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Thursday, March 20, 2008

THE DEATH OF A TREE: Memorial to Stanley Park's Forest

In 1886 a 1000 acre forested peninsula was leased from the Federal government by the City of Vancouver and in Sept 27,1887 was officially named Stanley Park, after Lord Stanley, Governor General of Canada, as the largest green space within a Canadian city.
Originally the area was home to the Burrard, Musqueam and Squamish First Nations People but has become one of the most popular parks in Canada and especially with the people of Vancouver. A seawall circumvents the whole area popular with walkers, joggers, cyclists and in-line skaters. There are playgrounds, swimming pools, pavilions, restaurants, an aquarium and once upon a time there was a zoo.

On December 14, 2006 a terrible storm with winds of 115 kms devastated the park, bringing down over 3,000 trees. Many of these trees were hundreds of years old. They were uprooted, snapped off, and in falling brought other trees down. It was an epic tragedy witness by the people of Vancouver who have grieved over the park and especially the trees that fell, as the trees were like old close friends.

Over 60% of the west end of the park, open to the Georgia Straights, was destroyed. The photo above shows some of the damage.

This tree, which stood on the pathway leading into the park, was a magnificent shade tree with a thick sturdy trunk. Who would have thought that it would be completely uprooted by the wind. For some weeks it lay, a sad corpse, over the path, until the limbs were sawed away and this twisted reminder is all that is left as a memorial.

All through the park you can see the devastation. The park has changed forever, though plans are underway to redevelop the damage and the new cleared spaces. For months the sea-wall was closed because of the damage caused from the storms and fallen trees. Now it's open again for the enjoyment of the walkers and joggers. We will eventually witness the rebirth of th epark. The estimated cost of restoration? $9 million.

Check out this link for a news item about the blessing of the trees that were given to the students of Britannia High School and will be used for First Nations carvings.
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Lee said...

A lovely tribute to an amazing park. That's an amazing picture of the fallen tree. I have many fond memories of traipsing around Stanley Park over the years. I hope the nine million can be raised and put to good use.

Wynn Bexton said...

At first it was almost unbearable to walk through the park and see the devastation. It took me awhile to get up my courage and by then a lot of the debris had been cleared away. When I first saw the lovely old shade tree down across the path it made my cry.
Another thing they've done: at Britannia High I noticed some big pieces of cedar and there was a sign posted saying these tree trunks were donated to the school from the Park and First Nations carvers are going to show the students how to carve paddles, masks etc out of them. Another touching memorial to these ancient giants and our beautiful park.