Top 10 historical sites in and around Vancouver

December 6, 2016

by Megan Jones

Founded 1886, Vancouver, B.C. is now more than 130 years old. It might be a relatively young city, but Vancouver and its surrounding areas certainly have plenty to offer when it comes to historical sites and iconic landmarks. From narrow suspension bridges to Victorian-era heritage homes to classical Chinese gardens, read on for a curated list of the Vancouver’s top 10 historical sites.

Top 10 historical sites in and around Vancouver

Gulf of Georgia Cannery, Steveston

This National Historic Site – nicknamed “The Monster Cannery” when it was built in 1895 – offers historical and contemporary exhibits on West Coast fishing industries and culture, as well as seasonal events such as farmers’ markets, local art shows, wine and beer festivals and film screenings. The largest and highest producing of 15 canneries that once dotted the shores of the Fraser River, Gulf of Georgia Cannery continues to be a fixture in the tight-knit community of Steveston.

Olympic Cauldron, Coal Harbour

Built for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games held in Vancouver, this 10-metre cauldron presides over Jack Poole Plaza in Coal Harbour, and is occasionally lit for special events. After gazing at the statuesque cauldron – and the North Shore Mountains in the distance – walk next door to view the Olympic Display at the Vancouver Convention Centre. The free display showcases a full set of Olympic and Paralympic medals and torches from the 2010 Games.

Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, North Vancouver

This narrow suspension bridge extends 140-metres long and 70-metres high over the Capilano River in the District of North Vancouver. Constructed in 1889 by a local park commissioner and civil engineer, the bridge was later purchased by Ireland’s Edward Mahon, one of British Columbia’s first big investors. Today, the bridge is one of the most popular historic sites in Vancouver, attracting close to one million visitors each year.

Roedde House Museum, West End

First developed by Canadian Pacific Railroad workers in the Victorian era, the West End is one of Vancouver’s most historic neighbourhoods. A restored Queen Anne revival-style heritage house, the Roedde House Museum examines this rich history by recreating the daily life of an average middle class, immigrant family from the time period. It’s a highly interactive experience; unlike other heritage museums, guests are encouraged to wander through rooms and halls – none of which are roped off – and handle objects and artifacts (with care) – reliving the life of Gustav Roedde and his family.

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, Chinatown

Drawing on the sacred landscaping traditions of Ming Dynasty scholars, this intricate space in the heart of Chinatown represents the natural movements and rhythms of nature in its design – and is the first of its kind to be built outside of China. Completed in 1986, Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden is an ideal place for contemplation in solitude.

Science World at Telus World of Science, False Creek

Most commonly known as, simply, Science World, this silver, dome-shaped structure is one of Vancouver’s most recognizable landmarks and was originally built to be the Expo Center during Expo 86. A place for science, ideas and innovation, the centre’s mission is to engage British Columbians in science through meaningful events, IMAX films and exhibitions.

Shakespeare Garden, Stanley Park

North America’s largest natural park just so happens to be a stone’s throw from Vancouver’s downtown core. And among many historic hideaways in this decades-old, 1001-acre park, the Shakespeare Garden is a delicate arboretum that showcases many of the trees named or featured in The Bard’s ancient plays. Famous quotes are displayed on plaques before each tree, referencing a history that reaches all the way back to the Elizabethan Age and Vancouver’s colonial roots in jolly old England.

Museum of Anthropology, UBC Endowment Lands

Founded in 1943, this startlingly beautiful museum located on the University of British Columbia campus is historic for many reasons. Among them, the building features work by world-famous Vancouver architect, Arthur Erikson, whose design was inspired by Northwest Coast Indigenous structures. But perhaps most notably, the Museum’s collection includes some of the most culturally significant and valuable works by Northwest Coast Indigenous artists, including Bill Reid’s famous yellow cedar sculpture.

Canada Place, Coal Harbour

A multi-use building, the beautiful Canada Place is home to the Vancouver Convention Centre, the Pan Pacific Hotel, cruise ship docks and Vancouver’s World Trade Centre. Designed to mimic the many ships that flank its sides – complete with five 90-foot white sails on its long roof – Canada Place is at once a gathering place for tourists and a hub for trade and commerce. The photogenic landmark is arguably the most celebrated structure on Vancouver’s gorgeous waterfront.

Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre, Stanley Park

This expansive aquarium in the heart of Stanley Park has been Vancouver’s pride and joy since it was constructed in 1956 – the same year the city made history when the Vancouver Aquarium became the first of its kind to invite professional naturalists to study the behaviours of its creatures, a legacy that continues today through conservation and research programs. Also of note is Indigenous artist Bill Reid’s stunning gift to the aquarium – a life-size sculpture of a breaching orca – situated before the front steps.

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