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Birds, Flowers, and Attractions in Stanley Park, Vancouver B.C.

Updated on March 21, 2017
AliciaC profile image

Linda Crampton is a teacher and writer who lives in Greater Vancouver. She enjoys walking and likes to take photographs of her discoveries.

A female mallard and her ducklings confidently resting on the ground beside Lost Lagoon
A female mallard and her ducklings confidently resting on the ground beside Lost Lagoon | Source

A Beautiful Park

Stanley Park is a beautiful, 400-hectare park in Vancouver, British Columbia. It contains a large forested area with a rich assortment of wild plants and animals, as well as cultivated areas and tourist attractions.

The park is located on a peninsula which juts out into the ocean. A sea wall path travels around the peninsula, providing walkers, runners, cyclists, and inline skaters with beautiful views as well as an enjoyable exercise route.

Stanley Park offers visitors a wide choice of activities. Nature study and photography can be enjoyed throughout the park. The seawall path, sandy and rocky beaches, trails through the forest, and cultivated areas such as the rose garden are very popular. Lost Lagoon and Beaver Lake are great places to observe birds and wildlife.

The Vancouver Aquarium is located in the park and is a major tourist attraction. A collection of First Nations totem poles is also popular with visitors. Horse-drawn carriage rides and a miniature train ride are enjoyed by many people. The park also contains playgrounds for children, open areas for sports, concession stands, and restaurants.

Lord Stanley welcomes everyone to the park.
Lord Stanley welcomes everyone to the park. | Source

For many people visiting Vancouver, Stanley Park is one of the "must see" attractions. I visit the park frequently to do three of my favourite activities—walking, nature study, and photography. All of the photographs in this article were taken by me.

Lord Stanley

Stanley Park is named in honour of Frederick Arthur Stanley, the 16th Earl of Derby. He lived from 1841 to 1908 and was the Governor General of Canada from 1888 to 1893. The Governor General is the Queen's representative in Canada. Stanley Park was opened on September 27th,1888. Lord Stanley dedicated the park to the public.

Hockey's Stanley Cup was also named after Lord Stanley. It was originally given as an award for the winning amateur ice hockey club instead of the winning professional club as is done today. The Earl of Derby and his wife supported amateur hockey in Canada. Their sons and their daughters were enthusiastic ice hockey players. It was the Earl's children who persuaded him to buy a large cup as a prize for a hockey tournament.

Map of Stanley Park

Bird Watching

The park is a great place for bird watchers. There are some birds that a visitor is almost guaranteed to see, while the discovery of others requires a bit more effort. Binoculars are very useful for making observations and a camera with a telephoto lens is helpful for taking photographs.

Many of the resident birds at Lost Lagoon can be easily observed without binoculars and their photos can be taken without a long telephoto lens. Lost Lagoon was once connected to Coal Harbour in Burrard Inlet. Now a causeway carrying traffic separates the two bodies of water, causing the lagoon to become "lost". The yellow line at the entrance to Stanley Park in the map above represents the causeway. The lagoon has become a freshwater lake.

At any time of year, a visitor to the Lagoon is very likely to see mallard ducks, glaucous-winged gulls, Canada geese, cackling geese, northwestern crows, rock doves (pigeons), and mute swans. In summer great blue herons are a frequent sight because they nest in the park. The mallard ducks and the geese are very confident around humans, even when they have youngsters to look after. The young mallards in the photos above and below have already learned that humans often have food to give them.

A visitor to Lost Lagoon will probably see other birds too. Their identity will depend on the time of day or year, as well as on good luck. There is a nature house beside the lagoon. This provides helpful information about the birds that live around the lagoon and about those that visit the area.

A glaucous-winged gull
A glaucous-winged gull

Birds and Other Animals in the Park

Click thumbnail to view full-size
A female mallard duck with her ducklingsSleepy ducklingsOne duckling is separated from his or her brothers and sisters.A Canada GooseA Cackling GooseGoslingsA female mallardA male mallardA mature glaucous-winged gullAn immature glaucous-winged gullA Pacific great blue heronThis heron has found a good source of fish.A mute swanA male red-winged blackbirdA squirrel looking for a handout
A female mallard duck with her ducklings
A female mallard duck with her ducklings | Source
Sleepy ducklings
Sleepy ducklings
One duckling is separated from his or her brothers and sisters.
One duckling is separated from his or her brothers and sisters.
A Canada Goose
A Canada Goose
A Cackling Goose
A Cackling Goose
Goslings
Goslings
A female mallard
A female mallard
A male mallard
A male mallard
A mature glaucous-winged gull
A mature glaucous-winged gull
An immature glaucous-winged gull
An immature glaucous-winged gull
A Pacific great blue heron
A Pacific great blue heron
This heron has found a good source of fish.
This heron has found a good source of fish.
A mute swan
A mute swan
A male red-winged blackbird
A male red-winged blackbird
A squirrel looking for a handout
A squirrel looking for a handout

