Goodbye Jericho Wharf

Jericho Wharf 7

1976 Greenpeace launch at Jericho Beach Wharf, with seaplane hangars behind in the Moderne style

Goodbye to another old Vancouver landmark. While the loss of the wharf is sad, the greater loss actually happened about thirty years ago: the demolition of the old beachside military hangars behind the wharf. The five vintage seaplane hangars were quite arbitrarily torn down by the Parks Board in the late 1970s despite public outcry. More on that at my other website¬†here. In a city that lacks performance venues, not to mention multipurpose spaces protected from the rain (for events,farmer’s markets, children’s events, sports), the replacement of all five of these hangars mostly with parking lots and unusable empty areas was criminal.

The hangars had been refurbished in 1976 by an army of architects, artists, tradespeople and volunteers for the massive UN Conference on Human Settlements hosted in Vancouver. Despite this renewal of the hangars, they were demolished not long afterward in one of the most shortsighted moves in the city’s urban planning history.

I’m nearing the end of a book project on this event. If you were at Habitat and are willing to share information, photographs etc in exchange for credit and a copy of the book, please let me know. My website for the book project is here. Photo at top by Stephen Rees.

Bill Reid custom-designed this mural for Hangar 3 or the Theatre

Above, view of the S. end of one of the beachside hangars at Jericho Beach, during Habitat 1976. Courtesy CBC. The First Nations mural, which was custom-designed for the hangar by renowned artist Bill Reid, made the hangar strongly reminiscent of a longhouse. (The entire ceiling of one of the hangars was also entirely covered in a massive Bill Reid banner.) The wharf currently being demolished lies behind the white hangar to the right (you can just see the ocean).

Below, view from seating inside a hangar during a performance at Habitat Forum, 1976. Note the grand piano. Beyond, the wharf, its railing, and freighters and sailboats visible beyond.

Above, the raked seating was designed by Vancouver architect Mark Osburn and made from beautiful lumber hand-milled from waste logs.

More videos here.

Jericho Beach seaplane hangars 1970

Jericho Wharf Demolition

Jericho Wharf Demolition

Before, during demolition, and after. Photo below was taken on April 16, 2011.

Jericho Beach Wharf demolition

2 comments on "Goodbye Jericho Wharf"

  1. I only just learned about Jericho Warf a few months ago, and had no idea what the Hangars would have looked like / that they were refurbished and housed such a high-profile conference! Such a loss indeed. It makes me thankful every time I drive past the preserved hangar out at Boundary Bay Airport.

    1. Robert, I remember that hangar in Boundary Bay! A planner friend of mine has described the demolition of the Jericho Beach hangars as “an act of civic vandalism.” It seems there’s no Vancouver history that City Hall/Parks Board doesn’t want to demolish and then erase. I’ll add that the two largest hangars, 7 and 8 inland from the water, were both burned down in suspicious fires on two separate foggy days, the kind of foggy days Vancouver used to have in the 70s thanks to the beehive burners used by industry. Al Clapp, the head of Habitat Forum, calls this “development by fire.” The demolition of the 3 waterfront hangars happened in 1980.

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