If you walk a few hundred meters north of Wreck Beach, perhaps as a break from the bustle of nude beach-goers on a summer afternoon, you’ll find two strange, concrete towers plastered with colorful graffiti gallantly challenging the Pacific from their slumber under the trees. These garish monoliths are the most visible remnants of Vancouver’s Point Grey Battery, a defense outpost built at the outset of World War II.
The towers appear at first as bunkers or gun turrets, but in fact, these concrete structures were unmanned. They held 60-inch searchlights capable of a three-to-five-mile projection into the Burrard Inlet to help spotters identify an incoming German or Japanese attack. They were part of Vancouver’s most heavily armed defense battery, which hosted 250 soldiers and three six-inch artillery guns, the foundations and tunnels of which can still be found next to the Museum of Anthropology.
The battery was decommissioned a few years after the war, without ever having fired a shot. The guns were dismantled and sent to NATO allies, and the searchlight towers, which give the beach its name, were abandoned.
Since at least the 1970s, the towers have become popular graffiti canvases. Their once-gray facade is now a vibrant mural of spray-paint delinquency, which makes for a great photograph, encapsulating an interesting and oft-forgotten piece of Vancouver history.