Vancouver’s Nine O’Clock Gun

For the first week that I worked in Vancouver, every evening at 9 o’clock I would hear a very loud bang that made me jump. The first time I heard it I wondered if it was a car backfiring or something more ominous.

The second time, I thought it strange that it happened two nights in a row (without noticing the time), and on the third evening I looked at the time and started to investigate.

On the East side of Stanley Park, right on the water, is an old naval twelve-pound muzzle-loader canon that fires every night at 9PM. According to the sign, it was Cast in 1816 at Woolwich, England, it was brought to Vancouver about 1894.

The crests of King George III and of the Earl of Mulgrave, Master General of Ordnance are on the barrel. Gun restoration and pavilion were centennial gifts in 1986 to the City of Vancouver. Above this message, in large bold letters is the warning: WARNING. THIS GUN FIRES WITH A VERY LOUD REPORT AT 9:00 PM DAILY.

This became my nightly warning of the time and a familiar source of mystery. Where does the cannon come from? Why is it in Stanley Park? Why does it fire every evening at the same time? Has it ever not fired in the 107 years it has been in Vancouver? Is it loaded every evening with gun powder and a cannonball or is it fired electronically?

The History Vancouver website has a very good write-up about the cannon that answers some of the above questions. In the meantime, you can watch a video that Niña and I took of the gun firing.

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