McBarge was a popular McDonald’s fast-food restaurant specially constructed on 187 foot long barge for the World’s Fair Expo ’86, that was held in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
It was for the celebration of Vancouver’s centennial from May till October 1986. This floating attraction officially was titled Friendship 500. It was the second nautical-themed McDonald’s restaurant. The first floating McDonald’s was in St. Louis, Missouri, built to showcase the steamboat era. Friendship 500 had to present the future of technology and architecture.
McBarge was designed by the designers of the naval architecture and marine engineering company Robert Allan Ltd. It was built for $12 million (or today’s $26 million). It was aimed at the younger population, who would love to eat with the captain of the ship.
There was a dining room with panoramic views of Vancouver and a hidden kitchen. The staff wore sailor uniforms and the whole interior was organized in nautical manner and theme. It was an instant hit but sadly only during the six month event. Soon it turned into a bad investment.
The primarily plan was for the McBarge to remain in operation as a floating restaurant after Expo ’86. The barge was left empty at the Expo ground until 1991. The new owner of the mooring ground ordered McDonald’s to remove it. It was towed from the False Creek shores in Vancouver to the quiet Burrard Inlet, British Columbia. It was left abandoned and anchored in the waters of the west coast of Canada for more than 30 years. It was never opened again.
There where several plans to be preserved or restore it. The barge was left to rot forgotten and battered by storms in Burrard Inlet since 2015. That year it was moved to Maple Ridge, British Columbia. One of the plans was the barge to be used as homeless shelter, because the current shelters in Vancouver are overcrowded. Other plans were for it to be reopened as a pub or a restaurant.
Now it is under a $4.5 million program for refitting there, before being removed to an unrevealed location. We look forward to following it’s progress.