Known to many as the “O! Canada Horns” the Heritage Horns that sound from atop Canada Place everyday at noon are a lunchtime staple for Vancouverites. Just as the Nine O’clock Gun in Stanley Park sounds the start of prime-time television, the 4 notes of our national anthem sounded by the Heritage Horns announce the rumbling of bellies hungry for their lunch break from work.
The horns weren’t always at Canada Place, they used to be on the top of the BC Hydro building (now condos) on the corner of Nelson and Burrard. I learned that much from my friend Laura and discovered a bit more with the help of the Spirit of Vancouver website:
- The 10-cast aluminum horns point out towards the harbour and sound their notes every 12 noon.
- The Heritage Horns were built as a BC Hydro Canadian Centennial project in 1967 and were designed by engineer and sound specialist, Robert Swanson.
- They sounded every high noon for 20 years at Burrard and Nelson before moving out.
- When BC Hydro vacated the building in the 1990s, the horns fell silent. Shortly thereafter, a permanent home was found at Canada Place.
- Canada Place Corporation acquired and refurbished the horns, and placed them on the roof of the Pan Pacific Hotel.
- On November 8 of 1994, the familiar sounding of the horns returned to Vancouver at noon.
As a special treat for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games, the Heritage Horns will sound every time a Canadian wins a medal. For 16 days they will support our athletes and sound out the victory across Vancouver.
“At 115 decibels, ‘O Canada’ won’t be missed. The horns can be heard throughout downtown, on the North Shore, and sometimes, even a little beyond,” explains Robyn McVicker, Director of Communications & Public Affairs, Canada Place Corporation. “We are all proud Canadians, and Canada Place will be the orchestrator signaling a time for all of us to celebrate our great nation and our athletes who have worked so hard to represent Canada.”