The Vancouver Maritime Museum in Vanier Park showcases the maritime and boating history of the Pacific Northwest and Arctic.
It’s a great place to be on a Rainy Day, and Vancouver’s top attraction for learning about boats and maritime history.
For tickets and full details about the venue, see the Vancouver Maritime Museum‘s website.
To learn about the museum’s special featured exhibition running until July 3rd, 2022, click Ho’-ku-melh War Canoes and the Gifts They Carry Forward or see our articles about Special Museum Exhibitions.
This article includes information about the following topics:
SAVE 25% ON ADMISSION
Want to save money on the price of admission to the museum? Then use the promo code BESTVANCOUVER when purchasing your tickets online! If you do that, you’ll save 25%! The discount is even valid on family day passes, which is an especially good deal!
To learn more about the attraction and to buy tickets, visit the Vancouver Maritime Museum website.
The Maritime Museum in Vancouver
Located in Vanier Park between Kitsilano Beach and the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre and Museum of Vancouver, the Maritime Museum is a terrific place to explore. It’s home to a historic arctic exploration vessel, the St. Roch, as well as displays of model ships and more.
The Vancouver Maritime Museum is a medium-sized museum. It has a nice collection of model ships. It takes between about an hour and 90 minutes to go through. If you are a model-ship enthusiast who wants to study every little detail on each display, however, you’ll want to stay much longer.
The highlight of the Maritime Museum is definitely the St. Roch. It’s a retired RCMP police boat and the first vessel to circumnavigate North America. The St. Roch is indoors and you can board the ship and walk all around it, including inside in the galley.
(Note: Interestingly, the St. Roch was built in North Vancouver in the Shipyards District which today still has buildings and a historic crane from the region’s rich shipbuilding past.)
For the museum’s official website visit vanmaritime.com.
As of early 2022, the museum’s hours are Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 am until 5:00 pm. This includes all statutory holidays except for Christmas.
Visitors are encouraged to book their tickets online. Guests can also pay onsite, but with credit and debit payments only. Because of COVID-19 safety measures, a maximum of 50 people are allowed in the venue at any one time. Visitors must also follow signage instructions and go through the museum in one direction.
Museum Admission Rates
Regular admission to the museum is $13.50 for adults, $11.00 for students and seniors, and $10.00 for youth (ages 6 to 18). A family pass for up to two adults and four children costs $38.00. Children 5 and under are free. Taxes are extra.
TIP: Use the promo code BESTVANCOUVER when making your purchase and you’ll save 25%! (Note: This offer is valid as of early 2022 and may change at any time.)
For tickets and full details about the attraction, see the Vancouver Maritime Museum‘s website.
What to Expect
At the Vancouver Maritime Museum expect to see a good number of model ships, some hands-on displays for children, and the large St. Roch sailing vessel which you can climb aboard and explore. It’s a very family-friendly place that’s great for all ages.
Below is information about the St. Roch ship, the museum’s galleries and what you’ll find outside the venue.
The St. Roch
As you enter the Maritime Museum, if you turn left you’ll find the St. Roch. It’s a large boat, built in British Columbia. In the early 1940s, it was the first vessel to sail from west to east along the Northwest Passage through the Arctic. It was also the first to circumnavigate North America. Today the ship itself is a National Historic Site.
You can climb aboard the St. Roch and go right inside and explore its decks. You can also go downstairs in dry dock and see it from below, or pretend to steer the St. Roch in front of an interactive video screen on the main floor.
On the other side of the museum, if you turn right as you go inside the main entrance, you’ll find the museum’s galleries and displays. It’s not a huge museum, but it does have a fair number of rooms with artifacts in cases and written information on the walls. There are model ship displays, old photos and even a model galley that children can play in.
The model ships at the museum are exceptional. They aren’t just any old model ships. Many of them are replicas of actual boats that sailed and motored around the waters of British Columbia. The details are remarkable!
Heritage Harbour and Outside Exhibits
There is more to the museum than what’s inside. You’ll definitely want to see the indoor exhibits. Don’t miss those! Be sure to check out what’s outside though too.
Outside the entrance to the museum, at the front of the building (on the waterfront side), there is a large anchor and a real submarine – the Submersible Ben Franklin. You can’t climb on these structures, but you can see what they look like (and doing so is free).
Another highlight of the museum is Heritage Harbour. If you walk down to the water you’ll find a marina with a collection of boats. There is a large RCMP patrol vessel and a number of vintage sailboats. When the gate is open you can wander around the docks and have a look around. You can’t go on board any of the boats, but you can admire them from up close.
Below you’ll find a video with scenes of Heritage Harbour, as well as videos featuring the St. Roch and the museum’s galleries.
The Maritime Museum isn’t a static one, as various temporary exhibitions are put on display at the museum over the course of the year.
One such big exhibit is Ho’-ku-melh, which opens on September 16th, 2021. It runs until the beginning of July in 2022. The exhibit’s tagline is War Canoes and the Gifts They Carry Forward, and it’s the product of twenty different First Nations artists.
Ho’-ku-melh means “to gather” in the Chinook language. The exhibit uses the traditional war canoe to examine issues like colonialism and climate change through the lens of their local cultures. The exhibit also includes information about Canoe Cultures, which is an apprenticeship program that promotes the tradition of canoe pulling.
Maritime Museum Videos
To show you what to expect at the Vancouver Maritime Museum, check out the following videos. The first shows what the museum’s main galleries look like. The second video is of the St. Roch ship. The third is of the boats at Heritage Harbour.
