Last year the tours took place between July and September. In 2023, they run on Wednesdays and Sundays from June 4th until September 27th.
The tours are educational, entertaining, a lot of fun and free! They run independently from the museum, so you can do the tour or visit the museum or do both. You can choose. You have to pay to see the actual museum, but it’s well worth a visit, either before or after your time with the Shipyard Pals. There is no charge, however, for the tours.
To learn more about the tours and the museum either continue reading or visit the MONOVA: Museum of North Vancouver website. And for a video of the tours, you’ll see one at the bottom of this page.
This article contains the following information about the walking tours:
MONOVA and the Shipyard Pals
MONOVA is the name of the museum in North Vancouver which opened in late 2021. It’s a great museum full of stories, artifacts and historical information. As of July, 2023, the museum is open on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, plus special days. Admission costs $14 for adults, $12 for seniors, and $10 for youth and students. Children under the age of 5 and Indigenous people are free.
The Shipyards has been a major shipbuilding area for over 100 years, and ships are still built and maintained there. The neighbourhood is home to historical buildings, a pier and a couple of large plazas where events take place at various times of the year.
MONOVA: the Museum of North Vancouver hosts historical walking tours with the Shipyard Pals who are a pair of storytelling characters. Shipyard Sal and Shipyard Sam give free tours of the area four times a week – twice on Wednesdays and twice on Sundays. The tours run for between 45 minutes and an hour and there is no need to book in advance.
Where are the Shipyards and the Tours?
The Shipyards are at the waterfront in the Lower Lonsdale District of North Vancouver. It’s about a five-minute walk from Lonsdale Quay. The address for MONOVA: the Museum of North Vancouver is 115 West Esplanade.
The Shipyards is more or less the area between the Polygon Gallery (located at 101 Carrie Cates Court) and the Burrard Dry Dock Pier and Shipyard Commons. MONOVA is at the edge of the Shipyards, about a block or two up from the SeaBus Terminal at the waterfront.
The Shipyard Pals tours begin at the museum. You’ll recognize the guides by their 1940s-era clothing. The tours go all around the Shipyards. Along the way Shipyard Sal and Shipyard Sam tell stories and describe the history of the area. They also sing, dance and entertain.
In 2023 the tours happen twice a day, at both 11:00 am and 1:00 pm, on Wednesdays and Sundays between June 4th and September 27th.
What to Expect
On the tour you’ll learn lots about the history of the Shipyards District. You can also expect to be thoroughly entertained.
When we joined one of the tours there were about 20 people which Shipyard Sal said was the biggest group she had ever had. Normally there is just a small number of guests. In our group people ranged in age between about 6 and 70 and everyone loved the experience! Even the little kids were gripped!
On the tour Shipyard Sal and Shipyard Sam take the group all around the area. They walk past and talk about the Pipe Shop, Shipbuilders’ Square, Shipyard Commons and the giant crane in the plaza. They also spend some time on the St. Roch Dock and walk along the Burrard Dry Dock Pier.
One place the tour doesn’t go to is MONOVA which is the attraction that puts on the tours. You need to go to the museum later on your own. It’s well worth a visit and complements the tours very nicely!
On the tours, along the way around the neighbourhood, Shipyard Sam and Shipyard Sal tell stories and explain what life was like in the old days. The duo also sings, dances, impersonates other characters and acts out little skits. They are an impressive and talented pair! They are also very knowledgeable about the area.
Note: Shipyard Sal and Shipyard Sam do a fair bit of dancing and singing. The audience, however, isn’t expected to participate. You can just sit back and enjoy the fun!
How to Book a Tour
The tours with the Shipyard Pals are free of charge. Tours take place at 11:00 am and 1:00 pm on Wednesdays and Sundays between early June and late September. You can just show up for a tour. You don’t have to book in advance.
Shipyard Pals Video
To give you a really good idea of what the Shipyards District and its Shipyard Pals tours look like, watch the video below. It shows scenes of the tour with Shipyard Sam and Shipyard Sal in the summer of 2022. The characters are played by professional actors, so their appearances may vary. They are always, however, a fun, talented, entertaining and comical pair!
Museum of North Vancouver Video
To give you an idea of what to expect at MONOVA: the Museum of North Vancouver, check out this second video below. It shows what the museum looked like soon after it opened (when face masks were still required in public indoor spaces). In the video you’ll see the main display rooms. You’ll also see Streetcar 153 which used to transport passengers all over the North Shore.
To learn more about the tours and the museum that offers them, visit the MONOVA website.
Other articles that might be of interest include the following:
- City of North Vancouver
- Places for History and Culture
- Lower Mainland Festivals and Events
- The Shipyards District
- MONOVA: The Museum of North Vancouver
- Vancouver’s North Shore