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Location of Stanley Park within Vancouver.
Stanley Park is a urban park bordering downtownmarker Vancouvermarker, British Columbiamarker, Canadamarker. It was opened in 1888 by Lord Stanley of Preston, the Governor-General of Canada.

It is more than 10% larger than New York City's Central Parkmarker and almost half the size of London's Richmond Parkmarker. The park attracts an estimated eight million visitors every year, including locals and tourists, who come for its recreational facilities and its natural attributes. An seawall path circles the park, which is used by 2.5 million pedestrians, cyclists, and inline skaters every year. Much of the park remains forested with an estimated half million trees that can be as tall as and hundreds of years old.There are approximately of trails and roads in the park, which are patrolled by the Vancouver Police Department's equine mounted squad. The Project for Public Spaces has ranked Stanley Park as the sixteenth best park in the world and sixth best in North America.


The area of the park is the traditional territory of a few different indigenous peoples. On the Burrard Inletmarker and Howe Soundmarker regions, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh or Squamishmarker had many villages in this park. On the lower Fraser River area, Musqueam used the area for resource gathering. Where Lumberman's Arch is now in Stanley Park, a large Sḵwx̱wú7mesh village once presided called X̱wáýx̱way meaning Place of masks. The dwellings traditionally used was a longhouse built from cedar poles and slabs. One longhouse was measured at long by wide. These houses were occupied by large extended families living in different quadrants of the house. The larger houses were used to ceremonial potlachs where a host would invite guests to witness and participate in ceremonies and the giving away of property.

The park itself was a rich resource for gathering food and materials. The Sḵwx̱wú7mesh "cut down large cedar trees in Stanley Park for making canoes and other purposes" utilizing "nothing but stone chisels and a big round stone for a hammer." Where present Second Beach is, a place called "St’i’tekekw’" to Sḵwx̱wú7mesh was used to gather "a clay material or muddy substance formally obtained right in the bed of a small creek... which, when rolled into loaves, as (my people) did it, and heated or roasted before a fire, turned into a white like chalk" This material was used in the making of mountain goat wool and dog wool blankets. The Sḵwx̱wú7mesh name references this material. Another home for local natives was where present Prospect Point is. This place is called "Schi'lhus" meaning High Bluff. Coal Harbour or "Ch’elxwa’7elch" meaning Gets dry at times, was known as a fishing spot for herring. August Jack, a local historian who once lived at Schi’lhus, remembered his early days when him and his brother were "fish-raking in Coal Harbor" and "got lots of herring in (the) canoe". Deadman's Islandmarker located in Coal Harbour was once used a burial island, possibly a reason for its macabre name. The popular landmark Siwash Rock is called "Slhxi’7elsh" meaning "he is standing up." In their oral history, a man was transformed into this rock by the three Transformer brothers. The hole in the rock was where Slhxi'7elsh kept his fishing tackle, according to Andrew Paull.
View of Siwash Rock, taken from the hiking trail above.
First contact between Europeans occurred in 1791, with Spanish Captain Jose Maria Narvaez and British Captain George Vancouver. Captain Vancouver recorded in his journal "Here we met about fifty Indian's, in their canoes, who conducted themselves with the greatest decorum and civility, presenting us with many cooked fish, and undressed, of the sort already mentioned as resembling the smelt. These good, people, finding we were inclined to make some return for their hospitality, shewed much understanding in preferring copper to iron." In his A Voyage of Discovery, Vancouver describes the area as “an island ... with a smaller island [Deadman's Island] lying before it,” indicating that it was originally surrounded by water, at least at high tide. No other contact was recorded for decades, until around the time of the Crimean War when British admirals arranged with Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Joe Capilano that in the case of an invasion, the British would defend the south shore of Burrard Inletmarker and the Squamish would defend the north.

According to Capilano’s daughter, the British gave him and his men 60 muskets. Although the attack anticipated by the British never came, the guns were used by the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh to repel an attack by an indigenous raid from the north. Stanley Park was not attacked but this was the beginning of it being considered a strategic military location by the British.

The peninsula was designated as a military reserve in the early 1860s in a survey conducted by the Royal Engineers. It was again considered a strategic point in case Americans might attempt an invasion and launch an attack on New Westminstermarker (then the colonial capital) via Burrard Inlet. Although the area was logged by six different companies between the 1860s and 1880s, this military designation saved the land from development. In 1886, as its first order of business, Vancouver’s City Council voted to petition the Dominion government to lease the reserve for use as a park.

To manage their new acquisition, city council appointed a six-man park committee, which was replaced with the Vancouver Park Board in 1890 that was to be elected rather than appointed (a rarity in North American cities). The Vancouver Park Board manages 192 parks on over of land, but Stanley Park remains by far the largest.

