The Vancouver Police Museum is an independent, not-for-profit facility run by the Vancouver Police Historical Society with an elected Board of Directors. Established in 1983 and opened as a museum in 1986, the Society is neither part of nor funded by either the Vancouver Police Department or the City of Vancouver. It’s funding relies solely on admissions, donations and grants from individuals and institutions.
The Vancouver Police Museum’s mandate is three-fold:
- Collects, preserves, and interprets the history of the Vancouver Police Department and its context within policing in Vancouver
- Provides a resource for those examining the role of the Vancouver Police Department across time and across cultures
- Provides educational opportunities to explore the science of policing.
About the Building
Built in 1932, our building is a municipally designated heritage structure. Designed by architect Arthur Bird, it once housed the City’s Coroner services, including the court room and morgue, and the City’s Analyst Laboratory. The Vancouver Police Museum now finds its home on the top floor of the building.
- The Castelanni “Milkshake” Murder
- The “Babes in the Woods” Case
- The Autopsy of Errol Flynn
- The deaths associated with the Second Narrow Bridge collapse
City Coroner’s Services
The top floor of the building originally featured a Coroner’s Courtroom, offices, morgue, and autopsy facilities. Many notable cases were investigated in these facilities, including among many:
The City Coroner Service was amalgamated into the provincial system in 1980 and moved from the building. The BC Coroner Service headquarters is now in Burnaby, and the Morgue and Autopsy facilities are at the Vancouver General Hospital.
City Analyst’s Laboratory
The main floor of the building originally housed the City Analyst Laboratory. The lab was founded in 1907, and under the direction of Dr. John F.C.B. Vance, its activities was expanded from food sampling to assisting the Vancouver Police Department and Coroner Services with forensic, toxicological, and other laboratory services. Vance petitioned the City of Vancouver for a larger laboratory facility, and in 1932, our building was built for that purpose. The City Analyst Laboratory was used continuously until 1996.
Please note, the City Analyst Laboratory is not open to the public.
About the Community
The Vancouver Police Museum is proudly located in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, on the edge of Gastown, Chinatown, and historic Japantown, truly the epicenter of Vancouver’s creation. Though the area is host to some economic and social challenges, it is a vibrant, unique, and ever-changing environment. The Vancouver Police Museum strives to be a positive and accessible part of the neighbourhood, offering open houses on special occasions and regularly participating in community events.