Vancouver History Walking Tours

Add a Comment by Rebecca Bollwitt

Vancouver is so walkable that it makes sightseeing on foot the ideal way to learn more about the city and its past. Aside from popular food tours that take you to culinary corners and neighbourhood kitchens, historic walking tours have always appealed to me.

I love history, I love learning about my town, and I love to be entertained. To top it off, most are very reasonably priced. If you’re up for being a tourist in your own town this summer, here are a few ideas for Vancouver history walking tours:

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Forbidden Vancouver Walking Tours

These vibrant historical tours have made a splash since arriving on scene just a few years ago. Top reviews and colourful storytellers have led to frequent sell-outs.

  • Starting From: Cathedral Square at Dunsmuir and Richards
  • Cost: $22 adults/$19 seniors
  • Tour Type: Prohibition City: On Prohibition City you explore the strange, corrupt and colourful history of prohibition-era Vancouver.
  • Tour Type: The Lost Souls of Gastown: You are transported back to the 1800s when Vancouver was a violent frontier town where only a few thousand inhabitants hustled to survive in the Wild West of Canada. Do not expect a conventional walking tour, this experience is visceral and dramatic.
  • Tour Type: Granville Street Reveal: Join aristocrat, vaudeville actor and legendary Granville Street bon vivant Lord Fothrington-Appleby on a light-hearted stroll through historic Granville Street.

Tour Guys

Operating in Toronto and Vancouver, you can select from a variety of tours around the downtown core including free options.

  • Starting From: Outside of the Vancouver Art Gallery in front of the fountain.
  • Cost: Free
  • Tour Type: Downtown and Waterfront, Granville and Gastown, or Chinatown: On these 90 minute easy-walking tours the hosts give a complete overview of downtown Vancouver and venture into some of the city’s historic buildings.
  • Starting From: The edge of Granville Island, on the North West corner of 2nd Ave and Anderson St.
  • Cost: Free
  • Tour Type: Granville Island: On this 45 minute easy-walking tour hosts give a complete overview of the island and introduce you to some of the “hidden gems” often missed by most visitors.
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Heritage Walks with John Atkin

John Atkin is a civic historian and authority on all things related to Vancouver history, architecture, and urban planning. He has created, and conducts, a number of unique and popular 2-hour walking tours throughout the City of Vancouver.

  • Starting From: Each meeting place is unique based on the specific walk that day.
  • Cost: $10
  • Tour Type: Heritage Walks this summer include: Strathcona, John Street: Off the Grid in Mount Pleasant, West of Cambie, Shaughnessy, and The West End.

Vancouver Heritage Foundation Walking Tours

Maurice Guibord and John Atkin lead walks for the Heritage Vancouver Foundation. Explore Vancouver’s neighbourhoods on foot and discover hidden beauties (April to October).

  • Starting From: Each meeting place is unique based on the specific walk.
  • Cost: $12
  • Tour Type: Friday Walking Tours: Take your pick of the West Hastings, Railtown, Yaletown or the West End.

Heritage Vancouver Society Walking Tours

A variety of tour guides and historians lead these Heritage Vancouver walking tours. Each is unique — their backgrounds, their personalities, and their stories bring Vancouver’s historic neighbourhoods to life.

  • Starting From: Each meeting place is unique based on the specific walk.
  • Cost: $10 members/$15 non-members
  • Tour Type: Tours this summer include: Vancouver’s Granville & West Georgia Streets, Estates of South Kerrisdale, West End Heritage, Delamont: Kitsilano’s Oldest City Block of Houses, Planning tour of Vancouver’s West End, Grandview, West of Commercial, UBC Campus: Modern Buildings & Landscapes, and First Shaughnessy: The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly.

History Walks with James Johnstone

James Johnstone is the foremost “house history” researcher in Vancouver. This summer he is offering tours every Saturday.

  • Starting From: Each meeting place is unique based on the specific walk.
  • Cost: $20 per person
  • Tour Type: The second and fourth Saturday of each month dedicated to Strathcona: Vancouver’s Oldest Neighbourhood and on the other Saturdays he will alternate between the West End and Mount Pleasant. Tours last approximately 2 hours, depending on the size and pace of the group.

Mountain View Cemetery

Vancouver’s only public cemetery holds much information about the city’s past and the people who helped develop it into what we see today.

  • Starting From: Mountain View Cemetery
  • Cost: $10 per person
  • Tour Type: Various tours are presented throughout the year, follow Mountain View on Facebook for the latest list. Each is held rain or shine.

Be sure to click through on each of the tour links to confirm specific dates, times, meeting places and pricing!

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