I have a favorite ‘park’. Stanley Park in Vancouver, BC (Canada) It is a pretty cool park as city parks go. Every city has a park, well most of them do. They come in all shapes and most sizes from mini to huge.
I fell in love with it as a young boy the first time I visited it, I thought it a most splendid place to build a house one day. That was before I knew that Stanley Park in the heart of Vancouver (maybe it is the heart of Vancovuer) was in fact a park, no building houses allowed; not even tree houses.
The 1,001 acres/404.9 hectares that make up this urban park is almost entirely surrounded by sea water and boasts a few ponds, a large lagoon and a swimming pool right next the ocean. It’s all pretty lush what with all the rain that pours down on these parts of the wet coast.
The place is criss crossed with 200kms (give or take a few) of trails and roads and not a few secret trails only the homeless know much about. Some people guess that it contains half a million trees and the whole thing is encompassed by the sea wall, a paved 8.8 kilometres (5.5 mi) path that is used by approx. 2.5 million pedestrians and cyclists year round. Throw in a hand full of die hard roller bladders for good measure.
A busy traffic artery known as the Stanley Park Causeway, bisects the park and connects the downtown core to the north shore and North Vancouver municipality via the Lions Gate suspension bridge .
Officially declared open and appointed the purpose as a park 124 years ago in 1888 by some guy called David Oppenheimer, it was named after Lord Stanley of Preston, the Governor-General of Canada who had this to say when he actually saw the park – “I name thee, Stanley Park”. He was seen to throw his arms heavenward in an attempt to embrace the place while dedicating it to the use and enjoyment of peoples of all colors, creeds, and customs, for all time. Generous guy.
The park area is traditional territory of several different indigenous aboriginal tribes. Historically, the Squamish had built a number of villages on the western and northern area, and in the southern area, the Musqueam used the area for collecting resources.
The popular landmark is “Slah-kay-ulsh” which means he is standing up. In their oral history, a man was transformed into this rock for his unselfishness by the three Transformer brothers
The park also has a few sandy beaches along its shore line and swimming is a popular warm weather option to those brave enough to brave the frigid pacific waters.
Wildlife in this park includes geese like those pictured above that poop everywhere, great blue herons, seagulls, bald eagles, a burgeoning raccoon population, coyotes, skunks, possibly beavers, feral rabbits (decedent from house pets) and a thriving and at times inquisitive population of grey squirrels whose ancestry can be traced back to eight pairs from New Yorks Central Park.
The park at one time housed a zoo and is home to the Vancouver Aquarium. Established in 1956, the aquarium is the largest in Canada and houses a wide collection of marine life including dolphins, belugas,sea lions, harbour seals and sea otters.
In December 2006 a fierce winter storm tore through the park with winds gusting up to 115km p/h and laid waste to an area near Prospect Point. Approx. 60% of the western side of the park was damaged; and it is believed that 3,000 trees were negatively affected.
All images ©myronunrau