Vancouver has its share of oddities, and none is more odd than the Nine O’Clock Gun. Vancouverites actually set their time by it. When my daughter was a little girl, we lived in the West End and she knew as soon as she heard the Nine O’Clock Gun, it was time for her to go to bed.
The 9 O'Clock Gun is a cannon located in Vancouver, British Columbia that is shot every night at 21:00 (9 p.m.). The crests of King George III and Henry Phipps, 1st Earl of Mulgrave, Master-General of the Ordnance at the time the cannon was cast, are on the barrel.
The gun is a 12-pound muzzle-loaded naval cannon, cast in Woolwich, England in 1816. Seventy-eight years later, in about 1894, it was brought to Stanley Park by the Department of Marine and Fisheries to warn fishermen of the 18:00 Sunday close of fishing. On October 15, 1898 the gun was fired for the first time in Stanley Park at noon.
The 21:00 firing was later established as a time signal for the general population and to allow the chronometers of ships in port to be accurately set. The Brockton Point lighthouse keeper, William D. Jones, originally detonated a stick of dynamite over the water until the cannon was installed. The cannon eventually had an electronic trigger installed and is now activated from the harbor master's perch on top of a building near Canada Place.
The 9 O'Clock Gun has been silent for at least four periods: once during World War II, in 1969 when it was stolen and held by University of British Columbia Engineering students until a "ransom" was donated to BC Children's Hospital; in 2007 during a work stoppage; and in 2008 when UBC Engineering students painted it red. After the 1969 theft, the cannon was surrounded by a stone and metal enclosure as shown in the photo.
The gun was restored and new pavilion designed by Gregory Henriquez of Henriquez Partners Architects in 1986 and built as a centennial gift to the city from Ebco Industries, Chester Millar, First Generation Capital, and the Hudson's Bay Company.
I live relatively close to Stanley Park, but not close enough that I can hear the Nine O’Clock Gun anymore, except perhaps on very still nights when the condition is just right for the sound to carry across English Bay. In a future post I might tell you about the building that blasts "Oh, Canada" across the city every day at noon. Oh, yes, we are an odd bunch.