The barge has been talked about a lot over the past three months. Here’s how you can keep track of what happened.
Whether you’re a barge or not, the beached woodchip carrier known as the English Bay Barge has been making undeniable waves in Vancouver. Since the arrival of the barge in November 2021, a lot has happened and Vancouver is great has published numerous stories about each development, creating a comprehensive timeline for both posterity and your enjoyment.
As the saying goes, it’s an evil wind that blows on no one. A massive windstorm on November 15, 2021 caused massive destruction in British Columbia, but also the barge in Vancouver. As water crashed over the sea wall, videos of the barge slamming through bald waves made the rounds on social media. For a time it appeared the barge was on a collision course with the Burrard Street Bridge. This concern was so real that the City of Vancouver closed the bridge for a short time as a precaution, but the winds and currents instead pushed the barge onto the rocks of English Bay.
That day and the next, the media was in a frenzy. For some reason, everyone wanted to know as much as possible about this houseboat now occupying one of Vancouver’s most coveted waterfronts. The following day, the barge received even more attention when a tug tried unsuccessfully to remove it.
Soon the media provided answers. Soon it emerged that the barge was from Sentry Marine Towing, a Richmond-based towing company. Other responses included no, the barge does not pose a threat to the environment, yes the barge was carrying wood chips and it is suspected that the barge broke free from its moorings to make the journey to English Bay .
The barge was quickly becoming a cult at this point. Something about the barge’s size, its graceful tilt, its physical representation of climate change, its still and defiant nature, struck a chord with locals. Locals who, despite seeing the province slowly recover from the aforementioned floods, found humor and levity in the English Bay Barge.
Despite its growing notoriety, a plan to remove the barge is put in place. In the meantime, people rallied around her, using her popularity to support those still affected by the floods in Abbotsford.
As the date for the barge’s planned removal drew closer, people of all kinds spoke out about what they thought. Radio hosts tried to ‘skip’ it, ‘Sunset Beach Barge’ got rave reviews on TripAdvisor, someone renamed the beach section on Google Maps.
Then came December 6, the day that houseboat fans feared and its detractors celebrated: moving day. Residents and media lined the seawall to watch the drama unfold, but it was a failure. It turns out that the moving plan had yet to be finalized and the moving date was listed as TBD. A few days later a crane barge and tug arrived on site and for a while it looked like the barge’s number was up, but it was a false alarm.
As Vancouver entered the holiday season, locals began making various arts and crafts featuring the barge. A carpenter made an ornament out of it with a parody poem from The Night Before Christmas. This poem was then read by one of our own reporters near the barge. Gingerbread houseboats have been made and someone even made a polar bear bathing houseboat costume.
Meanwhile, something happened that sent the English Bay Barge back into the headlines. On December 15, the Vancouver Park Board unveiled a sign that read “Barge Chilling Beach,” a nod to Vancouver’s famous “Dude Chilling Park” sign in Guelph Park.
During the first week of 2022, the Barge Chilling Park sign was painted with the beach’s traditional Squamish name “Í7iy̓el̓shn”, sparking a conversation about Indigenous and Colonial names in the town. The panel was cleaned, then repainted and cleaned again. Before the sign was removed in late January, VIA’s own Vancouver Canucks reporter shot a music video of the houseboat parodying Gordon Lightfoot’s “Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.”
From there, a local Lego creator recreated the now-famous houseboat scene entirely out of Lego bricks. A Vancouver planter company even offered to make barge-shaped planters for the beach after the barge is removed. Speaking of what…
On February 6, it was announced that there was a final and definitive plan to remove the barge from the beach – piece by piece. The barge would be cut up and sent to a scrapyard, Sentry Marine Towing told VIA one morning.
News of the barge’s imminent demise, however, did not dampen the fascination people had for her. The barge’s second spoof video was released shortly after news broke and a local marine biologist dove in to see what creatures called the barge’s hull home.
As of this writing, no specific date has been set for the deconstruction of the barge, but you can be sure to read all about it on VIA when it happens.