Stanley Park is a much-loved 400-hectare area beside the ocean in Vancouver, British Columbia. It was named after Frederick Stanley, also known as the Earl of Derby and Lord Stanley of Preston. He was the Governor General of Canada from 1888 to 1893 and was also the creator of hockey’s Stanley Cup award.
A statue of Lord Stanley stands near the main entrance of the park. He’s holding his arms wide open in a lovely gesture as he welcomes everyone to the area. I visit Stanley Park often and never tire of seeing the sculpture. I enjoy exploring nature in the park as well as the cultivated sections and the public art. The area offers great opportunities for photographers at any time of the year.
Frederick Stanley as Canada’s Governor General
The Governor General is the British monarch’s representative in Canada. She or he deals with specific constitutional and ceremonial matters. The position is considered to be a great honour today. The present Governor General is Julie Payette, a former astronaut who has completed two space flights.
Frederick Stanley was both a member of the nobility and a conservative politician. As Governor General, he lived in Ottawa, the nation’s capital, but he travelled across Canada. He visited western Canada in 1889. He appreciated its beauty and met many of its people, including its indigenous inhabitants. On October 29th, he dedicated Stanley Park to the enjoyment of all people, as the inscription in the photos and the quote below shows.
A fund-raising effort was needed to commission the sculpture. It was created by Sydney March, an English sculptor who was born in 1876 and died in 1968. The sculpture was unveiled on May 19th, 1960 by the then Governor General, Georges Vanier. (“Georges” is a French Canadian name.)
To the use and enjoyment of people of all colours, creeds, and customs for all time. I name thee Stanley Park. (Lord Stanley sculpture inscription)
The sculpture is made of bronze and is eight feet tall. The pedestal is made of granite. The sculpture is located at the end of a stone bridge that is attractively bordered by trees. The route was once considered to be the official entrance to the park, but today they are many other places to access the area.
A modern custom is to add decorations to the sculpture to celebrate a special event that has meaning to Canadians. I took the photo below on Canada Day (July 1st). As can be seen, someone has attached the Canadian flag to the statue’s hands. I must admit it added a special touch to my Canada Day visit to the park, even though other celebrations were happening in the area. I entered the park via the stone bridge, so it was nice to see the colourful flag at the end of the bridge and the start of my journey into the park.
Origin of the Stanley Cup
While Lord Stanley and his family lived in Canada, his sons became keen ice hockey players. His daughter Isabel also enjoyed playing ice hockey, which was unusual for females at the time. In addition, Stanley’s wife was a supporter of the sport.
Isabel Stanley reportedly gave her father the idea of awarding a cup to the winning amateur ice hockey team in Canada. It was first presented in 1892 and was known as the Dominion Challenge Hockey Cup. Today the cup is awarded to professional players. It’s the prize given to the winning team in the National Hockey League (NHL). Despite its name, the league includes teams from both Canada and the United States.
Stanley Park Today
Stanley Park has many attractions. It’s an interesting place for almost everyone to visit. Sandy and rocky beaches surround the park and can be reached by walking, running, cycling, inline skating, or taking a wheelchair along the path on top of the seawall. The seawall is 8.8km long but is connected to other paths at its start and finish. The beaches are pleasant for sunbathers and nature lovers. The “Girl in a Wetsuit” sculpture is a popular sight beside the seawall. The Siwash Rock, an ancient sea stack, is another. I’ve written a recent post about each of these attractions.
The park started its life as a forested peninsula. It still contains some of the original forest but has trails travelling through it. Two lakes can be explored in the park: Beaver Lake and Lost Lagoon. The park also has cultivated areas, including a beautiful rose garden, as well as monuments and sculptures, restaurants, concession stands, areas for sports, and the Vancouver Aquarium. Nine totem poles are located at Brockton Point and are very popular with photographers.
The park offers many other attractions that are worth seeing. For example, the nine o’clock gun is a real cannon that fires a black powder from the seawall every day at 9 pm. Artists create and sell their work at several locations in the park. In the summer, performances are held at the outdoor theatre. In spring and summer and at Halloween, Christmas, and Easter, the miniature train ride is in operation.
A heated outdoor pool is located by the seawall in the Second Beach area. It’s open from May to September and is always supervised by a lifeguard. A café with free wireless Internet is located by the pool and a children’s playground is located nearby. The park contains other playgrounds. As Lord Stanley said, it offers enjoyment to all people.