Aug 2015 13

Vancouver Tour Review: Forbidden Vancouver

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The Holy Rosary Cathedral where the tour beginsThe Holy Rosary Cathedral and the Dominion Building

Walking tours take their customers to (and sometimes through) places with historical, cultural, or historical significance. While usually considered part of the tourist industry, many of Vancouver's tours provide Vancouverites with a unique opportunity to learn something new about the city they call home. We've been on a Vancouver tour that goes over the lesser-known histories of Vancouver - here's what you can expect from the Forbidden Vancouver walking tours!

2 Forbidden Vancouver TourNevada, the guide of the Prohibition City tour

One of two of Forbidden Vancouver's walking tours, the Prohibition City tour begins at Cathedral Square, across from the famous Holy Rosary Cathedral. Guests can easily spot the tour guides; they are dressed in era-appropriate attire, and completely look the part of reporters during the prohibition era.

The prohibition era in Vancouver is an interesting subject to base a tour on because

...most people [when they think of prohibition] tend to think about American history, the American stories and narratives that surrounded it. The writer of the tour, Will, has done a fantastic job picking out Vancouver's most obscure history on the subject, and I think that tourists and [Vancouverites] alike will be able to enjoy and learn about it during this tour,

said Nevada (going by "Nevada Banks" for the tour), our guide for the next hour and a half travelling through Vancouver's streets.

The Royal Mail LetterboxThe Royal Mail Letterbox

Nevada took us through Victory Square, the remnants of Ward 2, the Dominion Building, and the Sun Tower (just to name a few), teaching us about Vancouver's founding, its population increases, and the history of its buildings. While centred on prohibition, the tour itself was quite comprehensive in giving explanations and details about Vancouver's broader history.

While dealing with interesting and serious facts, the tour isn't without its humour.

And he got away with it... I guess that's what happened [to criminals in the public spotlight] in the days before Twitter, 

said Nevada, talking about the background of Vancouver's longest-running mayor and his connections with the underground, standing in front of Vancouver's Sun Tower building.

The group received more historical details as the guide explained how prohibition was indirectly responsible for major historical changes.

The first time woman got to vote [in Canada] was in 1920, on the issue of prohibition... and they said 'No! No! We don't want it anymore,

said Nevada, just after walking the tour past the a two-story-high photo mural commemorating the Gastown riots, another piece of history located in the redeveloped Woodward's Complex.

10 Forbidden Vancouver TourThe photo mural commemorating the Gastown riots

At the end of the tour, while expanding on the history and developing of beer parlours, she explained to us what made the tour so special and rewarding to do.

[Beer parlours] continued until the 1970s, and I've had people taking these tours who had actually been in them, remembered drinking in them. Couples have been on the tour that met their husbands or wives inside of [a parlour],

she said, before thanking us all and wrapping up the tour.

While we don't want to spoil any major elements of the tour, suffice to say that we've barely skimmed the top during this article, and highly recommend giving the Prohibition City Tour a try. Locals and tourists alike will be sure to learn something new, and enjoy themselves too.

Originally The Vancouver World Newspaper 1912  Renamed Sun Tower when The Vancouver Sun bought the building in 1937 On the left: Originally The Vancouver World Newspaper (1912), renamed to Sun Tower when The Vancouver Sun bought the building in 1937
8 Forbidden Vancouver TourThe Victory Square. The lamps are topped with reproductions of the tin hats soldiers used to wear. The trees in the background are the oldest ones in Vancouver
The Dominion BuildingThe Dominion Building
12 Forbidden Vancouver TourThe Permanent - originally known as BC Permanent & Loan Company in 1907. It’s currently the most popular place for various events

Meet The Photographer: Ricardo Vacas

Ricardo VacasRicardo Vacas

Ricardo Vacas, owner of the firm Kerp Photography, always showed intense interest in many forms of creative arts. His professional photography career started in his home country, Spain, where he was the official photographer of several music bands, models and clothing brands. He decided to move to Wellington, New Zealand in 2012, knowing his real interest was fashion photography more than any other field. Currently living in Vancouver, Canada, he now combines his fashion, editorial and commercial photography projects with regular trips to Europe and USA.


2 Responses to “Vancouver Tour Review: Forbidden Vancouver”

  1. Annie Lee

    The Forbidden Vancouver tour is not a typical guided tour, it’s more a theatrical walk informing in a funny and interesting way. I’m a Vancouverite but I learned a lot about the secret history of our city.

  2. Vancouver Tour Review: Stanley Park Discovery Walks | Vancouver Homes

    […] are not only for tourists: they may surprise you even if you are living in Vancouver for years! Our first article from this series featured the Forbidden Vancouver walking tours that goes over the lesser-known histories of the […]

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