The Vancouver Aquarium

A wide variety of other birds and wildlife can be seen in and around Stanley Park. In addition, captive animals can be seen at the Vancouver Aquarium. The aquarium has a large collection of fish as well as some invertebrates, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and marine mammals. The facility runs education and exploration sessions for schools and the general public. It's also a rescue organization for local marine mammals.

Highlights of the facility include the Graham Amazon Gallery and the Treasures of the B.C. Coast Gallery, which are located indoors, and the Wild Coast display, which is located outdoors. The aquarium offers shows, but these are low-key events that emphasize education while watching animals behave naturally.

The entrance to the aquarium
The entrance to the aquarium
 A garden flower and an ant
A garden flower and an ant

Gardens and Trees

In addition to wild flowers, Stanley Park has many cultivated areas. The rose garden is a popular site for summer weddings. According to the City of Vancouver website, the garden was established in 1920 and has over 3,500 rose bushes. In addition to flower beds, it contains arbors that support climbing roses. The plant display in the garden is best between March and October. The roses don't bloom until June, however. In the earlier months flowering bulbs are the dominant plants.

Another attractive garden is the Ted and Mary Greig Rhododendron Garden, which was started in the 1960s. Ted and Mary Greig were keen rhododendron breeders. Rhododendrons and azaleas from their nursery formed the basis of the Stanley Park garden, which has 4,500 plants.

The Shakespeare garden has an interesting theme. It contains trees mentioned in William Shakespeare's plays and poems, as well as plaques that show the relevant quotes.

Flowers and Plants in the Park

Click thumbnail to view full-size
A rhododendronA view in a Stanley Park gardenAnother garden viewPansiesMushrooms in Stanley ParkA lacecap hydrangeaEarly season flowersMagnolia flowersDaffodils
A rhododendron
A rhododendron | Source
A view in a Stanley Park garden
A view in a Stanley Park garden
Another garden view
Another garden view
Pansies
Pansies
Mushrooms in Stanley Park
Mushrooms in Stanley Park
A lacecap hydrangea
A lacecap hydrangea
Early season flowers
Early season flowers
Magnolia flowers
Magnolia flowers
Daffodils
Daffodils
Click thumbnail to view full-size
A yellow flag flower in Stanley ParkA blue flag iris flower
A yellow flag flower in Stanley Park
A yellow flag flower in Stanley Park | Source
A blue flag iris flower
A blue flag iris flower

The Stanley Park Windstorm

There is also a rock garden in Stanley Park. It was created in 1911 and has an interesting history. Although the garden was popular for a while, for some reason the forest was allowed to encroach on it and reclaim some of the land. The knowledge of the original extent of the garden was forgotten as time passed.

In 2006 a severe windstorm passed through Stanley Park, damaging and destroying old and historic trees in the park and worrying conservationists. The storm had one benefit, however. Trees that had covered parts of the rock garden were felled by the wind, revealing the hidden remnants of the original garden. The rock garden has now been restored to its full size.

The 2006 windstorm was a very serious event in the history of Stanley Park. 41 hectares of trees were destroyed and the seawall was seriously damaged. A tremendous restoration effort was made, which went well, and a detailed management plan was created to improve the park's resiliency to bad weather conditions.

Totem Poles

Click thumbnail to view full-size
An attractive and interesting totem pole
An attractive and interesting totem pole
An attractive and interesting totem pole | Source

Totem Poles, Landmarks, and Entertainment

The totem poles at Stanley Park and the accompanying Brocton Point Visitor Centre are on the itinerary of many tour buses. The visitor centre describes the history and culture of the Coast Salish people. The totem poles and other art around the centre were all created by First Nations artists. Some of the poles are painted in bright colours and a few have an uncoloured wood surface, but all are intricate and very interesting to observe and photograph.

