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PARKS & GARDENS:

Lynn Canyon:

One of my favourite places in the city, is Lynn Canyon. You will hear about the Capilano Suspension Bridge, but it is a rip-off. Lynn Canyon has the same thing and its free. As far as I'm concerned, its also better. It is accessible on transit. Call transit information at 604-521-0400 for the route to take from your location. If you have a car, cross to North Vancouver by either the Lions Gate or Second Narrows Bridge (the park is between the two) and get onto the Upper Levels Highway (Highway 1). Exit at Mountain Highway and follow Lynn Valley Road to the park entrance. Make sure you walk down the path from the suspension bridge to the second bridge down below. You can return up the other side. (see my maps section, Lynn Valley Park is shown). It can be tempting to swim in Lynn Canyon, and it is safe to do so in some spots. Several people (usually teenagers) drown here each year, though, usually by getting trapped in underwater caverns. The water looks extremely inviting, especially on a hot day. There is a link to more info on Lynn Canyon, including maps in the table below.

If you do drive up to Capilano Canyon, besides the suspension bridge, there is also a fish hatchery which you can visit. Near the end of road, before you reach the Grouse Mountain Skyride base station, there is Cleveland Dam, which holds back Capilano Lake, Vancouver's main supply of drinking water. There is a public Park here, and you can walk across the dam. There is a link to Capilano Canyon Suspension Bridge in the table below.

Stanley Park:

Note: In December 2006, Hurricane force winds did severe damage to Stanley Park, bringing down 1000's of trees, and changing the park for decades. Another violent storm on Jan 9th, 2007 did further damage. Some photos can be seen here.

1000 Acre Stanley Park is Vancouver's best known landmark, and a must for any visitor. Established in 1887, this is the most beautiful urban park in the world in the opinion of many.  It is also one of the largest. I have traveled to over 50 countries and have not seen another that comes even close. Contrary to the popular view that this park was established through the foresight of the city council of the day, it was actually established at the urging of a real estate developer, Oppenheimer, who at the time, had control over the present day West End, and was a member of city council. The land was actually under the control of the Canadian Pacific Railway at the time, and they had other, less virtuous ideas for the land. By convincing the Federal Government to make the area a park, Oppenheimer eliminated the acreage as opposition to his own holdings and increased the value of those holdings by the proximity of the new park. The Federal government still owns the Park to this day, & leases it to the city for $1 a year. Oppenheimer is considered the father of Stanley park and is revered as such to this day, despite what his motivations may have been.  The biggest villain in the Park's history is Cecil Ludgate, a Seattle Industrialist who in the late 1800's managed to log portions of the Park, to the horror of Vancouverites. (he had obtained rights before the land became a Park, and was determined to clear it of trees, park or no park).  Fortunately an economic downturn foiled his plans before too much damage was done. All areas of the Park are accessible to the public except for Dead Mans Island which has a small Naval Base.

Vancouverites fiercely protect the integrity of Stanley Park. Attempts to add items such as statues, have met with strong protests. One developer, who wanted to build high-rises at the park entrance a few years ago, soon found out that messing with Stanley park is almost a hanging offence in Vancouver. Try to take a walk around the seawall. It is a 10 km (6 miles) walk and takes about 3 hours. Watch for bikes and skaters. They can be brutal . You will probably notice people (mainly Chinese) fishing for Smelt off the Seawall. The Seawall was actually a lifetime construction project of one man, although he did have help. The walk will take you past all the beaches, Siwash Rock, Lions Gate Bridge, the inner harbour and Coal Harbour. There is also a large lake in the center of the Park called Beaver Lake which is also very nice (you won't believe your in the middle of a city). The trail to it, leads off the Seawall about 1/2 Km east of Lions Gate Bridge. There is a creek entering the harbour at this point, Follow the trail under the road bridge to reach the lake. You can also reach it by following the small road from the Georgia St. entrance which heads into the center of the Park, past the gardens. The other large body of water within the Park is known as Lost Lagoon and is located near the Georgia St. Entrance. It was named by Pauline Johnson, a prominent Canadian Native Poet who is buried in the park. The body of water was actually a tidal pool that was cut off from the ocean at low tide. In the early part of this century it was artificially isolated from the ocean and is now fresh water.

There is also a world class Aquarium in the Park, also near the Georgia St. entrance. This was the first one to have Killer Whales in captivity and probably the first one to stop making them into a side-show. As of late Spring 2000, the last remaining killer whale was sold to Sealand in California, where it dies shortly after, I might add. The Aquarium feels the purpose in keeping the whales, namely re-educating the public and stopping the hunting, has been accomplished. The Aquarium still has some Beluga whales. There used to be a zoo, but changing public opinion caused its demise a few years back.

The park also contains several good examples of Indian Totem Poles (These are Haida, indigenous to Northern BC), a miniature train, swimming pools, beaches, and food concessions. The best beach is probably 3rd Beach at the far west end of the Park, the pool is located at Second Beach at the South end of the Park. Stanley Park will take at least a full day to see in its entirety.

The main threat to the Park is the sheer volume of people who want to be in it. Efforts are being made to restrict the amount of automobile traffic through the Park. One of the ultimate goals is to eliminate the causeway leading to Lions Gate Bridge, that cuts the park in two, but this will not likely occur until well into the 21st century.

