Time capsule: When Beatlemania hit Vancouver

Time capsule: When Beatlemania hit Vancouver

This week 55 years ago the Beatles played their first show in Canada — and it was in Vancouver at Empire Stadium. 

"We have front row tickets ... we figure the hospitals can hold us [if there's a stampede]," one fan said of the Vancouver concert, which happened on August 22, 1964.

The CBC's Ross Mortimer was out on the streets all those years ago talking to Vancouver police.

"We're concerned about youngsters and their safety ... the youngsters are in a hysterical state, completely without control," said one police officer. 

The Beatles were staying at the Hotel Georgia in downtown Vancouver, where a crowd of thousands had amassed across the street to welcome them. Many waited several hours to catch a glimpse of the band.

They chanted loudly: "We want the Beatles!" 

Two American women who had seen the group play in Seattle made the trek to Vancouver and sneaked into the band's hotel room before they arrived, where CBC interviewed them. 

"They're so wonderful," one of the women said.

CBC reported that a man impersonated Ringo Starr in a car outside the hotel, causing a frenzy. Mortimer said it was a "stunt perpetrated by a local rock station."

"It was a dangerous situation — for all the warning that we received about the Beatles, it was always 'watch the children' and make sure they don't get out of hand. Isn't it interesting that it's the adults that got out of hand first," he said.

Over 20,000 fans crowded the stadium to watch the historic performance. The Beatles continued their Canadian tour in Toronto on Sept. 7 and Montreal on Sept. 8.