On September 27, 1888 the park was officially opened, where it was named after Lord Stanley, Governor General of Canada at the time. The following year, Stanley became the first Governor General to visit British Columbia when he officially dedicated the park. An observer at the event wrote:

When Stanley made this declaration, there were still a number of indigenous people living on lands he had claimed for the park. Some, who had built their homes less than twenty years earlier, would continue to live on the land for years. Most of the dwellings at the Squamish village of X̱wáýx̱way were reported as vacant by 1899, and in 1900, two of such houses were purchased by the Park Board for $25 each and burned. One Sḵwx̱wú7mesh family, “Howe Sound Jack,” and Sexwalia “Aunt Sally” Kulkalem, continued to live at X̱wáýx̱way until Sally's death in 1923. Sally's ownership of the property surrounding her home was accepted by authorities in the 1920s, and following her death, the property was purchased from her heir, Mariah Kulkalem, for $15,500 and resold to the Federal government.

In 1908, twenty years after the first petition for the lease, the federal government renewed the lease of Stanley Park to Vancouvermarker for ninety-nine years, renewable in 2007.

Deadman's Islandmarker, a small island off Stanley Park and now the site of the naval reserve unit HMCS Discovery. During the 1860s to early 1880s, early settlers along Burrard Inlet also used the island, along with Brockton Point, as a burial ground and cemetery. Burials ceased when the Mountain View Cemeterymarker opened in 1887, just after Vancouver had become a city. During a small pox outbreak in the late 1880s, Deadman's Island became a "pest house" for quarantined victims of the disease and burial site for those who did not survive.

The park was designated a National Historic Site of Canada by the federal government in 1988. It was deemed significant because the relationship between its "natural environmental and its cultural elements developed over time" and because "it epitomizes the large urban park in Canada."


Stanley Park contains numerous natural and man-made attractions that lure visitors to the park. Unlike other large urban parks, Stanley Park is not the product of a landscape architect, but has evolved into its present, mixed-use configuration.


Trees growing out of stumps show the regeneration of the park forest.
The forest gives the park a more natural character than most other urban parks, leading many users to consider it an urban oasis. It is primarily second and third growth and contains many huge Douglas-fir, Western Red cedar, Western Hemlock, and Sitka Spruce trees.
One of the large trees knocked down by the wind storm on December 15, 2006.
In addition to logging in the nineteenth century, large swathes of the park were deforested by natural causes on three occasions in the city’s history. The first was a combination of an October windstorm in 1934 and a subsequent snowstorm the following January that felled thousands of trees, primarily between Beaver Lake and Prospect Point. Another storm in October 1962, the remnants of Typhoon Freda, cleared a virgin tract behind the children's zoo, which opened an area for a new miniature railway that replaced a smaller version built in the 1940s. In total, approximately 3,000 trees were lost in that storm.

Another storm ravaged the park on December 15, 2006 with winds. Over 60% of the western edge was damaged; the worst part was the area around Prospect Point. In total, about 40% of the forest was affected, with an estimated 3,000 trees damaged. Large sections of the seawall were also destabilized by the storm, and many areas of the park were closed to the public pending restoration. The cost of restoration has been estimated at $9 million, which will be covered by contributions from all three levels of government and private and corporate donations.

Since 1992, the tallest trees have been topped and otherwise pruned by park staff for safety reasons.
Logging operation at Prospect Point, the area most damaged by the 2006 storm.
Because the park has been subjected to such dramatic changes, several landmark trees have been affected. The Hollow Tree was probably the most photographed park element in bygone years, an obligatory stop for locals, tourists and dignitaries alike, and a professional photographer was on hand to capture the visit for a fee. The tree was saved from road widening in 1910 through the lobbying efforts of the photographer who made his living at the tree. Automobiles and horse-drawn carriages would frequently be backed into the hollow, demonstrating the immensity of the tree for posterity. While the remaining 700-800 year-old stump still draws viewers and is commemorated with a plaque, it is no longer alive and has shrunk considerably over the years, from a circumference of many decades ago, to a more recent . Damaged by the December 2006 windstorm and leaning forward at a dangerous angle, on March 31, 2008, the tree was targeted by the Vancouver Park Board for removal due to potential safety hazards. However, on January 19, 2009, the Board accepted a proposal to save the tree by realigning and stabilizing it at a cost of $250,000, funded entirely by private donations.

