Forbidden Vancouver – Lost Souls of Gastown


Umbrella in hand, standing in Cathedral Square in Vancouver as our storyteller guide Tiffany Anderson, who plays Sarah Bray (past good-time girl, parlour maid and bartender) walks up to my friend and I, dressed in a outfit from the past. As we waited for our tour to begin, we spent some time talking with the other guests and our guide about Vancouver. Luckily, the rain stopped and we were off on our tour to discover more of Vancouver’s history.

We walked around the back alleyways, into older buildings and on the streets of Gastown, taking time to note the significance and historical details of buildings that I had walked by on many occasions.  We learned about the darker, gruesome  history of Vancouver through ‘Sarah Bray’ and her experiences. These experiences included broken hearts, a great fire, the plague and murder. When I booked the tour I expected a lecture style tour with small scenes being acted out. However, Tiffany combined history with theatrics perfectly and we were captivated by her one woman show. Our expectations were more than surpassed!

We walked around Gastown and discovered where the first fire station, bawdyhouse and the oldest hotel had stood. Some early photos were shown and with the storytelling , you could picture Vancouver without its’ tall buildings, replaced with dirt roads, plank sidewalks and wooden buildings.

Our storyteller, Tiffany showing us a photo of Vancouver back in the 1800's

Our tour guide, allowed us to see the historical Vancouver, the frontier town of only a few thousands and the departure point for many during the Klondike gold rush. Vancouver has a rich history, which I knew very little of.  I believe you should invest your time in taking this tour and discovering or rediscovering Vancouver’s colourful history. I enjoyed being back in the  late 1800s-early 1900s. The ninety minute tour flew by, and I could have walked around for a lot longer experiencing more history as I was captivated by Tiffany’s performance. Make sure to find out how the first Vancouver fire truck was paid for!

Don’t go in expecting a regular walking tour or ghost tour. Forbidden Vancouver has spent hours creating these historical theatre shows on the streets of Vancouver, where the history took place. They have combined the historical research with acting providing an entertaining evening. I went with my friend who is local and we both loved it! Even though it was hard to take photos, I enjoyed going in the dark as it added a bit more atmosphere to the experience. If you are worried about the amount of walking, you stop every few blocks as the storyteller will stop to act out scenes from the characters history. It is an easy walk.

Forbidden Vancouver is running this tour until early November 2013 before taking a break for the winter. It’s a fun way to get in the Halloween spirit and have an entertaining night out. As a bonus, you learn more about Vancouver. The tour ends in the heart of Gastown, at Maple Square. If you don’t have an early morning, grab a drink and reflect upon your evening. The departure and end point are transit and walking distance friendly. If you want to check out some older photos of Vancouver, Forbidden Vancouver posts them on its Facebook page.

This tour has made me reflect on the history of other parts of Vancouver and I wonder about the stories behind other older buildings.

Check out my experience from their other tour – Prohibition City.


My tour was provided complimentary. All opinions are my own and their was no expectations of coverage.

6 thoughts on “Forbidden Vancouver – Lost Souls of Gastown

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