Heading to Vancouver any time soon? Then be prepared for a few things that might surprise or even scare you. One of them is the sound of a gunshot every evening, at 9 PM Pacific Time. When I moved to Vancouver and heard it for the first time myself, I thought it was a railroad accident. It reminded me of a disaster which took place in Lac-Mégantic in the province of Quebec in 2013, when a freight train carrying crude oil exploded downtown. But no such news appeared on the TV that night in Vancouver, so after saying, “Thank God,” I quickly forgot about it.

Recurring mystery

The sound of gunshot repeated the next evening, and the one after that, and every 24 hours thereafter. Each gunshot occurred exactly at 9 PM. Well, I eventually realized that not even an earthquake would strike in the same place at the same time every day. This fact only increased my curiosity. What could it be? Finding the source of the gunshot became one of the items on my to-do list.

Loaded gun in Stanley Park?

One sunny day I decided it was a perfect time to investigate. After a little research on the Internet, I rode my bike to Stanley Park, where the strange gunshot-like noises were coming from night after night. I was focused on locating a cage structure (mentioned on the Internet) that looked like a small house from a fairy tale. Finally, I found it. At that point,  the mystery was solved forever. I not only found out what was causing the gunshot noises, but I also discovered something else: a person who made sure that every day, exactly at 9 PM local time, the gunshots would sound. Here is what I learned:

The small metal enclosure on the eastern shore of Stanley Park harbors a cannon. It is automatically activated by an electric trigger every evening at 9 PM; however it still has to be loaded daily. And this was my discovery: I was lucky enough to meet the gentleman who loads the cannon with the black powder. I came upon the metal cage while he was executing this mysterious procedure. The final product of his work can be heard by many people, taking tourists and visitors by surprise. How unique his job is!

Loading 9 O’clock Gun

The close of fishing started a long tradition

I did not ask him the exact title of his position so I could apply for the job myself, but I did ask some open-ended questions. This is what I learned:

The cannon was brought to Stanley Park around 1894 to warn fishermen of the 6 PM Sunday close of fishing, and that’s how the tradition started. Now it is used to mark the time.

Vancouver’s 9 O’clock Gun

Not many cities in the world have such guns. Besides Vancouver, for example, Cape Town in South Africa maintains a similar tradition. Cape Town’s gunshots happen at noon, so it is called the Noon Gun.

While I am writing this blog about the 9 o’clock gun, suddenly a gunshot sounds outside my window. Well, it is already 9 PM. Since my fishing rod hidden in the closet has not been touched for at least three years, I don’t need to be worried about fishing closure tonight. For me, the gunshot is a signal that another pleasant day in one of the most livable cities in the world is almost over. Good night, Vancouver!

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