Located at 620 Beatty Street, Vancouver, BC, the Beatty Street Drill Hall is home to the British Columbia Regiment (Duke of Connaught’s Own), an armoured reconnaissance reserve regiment, the oldest military unit in Vancouver, and the most senior militia in the province.
The British Columbia Regiment Band (brass and wind) meets for rehearsals on the parade square in the Drill Hall by permission of the Commanding Officer of the BC Regiment (DCO).
Construction started in 1899 and the armoury was opened in September 1901 by the Duke of Cornwall (later King George V). With two large castle-like turrets complete with battlements, and two tanks and a 64-pounder Gun alongside the large white structure, Beatty Street Drill Hall has long been a Vancouver landmark and is listed as a class-A heritage building.
The walls are three and a half feet thick, and the building rests on huge granite blocks. Limestone from Gabriola Island was used for the parapet and it features a rusticated stone trim. The Drill Hall includes a parade square, offices, and store rooms.
Memorial plaques and a stone cairn commemorate members of the Regiment fallen during wars starting with the South African War, including the First and Second World Wars and local veterans of the Korean War and peacekeeping. The Regimental Museum of the BC Regiment (DCO) is open on Wednesdays to view a collection that dates back to 1883.
The Drill Hall is known for having “ghostly” occurrences. An apparition of a man has been seen in the Senior NCOs’ and Officers’ Messes. More commonly, strange and inexplicable noises have been heard throughout the building, including phantom footsteps, voices, books falling from shelves and various items suddenly falling from the walls. We assume the ghost must like our music as we have never been bothered during our rehearsals, nor Regimental events. We do wish “Sgt Samson” a good night prior to leaving the Drill Hall after a rehearsal.