Canada may be a young country, but it is filled with historical places, markers and people that are worth learning about and experiencing in real life on our very doorsteps. In British Columbia, several National Historic Sites are dotted throughout the province. These seven sites are located in Metro Vancouver, all within a two-hour drive from downtown Vancouver. They offer an exciting and educational day trip back in time to the early First Nations, pioneer and industrial history of this magnificent province.

Learning about B.C.’s salmon canning history at the Gulf of Georgia Cannery. Photo Credit: Claudia Laroye

Gulf of Georgia Cannery National Historic Site

Operated in partnership with Parks Canada, the Gulf of Georgia Cannery in colourful Steveston village, Richmond, provides self-guided tours of a former salmon cannery, one of more than 70 that used to dot B.C.’s coastline. Here, visitors can explore the rise of the West Coast fishing industry, learn about the multicultural workers who kept the salmon canning lines and a herring reduction plant moving through changing times. The Cannery highlights salmon fishing methods and the process from net to can, revealing fascinating fish tales through photographs, recordings and fun interactive displays.

Distance: 30 minutes from Vancouver

Britannia Shipyards National Historic Site

Just a short walk along Steveston’s charming waterfront, the Britannia Shipyards National Historic Site is a rare surviving example of a once thriving mixture of canneries, boatyards and residences. It has some of the oldest remaining heritage buildings found along the Fraser River.

Distance: 30 minutes from Vancouver

Britannia Mine Concentrator National Historic Site

Located along the Sea to Sky Highway, in Britannia Beach, the  Britannia Mine Concentrator National Historic Site was designated a national historic site in 1987 because the Britannia Mines were an important source of copper ore for almost 70 years. During the 1920s and 1930s it constituted one of the largest mining operations in Canada, and had a thriving local community. Visitors can learn about the mine’s history and enter the buildings and mine shaft on a tour of the Britannia Mine Museum.

Distance: 45 minutes from Vancouver

Photo credit: Claudia Laroye

Marpole Midden National Historic Site

Located in south Vancouver under the north end of the Arthur Laing Bridge, the Marpole Midden National Historic Site, also known by its Musqueam name as c̓əsnaʔəm was designated in 1933. Represented by a cairn at West 73rd Avenue and Cartier Street in Marpole, this massive midden site formerly along the ancient Fraser River foreshore contains the remains of a Coast Salish Musqueam winter village as well as shellfish remains and various artifacts from early inhabitants of the site, dating from 5,000 years ago. c̓əsnaʔəm is one of the largest pre-contact middens on the Pacific coast of Canada.

Distance: 15 minutes from Vancouver

Fort Langley National Historic Site

Go back in time to the pioneering days of the 1800s at the Fort Langley National Historic Site. Along the shore of the Fraser River, the wooden palisades surround a historic village of rough-hewn timber buildings. Enjoy demonstrations of coopering, blacksmithing, fur trading, gold-panning, and hear First Nations interpreters tell century-old tales. You can even have a sleepover in a trader-themed oTENTik.

Distance: 45 minutes from Vancouver

Going back in time at historic Fort Langley. Photo Credit: Claudia Laroye

Stanley Park National Historic Site

Designated in 1988 due to its outstanding natural setting and cultural importance, Stanley Park is the green heart of Vancouver and one of the world’s most well-loved urban park spaces. Opened in 1888, the dense and lofty treed landscape is typical of B.C.’s coastal forest. Recreational facilities, gardens and the Stanley Park Seawall have helped make the park a magnet for residents, families, and visitors.

Distance: 5 minutes from downtown Vancouver

St. Roch National Historic Site

The St. Roch National Historic Site is located within the Vancouver Maritime Museum at Kits Point. The St. Roch is an auxiliary Royal Canadian Moutned Police schooner and the first ship to cross from the Pacific to the Atlantic by the North West Passage in 1944. She was also the first ship to complete the hazardous journey in both directions. Now dry-docked in the Museum’s unique A-frame structure, visitors can learn of the history of the St. Roch and Vancouver’s maritime history.

Distance: 5 minutes from Vancouver

Imagine sailing the high seas on the St. Roch. Photo Credit: Claudia Laroye