The green heart of Vancouver is called Stanley Park. These 400 hectares of natural beauty is where the residents of Vancouver come to play and there definitely is plenty to do! The most popular attraction is the Seawall, a 22-kilometre-long wall along the water that almost completely circumnavigates Stanley Park.
Every day large numbers of runners, walkers, skaters and cyclists flock to the Seawall. The path is perfect for practising a variety of sports and offers wonderful ocean and mountain views. Construction of the Seawall began in 1917 in order to prevent the erosion of the shore. It took 60 years to complete the Seawall, but according to Vancouverites it was one of the best additions to the city.
One of the most pleasant ways to explore the park is with the Stanley Park Miniature Train. The train travels a 2-km route through beautiful nature, over bridges and through tunnels. The locomotive is a replica of the Canadian Pacific Railway # 374, the first passenger train that arrived in Vancouver in 1887. A few times a year the train offers special theme rides; in October, it becomes the Ghost Train for Halloween, and during the winter holidays it rides as the Bright Nights Christmas Train through a magically illuminated park.
Stanley Park’s most famous attraction is the collection of totem poles at Brockton Point. Over the course of time, several totem poles have been found in Vancouver and the surrounding area. The replicas of these totems are now on display in the park - the originals, some of which date back to 1880, are scattered throughout various museums. The poles display mythical stories that have been carved by ancient Indian tribes and all but one of the 9 poles are painted. The 9th unpainted pole was added in 2009 by Robert Yelton, a member of the Squamish Nation, to mark the place where the Yelton family originally lived. The totem pole is a tribute to his mother, one of the last people to have lived in Stanley Park.
Amidst the greenery of Stanley Park stands the Vancouver Aquarium. The aquarium is home to more than 50,000 animals, including sea otters, dolphins, anacondas and sharks. These swim around in large water tanks which also exhibit other marine life, such as coral, starfish and aquatic plants. The aquarium values the preservation of the oceans and makes visitors aware of the cause through various interactive exhibits. The profits of the ticket sales are used to fund ocean conservation projects.
The Stanley Park Hollow Tree has a special place in the heart of many Vancouverites. The tree is between 700 and 800 years old and features a large opening in the bottom part of the trunk. Throughout history, cyclists, cars and even elephants have posed in the opening of the tree. A severe storm in 2006 damaged the tree and for safety reasons the city made plans to cut down the Hollow Tree. A group of residents didn’t agree with that decision and took action. After undertaking a massive fundraising campaign, the group raised sufficient funds to stabilize the tree. Thanks to their efforts, the Hollow Tree is still part of Stanley Park.