A new role found for Expo 86’s McBarge

Vessel was towed to Maple Ridge in 2015

McBarge is coming back, but maybe not with a side of fries.

The people who took on the restoration of the famous floating restaurant from Expo 86 are launching a new role for the barge on Oct. 21.

The goal now is to turn McBarge into a Deep Ocean Discovery Centre using crowdfunding as a source to make it a showcase for technology, history and experiences related to the Pacific Ocean, says a release.

The 57-metre, two-storey glass-and-metal barge was used as a floating McDonald’s restaurant during the world’s fair, held on the shores of Vancouver’s False Creek in 1986.

Afterwards, it remained docked in False Creek for several years before moving to Burrard Inlet. In 2015, it was towed to Maple Ridge for restoration.

The Oct. 21 Bring Back McBarge Kickoff event takes place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Albion area of Maple Ridge at Supreme Structural Transport, at 23660 River Rd. It’s a working shipyard so be careful when walking through to the dock. Tickets at $30 are available online at picatic.com/mcbargekickoff. Volunteers are also welcome to help out with the event.

Tours of McBarge will be provided and Nuytco Research will be displaying its deep-sea submersibles invented by Order of Canada recipient Phil Nuytten.

“The oceans are the lungs of our earth. Without its health, we will all perish. The wonders of the deep sea are equal to those in deep space,” said Nuytten.

Coastal First Nations art, food trucks and Fraser River Safari will also be there.

Vancouver developer Howard Meakin bought McBarge several years ago and said people are still interested in it, citing 2.2 million recent views on YouTube.

“Our crowdfunding campaign this fall will help bring back the crowds to realize our vision of a new McBarge with an important vision,” he said.

When it was operating, the McBarge was known as Friendship 500 and was one of three floating McDonald’s restaurants. Today, it’s the only surviving barge.