All aboard – West Vancouver’s favourite nautically named structure is back.
After a three-year closure to upgrade the iconic heritage site, The Ferry Building Gallery at Ambleside Landing is reopening to the public.
The official reopening date is April 4, according to district staff, with its first art exhibition set to open the next day.
Sibling Revelry is the gallery’s first exhibition this year, with an opening reception Wednesday, April 5 at 6 p.m. The show features Eliza Massey Stanford, Nathaniel Massey, Raymond Massey and Vincent Massey, a group of artistic brothers and sisters who are exhibiting together as a tribute to their parents and life growing up in West Vancouver.
It will be a mixed media gallery, with painting, photography, textiles and sculpture. There will be a meet-the-artists presentation on Saturday, April 8 at 2 p.m., followed by a rug-hooking demo from Eliza Massey Stanford at 3 p.m.
With the upgrade work completed, it’s been a mad dash to get the refurbished gallery ready for its first exhibition, explained Leigh-Anne Niehaus, community arts supervisor at the Ferry Building.
“We’ll definitely have some walls, but not to our full capacity,” she said. “Luckily, most of the artworks that are going to be on exhibit are 3D.”
Nathanial Massey, who specializes in landscape photography, will be taking up most of the wall space. His siblings won’t, though. Niehaus noted Raymond Massey’s “untraditional” sculptures made with natural materials and Vincent Massey’s masterfully crafted pottery.
Niehaus said it’s been a challenge trying to book in all the artists who have been scheduled in over the past three years.
“At this stage, we’ve got a backlog of exhibitions that have started since 2019,” she said, adding that the Masseys were among those. The family paying tribute to growing up in West Vancouver ties into the gallery being community based.
“We’re building up a community again, because it’s been closed for so long,” Niehaus said. To honour the many existing agreements, the gallery will be rapidly changing through exhibitions every 3.5 weeks or so.
For those who plan to visit, much of the Ferry Building will be familiar to past patrons.
"The layout is exactly the same,” Niehaus said. “It is an art gallery, so there are a few little tweaks that have been made to make it more suited to that – the lighting and the wall panelling.”
Instead of wall panels and natural wood, the walls are now floor-to-ceiling white.
“Otherwise, it’s completely recognizable, the same but just a little bit newer and cleaner.”
The exterior façade is much the same as well, with a ramp on the side of the building for better accessibility, and some safety features as well.
Much of the multi-million-dollar restoration project involved moving the Ferry Building – which was at risk of flooding – to higher ground. Other work included seismic upgrades, new accessible washrooms, a side lift, basement, exterior stairs, as well as various structural repairs.
A series of upgrades to preserve the historic structure were slated for completion last summer, after receiving a $1.85-million grant from senior levels of government in 2020. But the completion date got pushed back due to legal requirements that had to be sorted out between BC Hydro and CN Rail, district staff said, and more recently some problem shrubbery.
The District of West Vancouver, which applied for federal and provincial funding, contributed over $600,000 to the $2.5-million restoration.
The Ferry Building was built in 1913 and designated a municipal heritage property in 1987. Prior to the upgrade project, it had been a public art gallery for 30 years.
District spokesperson Carrie Gadsby said that more details about the official opening of the gallery will be released by April 4.
Sibling Revelry exhibition
When: April 5 to 23
Opening Reception: Wednesday, April 5, 6 to 8 p.m.
Meet the artists: Saturday, April 8, 2 to 3 p.m.
Rug hooking demo with Eliza Massey: Saturday, April 8, 3 to 4 p.m.
Where: The Ferry Building Gallery, 1414 Argyle Ave., West Vancouver
More details on the Ferry Building website