The Best Vancouver Tours for the History Buffs

As we celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary, it’s a great time to connect with our inner history buff and stop and think about how much we really know about our beloved city. Vancouver offers a fascinating history from its First Nations heritage to its most historic neighbourhood, Gastown. Years of settlers, immigrants, fires, murders, prohibition, riots, protests to prosperity – there are a lot of stories to tell. Check out our list of the best Vancouver tours for the history buffs.

By Cecilia Ryan

1. Forbidden Vancouver – Prohibition City

Vancouver history tours with Forbidden Vancouver prohibition city

Photo credit – Suzanne Rushton

Forbidden Vancouver lead guests on historical walking tours of the city. The ‘Prohibition City’ tour takes guests back in time to Vancouver’s prohibition era, telling stories of corruption, bootlegging, speakeasies, opium dens and more. The tour takes guests through Gastown, Victory Square, Chinatown and some of the city’s greatest heritage buildings. Strap in to hear the untold stories of Vancouver’s underground past.

2. East End/Strathcona History Walk – James Johnstone

experience vancouver group history tours east end strathcona

Photo credit – James Johnstone

James Johnstone leads groups on a historical walking tour of Vancouver’s East End/Strathcona district. As the first home to many immigrants coming to Vancouver, James talks you through Little India, the first synogogues, Japantown – every ethnicity has developed its own community in the East End. As a house history researcher, James has a thorough knowledge of the area, the homes and the people.

3. Labour History Walking Tour – BC Labour Heritage Centre

experience vancouver group history tours bc labour heritage

Photo credit – BC Labour Heritage Centre

The BC Labour Heritage Centre offer private, open and self-guided historical walking tours. Each one provides guests with the history of the working class struggle in BC and the importance of unions, individuals and those who have fought for the workers rights of today. Private tours can be customized to your interests with three neighbourhoods available to choose from.

4. Forbidden Vancouver – Secrets of Stanley Park

experience vancouver group history tours forbidden secrets stanley park

Photo credit – Forbidden Vancouver

Launched summer 2017, Forbidden Vancouver’s newest tour explores Stanley Park’s darker history. From crime scenes to the dark forest trails, this tour explores the interior of Stanley Park rather than just the seawall. Hear true stories of the origins of the park, the story of Deadman’s island whilst unearthing secret cemeteries and mind-blowing stories.

5. Historical Chinatown Tours – Judy Lam Maxwell

experience vancouver group history tours chinatown

Photo credit – Judy Lam Maxwell

Judy is an authority on Chinatown and Chinese Canadian history. She customizes 1-2 hour tours based on your schedule and interests where she leads you to heritage buildings, cultural centres, a 100 year old restaurant. As a key member of the community, she leads an insiders-tour of Chinatown, taking you inside buildings otherwise inaccessible.

6. Orientation to the Mountain Metropolis – Context

experience vancouver group history tours orientation mountain metropolis

Photo credit – Context

This walking historical tour from Context offers a 3 hour introduction to the city, from its First Nations heritage to the history of the Canadian Pacific Railway to its modern-day self and position as one of the best cities in the world to live. Tour guides lead guests from Coal Harbour to Gastown, Chinatown and Robson’s Square.

7. Heritage House Tour – Vancouver Heritage Foundation

experience vancouver group history tours heritage house

Photo credit – Vancouver Heritage Foundation

The annual Heritage House Tour offers guests the chance to visit heritage and character homes across the city, restored and immaculately cared for. These self-guided tours provide a brochure with street directions and some information on each home. Stories are unearthed and participants gain an inside view of some of Vancouver’s most interesting homes.

Did we miss any of your favourite Vancouver History tours? Let us know which are your favourites!

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