Time and time again the jewel in Vancouver’s crown, Stanley Park, is mentioned by residents as the one place a visitor simply cannot miss when coming to Vancouver. Here are a few things you may or may not know about this largest city park in Canada.
Designer: much of Stanley Park’s design was based on the planning principles of Frederick Law Olmsted, the designer behind New York City’s Central Park.
Squirrels: in 1909, the City of New York presented Vancouver with a gift of eight pairs of grey squirrels for Stanley Park. Now the park is riddled with the critters, who are favourites of city residents and visitors alike. Hold still, with some seeds or nuts in your hand and, usually in a few minutes, one or two will tentatively approach and make a grab for them.
Stanley Park Seawall: on any given day, at just about any given hour, you can run, walk, blade or cycle Stanley Park’s seawall early in the morning, past Chinese fishermen at Siwash Rock, where Indian Princess‑poet Pauline Johnson’s ashes are scattered.
Lost Lagoon: Native Indian poet Pauline Johnson named this large pond, now featuring a spectacular fountain. The waters of the lagoon, at the entrance to Stanley Park in the downtown core, once disappeared at low tide, but today it’s landlocked and a haven for wildfowl.
National Geographic Tree: this was a huge red cedar, almost 30 metres around, that the National Geographic Society believed to be the largest of its kind in the world. It was rooted near Stanley Park’s Hollow Tree (a much better known tree locally), before being uprooted during a storm in 2007.
The Nine O’clock Gun: a loud old English sea cannon was placed in Vancouver’s Stanley Park just over 100 years ago. It was fired originally to remind local fishermen of fishing time limits… but now it sounds every evening at 9pm as a time signal – and a tradition.
Birds in the Park: Stanley Park is a breeding ground for birds, ducks, geese and swans; a great place for bird watching. Stroll around Lost Lagoon and you’ll spot a blue heron or a wood duck. Beaver Lake, nestled inside Stanley Park is a quiet sanctuary for birds and people alike. In spring, ducklings can be seen trailing mama around in the water and across the paths. The city provides seed to the birds and in winter is a virtual plethora of fowl.
As an evergreen oasis near our downtown core, Stanley Park continues to be one of our city’s biggest tourist attractions. Visit the Vancouver Park’s Board website for more information.