Page background

The History Of Canada’s Largest Aquarium

The Vancouver Aquarium is a self-supporting, non-profit organization. Through visionary, responsible growth programs, with building additions starting in 1967, the Vancouver Aquarium has become the largest aquarium in Canada and one of the five largest in North America.

Vancouver Aquarium Today

Opening Day In 1956

Our Beginnings

The Vancouver Aquarium was formed as the Vancouver Public Aquarium Association in 1951. We were officially Canada's first public aquarium and opened on June 15, 1956. Today, there are approximately 48 aquariums in North America, only a few of which are in Canada. Worldwide, the number of aquariums has grown to more than 200.

Our Founding Principles

The founding principles of the Vancouver Aquarium have been to attain the highest possible standard of animal care within a top-notch facility, coupled with an informative and educational guest experience. In 1975, we became the first aquarium accredited by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA). In 1987, we were also accredited by the Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums (CAZA) and were designated Canada's Pacific National Aquarium by the Canadian Federal Government.

Our Founding Principles
John Nightingale John Nightingale, President of the Vancouver Aquarium

Where We Are Today

The Vancouver Aquarium is internationally recognized for display and interpretation excellence, and was the first facility to incorporate professional naturalists and interpretive specialists into galleries to explain animal behaviors. Aquarium research projects extend world-wide and we are internationally recognized for our successful Marine Mammal Rescue Program. Innovative programming, superlative animal care and a commitment to aquatic research have seen the Aquarium held in high esteem year after year.

Our Evolution

The Aquarium has developed a reputation as a cutting edge organization with the capability to respond to changing conservation and aquatic protection needs through diversity and growth. From a 9,000 square foot (830 square metres) facility in Stanley Park, with seven employees on opening day in 1956 (five more had to be hired the day after the opening to cope with the crowds), the Vancouver Aquarium has grown to over 100,000 square feet (9,000 square metres) and over 400 employees.

Huge Growth

Share Your Thoughts

How was your visit? Fill in our comment card and let us know.
Find it here


Donate Now

Your donation supports the conservation of aquatic life.
Learn more

Did You Know?

Did You Know?

The largest puffin colony has more than one million nests. 
Read more