Stanley Park in Vancouver is regarded as one of the best urban parks in the world. It’s right up there with NYC’s Central Park. You could spend all day here if you like!
In addition to the usual park features, such as beaches and hiking trails, Stanley Park offers unique features like views of the mile-long Lions Gate Bridge, several impressive totem poles, and a World War II memorial stone inscribed with the Kohima Epitaph.
During my repeated visits, I like to drive the entire perimeter of the park, stopping along the way to check out noteworthy sights. Here’s a recap of what you might see when you spend some time in Stanley Park!
The presence of Canada’s First Nations can be felt in many different parts of the country, from Vancouver to the Yukon. Stanley Park has a large display of nine totem poles at Brockton Point in honor of the area’s original inhabitants.
According to one source, the totem poles are the most-visited attraction in all of British Columbia!
These totem poles at Brockton Point are eye-catching due to the colors, the sculpting, the designs. Some are recent, some are around 100 years old. All are impressive.
Apparently, collection of the totem poles began back in the 1920s, when officials thought they might reconstruct a First Nations village in the park. Over the years, new poles have been added, the most recent coming in 2009, a carving by Robert Yelton of the Squamish Nation.
The Kohima Epitaph Memorial
The Battle of Kohima was a key fight in World War II, ultimately won by British forces over the Japanese in India. The more than 1,400 Allied soldiers who died in the battle were honored with a cemetery and a memorial poem that read:
When you go home, tell them of us and say
For your tomorrow, we gave our today
Some sources suggest that the poem was written by John Maxwell Edmunds around the time of World War I, but it was after WWII that his words were adopted for a greater cause and became more well-known.
Today, this Kohima Epitaph poem appears on various memorials around the world, including one here at Ferguson Point in Stanley Park, which served as a defense fort in WWII.
Lions Gate Suspension Bridge
The mile-long Lions Gate Bridge connects Vancouver with West Vancouver and North Vancouver, which are all different cities (that’s not confusing at all!) Stanley Park is a great place to see the full span of the bridge, which was constructed in 1937.
Only San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge can really compare in terms of massive bridges on the West Coast. And this one wins out when it comes to the beautiful forest scenery surrounding it.
Interestingly, the Guinness brewing family built the bridge, which stands 364 feet over the water. It was initially a toll bridge, before tolls were removed in 1963.
Stanley Park has several spots where you can great views of the bridge. I especially love the sidewalk where you can stand directly above the end of the bridge and watch the traffic coming and going.
I managed to find time to sneak in a quick hike in Stanley Park and even pulled out my flying discs for an impromptu game of frisbee golf in the forest, using random trees as targets.
There’s so much more in Stanley Park, including an Arboretum, an Asian Garden, a wildlife sanctuary, duck and frog ponds, beaches, bike paths, playgrounds, restaurants, and even a pitch & putt golf course.