Archive photos show the Vancouver Aquarium when it opened
Pierre Elliot Trudeau, then the prime minister, was at the Vancouver Aquarium on May 1, 1971 when it opened its new two-million-litre exhibit. (Facebook / Vancouver Aquarium)
Published Monday, June 17, 2019 5:19PM PDT
The Vancouver Aquarium celebrated 63 years over the weekend.
The facility in Stanley Park first opened its doors on June 15, 1956, when admission cost just 25 cents – a far cry from the now $38 price for general adult admission.
That first weekend about 10,000 visitors passed through its hallways. In the decades that followed, more than 44 million have viewed its tanks and displays.
Here's a quick look back at six decades in photos from the aquarium, the City of Vancouver archives and The Canadian Press:
Images posted on Facebook by the Vancouver Aquarium and credited to then-executive director Murray Newman show the original entrance to the facility and a lineup of those who attended opening day.
The aquarium saw 342,870 visitors in its first year, just 2,000 less than the entire population of the city at the time.
Its first killer whale was captured in 1964, making the Vancouver Aquarium the first in the world to study orcas under human care, according to its Facebook page. The orca, nicknamed "Moby Doll," helped the facility change the public's perception of the species from "aggressive, man-killing vermin" to intelligent and docile, the aquarium says.
A photo from 1970 shows new pool construction and the aquarium's resident whale at the time, Skana. (Image from City of Vancouver Archives)
The aquarium posted this image of former prime minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau meeting the orcas in 1971.
Queen Elizabeth II officially opened the aquarium's Amazon gallery in 1983. Newman is seen pointing out a sloth, forgetting those who meet the Queen are not supposed to point in her presence, the aquarium said in a Facebook post.
A photo from the City of Vancouver Archives shows former B.C. premier Mike Harcourt with two aquarium mascots – Tillicum and Bee Bop Beluga – in 1984.
In 1996, the aquarium became the first in the world to pledge to never again capture a wild whale or dolphin. They still displayed those on loan and those who were rescued and rehabilitated but could not be released. In the same year, the aquarium got its first website.
Kavna, a 46-year-old beluga, died in 2012. She was the inspiration for singer-songwriter Raffi Cavoukian's song "Baby Beluga," which was released in 1980. (The Canadian Press / Jonathan Hayward in 2011)