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Friday, June 22, 2012

TROUT LAKE, Vancouver B.C.: Family Fun and Frolicking Dogs

Right in the heart of Vancouver's East End is a historic lake where the community can come together for family fun, a farmer's market, and sports events.  Trout Lake doesn't have any trout, and it's not that great for swimming, but for a splendid afternoon picnic or a quiet stroll it's the perfect place.

The name of the park is actually John Hendry Park named after John Hendry who owned the Hastings sawmill, one of Vancouver's first lumbering operations in the late 19th century.  The land was given to the Park Board in 1926 by Hendry's daughter who was married to the governor of the province, Eric Hamber.  She wanted the 27 hectare park named for her father, but it is most commonly known as "Trout Lake". 

The lake began as a natural peat bog and was an important water source for the mill.  The Hastings Sawmill was one of Vancouver's most important feature in the late 1800's.

The lake is edged with stands of yellow iris and willow trees. Ducks swim among the lily pads. Although there is no boating allowed, it always seemed to me the perfect place for a leisurely paddle and I have in the past actually swam there though the water is a bit murky.

The park is a favorite picnic area or a place to stroll or jog along the lake-side paths.  I loved riding my bike around the lake. There is a playground for the children, and the Trout Lake Community Centre provides lots of entertainment including a pottery studio, fitness centre, games room, sauna, gym, and ice rink.  The park hosts a Farmers Market every weekend with local products and crafts for sale. And it is a popular place for festivals such as the Illuminares lantern festival.  This week it was the gathering place for the National Aboriginal Week celebrations. And in August the Summer Dreams Literary Festival will be held in the park.

One popular feature of the park is the off-leash dog area at the north end of the lake. This is a perfect place to let your pooch run free and frolic with the other doggies. It's amusing to watch the social interaction between people's pets and of course the social interaction between the dog owners. The afternoon I was there several dogs were playing 'fetch the stick'. The 'alpha' dog had it but the others kept trying to get it away from him, in particular a tough little barky fellow who wouldn't give up the chase.

The original Grandview Community Gentre was constructed in 1963 and later renovated and renamed Trout Lake Community Centre. In 2010 the new ice rink and renovations to the community centre were completed in time for the Vancouver Winter Olympic Games. It was used as the figure skater's training venue.

How to Get There:
By Transit from downtown, #7 Nanaimo (east then southbound), get off at East 17th and walk over to the park. Or take the #7 bus from the Nanaimo Skytrain north on Nanaimo St. and access the park from E. 17th Ave.

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