If These Stumps Could Talk – Exploring Stanley Park’s Rain Forest

Photo: Flickr, Colin Knowles

Exploring the path less travelled usually brings unexpected delights, and this certainly holds true in Vancouver’s iconic Stanley Park. Granted, on a warm, sunny, day nothing compares to a cycle or stroll along the sensational seawall. However, on a chilly, winter day I often find myself seeking refuge from the elements by setting my sights on one of the many inner trails. With over 27 kilometres of well-maintained paths to choose from, Stanley Park offers much for those willing to tour this incredible, lush West Coast rain forest.

Photo: Rob Weiss

Hard pressed to select just one trail; I decided to begin my adventure on “Lover’s Walk.” I was not exactly looking for love, but the trail name peeked my curiosity. Within seconds I found myself surrounded by towering cedar, hemlock and Douglas Fir trees, some of them hundreds of years old. There was a stillness to the forest. The air was fresh, and I inhaled deeply wanting to take it all in. As I strolled along, I noticed several stumps, remnants of days gone by, now acting as nursery trees, a rich base from which new growth begins. I wondered what stories these stumps would tell? Stories of nature’s resiliency. Stories of the Coast Salish people and their fascinating history. Stories of hard-working loggers from the 1800’s.  Stories from 1888 when Stanley Park was created laying seed to the creation of the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation?

Photo: Flickr, Colin Knowles

Reflecting on both the park’s rich history and natural beauty, I marvelled at nature’s adaptability. These towering giants have survived countless storms, changes in seasons, and pressures from a growing, thriving city. Alone on the trail, I felt as though time was standing still. I stopped to listen and observe. A few brave trees and shrubs were sporting buds, a sign that spring is on the way. In the distance, I could hear geese honking and the telltale squawk of a seagull. The wind picked up, and I braced myself against the chill, confident that soon the sun would draw me back to the seawall, and at the same time thankful for my time in this glorious urban forest.

Photo: Rob Weiss

Getting There:

Stanley Park is a leisurely walk from downtown Vancouver, and easily accessible by transit. Pay parking is in effect throughout the park, should you decide to drive. Upon arriving at the park, be sure to either pick up or download the Official Map and Guide and let your adventure begin! Take note of the Big Tree symbols on your map, and allocate time to visit these giant, “monument trees.”

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2 Responses to If These Stumps Could Talk – Exploring Stanley Park’s Rain Forest

  1. Love the aesthetic being talked about and showed here, and Stanley Park is wonderfully beautiful. As such, I think you should go beyond the one “Coast Salish” line and actually try to do the Park justice and talk about the former town that was later razed to the ground to make way for the Park to be used as it is today: X̱wáýx̱way / x̌ʷay̓x̌ʷəy̓. Perhaps talk a bit about how Sḵwx̱wú7mesh, xʷməθkʷəy̓əm and others frequented the land’s shore and how its waterways were thoroughfares of trade. And the beauty is reminiscent of those prosperous times, unfortunately made available through unbelievable violence by those loggers and the government; despite this, it is an area of natural beauty retained that holds a special place to us all

    • victoria

      My great grandmother was raised on this piece of land. In the day there was no transportation except to canoe around to go fishing or hunting. My great grandmother fished a lot, and always did some berry picking to preserve for the winter time. I love the fact that the land is very well preserved and taken care of. I love the forest and the fact that nobody didn’t build any skyscrapers onto the piece of land. Something that I would really hate the idea of. Never know where our Ancestors are buried at in the park. I’ve never gotten around to asking my Great Grandma. I love Stanley Park just the way it is. I’ve got so many fond memories of the Zoo, and other attractions the park offered.