This ain’t where they take you on the buses! Explore Vancouver’s dirtiest Prohibition-era secrets. From mobsters and rum-runners to corrupt politicians and opium dens, this historical walking tour winds through Gastown and Chinatown’s most historic streets and alleyways – and most illicit stories.
Back alley “blind pigs”
Chinatown opium dens
Famous rum running routes
Salacious bawdy houses
Stories of banks – and robbers
Secret underground tunnels
Architecture of early Vancouver
Urban legends with hidden truths
Cathedral Square, across from the Holy Rosary Cathedral at Dunsmuir and Richards
Join us for a walking tour of historic Vancouver and discover how illegal booze, opium, and vice turned a sleepy port city into the West Coast capital of sin…on the Forbidden Vancouver Tour.
This two hour walking tour explores Victory Square, Chinatown, and Gastown – Vancouver’s most historic neighbourhoods. Starting in the world of the saloon, you’ll trace the story of Vancouver’s forbidden history while winding along the city’s most historic streets. You’ll hear tales of “blind pigs,” corrupt mayors, and enterprising bootleggers. Plus you’ll see first hand evidence of opium dens and walk down an alleyway once teeming with over 40 bawdy houses.
Along the way you’ll see some of the city’s greatest heritage buildings like the Sun Tower and the Dominion Building, which once battled to become the tallest building in the British Empire. The tour finishes in Gastown, steps from the city’s most talked about bars and restaurants.
In 1917, Prohibition hit Vancouver harder than a slug of bathtub gin. Saloon doors swung closed for good, forcing law-abiding citizens into an underground world of bootlegged spirits and illicit activity.
Mob bosses set up scores of illegal drinking dens, while dirty cops took bribes to look the other way. Vancouver’s longest-running mayor L.D. Taylor emerged from the chaos, soon notorious for his shadowy past, raucous parties and underworld ties. When the U.S. followed suit with their own prohibition three years later, enterprising Vancouver rum-runners made millions smuggling booze on midnight voyages down the coast.
By the 1920s Vancouver’s Chinatown had became a hotbed of prostitution, gambling, and opium. Thirsty loggers, sailors, and miners poured in from the nearby port, ready to blow their wages while crime kingpins Shui Moy and Joe Celona lined their pockets with the ill-gotten gains.
On the Forbidden Vancouver Tour you’ll walk the alleyways and back streets where it all went down. So discover the real story of Vancouver – this ain’t where they take you on the tour buses!
Prices include all fees and taxes. Student and senior pricing available on all walking tours. Contact us for private tours.