Some of you might not know that every day at 9pm along the seawall near Brockton Point, an 1816 bronze cannon goes off with a loud ‘Bang!’ followed by a huge fireball. It is said that it has been heard as far away as Mission, almost sixty-two kilometres to the East.
As a Vancouver resident I’ve known about the nine o’clock gun for most my life. However, it wasn’t until now, during the making of ‘Stanley Park: An Urban Wilderness’ that I witnessed the spectacle of the gun up close for myself. We filmed the gun over half a dozen times this summer alone and I never get tired of the shocked reactions that I witness from the crowd.
If you’ve never been down to the gun at around nine, you certainly should. Ten seconds before the gun is due to go off a red warning light starts to blink along with an audible buzzer, then a huge boom echoes across the harbour.
The first time I filmed this I had no idea what to expect. Because the tide was out I climbed down the seawall to the shore and set my camera in a perfect position to film from the front and just below the gun. While waiting for the big moment, the tide started to come back in and splash around my feet. I will never forget the heat on my face from the fireball that shot out from the gun just a few feet away and feeling the intense shockwave in my ears. What an exhilarating experience.
Here is a video of what to expect, but it really needs to be experienced in person.