Welcome to the Vancouver Lexicon. Its purpose is to pin down the patois of the City of Vancouver by recording its toponyms, nicknames, slang terms, personalities, places, and other Van-centric things. Full A-Z here.
Whale Wall | The common name for Victoria’s iconic mural of an orca whale pod and the adjoining green space (Reeson Park) at 1250 Wharf Street. Painted in 1987, it quickly became a geographic reference point and meeting place for city residents, especially those who enjoyed summer drinking in the shade it provided. In recent years, it has become a gathering place and encampment for homeless people.
The Whale Wall was the 13th of 100 “Whaling Walls” painted by Robert Wyland, an artist whose life-size whale murals can be found in 79 cities in 17 countries on five continents. Victoria’s is arguably among the very finest ever created for the project, the goal of which was to educate and inspire youth about the health of our oceans. The last mural was painted in Beijing in 2008.
Wyland painted three Whaling Walls in Vancouver, all of orcas: first at 1170 Melville St. (1985); second at the Vancouver Aquarium (1994); and third at 1390 Granville St. (1994). The first had its whales obscured by new construction; the second was painted over in 2017; and the third was destroyed in 2015 when the building it was painted on was demolished for future development (yay, condos).
NOTE: White Rock also has a Whaling Wall, which Wyland painted in 1984 (his 4th). It shows a mother grey whale and her calf heading south to Mexico with a male escort on their annual migration from the Bering Sea.
Usage: “Let’s go buy a cold sixpack of Hermann’s on break and then split it at the Whale Wall after work…”