Stanley Park 125

Learn about the rich history of Vancouver's most beloved and iconic park.

1792-06-22 14:02:08

First explorers discover the park

Spanish and British explorers are the first Europeans to glimpse the heavily forested peninsula that would become Stanley Park.

1860-06-22 14:02:08

Stanley Park logged for timber

Brockton Point is cleared as the site for Captain Stamp’s sawmill though it was eventually built at the foot of today’s Dunlevy Street. Many of the park’s trails are old logging skid roads.

1860-06-22 14:02:08

Fisherman's Cove settlement at Brockton Point

Portuguese, Scots, First Nations people and others make their home on the point long before there was a city. 'Portuguese' Joe Silvey was the first European to settle in the future park.

1885-06-22 00:00:00

Canadian Pacific Railway request

The Canadian Pacific Railway suggest in a letter to the Dominion Government that the lands east of a line between English Bay and Second Beach be given to the railroad “for docks, warehouses and buildings.” This request included Coal Harbour and the future Brockton Point.

1886-05-12 00:00:00

Vancouver's City Council first order of business

The first order of business for the first meeting of the newly minted City of Vancouver council on May 12, 1886, was to pass a resolution to ask the Dominion Government to convey the peninsula known as the Government Reserve to the City “in order that it be used by the inhabitants of said City of Vancouver as a park.”

1887-05-16 14:02:08

The park is leased to the City

The Dominion Government agrees to lease the 400 hectare Government Reserve to the City of Vancouver for a nominal one dollar per year.

1888-01-01 12:25:03

Smallpox quarantine

Deadman’s Island is chosen as a site to quarantine smallpox victims. A small rudimentary hospital known as the “Pest House” is built to house patients.

1888-03-08 00:00:00

First Nations remains found

First Nations remains found in 1888 and in 1928 were taken away to Ottawa. In 2006 they were finally returned from museum storage for reburial by the Squamish Nation in Brackendale.

1888-09-27 14:02:08

Stanley Park Opens

Mayor David Oppenheimer officially opens Stanley Park on September 27th.

1888-09-27 14:02:08

Entering the new park

A bridge is built across the narrow neck of Coal Harbour at the foot of Georgia Street. Gate posts and “Stanley Park” signs are erected at each park entrance. Signs at the Georgia Street entrance warn visitors to keep their carriage speed at a walking pace.

1888-09-27 14:02:08

Brockton Point Lighthouse

On July 25, 1888, the steamship, Beaver slammed into Prospect Point. A few months later, a light was established at Prospect Point. The first light was a fixed white beacon housed in a square lantern room perched atop the pyramidal roof of the keeper’s dwelling.

1889-01-01 12:25:03

Roads and infrastructure are built

Contracts for clearing of roads and trails are authorized, as well as the creation of the athletic grounds at Brockton Point. The original roads are paved with clam shells dug from the First Nation middens in the park.

1889-04-02 14:02:08

First Park Board employee

The Park Committee's first official employee is Henry Avison who is appointed Park Ranger. A house was built for him on the north side of coal harbour bridge.

1889-10-01 12:25:03

Lord Stanley's dedication

The day of the dedication was beautiful and crisp. One of the park’s only grassy areas was chosen for the opening event, located at the extreme north end of what is now Pipeline Road overlooking the narrows to the north shore. A procession of horse drawn carriages with all dignitaries aboard makes its way into the park. Lord Frederick Arthur Stanley, Governor General of Canada, raises his arms high into the air and proclaims “to the use and enjoyment of people of all colours, creeds, and customs for all time, I name thee Stanley Park.” Following the ceremony a series of picnics were held throughout Vancouver’s first park. Later that evening Mayor and Mrs. Oppenheimer hosted the largest ball ever held in the city at the Opera House with the fire department providing music.

1889-10-01 12:25:03

Ludgate lease of Deadman's Island

Unknown to anyone in Vancouver at the time, the federal government was considering a request to lease Deadman’s Island to the Seattle-based Thomas Ludgate Company as a site for a sawmill.