Another tree that has achieved fame is the National Geographicmarker Tree, so named because it appeared in the magazine’s October 1978 issue. With a circumference of 13.5 m (44½ ft), it was once one of the more impressive big Western Red cedars of the park. It diminished over time, ravaged by storms, a lightning strike, and topped by park staff to a height of before being uprooted in October 2007. A small stand of tall trees that has not survived but was once a popular attraction, “The Seven Sisters,” is memorialized by a plaque and new replacement trees. The death of the distinctive fir tree atop Siwash Rock has also been memorialized with a replacement. The original died in the dry summer of 1965, and through the persistent efforts of park staff, a replacement finally took root in 1968.

Bodies of water

In addition to being nearly surrounded by the Pacific Oceanmarker, Stanley Park is home to several other bodies of water in Vancouver. Beaver Lake is a small lake, mostly covered by lily pads, home to fish and water birds. As of 1997 its surface area was 3.95 hectares, but the lake is slowly shrinking in size. One of Vancouver's few remaining free-flowing streams, Beaver Creek, joins Beaver Lake to the Pacific Ocean and is one of two streams in Vancouver where salmon still return to spawn each year.

Lost Lagoon with Downtown Vancouver in background.

Lost Lagoonmarker is a captive 16.6 hectare (41 acre) body of water, west of Georgia Street, near the Georgia Street entrance to the park. Surrounding the lake is a trail, and it features a lit fountain that was erected to commemorate the city's golden jubilee. It is a nesting ground to many species of bird, including swan, Canada goose, duck and great blue heron.

Recreational facilities

Recreational facilities are abundant in the park, having long co-existed, albeit uneasily, with the aesthetic and more natural park features preferred by those looking to the park as an enclave of nature in the city. The most heavily used and the favourite facility of park users is the seawall encircling the park’s perimeter. Construction of the seawall around the park began in 1917, but was not declared finished until September 26, 1971, and did not fully circle the park until 1980.

James "Jimmy" Cunningham, a master mason, dedicated 32 years of his life to the construction of the seawall from 1931 until his retirement in 1963. Even after he retired, Cunningham kept coming down (once in his pyjamas) to monitor the wall's progress, until his death at 85 on September 29, 1963.

The seawall is a popular destination for walking, running, cycling, and inline skating. There are two paths, one for inline skaters and cyclists and the other for pedestrians. The section around the outside of the park is one-way for cyclists and inline skaters, running counter-clockwise. The walkway has been extended several times and is currently 22 kilometres from end to end, making it the world's longest uninterrupted waterfront walkway. Unofficially, it starts at Canada Placemarker in the downtown core, runs around Stanley Park, along English Baymarker beach, around False Creekmarker, and finally to Kitsilano Beach. From there, a trail continues 600 metres to the west, connecting to an additional 12 kilometres of beaches and pathways which terminate at the mouth of the Fraser River. The December 2006 storm subjected parts of the park portion of the seawall to mudslides and falling debris, forcing park staff to close it for an extended repair period.

Lily-covered Beaver Lake.

The miniature railroad was built in an area leveled by Typhoon Freda in the 1960s and is especially popular as the “Halloween Train” and the “Christmas Train” during those seasons. The park also contains tennis courts, an 18-hole Pitch and putt golf course, a seaside swimming pool at Second Beach, and the Brockton Oval for track sports, rugby, and cricket. For entertainment, there is the Aquariummarker, Canada’s first and largest since it opened in 1956, and the Malkin Bowl, rebuilt after a fire in the 1980s and home to the local Theatre Under the Stars.


Henry Avison, the first zookeeper and park ranger, feeding a bear.
Until 1996, a main attraction in the park was a zoo, which grew out of the collection of animals begun by the first park superintendent, Henry Avison, after he captured a black bear and chained it to a stump. Avison was subsequently named city pound keeper, and his collection of animals formed the basis for the original zoo, which eventually housed over 50 animals, including snakes, wolves, emus, buffalo, kangaroos, monkeys, and Humboldt penguins.

In 1994, when plans were developed to upgrade Stanley Park's zoo, Vancouver voters instead decided to phase it out when the question was posed in a referendum. The Stanley Park Zoo closed completely in December 1997 after the last remaining animal, a polar bear named Tuk, died at age 36. He had remained after the other animals had left because of his old age. The polar bear pit, often criticised by animal rights activists, was converted into a demonstration salmon spawning hatchery. Captive animals can still be viewed at the Children’s Farmyard. Numerous varieties of animals live in the park, including 200 bird species, such as peacocks descended from the old zoo, as well as other non-native species.

