I love digging into Vancouver’s history (as evidenced by my 1,000 plus posts about local history on this site) so when Will Woods first came along with his Forbidden Vancouver Walking Tours about five years ago, I was very excited to see that it would be shared with locals and visits alike, in a creative way.
Forbidden Vancouver Walking Tours
On the website Woods writes: “We tell the stories that don’t make it onto the tour buses – tales of crime, corruption, and sin. As former mayor and all-round rogue L.D. Taylor once said: ‘We’re a port city. This ain’t no Sunday School town!'”
Today, Forbidden Vancouver has grown, with 12 guides who have hosted over a thousand walking tours and held special events at famous venues like the Penthouse and the Commodore. The two main tours they operate are The Lost Souls of Gastown and Prohibition City, which start up again in March.
If your idea of adventure is following your guide down lamplit alleyways, back to a world of illegal booze, opium dens, and unsolved murders, then you’ve come to the right place.
Tour: Lost Souls of Gastown
Running: Tuesdays, Fridays, Saturdays (starting March 3, 2017)
Details: Venture into Vancouver’s earliest and most gruesome history on the Lost Souls a Gastown. A time when Vancouver was the Granville Townsite – wild frontier town that suffered a devastating fire, smallpox outbreaks, and unsolved murders.
Designed for adult audiences, the Lost Souls of Gastown is both a walking tour and a theatre piece. Created by Forbidden Vancouver’s Chief Storyteller Will Woods – and based on documented Vancouver history – the plot weaves through back streets and alleyways to a dramatic finale in the heart of Gastown’s Maple Tree Square.
Tour: Prohibition City
Running: Every day (starting April 1, 2017)
Details: Delve into Vancouver’s dirtiest secrets on this scandal fuelled walking tour. Starting in the world of the saloon, you trace the story of prohibition in Vancouver while winding along the city’s most storied streets. You’ll hear tales of blind pigs, corrupt mayors, and enterprising bootleggers. Plus you’ll see first hand evidence of opium dens and walk down an alleyway once teeming with over 40 “bawdy houses.”
Along the way you’ll see some of the city’s greatest heritage buildings like the Sun Tower and the Dominion Building, which once battled to become the tallest building in the British Empire. The tour finishes in Gastown, steps from the city’s most talked about bars and restaurants.
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Update The winner is Shelley!