Ping! Thud thud thud! Hiss!
The deafening sounds of hammers and riveting tools, of saws and welding machines, continued all through the night during World War II. In three shifts, 14,000 men and 1,000 women worked non-stop around the clock to build supply ships – churning out more than 100 much-needed ships for the Allied war effort.
This all took place around the Lonsdale Quay area, not far from where we live.
As we walk around the historical heritage site just beyond the doors of the Pinnacle Hotel, North Vancouver, we can almost still hear the sounds of steel cutting and blow torches hissing above the mournful cries of seagulls circling overhead.
Where ships were made
Back then, it was known as the Burrard Dry Dock (and before 1921 it was called the Wallace Shipyards). It was the largest shipyard in Western Canada, and over the years, more than 450 lumber barges, ferries, ice-breakers and other ships were launched from this site.
The most famous ship built here was the wooden RCMP Arctic patrol vessel St. Roch in 1928. She made history as the first ship to sail through the Northwest Passage in 1942. (You can see the St. Roch at the Vancouver Maritime Museum.)
Interestingly, the war years were a good time to be a woman.
For the first time, women were treated as equals in the work force. At Burrard Dry Dock, they were paid the same wages as men and received the same medical and housing benefits.
Our Canadian “Rosie the Riveter”?
Digging around later online, we learn a little about one such woman who worked at the shipyards, Rose Marie Yzerman (featured on the back cover of the monthly Wallace Shipbuilder newsletter the workers received).
She made speaking tubes and assembled fittings for ships’ communication systems – which, she said at the time, was “more fun than being a stenographer,” her job before the war.
And good for Rose Marie! After the war, she went on to university and graduated with a law degree in 1952, then worked as an executive at a major department store chain.
Today, the shipyard is home to a quirky mix of shops, restaurants, seaside walks, yellow cranes and historical maritime artifacts.
In summer, the Shipyards Night Market runs every Friday night, and the place buzzes with live music, a beer garden, hot food trucks and gazillions of stalls selling artisan crafts and organic food items.
Pinnacle Hotel at the Pier review
Just behind the old shipyard is where you find the modern Pinnacle Hotel at the Pier. It’s the best hotel in North Vancouver. And it offers a great alternative to staying in downtown Vancouver:
Guestrooms with more:
All of the spickety-clean and well-maintained 105 rooms and studios have a microwave, coffee maker and mini-fridge (you’ll find fresh cream in the fridge for your morning coffee).
The mountainside rooms are less expensive than the harbor-view rooms (both about 300 sq. ft.).
But go for a harbor-view room – they have funky views of Burrard Inlet (which separates the north shore of Vancouver from the downtown area), construction cranes and working barges. Facing south, the harbor-view rooms are also very light and bright. And they have small balconies too (mountainside rooms only have a Juliet balcony).
Shower with a view:
A glass wall by the tub-and-shower in the bathroom allows you to look through the bedroom and out to the view. Want privacy? Simply close the wooden blinds.
Traveling with kids?
If traveling as a family, you’ll probably want a studio. At 500 sq. ft. in size, they’re larger than the rooms and have an additional sofa-bed. But there are no studios with water views (only city and mountain views).
Great location for outdoor adventure activities:
You can access the best of Vancouver from the Pinnacle Hotel at the Pier.
It’s only a 5-minute walk from the SeaBus terminal, where a 15-minute water taxi ride takes you from North Vancouver to downtown. You’re also closer to the North Shore and Whistler/Blackcomb mountains for skiing in winter and popular outdoor summer attractions, like the Capilano Suspension Bridge (a 450-foot swaying bridge suspended high, high, high above the rushing Capilano River).
Many shops and restaurants are also within close walking distance. Open seven days a week, Lonsdale Quay Market has over 80 shops and fresh food stations. (If you just want a light snack one evening, you can pick up fresh home-made soup and crusty bread. Remember? You’ve got a microwave in your room.)
Freebies and amenities?
Yes! Take advantage of these perks:
- Free WiFi and local phone calls
- Morning newspaper service
- Complimentary bicycles
- A very large, fully-equipped, glass-walled gym overlooking the water
- An 82-foot, 5-lane swimming pool (also glass-walled and by the water) – one or two lanes are always reserved for hotel guests (some lanes may be used by the local community center for swim classes)
Lobby Restaurant and Lounge:
Local, sustainable seafood and meat is on the menu in the Lobby Restaurant.
Tip: Settle into one of the cozy, red leather banquette seats on a Wednesday evening for wine and cheese, when bottles of wine are 30% off and the huge cheese-and-charcuterie platter is half price.
Pinnacle Hotel room rates
We have our share of 5-star hotels in downtown Vancouver. As Four Seasons fans, we like to point out we have a Four Seasons. There’s also the top-rated, waterview Fairmont Pacific Rim and the Pan Pacific Vancouver Hotel. And we stayed at the lovely, old-world style Wedgewood Hotel & Spa when we first moved to Vancouver.
But if price is a factor in choosing where to stay, you’ll pay a lot less at the 4-star Pinnacle Hotel. (See their website here.)
Also check the following HotelsCombined website (a hotel comparison website), as you may get a better deal here.
This is an affiliate link; if you book the Pinnacle or other hotel through HotelsCombined, our affiliate, we earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.
Pier 7 Restaurant
The Pinnacle Hotel at the Pier also owns the separate Pier 7 restaurant, which sits smack at the water’s edge.
After wandering through the shipyard and checking out the hotel, Pier 7’s daily happy hour (3:00 to 6:00 pm) draws us in.
We make our way to the restaurant’s glass-roofed patio, where we watch the SeaBus gliding across Burrard Inlet, welcome rays of sunshine glinting on the water. As it’s still the tail end of winter, heat lamps and blankets keep us warm.
What to choose? Some drinks, like Sangria, are only a few dollars and appies are half price.
We go for the “buck-a-shuck” oysters to start. They’re served on ice, with all the fixings – shaved horseradish, vinaigrette, cocktail sauce. Gin, ginger and cucumber cocktails are a nice accompaniment. Then we dive into a delicious lobster Cobb salad and plump, juicy Salt Spring Island mussels in white wine and garlic.
It all feels a little like we’re on holiday, especially when city lights across the water start twinkling at sunset – a holiday with only a 15-minute drive back home.
We’re quite familiar with the Pinnacle Hotel at the Pier as we’ve had dinner there for charity fund-raisers, and Pier 7 is on our list of local restaurants we like going to. And while we haven’t stayed at the hotel, we’ve inspected it twice (once for a previous magazine story and most recently again for this post). The hotel is one we also recommend to friends and family from out-of-town.
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We’re Janice and George Mucalov, professional award-winning travel writers, sharing tales of luxury travel with a twist of adventure.