Stanley Park contains a number of sculptures and monuments. One colourful sculpture is a replica of the Empress of Japan figurehead. The Empress of Japan was a ship that transported goods between Vancouver and Japan from 1891 to 1922. Another interesting structure is the nine o'clock gun. This is a canon which is loaded with a black powder every day and fires at 9:00 pm every night.

A fun way to travel around the park is in a horse-drawn carriage. Visitors can also travel in a miniature train, which takes travellers on a two-kilometre trail through the forest. At certain times of the year the route is decorated to create a theme ride, including a Christmas ride and a Halloween ride (the "Ghost Train").

The Nine O'Clock Gun at Stanley Park

Some More Interesting Sights in the Park

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Exploring the park in a horse-drawn carriage is an enjoyable activity.Another view of a horse-drawn carriageAnother choice of a carriageThe replica of the Empress of Japan figureheadA plaque under the figurehead replicaThe fountain in Lost LagoonThe girl in a wetsuit statue by Elek Imredy
Exploring the park in a horse-drawn carriage is an enjoyable activity.
Exploring the park in a horse-drawn carriage is an enjoyable activity. | Source
Another view of a horse-drawn carriage
Another view of a horse-drawn carriage
Another choice of a carriage
Another choice of a carriage
The replica of the Empress of Japan figurehead
The replica of the Empress of Japan figurehead
A plaque under the figurehead replica
A plaque under the figurehead replica
The fountain in Lost Lagoon
The fountain in Lost Lagoon
The girl in a wetsuit statue by Elek Imredy
The girl in a wetsuit statue by Elek Imredy

Cruise Ships From Canada Place

Stanley Park is located close to Canada Place, which is operated by the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority. Canada Place is a tourist attraction which offers great photographic opportunities. It's also the site where giant cruise ships dock in summer. The ships take tourists to Alaska. The close-up view of the vessels while they are docked is very impressive.

A walking path travels beside Burrard Inlet and connects Canada Place to Stanley Park and the seawall path. On my summer walks along the seawall, I often see a cruise ship which has left the port and has started its journey to Alaska. It's always an interesting sight.

The float plane dock at Canada Place, with Stanley Park in the background
The float plane dock at Canada Place, with Stanley Park in the background

Cruise Ships Going to Alaska as Seen From Stanley Park

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The Saphire Princess, a Princess Cruises ship"Girl in a Wetsuit" is sometimes referred to as the little mermaid after the famous Copenhagen statue. The Zuiderdam, a Holland America ship
The Saphire Princess, a Princess Cruises ship
The Saphire Princess, a Princess Cruises ship | Source
"Girl in a Wetsuit" is sometimes referred to as the little mermaid after the famous Copenhagen statue.
"Girl in a Wetsuit" is sometimes referred to as the little mermaid after the famous Copenhagen statue.
The Zuiderdam, a Holland America ship
The Zuiderdam, a Holland America ship

Visiting the Park

Stanley Park is well worth visiting for anyone who comes to Vancouver. The park can be reached by car or bus or by walking or cycling from the downtown area.

  • If you decide to drive to the park, you'll find that pay parking is in effect.
  • A public transit route can be planned at the Translink website. Translink is the organization that runs the transit system. I find their Trip Planner page very useful.
  • Vancouver has cycle lanes on some of the quieter downtown roads to accommodate cyclists.
  • Walkers can reach the park by travelling west from the downtown area. It's easy to tell where west is in the city because the mountains are located to the north. The time for the journey depends on a person's walking speed, their starting location, and the route that's chosen, but it's possible to reach the park within thirty minutes.

Whatever the time of year, there is always something interesting to see and do in the Stanley Park. Multiple visits are needed to see everything, but even a single visit can be very enjoyable.

© 2013 Linda Crampton

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    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I haven't been up there in a very long time, but it is a lovely park. Thanks for the tour my friend, and have a great week.

    • AliciaC profile image
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      Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you for the comment, Bill. I hope that you have a great week, too!

    • Ingenira profile image

      Ingenira 3 years ago

      I have been to this lovely park many years ago and I enjoyed my time there. The photos of flowers and ducks are so awesome !

      The yellow flag flower looks so much like an orchid.

    • AliciaC profile image
      Author

      Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thanks, Ingenira. I appreciate your comment. Stanley Park is full of beautiful sights!

