Challenger Map piece can now be viewed at BC Place Stadium's museum

Jan 27 2022, 1:09 am

A piece of the historic Challenger Map of BC has now been temporarily relocated to an exhibit at the BC Sports Hall of Fame inside BC Place Stadium.

This represents the first “reunification” of the map and the Hall of Fame, as they were both previously permanently located at the BC Building of the Pacific National Exhibition’s (PNE) fairgrounds for decades until the building was demolished in the late 1990s.

The map that is now available for viewing at the stadium’s sports history museum is only a tiny part (4%) of the complete size of the Challenger Map. This is a piece of the bottom section of the map, showcasing the topographic scale of the Lower Mainland and the southeastern tip of Vancouver Island. It accounts for eight sections of the map’s entirety of 196 sections.

People gathered to see the Challenger Map of BC (challengermap.ca)

The Hall of Fame is showcasing the map piece as part of its temporary “Shared PNE Roots” exhibit.

“It is fantastic to see the Hall and the Map reunited at the BC Sports Hall of Fame at BC Place Stadium,” said Jason Beck, the curator of the BC Sports Hall of Fame, in a statement.

“The additional memorabilia in the exhibit, which includes the life-like wax figures of BC sports legends Cyclone Taylor, Lester Patrick, and Willie Fleming as well as the Hall’s original bronze unveiling plaques, comes from our artifact collection of the PNE era of the Hall’s history. I anticipate this will be an extremely popular exhibit, which will hopefully encourage interest in supporting current fundraising efforts to fully restore the Map and return it permanently to its original home at Hastings Park.”

It took George Challenger and his family seven years to build the topographical scale map of the entire province, made from fir plywood cut into 986,000 pieces.

At its previous longtime home at the PNE, it occupied 20,000 sq ft of floor area.

challenger map

People viewing the Challenger Relief Map of British Columbia in the PNE BC Pavillion building (City of Vancouver Archive).

challenger map vancouver convention centre

4% of the Challenger Map of BC at Vancouver Convention Centre. (Kenneth Chan/Daily Hive)

After the PNE building was demolished, the map was moved to Bekins’ moving and storage warehouse in Richmond, until 2009. Its storage sat unpaid, but the company chose to keep the map and eventually forgive the owed storage fees due to its important cultural heritage to the province.

In 2008/2009, the entire map was moved to an Air Canada hangar at Vancouver International Airport for storage as part of a project to repair and rebuild the Lower Mainland piece. It was used as a reference by the RCMP for the security operations of the 2010 Olympics.

This small repaired map piece made a brief return to the fairgrounds for the 2021 PNE Fair, and then it was placed for public viewing at the Vancouver Convention Centre in late 2021.

The map is now being exhibited as part of a fundraising effort for the restoration of the remaining pieces of the map and the costs related to retrofitting the PNE’s Livestock building to be the new permanent home of the entire map.

challenger map historic photos

Challenger Map historic photos. (The Challenger Relief Map Foundation)

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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