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Stanley Park

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All about Stanley Park

Stanley Park is considered a handful of the few largest urban parks in the world. Covered by heavy and thick forestry, Stanley Park, a major tourist attraction and has approximately 8 million visitors a year. Stanley Park is a historic park that is well known for its tall trees, the Lost Lagoon and its horse face shape from a view from the sky. The seawall around Stanley Park is used by people who walk, run and bike every year with the view of several beaches that surround the park. Stanley Park is home to the Vancouver Aquarium and used to be home to the Vancouver Zoo. However, several windstorms over the years have placed wear on the seawall and tall trees inside the park. Fortunately, there have been revitalization efforts to fix the debris of fallen trees and the stones on the seawall. Stanley Park has been ranked the 16th best park in the world and 6th best in North America according to the Project for Public Spaces.

History of Stanley Park  

Stanley Park has a long and rich history as far back to its first settler, the First Nations people. The area of the park is traditional territory of the Squamish and Musqueam Indian Tribes. These tribes used to have villages that resided inside Stanley Park, most noticeably the Squamish Tribe who had a large village near what is today called Lumberman’s Arch. That village was called Xwáýxway, meaning Place of Masks. Longhouses were traditionally built in these villages with cedar poles and could range from up to 200 feet long by 60 feet wide. The longhouses were often used for large families who lived in different areas of the houses and the larger longhouses were used for ceremonial purposes.

Stanley Park was a natural resource to the First Nations people for utilities and food materials. They had used the park to build longhouses, canoes and for anything that required wood. The Squamish had used stone chisels and stone hammers to cut down large cedar trees. Where Second Beach, as we call the area today, was used by the Squamish people for gathering clay material used as a tool to make wool blankets.

First contact with the European people occurred in 1791, with British Captain George Vancouver and Spanish Captain Jose Maria Narvaez. The First Nations had given the Europeans cooked fish and in return were given copper. This was the first recorded contact with the First Nations and for decades nothing was recorded until the Crimean War era when the British had made contact with Squamish Chief, Joe Capilano. The area, to the British was considered a prime military location in case of any attack on the area. In order to fend off any potential attacks, the British had given the Squamish people 60 muskets as a promise that the British defended the south of Stanley Park and the Squamish defended the north.

In the 1860’s parts of Stanley Park was designated as a military reserve to fend off any attacks from the Americans if they attempted to attack New Westminster, the capital of British Columbia at the time. This military designation had saved Stanley Park from development. In 1886, the newly formed Vancouver City Council had petitioned for the government to lease the land for the purpose of a park.

On September 27th, 1888, Stanley Park was opened and named after the current Governor of Canada at the time, Lord Stanley. At this point in time, Lord Stanley became the first Governor General to visit British Columbia. According to observers, Lord Stanley had raised his arms in the air and declared the park “to the use and enjoyment of all colours, creeds and customs.”

Stanley Park also became a contributor to the war effort during World War I and World War II. Several gun batteries were placed on the edges of Stanley Park to fend off attacks from the Japanese and Germans. After World War II, the gun batteries were removed but the remains of some of the gun batteries can still be found today. In 1988, Stanley Park was named a National Historic Site of Canada by the federal government. The park was considered by the federal government to be a unique park inside of an urban area.

Geography of Stanley Park 

Stanley Park is located on the edge of Downtown Vancouver and is mostly surrounded by bodies of water. Stanley Park covers over 400 hectares of land and connects North Vancouver to Downtown Vancouver via. the Lions Gate Bridge.