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Alicia. This brings back some great memories of our visit to Vancouver and Stanley Park many years ago. I remember well the totem poles, the beautiful gardens, the mermaid, and we did go to the aquarium. It really is a wonderful place. Thanks for bringing back some great memories. The photos are wonderful. Voted up, shared, etc...

    • AliciaC profile image
      Author

      Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Hi, Bill. Thank you very much for the comment, the vote and the share. I'm glad to see that other people like Stanley Park, too!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 3 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Wonderful hub Alicia! I just added a link from this hub to mine titled Visiting Stanley Park in Vancouver, Canada. Loved your photos! Voting this UUBI and pinning.

    • AliciaC profile image
      Author

      Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you so much for the comment, the link, the votes and the pin, Peggy! I appreciate them all. I will link to your hub too when I update this one. There are so many photos and descriptions that I could add!

    • Maren Morgan M-T profile image

      Maren Elizabeth Morgan 3 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Loved the info on Lord Stanley and the First Nations totem poles -- and, OF COURSE, the photos!

    • AliciaC profile image
      Author

      Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you very much, Maren Morgan. Stanley Park is an interesting place to explore. It offers great opportunies for photography, too!

    • Sue Bailey profile image

      Susan Bailey 3 years ago from South Yorkshire, UK

      Completely and utterly blown away by this! Definitely top of my agenda if ever I am in that part of the world. Voted up, interesting, awesome and beautiful. Am sharing and pinning this one. Marvellous!

    • AliciaC profile image
      Author

      Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you so much for the lovely comment, Sue! I appreciate the votes, the share and the pin very much. If you ever do make it to Vancouver, Stanley Park is definitely worth a visit!

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      This is, indeed, a lovely park, with so much to offer. perhaps I will be lucky enough to see it one day. I would love to get pictures of the birds that I don't have in this area. The Glaucus Gull was around this past winter, but I didn't see it. Perhaps next year! Thanks for the great tour guide, I really enjoyed myself on this.

    • AliciaC profile image
      Author

      Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thanks for the visit and the comment, Deb. I hope you are able to come to Stanley Park sometime. I'm sure that you would enjoy the park if you managed to make the trip!

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 3 years ago from Wales

      What a great hub Alicia.

      Enjoyed immensely and voted up.

      Eddy.

    • AliciaC profile image
      Author

      Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you, Eddy. I appreciate your comment and vote!

    • Fossillady profile image

      Kathi 3 years ago from Saugatuck Michigan

      Hello Alicia, I greatly enjoyed the tour and a bit of interesting history about Stanely Park and Earl of Derby and the Stanley Cup. The mother duck with babies is adorable, great capture! Voted +

    • AliciaC profile image
      Author

      Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Hi, Kathi. Thanks for the comment and the vote! I appreciate them both.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

      Hi Alicia, that was a great tour of Stanley park, I often look at articles about Vancouver and think, If we had taken notice of my great aunt I would have been born there! they moved out in the early fifties I believe, and they wanted my mum and dad to go with them! Ah I wish! loved it, thanks!

    • AliciaC profile image
      Author

      Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thanks for the comment, Nell. I appreciate it. Fate is certainly strange at times!

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Birds, Flowers and Attractions in Stanley Park, Vancouver BC, a unique hub on this topic, and you do it so well, informing us on new information, in detail and with a great presentation of the video and the photos.

    • AliciaC profile image
      Author

      Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Hi, DDE. I 'm glad that you enjoyed the hub and the photos.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 3 years ago from sunny Florida

      Your photos added so much to your article. They made me get a real sense of what I could find their. That coupled with your descriptions made me sure I would enjoy coming there.

      The adventures in nature would be all it would take for me to have a most pleasurable day.

      Totem poles have always fascinated me...It is a gift to be able to create such structures.

      Thanks for sharing Angels are on the way ps

    • AliciaC profile image
      Author

      Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Hi, pstraubie. Thank you for the lovely comment and the angels. I appreciate them both!

    • Elsie Hagley profile image

      Elsie Hagley 2 years ago from New Zealand

      Beautiful article, loved the flowers and that one with the ducklings all nestled together with their mom was priceless. Thanks for sharing brighten my day.

    • AliciaC profile image
      Author

      Linda Crampton 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you very much, Elsie! The ducklings were definitely cute. I was amazed how confident they were, too.

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