Located in the heart of North Vancouver, where salmon fishing, farming and communications, among others, are found, the Maritime History Centre opens its doors to the public on Saturday.
“We are always trying to find places in the City of North Vancouver that help tell our history,” says Brian Gasior, curator of Vancouver Maritime Museum and Maritime Heritage Centre. “What they have to offer is a really good presentation of their history and they are proud of it.”
Standing at the foot of Kitsilano beach is the heritage museum’s centerpiece.
Its entrance features a double-sided wall that traces the history of modern North Vancouver from its evolution from a mill town in the mid-1700s to its future as a modern metropolis. Its centerpiece is a double-sided wall that traces the history of modern North Vancouver from its evolution from a mill town in the mid-1700s to its future as a modern metropolis.
On each side of the long vertical slab, the story of North Vancouver’s past is told through half-timbered buildings and windows of the ancestors of the present and it’s of interest to those living and working within a historic building today.
“Each building has been preserved the way it was originally,” says Gasior. “So not only do we showcase the history of North Vancouver but there is something for someone coming from other parts of the province and looking to explore the history of their own town.”
Locals see the museum, located at 1 William St., as a great way to share North Vancouver’s history with visitors as it is the town’s way of saying, “Hey, where you from? We know where you’re from and we don’t like you.”
Many of the buildings featured in the museum were constructed between 1886 and 1896 to showcase the port town’s growth and success.
The copper-framed history of town was captured in a novel way with a name change: “North Vancouver Residential Dam & Community Makers.” It replaced its former moniker North Vancouver Feisty Shipbuilder.
“After reading about what the others had done with their archives and what they had put forward for their own histories it made sense to own the name,” says Gasior. “We wanted to be different.”
Although there are some items missing from the exhibition space it is part of the history centre’s intent to also collect as many objects as possible. On display is the walking tour, which chronicles the town’s prosperity beginning from the Cold War era in the late 1940s, its industrial transition and its changing diversity, including the boom of the real estate market in the 1990s and the city’s transition to the suburban north coast.