Forbidden Vancouver Walking Tours

2012: <br /> Forbidden Vancouver Walking Tours

The Penthouse Raided

1975: <br />The Penthouse Raided

Photo courtesy Brian Kent, Vancouver Sun archives. The Filippone family has run the Penthouse nightclub since the ’40s. Favourite haunt of Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr. and the Rat Pack. It was the most celebrated cabaret outside of Vegas. But times change. By the ‘70s it was notorious for something different… prostitution. A police raid shut it down in ’75 and put the Filippones on the stand. But they won, and the Penthouse is still throwing parties to this day.

Gastown Grass Riots

1971: <br />Gastown Grass Riots

Image courtesy of: Vancouver Public Library

Burlesque Booms

1940: <br />Burlesque Booms

Cops Seize Liquor

1932: <br />Cops Seize Liquor

A Floating Liquor Warehouse

1930:<br /> A Floating Liquor Warehouse

Image courtesy of: Vancouver Public Library In the US prohibition is in. Enterprising Canadian sailors with a thirst for danger made their fortunes rum-running. Bootleggers would collect their shipment of contraband Canadian liquor from The Malahat and smuggle it into California, evading the FBI and US Coastguards. Some rum runners got a bullet in the head for their trouble.

Sit Down and Drink Your Beer

1925: <br /> Sit Down and Drink Your Beer

Image courtesy of: Vancouver Archives By 1925, the government had totally lost control of public drinking, which was supposedly illegal – speakeasies and blind-pigs existed all over the city, bribing city officials and cops to stay open. So the politicians came up with the beer parlour as the solution. Beer parlours served one drink only – beer. What did people do in beer parlours? They drank. The beer parlour would stick around in Vancouver until 1971.

Speakeasies ‘N’ Blind Pigs

1920: <br />Speakeasies ‘N’ Blind Pigs

Image courtesy of: Vancouver Archives Vancouver’s version of the infamous speakeasy – the private members club. In the 20′s, folks skirted round prohibition laws by supposedly drinking their own liquor in these clubs – away from the prying eyes of the police or government agents. The clubs usually existed in hotels like this one – the Rainier Hotel on Carrall Street. The taxi rank outside provided a neat getaway for hotel occupants should a police raid happen. What happened to the Rainier? It’s still operating as a hotel today.

Prohibition Arrives

1917: <br />Prohibition Arrives

The Darkest Day

1907: <br /> The Darkest Day

Image courtesy of: Vancouver Public Library On September 7, 1907 the Asiatic Exclusion League led a protest against the Asian communities of Chinatown and Japantown that ended up a full-blown riot. Asian people were attacked and businesses destroyed. By a strange quirk of fate, this riot ultimately led to Canada’s first anti-drugs law – the Opium Act of 1908.

The Wild West

1890: <br />The Wild West

Image courtesy of: Vancouver Public Library Back in the 1890`s Vancouver was a tough town. Men came through on their way to logging camps, gold mines, or cargo ships. They gambled hard, drank hard, and lived hard. Saloons were open 24 hours a day and had everything men needed for a thoroughly enjoyable stay – card games, whiskey, and women. Provided of course you didn`t mind the odd gun fight or knife wound if things turned ugly.

Burn Down This Town

1886: <br />Burn Down This Town

Photo courtesy Past Tense Vancouver Greedy railway merchants clear forest like a plague of locusts as Vancouver is named the terminus of the brand-spanking new Pacific railway line. The resulting bush fires get out of hand and an inferno erupts, destroying Vancouver in minutes. Flames race through Gastown faster than a sprinting man. It was said that day “be quick…or be dead.”

Gassy Jack Arrives

1867: <br />Gassy Jack Arrives

Sailor, gold miner, ferry captain, barman and rogue “Gassy” Jack Deighton sets up his saloon in what is now Gastown. Saloon? It was a shack with a plank of wood and two barrels for a bar. The nicest thing ever said about Gassy Jack? “He has not the least atom of hero about him”

Smallpox, The Unknown Terror

1770: <br />Smallpox, The Unknown Terror

Smallpox attacks the First Nations communities of the Pacific coast. No one knows exactly how smallpox travelled from Europe to the Pacific coast, but its effects were ruthless. Entire villages wiped out from Mexico to Alaska. As one chief said: “So great was the mortality in this epidemic that it was impossible for the survivors to bury the dead. They simply pulled the houses down over the bodies and left them.” The Squamish, Musqueam and Tsleil-Waututh nations of Burrard Inlet were decimated. But they would survive and become strong again.

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