Spanning over 1000 acres, the Stanley Park is certainly one of Vancouver's most adored and beautiful attractions. The park, which juts out from the northwest corner of the downtown area, was originally called Coal Peninsula. In the mid 1860's, it was used as a military installation to guard entrance to the harbor.
The Stanley Park Hollow Tree
For more than 100 years, Stanley Park’s Hollow Tree has been Vancouver's most popular tourist attraction. This 1000-year-old Western Red Cedar tree is also one of the most photographed landmarks in the city. Many historic photos have showcased people, cars, even elephants, posing inside the tree’s large cavity.
Stanley Park and the NHL
Like the coveted Stanley Cup, Stanley Park was named in honor of Lord Stanley, Governor General of Canada from 1888 to 1893.
The Logging Trails
Many of the trails now running throughout the park were once logging skid roads. In 1865, a logger named Edward Stamp was given permission to clear 100 acres near Brockton Point, to make way for a saw mill. But due to the rough currents and an offshore reef, he ended up moving the mill to Gastown. The cleared area became Vancouver's first 'sports' field, now known as Brockton Oval.
The Stanley Park Cannon
At 9 pm sharp every evening the sound of cannon fire can be heard ringing through the air. This is the Stanley Park 9 pm cannon. Cast over 200 years ago in England, it was installed in Stanley Park in 1894. But it wasn't until 1898 that the cannon was fired for the first time. At first, in the early years, it was used each Sunday to signal the 6 pm close of the day's fishing. Later, it was fired every evening at 9 pm to help ships in port calibrate their chronometers. That practice has lasted to this day.
The Lost Lagoon Fountain
A landscape architect named T.H. Mawson designed the Brockton Point Lighthouse. The Stanley Park Causeway and Lost Lagoon, both built in 1916, were also designed by Mawson. Twenty years later, to commemorate Vancouver’s golden jubilee, the city purchased the fountain from the 1934 Chicago World’s Fair. Today, that same fountain still sits in the centre of Lost Lagoon. Lost Lagoon provides sanctuary to many species of birds. But it actually does more than just adding to the beauty and biodiversity of the park. It also acts as a bio-filtration marsh for causeway run-off, using a series of holding ponds.
While Stanley Park is only half the size of London’s Richmond Park, it's about one-fifth larger than New York’s Central Park. And it's what inspired my latest painting, the Stanley Park Seawall. Looking for more about the park... check this out.