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The Vancouver Police Museum Tells The True Tale of Crime, Riots, and Corruption

Vancouver Police Museum

Photo: Vancouver Police Museum

Originally an old hospital, the Vancouver Police Museum tells the story of an iconic strip club, police corruption, and the city’s many riots.

The museum is located between Gastown and Chinatown (240 E Cordova St. to be exact) and features more than 20,000 rare artifacts, photos, and archived documents.

It tells Vancouver’s “policing history from its beginnings in the lawless ‘Wild West’ to its current-day initiatives for the community.”

The museum is perfect for anyone with a love for true crime and dark history. Particularly when you find out the site was also an autopsy facility.

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While there are the usual exhibits on policing history, the police museum has a few displays up for a limited time. With so much to see, here’s what we’re most excited about:

Police Corruption

This exhibit tells the story of Vancouver’s youngest appointed Police Chief in 1947 – Walter Mulligan.

He, alongside other cops, played an active role in accepting bribes and keeping illegal pursuits, with liquor and gambling, alive.

That story first came to light by a Toronto newspaper, which described Vancouver, under Mulligan’s supervision, as “gangland Eden.”

It resulted in an infamous inquiry, where Mulligan was let off the hook. Soon after, he skipped town and moved to California.


The Penthouse Cabaret

“As a nightclub, it is the last link in the chain back to burlesque theatre in early Vancouver, the era of bottle clubs and bootlegging and the city’s increasing acceptance of erotica and prostitution,” the website reads.

The exhibit tells the story of the three brothers who opened the Penthouse in 1947 (and whose family still own it today).

It speaks to the club’s many police raids, the prostitution and its time as a celebrity hangout. It even talks about the Penthouse murder in 1983.

True Crime

The museum’s feature exhibit talks about Vancouver’s most chilling cases, including original crime scene evidence and rare photos.

One of the cases mentioned is possibly Vancouver’s most famous unsolved murders. Babes in the Woods took place at Stanley Park, where in 1953, someone accidentally discovered a crime scene.

“Beneath a heavy layer of dirt, leaves, tree branches and a decomposing fur coat, they found the bones of two young children and a layman’s hatchet—which turned out to be the murder weapon,” the site describes.

Vancouver Police Museum Events

The museum features so much more. That includes creative writing classes, movie nights in the morgue, and an exhibit on how to survive a zombie apocalypse.

With tickets just $12 per person, it’s a must-see. The museum is open Tuesday to Saturday from 9 am-5 pm.

For more museums and art gallery visits in the city, head to Burnaby Village Museum or check out what the Vancouver Aquarium has to offer this holiday season.

To see what else the city has to offer, visit our Events page.


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