Lord Stanley, a Hockey Cup, and Stanley Park in Vancouver

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.

lord stanley

Lord Stanley welcomes everyone to Stanley Park

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.)


The inscription at the base of Lord Stanley’s statue

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.


Girl in a wetsuit and bull kelp; photo by Linda Crampton

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.


Siwash Rock

Other Attractions

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.

Girl in a Wetsuit Sculpture in Stanley Park

“Girl in a Wetsuit” is an iconic sculpture in Stanley Park, Vancouver. The girl is located on top of a large rock near the seawall. The rock may or may not be partially covered by the tide, depending on the current conditions, but the girl is always visible. She’s meant to be seen by people travelling along the path on top of the seawall and is a popular sight. She’s sometimes referred to as the “Little Mermaid” after the famous Copenhagen sculpture.


Girl in a wetsuit and bull kelp; photo by Linda Crampton

Elek Imredy and his Girl in a Wetsuit Sculpture

The sculpture was placed on the rock in 1972 and was created by Elek Imredy. It’s located on the north shore of Stanley Park next to Burrard Inlet and is best reached from a route or path near the waterfront. Imredy (1912-1994) was Canadian and lived in Vancouver but was originally from Hungary. He is known for the creation of other statues as well as “Girl in a Wetsuit”.

The statue was based on the pose of a model named Debra Harrington, who was one of Imredy’s friends. It’s made of bronze and depicts a woman sitting on the rock. She’s wearing a wetsuit and has a mask on her forehead and flippers on her feet. She seems to be thinking about something as she looks into the distance.

There’s often more to see than just the girl. Birds such as gulls and cormorants perch on her head and bull kelp can sometimes be seen bobbing on the surface of the water around her, as seen in my photo above. The backdrop of activity in Burrard Inlet is often interesting as well as the condition of the water and the sky.

Rumour and Controversy

The sculpture is much-loved but is also somewhat controversial. A rumour says that it’s a loose copy of the “Little Mermaid” sculpture in Denmark. Imredy knew of the rumour and denied it. He said that he wanted to create a sculpture of a life-sized scuba diver for the rock, since the sport was becoming popular in Vancouver at the time, and that he had no intention of copying the Copenhagen sculpture.


A different view of the sculpture; photo by Bobanny, public domain license

The Little Mermaid Statue in Copenhagen

“The Little Mermaid” also depicts a girl sitting on the rock, surrounded by the ocean, and looking into the distance. Her expression looks more sad than pensive, however, as befits the character that she represents. In this case the girl is a mermaid who is wearing no clothes, as might be expected for the mythical creature. The statue was unveiled in 1913 and is located by the Langelinie promenade in Copenhagen.

The mermaid was created by Edvard Eriksen (1876-1959) and is made of bronze. She has an interesting history. She is based on the little mermaid in the fairy tale written by Hans Christian Anderson. Two women posed for the sculpture. One was a Danish ballet dancer named Ellen Price, who posed for the head and face. The dancer refused to pose in the nude, however, so Eriksen’s wife Eline was the model for rest of the body.

Hans Christian Anderson’s Little Mermaid

Hans Christian Anderson published his story in 1836. It a sad, dark, and somewhat disturbing tale about a mermaid who wants to become a human. She yearns to obtain an immortal soul after she falls in love with a human prince. She experiences physical pain and psychological heartbreak in the effort to reach her goal.

In the original ending of the story, the mermaid fails to achieve her goal and disintegrates into sea foam. In a revised ending created later by the author, she is told that if she does good deeds for humans for three hundred years she will gain an immortal soul. The story can be read for free at the Project Gutenberg website, which is a great resource for public domain books and stories.

The Vancouver Sculpture

The Vancouver sculpture is linked to none of the pathos of the Danish one, so from that point of view it could be seen as unrelated. On the other hand, it does depict a female on an ocean rock close to shore who is looking into the distance and the girl does have flippers that are reminiscent of a mermaid’s tail.

