Sound of Silence: Here's why Stanley Park's Nine O'Clock Gun has gone quiet this week

Jan 4 2023, 6:09 pm

Vancouver’s Stanley Park is quieter than usual to start the new year, and some locals are not happy about the silence.

The Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation announced on social media yesterday that the iconic Nine O’Clock Gun has stopped firing while the city is awaiting its next shipment of black powder.

According to a spokesperson from the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation, there a number of reasons why the city is currently out of the important black powder.

“There are limited manufacturing sources and distributors for the specific type of black powder used to fire the Nine O’Clock gun in North America,” the Vancouver Park Board spokesperson told Daily Hive. “The black powder cannot be stockpiled or bought in bulk.

“We are regulated by the Federal Government as to how much black powder we can store, alongside where it is stored, how and where it is prepared and who prepares the charges. We cannot, for any reason, exceed the maximum amount of powder that can be stored at one time.”

Local residents responded to the park board’s social media announcement with confusion and disappointment.

Others defended the park board, pointing out that any shipping delays were out of their control.

Vancouver Park Board’s previous supplier closed in the fall of 2021. Its spokesperson told Daily Hive that its new East Coast-based supplier occasionally runs out of black powder. There can also be delays in its delivery due to adverse weather, highway construction, or airline disruptions.

“Orders of black powder have to be carefully timed so that we do not exceed the maximum storage capacity as regulated by the Federal Government,” the Vancouver Park Board spokesperson added. “Once our order is submitted, we have no control over when the delivery will arrive. Staff continue to search for a reliable source amid these challenges.”

Stanley Park’s Nine O’Clock Gun last went silent in February 2022 “due to supply chain challenges and a decrease in manufacturing.” It also stopped firing in October 2021 for about a month after being damaged during a storm.

The old cannon sits in a glass house and usually fires every evening at 9 pm from the Coal Harbour side of the Stanley Park Seawall. It’s done this almost every night for approximately 100 years.

With files from Aly Laube and Megan Devlin

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