August 20, 2016
Stanley Park is a large park on a peninsula northwest of downtown Vancouver. This park contains many attractions, including the Vancouver Aquarium, a botanic garden called the Rose Garden, Stanley Park Pitch & Putt, lighthouses, the nine o’clock gun and totem poles, among others. There is a biking & hiking path around the perimeter and many other trails that cut through the park. You can also take a horse and carriage tour, or get there by car. However, I think exploring the park on foot or bike is the best way to enjoy it.
We started in the direction of the Seawall Walk which would take us to the park. According to the map it was only a couple of miles to get to Brockton Point. Near Canada Place, where we were staying, we stopped to take pictures of the Olympic cauldron from when Vancouver hosted the 2010 Winter games, the “digital Orca” which from afar looked like it was made of Legos, and a “Yogathon” which we observed from our table at lunch at an outdoor café. Different yoga instructors conducted these sessions, and there were yoga mats spread out all over the terrace. Mostly what they did was a series of Sun Salutations, with slight variations.
The Seawall took us along the harbor and around a couple of marinas.
From the small map I had, I misjudged how far we’d gone, but it seemed right because the whole route is supposed to be 9 km (about 5.5 miles) and we were only going to do about 1/3 to ½ of it. When I realized my mistake, I realized how much farther we had to go to get into Stanley Park. Our goal was to at least see the totem poles, located west of Brockton Point.
We stopped to rest, already tired, at a spot where there were restrooms and the starting point for the horse and carriage tours. I knew we’d get our Fitbit 10,000 steps even if we took the horse-pulled carriage one-hour tour, so I inquired and found out they do make a 5-minute stop at the totem poles. However, the price for seniors was $C39 each! It wasn’t worth almost 80 Canadian dollars to get a one-hour tour, in our opinion.
So after resting awhile, we set off again on foot. My Fitbit buzzed while I was still on the walking path – I’d gone 10,000 steps and we weren’t even there yet!
We admired the artistry and beauty of the totem poles, read what each one represented, took pictures, then took a longer rest.
A plaque at the totem poles site read: The totem was the British Columbia Indians’ “coat of arms.” Totem poles are unique to Northwest Coast B.C. and lower Alaska. They were carved from western red cedar and each carving tells of a real or mythical event. They were not idols, nor were they worshipped. Each carving on each pole has a meaning. The eagle represents the kingdom of the air. The whale, the lordship of the sea. The wolf, the genius of the land. And the frog, the traditional link between land and sea.
Carved house posts are used in traditional First Nations’ cedar homes to support the roof beams.
The Sky Chief Pole below celebrates the arts and ceremonies of the artists’ grandparents’ generation and which continue today in spite of near cultural annihilation.
Kwakwaka’wakw artist Ellen Neel, the first woman to be a Northwest Coast carver, completed this pole in 1955.
The pole in back is the Chief Wakas pole; another picture of it is below.
In Kwakwaka’wakw (Kwakiutl) ceremonies, carved staffs called talking sticks are held by people making speeches for a chief. This talking stick and characters are from an Owikeno story belonging to Chief Wakas. The original pole was raised in front of Chief Wakas’ house in the 1890s. The Raven’s beak opened to form a ceremonial entrance to the house and its body was painted on the house. Nimpkish artist Doug Cranmer carved this new pole in 1987.
The unpainted pole in back is the Beaver Crest pole. It was carved in 1987 by Nisga’a artist Norman Tait along with his son Isaac, brother Robert and nephew Ron Telek. It depicts how the Tait family’s Eagle clan adopted the beaver crest, and how the Eagle and Raven met and shared the sky.
Even after resting, I was still tired but we headed back.
I remembered that we had passed an gelato shop along the Seawall somewhere and thought that would be just the thing to rejuvenate me. Just thinking about ice cream (my favorite food) made me keep walking! When we got to Casa Dolce, we both ordered large cones with two substantial scoops of ice cream. They had several flavors to choose from.
On our way back, we took a shortcut into a street that bypassed the marinas, and soon we were back at Canada Place. On my Fitbit, I saw that we had walked more than 7 miles!