Stanley Park, Vancouver, Dedicated (1889)

On October 29, 1889,Charles Stanley, the Governor General of British Columbia, formally christened a new park in Vancouver, dedicating it “to the use and enjoyment of peoples of all colours, creeds, and customs, for all time.  I name thee, Stanley Park.”  Little did he know that the use and reputation of the park would grow to the extent that Stanley Park was named the world’s best park in 2014 by the users of TripAdvisor!

The park actually opened one year earlier, in September, 1888 (but Stanley himself was ill and could not attend what we would today call the “soft opening”).  At the time, Vancouver had just over 6,000 residents—choosing to set aside a park of this size was a dramatic undertaking for this frontier town.  Today the park is the equivalent of New York’s Central Park or Nairobi’s Uhuru Park.  At nearly 900 acres in area, Stanley Park is the third largest urban park in the world.  Annually, it has more than 8 million recreation visits.

Visitors to Stanley Park enjoy First Nations’ totem poles (photo by InSapphoWeTrust)

Stanley Park has the typical rich history of use for a western land area.  It was home to three First Nations groups—the Squamish, Burrard Band and Musqueam peoples—who used the land for centuries as hunting and gathering grounds.  During the 1800s, the area was increasingly occupied by European settlers who logged the dense forest for lumber and established small farms.  Vancouver was incorporated as a city in 1888, and the first action taken by the new far-sighted City Council was to begin the steps to create a park.

The park itself is a peninsula that juts northward from downtown Vancouver, separating Vancouver Harbor from the Strait of Georgia.  More than half of the park area remains in forest, dominated by western red cedar, Douglas fir and bigleaf maple.  Although the area was extensively logged during the late 19th Century, many “monument trees” remain, some centuries old.  The forests have also been subject to severe blow-downs by fierce wind storms, the most recent in 2006.  The city planted 15,000 trees after the 2006 wind storm to restore damaged areas.

A stand of big trees, known as the ”Seven Sisters” in Stanley Park, 1912 (photo by Rosetti Photographic Studios)

Along with forested areas and their associated hiking and biking trails, the park contains numerous areas developed for outdoor recreation.  Original and modern totem poles and other First Nations’ artwork grace the property.  Three beaches attract thousands daily during the summer months.  Forest trails cover nearly 17 miles.  A seawall winds around the park, providing accessible walking and biking paths; combined with other paths adjoining the park, the 13.7-mile trail is the longest uninterrupted waterfront path in the world.  A botanical garden and aquarium are located in the park, but a historic zoo was closed recently when the last remaining animal, a polar bear named Tuk, died in 1994. The presence of the park helps earn Vancouver’s reputation as one of the greenest cities in the world.

References:

City of Vancouver.  Stanley Park.  Available at:  https://vancouver.ca/parks-recreation-culture/stanley-park.aspx.  Accessed October 24, 2018.

Kheraj, Sean.  Historical Overview of Stanley Park.  Stanley Park Ecology Society.  Available at:  http://stanleyparkecology.ca/wp-content/uploads/downloads/2012/02/SOPEI-Historical-Overview-of-Stanley-Park.pdf.  Accessed October 24, 2018.

Today in Canadian History.  1889 – October 29.  Available at:  http://canadachannel.ca/todayincanadianhistory/index.php/October_29.  Accessed October 24, 2018.

This Month in Conservation

March 1
Yellowstone National Park Established (1872)
March 2
Theodore Geisel, or Dr. Seuss, Born (1904)
March 3
World Wildlife Day and Creation of CITES (1973)
March 4
Hot Springs National Park Established (1921)
March 5
Lynn Margulis, Evolutionary Biologist, Born (1938)
March 6
Martha Burton Williamson, Pioneering Malacologist, Born (1843)
March 7
Luther Burbank Born (1849)
March 8
Everett Horton Patents the Telescoping Fishing Rod (1887)
March 9
The Turbot War Begins (1995)
March 10
Cape Lookout National Seashore Established (1966)
March 11
Save the Redwoods League Founded (1918)
March 12
Charles Young, First African-American National Park Superintendent, Born (1864)
March 12
Girl Scouts Founded (1912)
March 13
National Elephant Day, Thailand
March 14
First National Wildlife Refuge Created (1903)
March 15
Harold L. Ickes, Secretary of the Interior, Born (1874)
March 16
Amoco Cadiz Runs Aground (1978)
March 17
St. Patrick and Ireland’s Snakes
March 18
Nation’s First Wildlife Refuge Created (1870)
March 19
When the Swallows Return to Capistrano
March 20
“Our Common Future” Published (1987)
March 21
International Day of Forests
March 22
World Water Day
March 23
Sitka National Historical Park Created (1910)
March 24
John Wesley Powell, Western Explorer, Born (1834)
March 25
Norman Borlaug, Father of the Green Revolution, Born (1914)
March 26
Marjorie Harris Carr, Pioneering Florida Conservationist, Born (1915)
March 27
Trans-Alaska Pipeline Begun (1975)
March 28
Joseph Bazalgette, London’s Sewer King, Born (1819)
March 29
Niagara Falls Stops Flowing (1848)
March 30
The United States Buys Alaska (1867)
March 31
Al Gore, Environmental Activist and U.S. Vice President, Born (1948)
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