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Thursday, October 20, 2011

AN AUTUMN WALK IN STANLEY PARK

Stanley Park Yacht Club



On a sunny Autumn Sunday I took myself to Stanley Park,  my main intention being to enjoy and photograph the autumn season in the park.  Stanley Park is a beautiful green space in the city of Vancouver, larger than NYC Central Park (404.9 hectares - 1,000l acres).  It's a favorite place for people to go for a day of strolling , a picnic, a run, skateboarding or cycling.  Inside the park are gardens, an Aquarium, art displays, playgrounds and many interesting places to visit.  Surrounding the park are some excellent beaches,  English Bay, Burrard Inlet and Coal Harbour where there are marinas.


I got off the bus before it reached the park (the bus goes right into the park where you can walk easily to various locations).  I wanted to enjoy the lovely gardens and views along Coal Harbour. 
One of the interesting sculptures is this one of the woman sitting on the park bench checking the contents of her purse.  Today someone had given her a bouquet of flowers to hold.

As you enter the park, you will see another statues, a monument to Lord Stanley of Preston for whom the park is named.  At the official opening of the Park on September 27, 1888, Lord Stanley is said to have 'lifted his arms to the heavens as though embracing them', and dedicated to park 'to the use and enjoyment of people of all colours, creeds and customs, for all time'.  The statue captures this historical moment.
Lord Stanley

Stanley Park has been associated with many famous people, including the Mohawk poet, Pauline Johnson who is buried in the park near Third Beach,  the artist Emily Carr who often painted in the park, and others.  Every weekend there are artists in the park near the Aquarium area displaying their work.  And near the entrance to the Park is a memorial to the famous Scottish poet Robert Burns including plaques with quotes from his well known poems.
Robert Burns, poet


I was hoping to see a blaze of autumn colours the day I went to the Park. However, due to our late summer, the autumn frosts had not yet touched the trees and everything looked  lush and green.
I always enjoy strolling under the giant fir and cedar trees, some of them ancient trees.  Unfortunately several years ago a terrible wind storm wrecked havoc in the park and blew many of these old trees down leaving huge swaths of empty space. 
One of the main attractions in the park is the Aquarium.  There used to be a zoo area as well but this was removed during the '90's, so only this interesting sea world exists now.  It's a popular place for the children, especially the dolphin and beluga shows.  Outside the aquarium is this impressive sculpture of a killer whale by renown Haida artist Bill Reid.

The park is a great place for families with many different play areas for the children, picnic tables under the trees, a water park and other activities. 

A really fun way to see around the park is to take the horse-drawn carriage ride.  I can recommend this as I went with my friend one time and we had a thoroughly enjoyable time!  This day I happened to see the carriage going by loaded with tourists. 
At one time, Stanley Park was the home of several villages of indigenous people.  Here at Lumberman's Arch, there used to be a Squamish village.  Various places in the park where the Squamish people's hunting or gathering grounds.  It was up this part of the Burrard Inlet that Captain Vancouver sailed when he first came in search of that northwest passage.  The Squamish people went out in their canoes to greet the British ship.  Vancouver is named after Captain George Vancouver. The Lumberman's Arch is a memorial for the loggers of B.C.

I walked back through the park trails to where there is a small railway.  At this time of year it turns into a Hallowe'en Train and the woods encircled by the track are full of spooky things.  Great fun on a late October evening!  During the summer this area now becomes K'lahowya Village,  dedicated to the First Nations People, with displays telling the Park's history and connection with the indigenous people who once occupied the park.
Eagle on a rock, in K'lahowya Village

Stanley Park is one of my most favorite destinations when I want a quiet walk in the forest, or along the seawall, or just to browse through the many garden areas.  No matter how many times I've gone there (and I started going to the Park almost every Sunday since I was a young teenagers) there is always something new to see and enjoy. 

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