For the millions of residents and visitors who’ve hiked its forested trails, soaked up its stunning views and walked, pedalled or skated around its perimeter, Vancouver’s Stanley Park is more than just a green space — it’s a beloved urban oasis. This map celebrates the 125th anniversary of the park, which officially opened on Sept. 27, 1888, by highlighting some well-known features and explaining the unique stories behind them.
Typhoon Freda toppled 3,000 trees when it tore across the park in 1962. More than four decades later, the 2006 windstorm decimated about 10,000 trees.
Pedestrians versus cyclists
Before 1984, when the rule that cyclists can only travel counterclockwise around Stanley Park’s seawall was introduced, clashes between pedestrians and bikers were common. The first recorded conflict occurred in 1940.
Designed to prevent erosion, the 8.8 kilometres of seawall surrounding Stanley Park took 63 years (1917 to 1980) to complete.
Everything from horse-drawn carriages to an elephant has been photographed standing inside the hollow stump of this 700- to 800-year-old western red cedar, which was slated for removal after the 2006 windstorm pushed it sideways. The tree was saved, though, and now stands upright with the help of a steel foundation.
The famed poet, performer and First Nations advocate died in 1913, at the age of 51. Her ashes are interred near her memorial at Ferguson Point, making her the only person to be legally buried in the park.
Girl in a Wetsuit
Perched on a rock near Brockton Point, Elek Imredy’s 1972 sculpture of a woman wearing a wetsuit, mask and flippers was inspired by Copenhagen’s Little Mermaid statue.
Canada’s first public aquarium opened in Stanley Park in 1956. The Vancouver Aquarium is still recognized as one of the world’s best, with more than 50,000 animals belonging to 796 different species.
The Stanley Park Pavilion was built in 1911, and has played host to royalty, prime ministers and presidents. It’s the oldest building in the park.
There has been a First Nations presence for thousands of years in what is today Stanley Park, as archeological finds have shown. But among the most famous items of aboriginal culture in the park are the Brockton Point totem poles, which are British Columbia’s mostvisited tourist attraction.
Nine O’Clock Gun
It’s been struck by lightning, plugged with rocks and even stolen (by University of British Columbia engineering students), but the British-made gun, which dates from 1816, still fires every night to mark 9 p.m.
From 1888 until 1892, the island was used to quarantine smallpox victims. The small hospital built there was known as the “pest house.”
Map: Chris Brackley/Canadian Geographic. Map data: © OpenStreetMap contributors
Text: Brittany Harris