For detailed information & pictures of Stanley park, try this excellent web site Stanley Park Vancouver BC . I also have a few pictures at  Stanley Park Pictures

 Totem Poles in Stanley Park

Lighthouse Park:

West Vancouver- This park is best accessed with a car. Cross the Lions Gate Bridge (through Stanley Park) and exit onto Marine Drive. Follow Marine along the waterfront for several Kilometres. This is very scenic drive. The sign for Lighthouse Park is on your left and easy to miss. This park contains giant trees, hundreds of years old.

Central Park:

Large natural park located near Patterson Skytrain Station on the Burnaby-Vancouver Border. This park is noted for its tall, extremely straight trees. The story is that it was a source for ship masts in the last century. I don't know if this is true. The Park contains ponds, trails and a large public outdoor swimming pool. I have heard rumours it is a hangout for gays looking for sex. I haven't checked it out myself, but the information came from a reputable source.

Burnaby Lake:

Burnaby Lake Nature Reserve is located in the center of the eastern Suburb of Burnaby. It can be accessed by Transit at either the Kensington Street Entrance (near the Kensington/Sperling exit from Hwy 1) at the Cariboo Road Entrance. To get there by car take the Cariboo Road exit off Highway 1, proceed along Cariboo to Government, turn left after crossing the tracks and proceed to Piper. Turn left to the parking lot. The lake is surrounded by kilometres of trails and contains various marshland flora and fauna.  I have lived in Vancouver most of my life and only visited this park for the first time in Sept. 98. The place has special significance to me as I met Terry, my current (and it looks like my last) girlfriend there. That's the funny thing about Vancouver, just when you think you've seen everything, you come across somewhere else. Also nearby is Deer Lake Park. This is more of a swimming and picnic spot (See my Beaches Section). See the link to Burnaby Parks in the table below for a map and more info.

Burnaby Lake (late Oct)

Burnaby Mountain Park:

Burnaby Mountain isn't strictly a mountain per se, its more of a large hill located in the eastern suburb of Burnaby. It contains Simon Fraser University, some technological industries and Burnaby Mountain Park, plus several miles of woodland trails. The view from Burnaby Mountain Park is one of the finest in the city on a clear day. To the west you can see all of downtown Vancouver including Stanley Park, the Inner Harbour and the North Shore Mountains. To the north you can see the coastal communities of Deep Cove and Ioco and you can also see a fair ways up the Indian Arm Fiord. There is a restaurant up top along with botanical displays, Haida Totem Poles and an interesting arrangement of aboriginal Totem Poles from Japan. The park is well worth visiting. To get there, travel east on Hastings street until it veers to the left, becoming Barnet Highway. Veer to the right at this point, following the signs to SFU. About 1/2 way up the hill, there is a small road (not very well signed) off to the left which will take you up to the park.

Botanical Gardens:

Butchard Gardens in Victoria are, of course, British Columbia's most famous garden attraction, but if you are into vegetation or gardening, Vancouver has plenty to offer as well. Vancouver's mild climate means that some tropical and sub-tropical species that would normally freeze to death, will grow here, and plants like Rhododendrons that are normally shrubs in Eastern Canada, are the size of trees of in Vancouver. One small Botanical Garden, done in the classic Chinese style is Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Gardens located at 578 Carrall St. in Chinatown. It has an admission charge. Other larger Botanical Parks are Queen Elizabeth Park at 33rd and Cambie and Van Dusen Botanical Garden at Oak and 41st Ave. Queen Elizabeth Park is a a large pleasant park located in an old Quarry, and is free. It is a favourite place for wedding receptions in the summer and features many native and subtropical plants from Pansies to Banana trees, Cactus and the giant tropical Rhubarb-like Gunera. There is also a Conservatory for sensitive tropical species that can't survive Vancouver's winter. Van Dusen Botanical gardens have an admission charge, but if your into plants it is well worth it. There is a huge variety of plant species here, including native species and exotic varieties from the Himalayas to the Tropics. There are also Nitobe Japanese Gardens on the UBC Campus, and Park & Tilford Gardens in North Vancouver. See the links in the table below.

Surrey& White Rock Parks:

There are some interesting Parks in the Surrey & White Rock areas. There are also 2 large treed areas that have been left in their natural states. These are Green Timbers which borders the Fraser Highway around 140th Ave in North Surrey, and Sunnyside acres around 24th & 148th St. in the White Rock area. Both these parks have numerous trails through them. Other parks of note are Bear Creek Park at King George & 88th. This park features a narrow gauge railway, ( Bear Creek Park Trains) open 365 days a year. This is especially nice at Christmas since it feature light displays. There is also the large, pleasant Crescent Park in White Rock with its ponds, trails and pleasant woodlands. Another park of note is Redwood Park at 176th Street & 20th. This park is noted for its many varieties of unusual trees, planted by two eccentric brothers who lived in the park in the early part of the century.

 

If you want to see images of Greater Vancouver Parks, give Allan Taylors Web site a visit at http://greatervancouverparks.com/

Links for Parks
Stanley Park Vancouver BC General Info on Vancouver's best known park
Lynn Canyon Park and Ecology Centre Info and Maps of Lynn Canyon
Capilano Suspension Bridge This one you have to pay for, unlike Lynn Canyon
Burnaby Parks and Recreation Info on Burnaby Parks such as Burnaby Lake and Central Park
Vancouver Aquarium  Web Page of Stanley Park's Aquarium
Dr.Sun Yat-Sen Gardens  Classical Chinese garden
Queen Elizabeth Park Botanical Park located in old Quarry (free)
VanDusen Botanical Garden Huge Botanical Park, many rare and unusual Plants
UBC Botanical Garden Botanical gardens at the University of BC (Nitobe Gardens)
Activities For Everyone Vancouver Parks Board

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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