Culture and History of Vancouver

Cultural history and heritage

Vancouver is alive with cultural history and heritage, and if you're visiting, it's well worth exploring.


Gastown, the oldest neighbourhood in Vancouver, sprung up in 1867 when a Brit named John “Gassy Jack” Deighton opened a tavern in the area. Today, the area has become a lively entertainment centre, packed with bars, cafés and top-notch restaurants. This is the perfect place for a walking tour, following the plaques that tell the story of the area. Explore the paved streets to the famous whistling Steam Clock; an unusual, steam-powered timepiece that has fooled many a tourist into thinking it dates back over 100 years. In fact the clock, designed to blend in seamlessly with the area, was installed in 1977. 

Museums and Galleries

Vancouver's range of museums are not just for rainy days; they’re an enthralling insight into national, local and First Nations history. Stop by Vancouver Art Gallery, the largest gallery in Western Canada, that features some of the best of west Canadian art since its founding in 1931. Regular temporary exhibitions showcase the work world-renowned artists, while cultural events allow you to delve deeper into the local art scene. You can also drive out to Kitsilano's Museum of Vancouver to learn about the past that helped sculpt the city; from the influx of immigrants in the 1900s to the free-love hippy years of the 1960s. Plus, as a city perched beside the ocean, Vancouver has a deep connection to the sea so discover the treasures washed up on the city’s shores at the Vancouver Maritime Museum. 

Britannia Shipyards

Learn more about Vancouver's once-thriving community of boatyards by taking a tour and observing up-close current boat restoration projects. With many of the buildings dating back to 1885, this trip will help paint a picture of the once-upon-a-time maritime land of British Columbia.