Museum Galleries Video
The video below shows what the main galleries at the museum look like. The video begins outside the museum, at Vanier Park, not far from the waterfront.
As you’ll see in the video, there are a number of rooms filled with different things. There are display cases, photos, maps and artifacts. There is also a lot of written information. At the museum you’ll see model ships, maritime clothing and even a couple of pistols.
St. Roch Video
The following video showcases the St. Roch. As you’ll see in the video, it’s an impressive ship. And it’s housed 100% indoors!
The video begins in the museum’s dry dock area near the stern of the ship. As you’ll see, the ship’s propeller and rudder are massive! Next you’ll see some informational displays before actually going aboard the vessel.
Inside the ship you’ll see some of the cabins, set up like they would have been years ago. Outside you’ll see the main outer deck and the sails. You can also go down into the galley, and climb up a ladder to the upper deck. You’ll get a really good idea of what life would have been like living on the St. Roch. Kids will love it, and so will adults.
Below is a video that shows what Heritage Harbour looks like. When the gate is open you can wander down and explore the docks.
The video begins with a scene of one of the False Creek Ferry boats leaving the docks in front of the museum. The ferries take passengers to and from the harbour and stop at various other points of interest along False Creek.
As you’ll see in the video, there’s a nice selection of vintage sailboats and fishing vessels at the marina. Many of them are made out of wood. All are beautiful, and some are quite impressive. If you like boats, especially older ones, you’ll love Heritage Harbour!
Maritime Museum Summer Camps
Beginning in 2021, the Maritime Museum offers a series of children’s day camps in the summer. Called VMM STEAM (for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics), there are four different themed camps running from July until August. Each camp is a week long, running from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm at the museum from Monday to Friday.
The target age for the attendees is 6 to 11. While each of the four themes runs for back to back weeks, you can buy tickets for one of the two weeks. The cost is $250 per child for a full week. For those with multiple kids, the cost is $450 for two children and $650 for three.
The different camps on offer are as follows:
- Sea Navigation Camp (weeks of July 5th and 12th) – teaches different wayfinding techniques and how explorers can travel the world without modern technology.
- Arctic Canada Camp (weeks of July 19th and 26th) – all about the polar environment with a focus on the animals who live there as well as the Inuit peoples and their culture.
- Ahoy Matey Camp (weeks of August 3rd and 9th) – no maritime learnings are complete without pirates. This camp covers not only the most famous ones but also gives attendees their own chance to search for treasure.
- Ocean Explorers Camp (weeks of August 16th and 23rd) – the final camp of the summer looks at the ocean itself and all of the interesting layers, ecosystems and animals that live there.
All of the STEAM camps are very interactive and hands-on. They also include both indoor and outdoor activities. For more information visit the Maritime Museum website.
In years when there isn’t a pandemic, the Maritime Museum hosts their Evening at the Museum gala. The event is a fundraiser with all proceeds going back to the museum. The money raised each year helps support the museum’s workshops, field trips, and other educational programs that are important to local communities.
In 2022 the Evening at the Museum gala takes place on Wednesday, July 27th. The event starts at 6:30 pm with drinks, appetizers and a gourmet meal on the museum’s terrace. Guests enjoy live music and the option to participate in the live and silent auctions. The gala is also an excellent spot to watch the Honda Celebration of Light which begins at 10:00 pm.
Tickets to attend the gala cost $200 each or $1550 for a table of eight people. To learn more about the event visit the Maritime Museum website.
The museum offers different rental options for its facilities. Different sections of the site can be rented on their own, or you can reserve the entire museum for an evening or during the day. The least expensive options cost around $500 to $1000 while the whole museum can be rented for $3500 a night or for $5000 during the day (which closes it to the rest of the public).
If you want a wedding on the water then the Maritime Museum is a great spot! The terrace is a lovely spot to gather with friends and family, and Heritage Harbour provides views of the mountains, Burrard Inlet and much of the surrounding city. It costs just $500 to have your ceremony at the harbour (for a maximum of two hours).
For more information about rental opportunities, and to make your own reservation, visit the Maritime Museum website.
Tips and Advice
Below is some advice to help you make the most out of your visit to the Maritime Museum.
TIP #1: If you want to visit a number of attractions in the same area, consider getting the Vanier Park Explore Pass. Assuming it’s still offered when you read this article, the pass gets you into the Maritime Museum plus the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre and Museum of Vancouver. It used to cost around $43 per adult or $37 for youth and seniors.
TIP #2: Another great and highly affordable time to visit the Maritime Museum is on Winter Wander day in early February. On a Saturday in early February the Maritime Museum, H.R. MacMillan Space Centre and Museum of Vancouver combine forces with the annual Winter Wander. During that event admission to all three venues is just $5 total, which is a fabulous deal!
TIP #3: Consider exploring the St. Roch at the end of your visit. It’s arguably the highlight of the museum, so a nice attraction to finish your visit with.
TIP #4: After your visit to the museum, don’t forget to check out the boats at the waterfront. Heritage Harbour is part of the museum. There you’ll find a variety of beautiful older boats. You can’t climb aboard any of them, but you can usually walk around the docks and admire the vessels.
TIP #5: While in the area, and if it’s not raining, go for a walk along the waterfront at Vanier Park. The views of Vancouver are beautiful.
Click Vancouver Maritime Museum for more information.
For details about other attractions, check out the following:
- Vancouver Rainy Day Activities
- Best Places for History and Culture
- H.R. MacMillan Space Centre
- Museum of Vancouver
- Vancouver’s Top 24 Attractions
- Vancouver’s Top 100 Attractions
- False Creek and the False Creek Seawall