The Vancouver Aquariummarker is also located in the park. Since its establishment in 1956, the Aquarium has become the largest in Canada and houses a collection of marine life that includes dolphins, belugas, sea lions, Harbour seals, and sea otters. The popular children's song, "Baby Beluga", was inspired by one of the whales at the facility. In total, there are approximately 300 species of fish, 30,000 invertebrates, 56 species of amphibians and reptiles, and around 60 mammals and birds. The park board approved an $80 million expansion of the Aquarium in November 2006, following considerable public debate and despite a vocal opposition concerned about animal rights and the loss of park trees required by the expansion.

Mammals include a large raccoon population, coyotes, rabbits descended from discarded pets, and a thriving Grey squirrel population descending from eight pairs given as a gift from New York'smarker Central Parkmarker in 1909.


The totem poles are one of the largest tourist draws in the province.
Over the years a large collection of monuments has accumulated in Stanley Park, consisting of statues, plaques, and various other memorials commemorating a large variety of things. Among these are statues of Lord Stanley, poet Robert Burns, Olympic runner Harry Jerome, and President Harding; plaques commemorating the wreck of the SS Beaver, the sinking of the Chehalis (a tugboat that collided with the MV Princess Victoria off Stanley Park), Pauline Johnson’s burial site, and the Salvation Army; a replica of the RMS Empress of Japan figurehead; and a timber-and-stump archway that replaced the original Lumbermen’s Arch built by lumber workers for a visit by the Duke of Connaught, which ultimately succumbed to rot. The original arch was a copy of the Parthenon's front, using whole trees for the columns and gable, and was originally located on the Duke's carriage route at Homer and Pender Streets before it was moved to the park. The new Lumberman's Arch was built with public washrooms and change rooms, with open-air showers adjoining the former Lumberman's Arch Pool, now a waterpark.

Gardens are also a common form of commemoration in the park. The windstorm of 2006 revealed traces of a long-forgotten rock garden in the area of the Tea House and railway, which had once been one of the park's star attractions and also one of its largest man-made objects by area. A monument to the Nisei of British Columbiamarker immediately west of the Aquarium is accompanied by a planting of Japanese maple and flowering cherry and other plants from Japanmarker.

Reflecting the view that the park should be kept in a more natural state and is already saturated, the park board has banned the erection of any further memorials. In what some have considered an exception to the ban, the park board agreed in 2006 to build a new playground at Ceperley Meadows near Second Beach honouring the victims of the Air India Flight 182marker bombing. The federal government has earmarked $800,000 to build the playground, which was completed in the summer of 2007. A local historian has also suggested the appropriateness of memorials marking the sites of communities that were displaced in the making of the park at Lumbermen’s Arch (Whoi Whoi, or Xwayxway), Prospect Point (Chaythoos), Brockton Point, and Kanaka Rancherie (at the foot of Denman Street), although a formal proposal has not been put forth.


Lost Lagoon with Downtown Vancouver in Background.
Image:Stanley Park Vancouver.jpg|
Sunset from Stanley Park.
Image:Girl in a Wetsuit.jpg|
Girl in a Wetsuit statue
Image:Burns and Bird.jpg|
Statue of Scottish poet, Robert Burns
Statue of Olympic runner, Harry Jerome
Image:A01923 CVA 677 136 Deadman's Island 191 .jpg|
Deadman's Island, showing squatters' homes in the early twentieth century.
Image:Brockton Point Lighthouse.jpg|
Brockton Point lighthouse
Lions Gate Bridge connecting Vancouver to West Vancouver.
Image:Notched tree stump.jpg|
Evidence of 1860s logging is visible on notched tree stumps in the park.
Image:Stanley Park Lagoon.jpg|Lost LagoonImage:Second Beach Pool.jpg|Second Beach Pool


  1. Vancouver Park Board Parks and Gardens: Stanley Park Retrieved on 2008-06-15.
  2. Barman, Jean (2005). Stanley Park's Secrets. Habour Publishing, 20. ISBN 978155074205
  3. Barman, Jean (2005). Stanley Park's Secrets. Habour Publishing, 46. ISBN 978155074205
  4. Barman, Jean (2005). Stanley Park's Secrets. Habour Publishing, 43. ISBN 978155074205
  5. Barman, Jean (2005). Stanley Park's Secrets. Habour Publishing, 21. ISBN 978155074205.
  6. Historical and Geographical Contexts, Stanley Park Commemorative Integrity Statement, Parks Canada.
  7. The History of Metropolitan Vancouver: 1908 Retrieved on 2008-06-15.
  8. " Stanley Park's hollow tree gets the axe." CBC News. April 1, 2008.
  9. " Stanley Park's Hollow Tree spared the axe for good." CBC News. January 19, 2009.

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