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 rioters, this historical walking tour winds through Gastown’s most historic streets and alleyways – and most illicit stories.
Back alley “blind pigs”
Famous rum running routes
Architecture of early Vancouver
The tale of mob boss Joe Celona
The infamous Gastown “Grass” riot
The battle between bootleggers and the Dry Squad
Urban legends with hidden truths
You can cancel your experience for a full refund up to 24 hours before your tour start time. Less than 24 hours before the start of your tour, you can receive a full credit for future use. No questions asked! Prices do not include fees and taxes. Student and senior pricing available on all walking tours. Contact us to arrange a private tour.
We had our first walking tour with Lina last week and really enjoyed the experience. Being born and raised I "thought" I knew Vancouver but wow, did I learn so much more! What a fantastic tour, Lina was awesome, made our adventure so interesting and we will definitely be back for more!
Eric did a fantastic job at presenting this tour. My group chatted all the way home about all of the things we were impressed with, including his energy, sense of humour, eye contact, and even theatrical touches! Wow, it takes a lot of memory and energy to present a tour like that.
Tim was a great guide for the Forbidden Vancouver Tour. He was entertaining and really seemed to enjoy his work. We highly recommend it.
My husband and I took our 1 year old son to this with a few friends for an impromptu date night/pal hangout. Let me tell you … it was AWESOME. We had Lenard (infamous for his lack of “o”), and he was SUCH a treat.
Rowan was a great tour guide! He told us about some of his own history and also some of the seedier history of Vancouver. It was fascinating to learn more about how Prohibition came about in Canada and why it was voted in, and Rowan put a lot of energy and charm into the tour. He was a showman without being too showy, and he injected a fun sense of humor into the stories. You won't be disappointed if you go on this tour.
Excellent tour! Glenn took us around the more interesting historical locations in downtown Vancouver and told us about some of Vancouver's gritty history. The guide was passionate about telling stories and provided knowledgeable insights in response to any questions we asked. If you're in Vancouver for a couple of days I highly recommend one of the Forbidden Vancouver tours! Absolutely worth the cost.
As soon as I realized that the tours are on, I booked my ticket and it was an absolutely fun evening. You learn so much about the history of Vancouver. Aman is a great story teller, patient, keeps checking with the group, answers questions. I was part of a wonderful group. I will be signing up for more!
WINNER TRIP ADVISOR CERTIFICATE OF EXCELLENCE 2012 – 2021
WINNER LONELY PLANET “TOP CHOICE” 2021
WINNER CITY OF VANCOUVER HERITAGE MEDAL OF HONOUR 2019
WINNER MUST DO CANADA FEATURED EXPERIENCES 2021
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 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!
Tours start at the Gastown Steam Clock at Water and Cambie Streets
Tours end at Maple Tree Square in Gastown
When you buy a ticket for this walking tour, two percent of the ticket cost goes to support the Vancouver Women’s Health Collective. Since it was founded in 1971, the VWHC has worked to empower women to take control of their health. With a focus on providing information and resources to women, the VWHC’s work has included producing publications, educating media, hosting workshops, and staging community events.