The fish industry is one of the driving economic forces in British Columbia which relies on fresh water rivers, streams, creeks and waterways as well as the salt water ocean to create ideal conditions for spawning. The Capilano River is an example of one such river providing a place for Salmon to spawn for generations. However, in 1954 the environment of the river changed due to the completion of the Cleveland Dam and the Chinook, Coho and Steelheads who were dependent on the waterway could not reach their annual spawning grounds. Recognizing this, the district of North Vancouver tried several different methods to promote Salmon spawning in the Capilano River.
Early attempts to create a concrete fish ladder to the reservoir high above the river was unsuccessful as the young salmon were killed as they made their way to the ocean over the large waterfall from the Dam. A new project was formulated and led to the construction of the current building beneath the Dam constructed between 1969 and 1971. It was built for two purposes, to educate visitors about the work being done as well as to provide a place for fish to spawn.
The building offers a wide range of information for visitors to the Fish Hatchery - it details the work done at the centre, both to improve fish population for sport fishing and commercial use as well as the scientific studies occurring at the Hatchery to research the routes taken by the salmon and their interaction with the ocean environment once they have been reintroduced into the wild.
Information about the Salmon species is plentiful and the visible fish ladder that can be seen through thick glass provides an amazing experience as the fish struggle to move into the calmer spawning tank, providing the challenges a regular river system would pose. Depending on the time of year, visitors can also see Coho, Chinook and Steelhead eggs, fry and smolts, juveniles and adults and learn about the stages of growth these fish exhibit through their lifetimes.
The Capilano Fish Hatchery is an excellent place to learn about this unique government program designed to study Salmon and stabilize their populations to combat high mortality rates. The Hatchery is a great experience for all ages!
Use the interactive map below to locate and explore the areas around Capilano Fish HatcheriesTurn Left on to Capilano Park Road heading north at sign indicating 'Capilano River Regional Park' and take the road to the parking lot, the Fish Hatchery is at the end of the road.
Click the brown GEMS on the map to navigate to the other activities within this region