240 East Cordova Street used to be the address where Vancouver?s police officers, morticians, judges, and dead converged. The building, which was built in 1932, served as the city?s coroner?s court and morgue until the 1980s and the city analyst?s lab until 1995. Countless toxicology tests and several high-profile investigations have taken place between the building?s walls, including the Castellani Milkshake Murder and Errol Flynn?s autopsy. Fittingly, given the building?s significance to Vancouver's criminal-justice history, it is now home to the Vancouver Police Museum.
To date, the museum staff has curated a selection of approximately 20,000 historical artifacts, including confiscated weapons, counterfeit currency, photographs, paperwork, and vintage police vehicles. Currently, 40 per cent of the collection is on display in the museum?s several exhibits, one of which allows visitors to explore a coroner?s forensic lab. The museum also offers educational programs such as walking tours and a two-hour forensic-science program. During this program, guests scour a faux crime scene for clues and try to prevent the brash, young rookie cop from running off into the night to find the perpetrator.
Cities are the ultimate conglomerations, existing as both the collections of people, institutions, and locations that currently compose them as well as the memories of all of the bygone inhabitants that came before. Without some concept of that past, current-day residents are hard-pressed to really understand their present. Fortunately, the historians at Museum of Vancouver keep visitors in the know with expertly curated exhibits revealing the unforgettable events that shaped the city's character. Rotating exhibits each year showcase introspective works. 2014's feature exhibit, Rewilding Vancouver, explores humankind's relationship with nature through the lens of Vancouver's historical ecology. Complete with area taxidermy specimens, 3D models, soundscapes, videos, and photo interventions, visitors encounter Vancouver's dominant species, fish-bearing streams underneath city streets, and a life-sized creation of the now-extinct Steller?s Sea Cow. Additionally, the Museum of Vancouver?s history galleries tell the city?s stories from the early 1900s through the late 1970s.
Helmed by Artistic Director Leila Getz, the Vancouver Recital Society has drawn internationally acclaimed artists to British Columbia for more than three decades. Over the years, the society has dazzled audiences with concerts by celebrity cellist Yo-Yo Ma and recitals by violin virtuoso Itzhak Perlman. With recitals spread across four of Vancouver’s most esteemed venues, the Vancouver Recital Society packs every season with esteemed and seasoned luminaries, while introducing audiences to future generations of classical royalty.
Tasked with the preservation of British Columbia’s rich railroading history, the West Coast Railway Association’s train enthusiasts curate and maintain a collection of vintage rolling stock and artifacts. The heart of the 90-piece collection lies in the scenic confines of the West Coast Railway Heritage Park. Visitors are free to wonder the space’s wide-open tracks, visiting locomotives including the Royal Hudson, along with rarities such as an 1890 business car and a gently snoring 1905 sleeping car. A miniature railway affords pleasant rides around the 12 acres of grounds. With many pieces of operational equipment still on hand, the association also offers frequent train tours to destinations across British Columbia.
Docked inside British Columbia's former Supreme Court building in Bastion Square, the Maritime Museum of BC provides visitors with a bridge to the province's past through an affluent collection of nautical and legal treasures. More than 35,000 unique artifacts—plus 40,000 photographs—join forces to ferry eyes through history, including exhibits that showcase notable pirates, explorers, heritage vessels, and shipwrecks.
A fleet of three iconic sailboats has also dropped anchor beneath the museum's roof, and despite its age and creaky joints from years of playing pond hockey, the oldest operating birdcage elevator in North America still totes guests from floor to floor. Aside from its seafaring trove, the museum also runs public and school programs on topics such as immigration, pirates, women at sea, and the Canadian Coast Guard.
The Whale Museum’s exhibits illustrate the natural history of marine mammals, placing special emphasis on the three orca pods that frolic in San Juan waters from May through September. Visitors can watch a looped 30-minute video on Pacific Northwest whales, or listen to the songs of various species in the Whale Phone Booth, which doubles as a superhero transformation chamber. Members enjoy discounts on educational programs and 10 percent off at the museum store.