Experience Vancouver’s dirty history

On Prohibition City you explore the strange, corrupt and colourful history of prohibition-era Vancouver. Hear of the unlikely alliance of temperance campaigners and anti-saloon activists who together convinced the province to go dry back in 1917. Discover what life was like under prohibition, with stories of blind pigs, private members clubs, corruption, bootlegging, and free-flowing medicinal liquor. And learn the stories of the city’s most notorious mayor, LD Taylor, its most beautiful showgirl and its greatest rum-runners.

Get undercover

On the tour YOU are an undercover newspaper reporter out to explore prohibition-era Vancouver. Armed with a notepad and pencil you will tackle the mysteries of some of our city’s greatest buildings. With the chance to be crowned ‘top newshound’, this tour is a high-stakes affair. But be warned…it takes a quick mind and sharp wits to survive in Prohibition City.

 

Joe Celona – Mobster

Crime boss and bootlegger supreme. Ruled East Vancouver in the 20’s and 30’s. Owned bawdy houses, ran gambling rackets, and bribed cops. Been dead over 50 years and old timers in East Van still fear his name.

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Nellie McClung – Activist

Fought to outlaw the demon drink and to close down the evil saloons. Leader of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. Her motto? “Never retract, never explain, never apologize – get the thing done and let them howl!”

Sam Kee – Businessman

Real name Chang Toy. Arrived 1874 in Vancouver penniless and by the 20’s was one of Vancouver’s richest businessmen. Fought discrimination through his lawyers, with his fists and if needed, by the gun.

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What will I see?

Venture through historic Victory Square. See remnants of Ward 2, formerly a political hotbed where socialists battled corporate forces. Visit the city’s most iconic and fabled buildings like the Dominion Building and Sun Tower. See the best preserved alleyway in the entire city. Catch a respectable hotel that was a notorious private members club during prohibition. Investigate the historic and the new at Woodward’s. Peek in the oldest bar in the city and end up on Gastown’s oldest street.