Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

Check out this 130-year-old photo of Vancouver's waterfront

Vancouver has long been a port city
Vancouver's waterfront as it was in 1888. Reference code: AM1576-S6-12-F47-: 2011-010.1723

Vancouver's waterfront is incredibly recognizable.

The Port of Vancouver, with its massive orange cranes, forest of shipping containers and visits from freighters the size of skyscrapers, is a big part of that.

It's long been an important port for Canada, the biggest on the country's west coast with massive amounts of industrial and light industrial activity.

Rewind 134 years ago and it's both much the same and wildly different.

Shot in 1888, this photo shows a part of Vancouver any local would recognize today. It's from the intersection of Seymour and Cordova streets, looking northeast. That's where Waterfront station stands today (though it wasn't built until 1914).

Looking past where the big brick building is now you can see the port as it was in the earliest days of the city.

Logs are stacked up, a steam engine can be seen right along the shore and what appears to be a sailing ship (or at least one that relies on wind sometimes) is docked in the distance. Nearer the photographer, it appears a barge is resting just offshore. It's uncertain if it's an ancestor to a current famed barge.

Instead of large industrial facilities and CRAB Park there are small warehouses and shacks scattered along the shore. 

In the foreground a banner on a building advertises something for the Canadian Pacific Railway, though it's unclear what exactly. The railway had only been in operation for about a year at this time; the first passenger train arrived in May of 1887.