Want to travel 8,000 years in 3 hours? Stroll from towers to totems, from symphonies to cedars, all this in an urban setting unsurpassed for its snow-dusted mountains and rich aboriginal history?
If you do, then a guided Ecowalk tour in Vancouver’s Stanley Park is the trip of, well, more than a lifetime. It’s 8,000 years of lifetimes.
An Ecowalk Tour is a unique experience in a unique setting. Stanley Park in Vancouver,
British Columbia, Canada, is a 1,000 acre nature preserve on a forested peninsula in the middle of Vancouver’s metropolitan centre, nurtured by sparkling blue water and nestled along the flak of B.C.’s lofty coastal range. The Park, preserved from bare logging by
Vancouver’s first mayor David Oppenheimer and named in honour of “Dr. Livingston, I presume?” Stanley is rich in both its natural abundance and its wealth of First Nations history and culture.
The Ecowalk Tour, developed and guided by Robert Rickey after consultations with First
Nations advisors, sets a medium walking pace and takes three hours, covering five miles
(eight kilometres). The trail is relatively flat, with paved and gravel walks, along the breathtaking seawall, identifying the 20 or so tree species in the forest cover. You will visit both present-day and aboriginal sites, passing Douglas fir where eagles roost.
As late as 1850, the Park was home to the Khwaykwhay – “Cedar Place” -- village, and nine middens (sites of First Nations’ temporary hunting/fishing camps). Deer fed in the interior. Killer whales were still seen in the harbour where you can still spot otters and harbour seals in the waters. Even into the 20 th
century the Park and its rich resources were tapped by First Nations villagers, whose sites line the entire breadth of Vancouver’s coastal beaches.
At the centre of First Nations’ traditions was the Red Cedar, used for shelter, clothing, food, medicines and, as you will see on the tour, carving the story poles – once called totems – that recorded their families crests and lineages. Several reproductions stand in the Park and will be an important stop on the tour. The guide will explain the origins of the poles and the vital part that they play in First Nations’ family and mythological stories. Nearby is a carving shed where today’s aboriginal artists continue to record their wisdom, mythology and history through the art of the poles.
Along the sea wall you will be able to stand at the edge of the waters of Burrard Inlet, across from the majestic North Shore coastal mountain range and the beaches that line the shore. Look for those otters and harbour seals, as well as the many shore birds that make the tidal basins their home hunting grounds.
Then plunge deep into the Park itself. You will be shown twenty of species of trees, each of which had importance for aboriginal life, and later fed vast lumber mills that once dotted the shoreline.
At Lost Lagoon in the heart of Stanley Park you will find a peaceful sanctuary bordered by willows and reeds, where Blue Herons, Mallard Ducks, swans and geese share the pool with frogs and turtles sunning themselves on the rocks.
“Visiting Vancouver,” remarked one visitor after the Ecowalk tour “would be like visiting Paris without going up the Eiffel Tower.”
Vancouver has many attractions for the visitor. But nowhere else will you be able to experience its natural beauty and its cultural history all in one three-hour walk. Visitors of all ages will find this a truly unique experience.
Please visit the website mhttp://www.ecowalkbc.com for all the details on this Vancouver attraction.