In 1886, Vancouvers first City council made a momentous decision by petitioning the federal Government of Canada to lease 1,000 acres of a largely logged peninsula for park and recreation purposes. Following the establishment of the fledgling citys first official greenspace, Council then decided to set up an autonomous and separately elected committee to govern all park and recreation developments. And so the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation was born, one of the only elected bodies of its kind in Canada. The system now includes over 200 parks but its heart remains in the cool, lush, evergreen oasis of Stanley Park named for Lord Stanley, Governor General of Canada in 1888 when the park was officially opened.
Yearly visits to this, North Americas third largest urban park, are estimated at 8 million people. Originally home to Musqueam and Squamish First Nations people. Stanley Park as you see it today was not one designers grand scheme but more an evolution of a pioneer citys hopes and dreams: a place for its citizens to recreate themselves through active sport or passive repose.
Stanley Park is home to a variety of ecosystems, from the shoreline surrounding the park to the West Coast rainforest that dominates it and the freshwater environments dotted throughout. Douglas Fir, Western Hemlock, and Western Red Cedar are the pillars of the first with a myriad of native plants growing in the understory. This urban park abounds with wildlife such as raccoons, squirrels, and coyotes and it is located on the Pacific Flyway where it gives shelter for over 200 species if migrating and resident waterfowl, seabirds and songbirds.
There is plenty to see and do in the park. You can easily spend the whole day here with no trouble at all. During the summer there is a free shuttle bus that takes you throughout the park. It is a mini tour of the park with the driver giving you some background on the different areas.
You can bike, walk, drive, rollerblade, and travel throughout the park any other way you want. The fact that the park is minutes away from downtown makes it a convenient trip from anywhere in Vancouver.
The park was one of the nicest places we visited in Vancouver. Close to the park there is also a new shopping and residential district. It makes a beautiful place to take a walk and enjoy the shoreline. There is also a small marina there where you can rent a boat or go on a cruise. The views are great and it would be a wonderful place to live.
If you are in Vancouver take a trip to Stanley Park. It is a great place to spend a couple hours or a couple days. There are plenty of things to do. It is a great place for a picnic or game of soccer.