a fishing boat carving, true to Ladner’s mariner history. - courtesy Cathalynn Labonte-Smith

The interior of Stir is just as enticing as its exterior, with a fireplace in the corner, a long coffee counter and tables full of customers with a more mixed age demographic than you’d find at hipster joints in the city. Not that age matters, but there’s no blurred lines between dance club and coffee shop here.

Writing Prompt: Like many cafes, Stir features local artists’ work for sale on their walls. Find an image on the wall that resonates with you and write a few paragraphs about it.

I order a Colombian pour-over coffee, that has strong notes of chocolate, but it tastes so familiar. Stir uses 49th Parallel beans, so that explains the memory trigger. They have all the ingredients to make a writer, or anyone else who likes to work in coffee shops, happy: wifi, electrical outlets, excellent coffee, a cheerful interior and friendly attentive staff. However, the seating is utilitarian, meaning hard seats, although there are some with padding.

Proudly displayed on the counter, Stir is on page 99 of this well-thumbed copy of “111 Place in Vancouver That You Must Not Miss”. - courtesy Cathalynn Labonte-Smith

I understand why cafes don’t want us loiterers, as they rely on volume to make a profit. By the time they pay rent, payroll and expenses there isn’t much left, if anything. That’s why some of our favourite cafes are no longer in business, that or the inability to find enough staff; may they rest in coffee grower’s heaven in volcanic soil. But sometimes we might write something lovely about their shop that others will read, then come in to sample it for themselves.

Sometimes we want to take our characters out for a coffee and hear the voices outside of our heads.

Ladner has truly transformed itself in the 20 years since I moved away from South Delta. Two decades ago driving past the orderly white-washed rail fence of the Vander Zalm estate, through Ladner, past the candy-coloured floating homes onto Westham Island to scout for snow geese and palm-sized saw-whet owls at the bird sanctuary was a weekend routine. You can still enjoy Reifel, but now you can visit a cafe of the high calibre of Stir on your way back to the city.

The cutest font ever. - courtesy Cathalynn Labonte-Smith

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