Lighthouse Pub Formerly the China Gate

Lighthouse Pub Formerly the China Gate

Expo 86, Lies and Wikipedia

It all started with a conversation in the pub… But many things do I suppose…

I heard the Lighthouse Pub in Sechelt was formerly the China Pavilion from Expo 86. But after talking with the pub manager Dale Schweighardt he told me it was a restaurant near the China Pavilion. And so 15 minutes later the mystery was solved…

I had also remembered Tim Bray speak about Wikipedia at Northern Voice a Vancouver blogging conference in 2011. I can’t remember his exact words but I remember the sentiment quite clearly.

If you see an error on Wikipedia you should try to correct it as a small part of your responsibility as a human being is to share your expertise. ~ A paraphrased quote from Tim Bray.


The serendipity and a generous amount of curiosity lead me to read all about Expo 86. I didn’t see any mention of the Lighthouse Pub and its history. A subsequent google search only lead to me a very old and outdated website and mentioned that the Lighthouse Pub was formerly the Munich Festhaus!?!?


Munich Festhaus
The Munich Festhaus at Expo 86.
Photo Credit Brad Wood ~ obLiterated

Being a former journalist my spidey senses were tingling… So I went on an investigation… I first found out the source of the wrong information was a book called VANCOUVER’S EXPO ’86 by Bill Cotter. But after looking at photos of Munich Festhaus on Flickr there is no way the lighthouse pub could be the Munich Festhaus. The Lighthouse Pub just wasn’t big enough… See this aerial view of The Festhaus is in red. You could fit three Lighthouse Pubs inside of that place.

So after a quick visit to the Sechelt Archives I was directed to check the newspaper archives of The Coast News via the historical newspaper database of community newspapers. To see if I could find news of the grand opening or an advertisement of the pub in the newspaper. I was foiled again because the two words Lighthouse and Pub were all too common in the long deceased community newspaper The Coast News and the fact that not all issues and editions of the paper have been digitized yet.

Not being able to find previously published evidence of how the Lighthouse Pub came from the Expo Lands to Sechelt. I finally gave  Nadina Van Egmond a phone call. She is still living on the Sunshine Coast and her husband Len Van Egmond was the original developer of the property.

She reported that Len purchased the buildings on a Rainy November Afternoon in 1986. The buildings that comprised the lighthouse were then deconstructed and moved piece by piece via BC Ferries to Sechelt and reconstructed on site.

A Gateway

She spoke about how Len saw the spaceship from the McDonalds and saw how to could be a Lighthouse if the wings were removed.

It was a two year process with the pub finally opening in 1988. Len Van Egmond passed away in 1993. But looking back Nadina suggest Len had a vision for what the Pub has now become:

“A gateway to Sechelt” ~ Nadina Van Egmond

I can’t disagree with her…

If you sit at the pub on any weekday afternoon and watch the traffic out on the water. It is a constant stream of boat traffic from up the inlet and float plane traffic from Vancouver, Richmond and Nanaimo. It’s one of the most unique combination of services I have found anywhere in the lower mainland.


China Gate Cafe
China Gate Cafe

I told Dale about my investigation and how there was some Erroneous Information about the history of the pub. He found the some photos in an old box of files from the day the China Gate Cafe. He scanned and sent them to me for upload to Wikipedia. These photos clearly show the pub was originally the China Gate Cafe.

Why did you do this? What was so important about the history of a pub?

I would have never written a blog post if it was just the construction of a pub… But I felt this was more then just a search about a place where people get a little tipsy… It was a fun treasure hunt of trivia, something to do on my days off from web design. But also this has more to do with Expo 86 then the pub… See my parents had seasons passes to the fair and we saw every pavilion, road every ride and memorized the location of every washroom of that fair… I think fondly of those days and wanted to re-visted memories of my childhood.


1 thought on “Expo 86, Lies and Wikipedia

  1. “…found the Sechelt Waterdrome (Water Airport) was reported as being closed… I though that was completely wrong I had just flown home from Vancouver to Sechelt on Harbour Air.” You’ve confused the aerodrome with the general area. Yes, the actual aerodrome as operated by Fisheries and Oceans Canada is closed. However, the Sechelt Inlet/Porpoise Bay area is still usable by aircraft. In fact if F&OC owned a dock with the aerodrome it could still be used by aircraft but would not be the same as the previously registered Sechelt/Porpoise Bay Water Aerodrome.

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