History

Canada’s busiest harbour and third largest city surrounds Canada Place. Rich in history and bustling with activity, Vancouver’s downtown harbour front has seen extensive growth since its humble beginnings.

The area now occupied by Canada Place has served as the location for visits from the earliest explorers, the completion of sawmills, the arrival of the first ships to provide lumber to world markets, major immigrations from Asia; the completion of the first transcontinental railway and the arrival of the first train; and the completion of major shipping terminals to support the economy of Western Canada.

The land upon which Canada Place was built has historical beginnings as the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) Pier B-C. This land was granted to CPR for the construction of a railway from sea to sea. Pier B-C’s primary purpose was to serve Canadian Pacific, Royal Mail, NYK, OSK, and other shipping lines trading with the Orient, Australia and New Zealand but it also served the development of British Columbia and the CP Steamships coastal fleet which transported people, vehicles and cargo to virtually every accessible portion of the coast and Vancouver Island until 1955.

In 1978, Federal, Provincial and Municipal governments commenced planning for development of convention, cruise ship and hotel facilities at Pier B-C supported by The Honourable Grace McCarthy. Four years later, the Government of Canada created a crown corporation, Canada Harbour Place Corporation (now known as Canada Place Corporation), to develop the Canada Place project on the Pier B-C site. Canada Place would be used as the Canadian Pavilion at the Expo ’86 World Fair. Construction began when HM Queen Elizabeth II arrived on the royal yacht Britannia with The Right Honourable Pierre Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada and The Honourable William R. Bennett, Premier of British Columbia to initiate the first concrete pour in a caisson located at the southeast corner of the site.

During Expo ’86, the Canada Pavilion at Canada Place was opened by HRH Prince Charles and The Right Honourable Brian Mulroney, Prime Minister of Canada. Among the largest and most elaborate pavilions presented by any nation at any World’s Fair, the Canada Pavilion hosted more than 5 million visitors prior to the October 13, 1986 closing date. The Canada Pavilion has been acknowledged as one of the best-ever host nation pavilions at a world exposition. Wholly funded by the Government of Canada, the Canada Pavilion was converted into the Vancouver Trade and Convention Centre in 1987 and was then officially turned over to the Province of British Columbia as a lasting legacy for the Canadian people.

The world class landmark that today is Canada Place is dedicated by the Government of Canada to the people of Canada and the world, who will visit and enjoy the many features of this unique project. Canada Place is home port to the Vancouver-Alaska cruise, and houses Vancouver Convention Centre East, Pan Pacific Hotel, FlyOver Canada, World Trade Centre and West Park. Canada Place is owned and operated by the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority.

Significant dates

1927 Construction of Pier B-C was completed
June 2, 1982 Canada Harbour Place Corp (CHPC) formed
March 9, 1983 Start of construction
September 5, 1984 First sail raised
October 27, 1984 Last sail raised
January 5, 1986 Pan Pacific Hotel official opening
May 2, 1986 Canada Pavilion, World’s Fair Expo ‘86 opening
July 4, 1987 Vancouver Trade & Convention Centre opening
September 16, 1993 Canada Harbour Place Corporation’s name changes to Canada Place Corporation
July 29, 2004 Vancouver Convention Centre Expansion Project (VCCEP) is given the green light
November 15, 2004 Vancouver Fraser Port Authority opens corporate offices on north expansion, “The Point”
July 1, 2006 Canada Place new Inspirationally Canadian brand unveiled
April 3, 2009 New Canada Place Plaza, Vancouver Convention Centre West and Connector Opens
January 30, 2010 Main Press Centre Opens for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games
March to December 2010 Canada Place refurbishes the iconic white sails
June 2012 Canada Place commemorates 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 by opening two year interactive exhibit in partnership with Heritage Canada
June 2012 Canada Place officially launches permanent attraction, The Canadian Trail, featuring interactive monuments and divided into equal sections to feature Canada’s 10 provinces and three territories
August 2012 FlyOver Canada opens at Canada Place
December 2012 Canada Place integrates with the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority