The Capilano Salmon Hatchery is a fish farm that was established in 1971 to save the strongly declining salmon stocks in the Capilano River. Today, the hatchery not only breeds Coho salmon and steelhead trout, but has also introduced Chinook salmon into the system. Open to the public, the facility invites travelers to learn more about Canada’s most popular fish.
Visitors are guided around the hatchery largely via a self-guided tour to witness the fascinating and tragic life cycle of the salmon, beginning with their development from eggs and moving on to their spring release into the river and their heroic efforts as adults to reach their spawning grounds upriver.
Displays and exhibits explain the whole fascinating process and inform travelers about the hatchery’s operations. One of the most exciting parts of the trail is the Fishway, an active fish ladder where, at the right time of year, huge numbers of salmon can be observed through conveniently located glass windows as they jump and wiggle up the steps. Depending on the time of year, travelers can see either the migrating salmon and trout, the juveniles in the display aquariums or the release of the fish back into the river.
Admission to the Capilano Salmon Hatchery is completely free, and the fish farm can be visited every day of the year. The hatchery is located just a bit north of the Capilano Suspension Bridge in the Capilano River Regional Park. The best time of year to see the migrating salmons is late August through November, as well as during the annual fish releases in spring.