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From storm debris to Vancouver icon: Here’s the entire timeline of the English Bay Barge

The barge has been in the news a lot over the past three months. Here’s how you can keep track of what happened.
Barge daffodils
From its arrival on the heels of a wind and rainstorm in November 2021, the English Bay Barge has made Vancouver headlines several times in the past few months.

Whether you’re a barge stan or not, the beached wood chip carrier known as the "English Bay Barge" has made undeniable waves in Vancouver. Since the barge’s arrival in November 2021, a lot has happened and Vancouver Is Awesome has run numerous stories on each development, making for a fulsome timeline both for posterity and your enjoyment. 

As the saying goes, it's an ill wind that blows no one any good. A massive windstorm on November 15, 2021 brought mass destruction to B.C. but also the barge to Vancouver. As water crashed into the sea wall, videos of the barge sloshing through white-capped waves made the rounds on social media. For a time it looked as if the barge was on a collision course with the Burrard Street Bridge. This concern was so real the City of Vancouver closed the bridge for a short time as a precaution but winds and currents shoved the barge up onto the rocks at English Bay instead. 

For that day and the next, the media was in a frenzy. For some reason everyone wanted to know as much as they could about this barge now occupying one of Vancouver’s most coveted beachfronts. The next day the barge received even more attention when a tug boat made an unsuccessful attempt to remove it. 

Soon enough the media delivered answers. Soon it came to light that the barge came from Sentry Marine Towing, a towing company based out of Richmond. Other answers included no, the barge does not pose a threat to the environment, yes the barge used to carry wood chips and it's suspected the barge broke loose from its moorings in order to make the trek to English Bay. 

The barge was rapidly growing a cult following at this point. Something about the barge’s size, its graceful lean, its physical representation of climate change, its defiant unmoving nature, struck a chord with locals. Locals who, despite watching the province slowly recover from the aforementioned floods, found humour and levity in the English Bay Barge. 

Despite its growing fame, a plan to remove the barge was put in place. In the meantime people rallied behind it, piggybacking off its popularity to support those still stricken by the floods in Abbotsford.

As the date for the barge’s scheduled removal moved closer, people of all sorts weighed in on what they thought of it. Radio hosts attempted to “jump” it, “Sunset Beach Barge” got rave reviews on TripAdvisor, someone renamed the section of beach on Google Maps. 

Then came Dec. 6, the day barge fans feared and its haters celebrated: moving day. Residents and media lined up on the sea wall to watch the drama unfold but it was a bust. Turns out the moving plan still needed to be finalized and the moving date was classified as TBD. Just a few days later a crane barge and a tug arrived on site and for a moment it looked like the barge’s number was up but it was a false alarm. 

As Vancouver moved into the festive season, locals started making various arts and crafts featuring the barge. A woodworker made an ornament out of it along with a parody poem of the Night Before Christmas. That poem was later read by one of our own reporters down by the barge. Gingerbread barges were made and someone even made a barge costume for the polar bear swim.

Within that time though something happened that launched the English Bay Barge back into headlines. On Dec. 15, the Vancouver Park Board unveiled a sign that read “Barge Chilling Beach,” a nod to Vancouver’s well-known “Dude Chilling Park” sign at Guelph Park. 

In the first week of 2022 the Barge Chilling Park sign was painted over with the beach's traditional Squamish name "Í7iy̓el̓shn," sparking a conversation over Indigenous and colonial names around the city. The sign was cleaned, then painted over again and cleaned again. Before the sign was taken down in late January, V.I.A’s own Vancouver Canucks reporter shot a music video by the barge parodying Gordon Lightfoot's "Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald."

From there a local Lego creator recreated the now-famous scene of the barge entirely out of Lego bricks. A Vancouver planter company even offered to make barge-shaped planters for the beach once the barge was removed. Speaking of which… 

On Feb. 6 it was announced there was a final, definitive plan to take the barge off the beach – piece by piece. The barge would be cut up and sent to a scrapyard Sentry Marine Towing told V.I.A. one morning. 

The news of the barge's imminent demise didn’t slow the fascination people had with it though. The barge’s second parody video came out soon after the scrapyard announcement and a local marine biologist took a dive to see what creatures called the barge’s hull their home.  

As of this writing, no clear date has been set for the barge’s deconstruction but you can be sure to read all about it on V.I.A. when it happens. 

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