Heritage Site Finder


Heritage Site Finder

An interactive map of buildings and sites on the Vancouver Heritage Register.

Joe Fortes Drinking Fountain

Photo Credit: Stephanie Warner


1755 Beach Avenue, Vancouver BC


West End


Parks & Landscapes




Joseph Seraphim “Joe” Fortes (1863 – 1922) was the life guard of English Bay and taught generations of children how to swim.

Joe Fortes was born in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago and worked in Britain for several years. In 1884 he sailed around Cape Horn from Liverpool and arrived in Burrard Inlet in September 1885.

Joe Fortes lived in a tent on English Bay in summer months and later moved into a cottage at the foot of Bidwell Street on the shore-side of Beach Avenue.When the private homes and boarding houses lining English Bay in Vancouver’s early years were removed, long time volunteer lifeguard Joe Fortes received special dispensation for his sterling community service. Fortes’ small shack was relocated across the street to Alexandra Park where he was allowed to live out the days of his life. Joe Fortes died in 1922.

In 1926 the Kiwanis Club erected a drinking fountain in “Old Joe’s” memory which was completely restored by another generation of Kiwanis Club members in 1998. The latest restoration included a brick plaza and lighting for the fountain


Vancouver Park Board website