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Let's get McBarge approved as a Historical Place!

This petition had 188 supporters

Help Us Attain Historic Place Status for the iconic McBarge.

With your help, we will take our petition to Vancouver City Council to attain historic designation to restore this iconic part of BC history from Expo '86.  As a historic place, McBarge will gain access to new grants and government, private and sponsorship funding sources to help complete the restoration to become a Deep Ocean Discovery Centre. 

View the expert opinion on the Heritage Value of the Friendship 500 (the official name) as a historic place in our Statement of Significance here. (An excerpt is included at the bottom of this post for interested readers.)

Almost $200,000 has been invested in kind and via donations to date to complete significant restoration work but significant restoration funding is still needed.  Your petition signature and shares are critical to project completion and are very much appreciated!

Watch our video for an upcoming crowdfunding campaign to learn more about McBarge and our amazing mission to become the Deep Discovery Centre, a major BC attraction and Deep Ocean Education and Conservation Centre showcasing BC history, technology and indigenous culture.

Our unique story created many media stories including extensive coverage on Global TV, CBC News and the Vancouver Sun plus international stories in The Telegraph and even BuzzFeed

Why McBarge is a Historic Place
The McBarge, officially named the Friendship 500, was a McDonald's restaurant, built on a 187-foot long barge for Expo '86 in Vancouver, Canada. The McBarge served 12,000 visitors daily on a 15,400 square foot nautically themed showcase of new technology and architecture.  After Expo '86, and unable to get approval to relocate as a McDonald's, the barge sat mostly idle for almost 30 years! 

  1. McBarge is a one of a kind vessel in the world, the only remaining of 3 floating McDonald's restaurants.
  2. Restoration preserves an iconic legacy of Expo '86, the world exposition that transformed Vancouver from a mill town to a metropolis. Few legacies of Expo remain in Vancouver today.
  3. The structure was a showcase of new technology and architecture of its time. Restoration will preserve the external structure including pontoons, massive windows, nautical architecture and enable a new roof deck as a public legacy.
  4. The Statement of Significance details more.

The New McBarge Story   

At long last a NEW McBarge is now in sight. With your help, a transformation into a star B.C. attraction that will draw the crowds of yesteryear once again. Follow us by registering at                                              

Developer Howard Meakin purchased this iconic vessel and is now the driver behind a second life for McBarge, a concrete and steel vessel with an estimated lifespan of 100 years.

“We have been amazed at the incredible interest that fans continue to show for McBarge, including over 2.2 million recent views on YouTube,” stated Meakin. “This petition and a followup crowdfunding campaign will help bring back the crowds to realize our vision of a new McBarge with an important exploration and conservation mission.”

Meakin is an accomplished developer whose projects have included the revitalization of historic, and now vibrant, Gastown, including his donation of the Gassy Jack statue and development of major Western Canadian shopping centres.

A Deep Ocean Discovery and Conservation Centre
The vision is to create a major BC attraction showcasing the history, technology, stories and experiences offered by the Pacific Ocean. The team behind the campaign includes undersea tech giant, entrepreneur and recent Order of Canada recipient Phil Nuytten of Nuytco Research.

Phil’s next big dreams include the Deep Discovery Centre and even an underwater colony beneath Burrard Inlet called Vent Base Alpha. Other team members include architect David Eaton and designer Nigel Walker.

“The Oceans are the lungs of the Earth. Without its health we will all perish. The wonders of the deep sea are equal to those in deep space,” stated Nuytten. He added, “The education, exploration, resource and conservation benefits of our new Deep Discovery Centre are very important to mankind and we greatly appreciate your support of this campaign.”

A little known fact is that most of the living space on Earth is in the deep ocean. Even the deepest places on Earth are no longer pristine – and remain hugely vulnerable.  Your support of this project can make a big difference. 

How you can Help

Please support our petition for McBarge's Historic Place designation.  Share our story and follow us at on Facebook (@newmcbarge), Twitter (@newmcbarge) and YouTube. Many thanks!



Constructed in 1985, FriendShip 500 remains one of the significant physical legacies of the 1986 World Exposition on Transportation and Communication, one of the largest international events in the history of Vancouver.

Heritage Value of the Historic Place
FriendShip 500 is valued for its connection to the legacy of Expo ‘86 and for its floating restaurant architecture, as designed by naval architects Robert Allan Ltd., and architects Waisman Dewar Grout Carter Inc.

Expo ‘86 was a celebration of Vancouver’s 100th anniversary and symbolized Vancouver’s transportation and communications achievements. Vancouver’s
international stature was enhanced by the success of the fair, which included the participation of fifty-four governments and industries from six continents and over 22 million individual visits to the site from May to October 1986. McDonald’s, one of the corporate sponsors of the fair, contributed five new restaurants to the Expo ‘86 grounds, at a cost of twelve million dollars.

The FriendShip 500 location in False Creek boasted excellent views and was the company’s flagship eatery. Conceived as a strategic attempt to earn back the patronage of the young, urban crowd who had begun rejecting chain restaurants in the 1980s, FriendShip 500 was a departure from McDonald’s typical template, billing the floating restaurant as ‘affordable elegance’. FriendShip 500 featured garden rooms, hardwood floors, potted plants, tasteful art and panoramic views, as
well as a hidden kitchen, which transferred food orders to a conveyer belt that delivered food to the front counter.

FriendShip 500 was very successful, and was one of the busiest McDonald’s
locations during Expo ‘86. Following the fair, McDonald’s had hoped to secure a permanent location for the barge and to continue operating it as a floating restaurant, however, the restaurant remained empty in False Creek until 1991 when the new owner of the Expo grounds forced its removal. Despite being removed from its original location, FriendShip 500 remains one of the last remaining physical reminders of the success of the 1986 World Exposition, which was the last
World Fair to be held in North America.

FriendShip 500 is additionally significant for its unique floating restaurant architecture, designed in 1985 by naval architect, Robert Allan Ltd., and the architectural firm of Waisman Dewar Grout Carter Inc. Combining features of Googie, Late-Modern, and naval/aircraft architecture, FriendShip 500 was an impressive contribution to the Expo ‘86 grounds. Featuring curves in three dimensions, rounded windows, rounded corners, curving planes and an overall streamlined, aerodynamic shape, the design of FriendShip 500 was meant to convey future technology and future architectural designs. FriendShip 500 was one of only two floating restaurants developed by McDonald’s; the other was located on the Mississippi River in St. Louis, Missouri.

Character-Defining Elements

The elements that define the heritage character of FriendShip 500 are its:

  • Use and design as a barge/floating restaurant;
  • Form, scale and massing as expressed by its two-storey height, flat roof and rectangular body with projecting tiered wings at the bow and stern, both with outdoor decks;
  • Construction on a concrete pad with materials including a steel frame with aluminum composite panel cladding;
  • Futuristic naval architecture as expressed by its: curves in three dimensions, rounded corners, curving planes and overall streamlined aerodynamic shape; and
  • Original window openings and original window 

Today: Pacific Rim Discovery Centre Inc. is counting on you

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