[By Will Woods – Forbidden Vancouver Walking Tours’ Founder]
Forbidden Vancouver Walking Tours stages walking tours and special events that celebrate Vancouver history. We tell the stories that don’t make it onto the tour buses, tales of crime, corruption, and sin. As notorious former mayor L.D. Taylor once said…”We’re a port city. This ain’t no Sunday School town!”
Our experiences all take place on the unceded ancestral territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. It’s an honour to live and work in this beautiful city, framed by mountains and ocean, even if we do enjoy digging up the dirt on its past. And we’re honoured to practice storytelling, a tradition practiced by indigenous people on this land for millennia.
The company started as a daydream. Rewind to 2011 and I’d been working a corporate job downtown, dreaming of ways to combine my twin passions of history and theatre into a viable business. I was really inspired by two other companies: Underground Seattle and the Edinburgh Ghost Tours – both of whom do a fantastic job of bringing their city’s histories to life. I figured Vancouver needed something similar!
So with the encouragement of my incredible (and very understanding!) wife I enrolled in acting school, immersed myself morning, noon, and night at the Vancouver Archives, and set about building a walking tour company. The first tour was for a group of whiskey enthusiasts in February 2012, and I knew my path was set!
Today I love showing people Vancouver and the city’s unique history just as much as I did on that first day (albeit with a few less nerves these days!). I feel very lucky and honoured to have found a career that allows me to indulge my own interests, and to have met so many interesting people along the way.
Fast-forward to today and Forbidden Vancouver Walking Tours has a team of eighteen guides – some of the nicest, most passionate, and most creative people I’ve ever had the pleasure to know. Together, we’ve run well over a thousand walking tours, held special events in some of the city’s most famous venues like the Penthouse and the Commodore Ballroom, staged a sold-out Christmas play, and launched sister company Vancouver Mysteries – now owned and operated by former Forbidden Vancouver storyteller Tanya Bennett.
We’ve got big plans for the future and more ideas on the hopper than you can shake a stick at. So if you enjoy a dose of theatre with your history, stay tuned and I promise we’ll continue to deliver!