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5 things you (probably) didn't know about Canada Place

Want to choose the lights on the sails?
The iconic sails of Canada Place.

It's an iconic place built for an iconic moment in Vancouver's history.

Canada Place has played many roles over the years, but first it was the country's home during Expo 86. Since then it's played a central role in tourism for the city, both as a landmark and infrastructure (as the city's convention center).

But while everyone should recognize it, here are five things you may not know about it.

1. It has a 'Canadian Trail' highlighting some of the stranger city names in Canada.

If you walk along the west side, below the sails, and look down you'll see the provinces and territories listed out as a 'Canadian Trail.' In between those are the names of Canadian towns. But not the most famous or ones of particular historical note.

Instead, many of the names are representative of some of Canada's strange place names, like Cut Knife, Saskatchewan; Moonbeam, Ontario; and Five Houses, P.E.I.

The Canada Place App even has a section with info on each of the towns.

2. The Heritage Horns used to cause people to go to lunch early

If you're down by Canada Place around noon, you may have heard the huge heritage horns play the first part of 'O Canada.'

The horns are well known in the area for that tune, but originally they were set off by a mechanical timer, which wasn't always accurate.

Canada Place used to get complaints from local businesses that the horn was, much like the Flintstones, signaling when lunch was (at noon). However, it often fired early, sending people off to their midday meal before they were supposed.

An electrical timer was installed to make sure all was kept in order.

3. Organizations can ask for the sails to be lit up for their cause

The sails are iconic, and on many nights they're lit up in bright colours. There's usually a reason for those colours, as organizations can ask to have them lit up. Any charity or not-for-profit can ask to have it done.

"Canada Place at the Port of Vancouver is pleased to offer local charities and non-profit groups the opportunity to build awareness for their cause or organization by illuminating the Sails of Light in colours themed to the specific cause," states management on Canada Place's website.

All that's needed is an official request with certain information.

4. It's the busiest cruise ship terminal in Canada

By number of passengers, the Canada Place cruise terminal, run by the Port of Vancouver, is the busiest in the country.

In fact, with 900,000 passengers (pre-COVID) per year, it ranked around 40th in the world.

5. The original sails were sent to Tanzania for a school

A few years ago the sails were replaced. In 2011 the old sails were taken down after 25 years, and new ones were raised.

But the old ones weren't tossed in the trash. Instead they were sent to a school in Tanzania, the Dream Big School, where the salvaged material was turned into a large awning.