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Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Deer Lake is a peaceful, small lake in Burnaby with leisurely walking trails and scenic vistas.  Nearby in the park area there are often summer music festivals.  The Burnaby Art Gallery, Shadbolt centre for the Arts and the Burnaby Village Museum are also located by the lake.

It's a beautiful area of natural habitat with wooded areas and trails for walking.  There are canoe, kayak and paddle boat rentals there as well and last week a friend invited me to go  with her on a little outing.

We chose to use the paddle boat as neither of us have had much experience in kayaks or canoes.  The boat was very easy to paddle and steer and quite comfortable.  For two hours we paddled our way around the lake, stopping now and then to take photos, have a relaxing chat, or to observe the lovely scenery around us.  Such a serene way to spend a Friday evening!

There is a Coast Salish tale about this lake, told by the poet Pauline Johnson.  The story is about a hidden waterway between False Creek and Deer Lake that was discovered by a young Indian, the first Chief Capilano.  He speared a "king" (harbour seal) in False Creek with his elk antler spear but the seal escaped through this hidden underground creek.  Chief Capilano spent months searching along the shore and one day he was enticed to go inland by what turned out to be the flames of a forest fire.  On the shore of Deer Lake he found the remains of the "king" seal and recovered his lost spear, giving him back his prowess as a hunter.

I didn't know about this legend at the time we were paddling the lake.  I do recall the former location of the Oakalla Prison farm on it's shore.  Now there's a condominium development there.  That was a notorious prison and had the bad reputation of a place where hangings took place.  I couldn't help but think of that as we paddled by it and it was a relief to see now there is this green space where once the prison farm was.

We enjoyed our excursion.  The gorgeous sunset was another reward of an evening well-spent on the lake in the company of a friend.

If you want to go paddling, canoeing or kayaking, check out their website for rental fees and times:

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