My first memory of the Planetarium was standing outside the recently opened building in 1968 as a bridesmaid for my friend, Carlene. It was a cold winter evening and she wanted us to pose for the photographer wearing our dresses (with no coats as I recall) by the Crab sculpture to get the true essence of a modern Vancouver.

This building is now known as the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre, named after BC’s famous lumbar magnate and philanthropist, who had donated $1.5 million to start the museum/planetarium complex. The 1960’s saw the start of public interest in space exploration and H.R. MacMillan wanted the citizens of Vancouver to have a resource for his day and future generations.

Who was Harvey Reginald MacMillan? He was the first Chief Forester of British Columbia and established the British Columbia Forest Service. During World War I, he served his country as Assistant Director of the Imperial Munitions board. His business career started in 1919 when he established the H.R. MacMillan Export Company, the first privately owned lumbar export brokerage firm in the province.

During World War II, he again served his country (like many prominent business men) as Timber Controller, Chairman of the Wartime Requirements Board, and President of Wartime Merchant Shipping. In 1951 his company merged with Bloedel, Stewart and Welch Ltd. to form MacMillan Bloedel Limited (now part of Weyerhaeuser).

The Space Centre educates, inspires and evokes a sense of wonder in you about our Universe, our planet Earth and space. It has attracted visits from all the Canadian astronauts, which thrills children. It puts on innovative programs, exhibits and activities to inspire sustained interest in Earth science, space science and astronomy.

And it’s not just children who get excited about space. On April 25th, the Space Centre is holding Splendor in Space: A Drag Odyssey for all ages. Did you know that adults can come on some evenings for special events to enjoy cocktails and beer? Watch their website for these events. And of course don’t miss the upcoming family night May The 4th Be With You.

Need a romantic evening or just something different on a Saturday night? The Gordon Southam Observatory is open for you to observe the skies around Vancouver. Knowledgeable and enthusiastic staff will guide your experience and answer your questions.

If there is ever an award for the Best Office View in Vancouver, I recommend Executive Director’s Raylene Marchand’s office, which looks over Vanier Park, the ponds, English Bay, the City and the Mountains, all at ground level.

H.R. MacMillan Space Centre, 1100 Chestnut Street, spacecentre.ca

Last modified: April 6, 2019

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