Discover Heritage

VHF’s 25 Ways to Heritage

There are lots of ways to celebrate and explore Vancouver’s heritage buildings and places, and even play a part in their conservation. July 24, 2017 marked VHF’s 25th anniversary. As a celebration of this milestone, we created a fun, interactive list of 25 ways you can get involved and explore heritage resources across the city. Bring the family, your friends or get to know your neighbour while learning more about our city’s built heritage. There are many more ways than our 25 and we’d love to hear from you too. Have a heritage adventure in your own town by visiting a heritage site or doing a heritage task.

From taking a moment to appreciate the details and craftsmanship of Vancouver’s historic buildings, to learning more about the diverse history of our city, planning a special visit, or even rolling up your sleeves and getting hands-on, there are lots of ways to enjoy and learn about heritage, and help us ensure it is part of the future of our city.


This list is in no particular order.

  1. Visit the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, an oasis in the heart of the city, and learn about traditional Chinese gardens.
  2. Pull up a deck chair and learn about a few of Vancouver’s sustainable heritage restoration projects by reading some of our case studies.
  3. Take a walk down the West Hastings Street corridor and find the five Places That Matter plaques posted along the street. See how this important historic street has evolved from fashion centre to business district, and learn about some of its impressive buildings.
  4. Look up from your daily commute at the incredible ceiling of Waterfront Station. Completed in 1916 by Adelaide Langford, the paintings depict the Rocky Mountains from Calgary to Vancouver. Learn more here.
  5. Paint your home in historically accurate colours using the True Colours paint palette or use the palette and neighbourhood lists to find homes that have already been painted in historic schemes.
  6. Visit one of Chinatown’s legacy shops. Tea vendors and markets, housewares, toys and restaurants are all found in this unique historic district. Some have been in operation for 100 years!
  7. Use the Heritage Site Finder on your mobile device to find all the listed heritage buildings in Gastown (hint: there are 39 on Water Street alone!)
  8. Learn more about the rich history, heritage and culture of the indigenous communities of the region with a visit to the Museum of Anthropology or the Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art. c̓əsnaʔəm, the city before the city is also still on at the Museum of Vancouver.
  9. Discover the 125 Places That Matter to Vancouverites and contribute a personal story to the new Places That Matter Community History Resource.
  10. Visit the Archives! The City of Vancouver Archives have great panoramic archival images on display as well as an impressive collection including digital images, news clippings and maps. You can also visit other archives such as the Nikkei Museum and Cultural Centre or the Jewish Museum and Archives to learn more about our city’s cultural history.
  11. Use our helpful Building Owner’s Guide to learn about maintaining your heritage or character home. You can get a head start on fall maintenance by grading your gardens away from the house, or taking care of repairs and painting work.
  12. Visit the Hastings Mill Store, Vancouver’s oldest building dating to 1867 – learn its story and about this early example of heritage conservation.
  13. Explore some of Vancouver’s historic parks and landscapes including VanDusen Botanical Garden, Maple Grove Park, Shaughnessy Park and the Rose and Shakespeare Gardens in Stanley Park.
  14. Download one of our free neighbourhood map guides and explore a new area such as Historic Kitsilano or Strathcona or an architectural style like Mid-Century Modern.
  15. Head down to the iconic Marine Building and count the zeppelins, bi-planes or trains in the relief work. These modes of transportation were considered state-of-the-art in 1929 when construction began.
  16. Visit the Museum of Vancouver and take in one of their fascinating exhibits or displays specific to our city.
  17. Discover Vancouver’s common housing styles with the Vancouver House Styles webtool and learn to distinguish your Edwardian from your Craftsman or Mission Revival.
  18. Explore Vancouver’s maritime history and heritage with a wander along False Creek’s south shore, from the Salt Building to Granville Island to the Vancouver Maritime Museum. This transformed waterfront has a lot to reveal of its industrial and seafaring past and present.
  19. Support local business with a tour down one of Vancouver’s vibrant main streets such as Commercial Drive, Main Street, W 4th Ave or many others. They all offer great options for local dining and shopping. Be sure to admire the many character buildings housing these unique shops while you’re out.
  20. Not just a perennial holiday favourite, the historic Stanley Park train also leaves the station throughout the year with opportunities to celebrate a selection of holidays or just learn about the park (a National Historic Site of Canada since 1988).
  21. Book an evening out in a historic venue or enjoy a Vancouver tradition. Attend a baseball game at Places That Matter site Nat Bailey Stadium, explore the Orpheum Theatre during a VSO performance, or visit the Stanley Theatre, once a single-screen movie house.
  22. Cycle or walk a section of the newly created Arbutus Greenway, which follows the route of the historic interurban Vancouver and Lulu Island Railway.
  23. Hop online and find a new use for a salvaged architectural item to create something wonderful for your home. Use a recycled window to create a photo display, salvage a panel door to create a handsome desk or table, or refurbish metalwork into a one-of-a-kind lamp.
  24. Visit one of Vancouver’s house museums. Roedde House in the West End and Colbourne House in Marpole offer fascinating insights into how our city has developed and changed in the past 100 years.
  25. Help preserve heritage in Vancouver by donating to VHF and help us continue to build awareness of the value of historic places and ensure their future.

BONUS: If you are in the market for real estate, consider a heritage building. Restoring, stewarding and protecting heritage properties is a vital way to support the future of heritage in our city.