1890-01-01 12:25:03

Brockton Point athletics

Brockton Point grounds are handed over to the Athletic Clubs representing 10 different sports. They are allowed to charge gate money for matches but otherwise the grounds must be free for the use of the public. The area would become known as 'Vancouver's playground.'

1890-01-01 14:02:08

Park Board created

The first elected Park Board assumed office in 1890, but the role played by the three Commissioners (which would expand to five in 1904 and seven in 1929) was largely symbolic. The first elected Commissioners were Michael Costello, J.W. Horner and R.G. Tatlow.

1891-01-01 12:25:03

Vancouver Cricket Club founded

Vancouver Cricket Club is formed and begins to play at Brockton Point. The cricket pitch is noted in an English publication as the most beautiful in the British Empire.

1892-01-01 12:25:03

Smallpox controversy

City Council considers Deadman’s Island as a site for a permanent isolation hospital for smallpox cases. The Park Commissioners express their displeasure with this idea.

1892-06-01 12:25:03

Music in the park

The City Band is given permission to play Sunday concerts in the park as long as they play “religious, patriotic, and national airs” and don’t charge for the performance.

1894-06-01 12:25:03

Nine O'Clock gun

The Nine O’clock gun which is now fired each night with an electric trigger, is installed. Cast in 1816 at the Royal Arsenal in Woolwich, England the gun was sent to Vancouver Island in the 1850s, eventually making its way to Vancouver. No one is sure about why the gun is fired each night. It was thought to signal the close of fishing on Sunday nights or as an aid to set ships clocks.

1903-01-01 12:25:03

Counting crows

The Vancouver Gun Club is invited by the Park Board to shoot crows in the park. A bounty of five cents per crow, up to 5000 crows is offered.

1905-01-01 12:25:03

Vancouver Rowing Club

The Vancouver Rowing Club is allowed to build their club on the shoreline of the park. It is the first club allocation of park property.

1905-01-01 12:25:03

Gone for the dogs

Swimming dogs are prohibited at Second Beach.

1905-01-01 12:25:03

Traffic in Stanley Park

Auto traffic is prohibited between 2:00pm to 5:00pm daily due to concerns of the vehicles frightening horses which “might take flight.” A court decision says that the Park Board has no power to regulate auto traffic in Stanley Park.

1906-06-01 12:25:03

Moral Reform

The Vancouver Moral Reform Association objects to one piece bathing suits and the low class of music played in the park.

1908-06-01 12:25:03

Lease renewed

Twenty years after the first petition for a lease on the park, the federal government renewed the lease of Stanley Park for ninety-nine years.

1909-06-01 12:25:03

A start to the park zoo

A kangaroo is acquired for the fledgling park zoo joining a menagerie of bears, deer, birds buffalo and even raccoons.

1909-06-01 12:25:03

Park traffic survey

A survey of park traffic revealed that there were 625 bicycles, 32,840 pedestrians, 450 horse drawn vehicles and 385 automobiles using the park.

1909-06-01 12:25:03

Grain elevator proposal

Someone thought it might be a good idea to build grain elevators on Deadman’s Island but the Park Board turned the idea down.

1911-06-01 12:25:03

Stanley Park Pavilion built

Stanley Park Pavilion is built by the Park Board to offer refreshments to visitors. Over the years it has hosted significant civic dinners and meetings, dances and lectures and welcomed royalty, presidents and prime ministers. The Stanley Park Pavilion, which today houses a restaurant , is the oldest building still standing in the park.

1911-06-01 12:25:03

Creation of the Rock Garden

Using rocks discarded from the construction of the Stanley Park Pavilion, Master Gardener John Montgomery created an immense rock garden that would eventually span close to a mile and become one of the “must sees” in the park. A portion of his creation was restored and honoured with a Vancouver Heritage Foundation Places That Matter plaque in 2011 and listed on the Vancouver Heritage Register in 2013.