Both sculptures are interesting. The only one that I can visit in person is the Vancouver one, and I’m happy to do so. I always stop for a little while to look at the girl in the wetsuit before I continue my walk along the seawall.

The Olympic Cauldron and the Five Sails at Canada Place

The waterfront in downtown Vancouver has many attractions for tourists, business people, and other visitors. Two of these are the giant Olympic Cauldron and the five huge sails at Canada Place. I’m always tempted to photograph these attractions when I visit the area, even though I already have many photos of them. The weather, lighting, viewing angle, and surrounding activity make each photo different. In the case of the cauldron, the lit or unlit state and the appearance of the flames also make a difference.


The Olympic Cauldron against a backdrop of downtown Vancouver

The Olympic Cauldron

The cauldron was created for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games. It’s located in Jack Poole Plaza next to the Vancouver Convention Centre. Jack Poole was a local business man who led Vancouver’s successful bid for the Olympic Games. Sadly, he died of cancer not long before the games began. Burrard Inlet and the North Shore Mountains form an attractive backdrop for the cauldron. When viewing it from the opposite position, downtown Vancouver can be seen.

The cauldron is 10 metres high, 12 metres wide, and weighs approximately 33,600 kilograms. It consists of four arms crossing over each other at different angles. The arms  are made of steel, polycarbonate, and furnace glass. Parabolic mirrors are located below their outer covering, which produces a crystalline effect. The designers wanted to create a “fire on ice” appearance to match the theme of the opening ceremony of the Olympics. The arms of the cauldron are illuminated at night. Each arm is attached to a separate base. The bases are surrounded by water containing a fountain today. 



The cauldron is lit on Canada Day.

The Flame of the Cauldron

The low barrier at the base of the cauldron is a popular place for people to sit. During the Olympics, getting close to the cauldron wasn’t possible. I went downtown during the event in the hope of seeing the flame, but I and the other hopeful viewers were blocked by a fence and could only catch glimpses of the lit cauldron.

Since the 2010 Olympics, the cauldron is lit only for special events. One of these is Canada’s birthday on July 1st, which was when I took the photo above. The heat can be felt by visitors viewing the cauldron, which is quite pleasant on a cool day.


The five sails and the pier at Canada Place

The Five Sails

The ninety-foot high sails are located on a pier at Canada Place. The pier is located not far from the cauldron. It’s a major construction that contains many buildings and attractions as well as a multi-level promenade for walkers and a berth for cruise ships going to Alaska. The sails are so big that they can be seen from a wide area and are featured on many photos promoting Vancouver. On the promenade, it’s possible to get close to them, as I did when taking the photo below.

The sails are lit in multiple colours from dusk to dawn, which creates an attractive scene. The colours match the seasons and are sometimes animated. Non-profit organizations can request a colour display to match their cause.


The sails and the promenade on the pier

History of the Sails

The area around the pier at Canada Place has long been a place where boats dock. The area is known as the Port of Vancouver. The ocean and maritime vessels have been an important part of Vancouver’s history and still are today. The sails are meant to pay homage to the past. They were placed on the pier in 1986 and were originally made of Teflon-coated fabric. In 2010 and 2011, the fabric was replaced by Teflon-coated fibreglass, which is stronger and resists potentially harmful environmental conditions better.

It’s nice to know that the original sail fabric wasn’t completely discarded. Some of it was used to build a roof over an outdoor area at a school in Tanzania. The area is used as a classroom and as a sheltered meeting place for the local village.

The Vancouver Waterfront

I think the waterfront is a great place for anyone visiting Vancouver to explore. It’s a popular site for nearby residents to visit as well. A walking path along the waterfront can be accessed at Canada Place. It enables walkers and cyclists to see some interesting sights and takes them to Stanley Park, a major tourist attraction in its own right. A camera is a very useful device to accompany a walk or a bike ride in the area.


Olympic cauldron facts from the creators

History of the five sails from the Canada Place website