1911-09-01 12:25:03

Park Board's first vehicle

In September, the first Park Board vehicle, a bicycle, is purchased for Mr. Rawlings, the Board secretary.

1912-04-01 12:25:03

Lord's Day Act

The Lord’s Day Act prohibits many Sunday activities so the Park Board has to put padlocks on the tennis court gates to prevent ambitious players violating the Act. Sunday sports would not played until 1932.

1912-04-01 12:25:03

Plans for Lost Lagoon

Architect Thomas Mawson presents his plan for Lost Lagoon which envisions it as the focus of a new civic centre. His vision called for a round ornamental lake surrounded by museums, a stadium, social centre, restaurants and ornamental gardens.

1913-03-07 12:25:03

Remembering Pauline Johnson

Pauline Johnson died and was buried at Ferguson Point. She was the child of an English mother and a Mohawk chief and a popular poet who spent many years as a stage performer touring North America. She moved to Vancouver in 1909 where she continued to write and canoe the waters around Stanley Park. Her poem Lost Lagoon immortalized the name of the inlet now cut off from the sea by the causeway to Stanley Park.

1913-04-01 12:25:03

Sunday drivers

Automobiles are allowed in the park on Sunday afternoons for the first time.

1914-06-01 12:25:03

Too much for Vancouver's beaches

Flesh coloured bathing suits are banned at public beaches.

1916-06-01 12:25:03

Lost lagoon tidal flats

The tidal flat that was Lost Lagoon is turned into a lake with the start of construction of the Stanley Park Causeway. The final touches would be completed in 1926.

1917-04-01 12:25:03

Seawall construction starts

Construction begins on the first phase of the seawall to protect the Burrard Inlet shoreline from erosion caused by vessels entering the harbour at speed. According to a park commissioner, the CPR’s Princess Patricia was the worst offender, “She threw a real wave when she came in under full steam.” The project would take sixty-three years to complete.

1919-04-01 12:25:03

A royal visit

The Prince of Wales (Edward the VIII) drops in for a visit as part of his Canadian tour.

1919-04-01 12:25:03

Vancouver's "Flanders Fields"

A flower bed in the rock garden is to be put aside for the growing of poppies from “Flanders Fields.”

1919-04-01 12:25:03

Stanley Park Lawn Bowling Club

The Stanley Park Lawn Bowling Club is established on a former elk paddock.

1919-07-01 12:25:03

First park traffic jam

The first recorded traffic jam is on July 1st when 500 cars pass through Brockton Point every 8 minutes.

1920-01-01 00:00:00


Swimmers in Vancouver have been starting the New Year by plunging into the chilly waters of English Bay since 1920 when the Polar Bear Swim was started by Peter Pantages. The swim, which is hosted by the Vancouver Park Board, has remained largely unchanged over the years.

1920-12-01 12:25:03

Duck donation

The Park Board decides to donate surplus ducks from the park to the Children’s Aid Society for Christmas.

1923-07-26 12:25:03

A presidential visit

U.S. President Warren Harding visits Vancouver on his way home from Alaska. The visit attracts a lot of attention, in part because it is the first time a US president would make a speech on Canadian soil during his term in office. In his brief visit the president is greeted by huge crowds. Unfortunately, one week later Mr. Harding unexpectedly passed away.

1924-06-01 12:25:03

Bee colonies established

The Bee Keepers Association is given permission to establish four colonies of bees in the park for demonstration purposes.

1924-06-01 12:25:03

Park speed limit increased

The speed limit in Stanley Park is raised to fifteen miles per hour.

1924-06-01 12:25:03

First totem poles arrive

The first four totem poles purchased from Alert Bay arrive in the park and are erected near Lumberman’s Arch. More poles from Haida Gwaii and River’s Inlet would join the collection. They are moved to Brockton Point in 1960.

Stanley Park 125

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