A Travellerspoint blog

Day 28

Coal Harbour, Stanley Park Totem Poles and Brockton Point Lighthouse.

sunny 4 °C
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You couldn't have asked for a more perfect day to head out for a walk. It rained yesterday and cleared to fog overnight for the New Years Eve celebrations here in Vancouver. From our lodgings it was a quiet NYE. Outside was quiet also.

Today Paul and I got a leave pass to spend a morning by ourselves and we decided to walk to Stanley Park to admire the totem poles. It is about a 10 kilometre round trip as we are going via the Coal Harbour Seawall and Canada Place. Given the late sun rising, we didn't hit the sidewalk until 9am. The streets were pretty much deserted and it felt like most of Vancouver was still in bed sleeping off the effects of the NYE celebrations. This usually tidy city had rubbish everywhere and the streets looked as though they were "hungover".

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Our seaside walk pretty much commenced when we reached Canada Place. Canada Place is also a remnant Expo 86 building that draws parallels to the Sydney Opera House due to it's white sails. There is no comparison if you ask me, but it's appointment on the harbour and the lovely snow covered mountains on the North Shore in the background, do lend a great aesthetic to it. In the plaza, the cauldron from the 2010 Olympic Games now stands as a fountain. I have seen a few cauldrons in my travels and I really liked this one.

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The Seawall from here continues around the shoreline with little development except for the seaplane airport (docks really), a few restaurants and what seems to be one huge marina but it is actually a couple of marinas that make up Coal Harbour. So as we walk towards Stanley Park we have Burrard Inlet to our right and highrise high density housing with stellar views and manicured surrounds to our left. Very swish and very nice. Lots of the locals are out like us enjoying the day with the exception they are in their sportswear carrying a coffee or dog lead, while we are dressed for a Shackleton Expedition. This is a very ritzy neighbourhood and the boats moored in this part of the harbour accentuate that. Paul doesn't quite know where to look. As we move further on, the marina boats change until when we are almost at the threshold of Stanley Park we reach what would be best explained as the "working man's" realm. Here the boats are older and smaller and some even work for a living. I am most interested in the rows of floating sheds that house them. We couldn't have those back home with the cyclone threat we have.

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Here we meet the Devonian Harbour Park and the Vancouver Rowing Club where we walked last weekend on the way to the aquarium. Today with a clear sky the park looks very inviting and all of a sudden a mass of people seems to appear out of nowhere and like us they are heading into the park. It is at this point I should talk about the paths in Vancouver. They are divided by a centreline. On the right is all foot traffic going in either direction and in the left lane is any traffic on wheels. So that is bicycles, skates, etc. And if you forget which you side you should be using, there are signs every so often to remind you.

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Our path now has the downtown city to our right. The view of the skyline is a complete contrast to the tall cedar, fir and hemlock trees of the park. We cross a small bridge that is signed at a salmon crossing. It is amazing to think that amongst this urban jungle, nature continues it's cycle.

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About ten minutes after entering the park the signs show us the way and tell us that we are close. We round a corner and in the distance you can see the poles facing out towards the inlet. I feel like I have butterflies in my stomach as I have been looking forward to seeing these for quite sometime. The poles we see here today are not the original poles. The original totem poles were brought from Vancouver Island and the Queen Charlotte Islands here in British Columbia, and date back to the 1880s. They are now housed in museums. The poles I stand before today are authentic replicas that were carved by native artists and raised in the 1980's and 90's. Each pole represents real or mythical stories from Pacific Northwest First Nations peoples or symbolise a crest telling their family or tribe’s history. Once a pole is raised it stands unattended or maintained to return to the earth from where it was borne.

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I read somewhere that the totem poles are the most visited attraction in all of British Columbia. We spent about an hour wandering around them, taking photo's and reading the signage which describes the story of the totem pole, the artist amongst other things. Thankfully it was early enough for there not to be too much of a crowd. Next door is a small interpretive centre and gift shop. I visited both. After seeing the totems being carved on Granville Island, I had very much looked forward to coming here and it certainly didn't disappoint.

Before turning around and heading home we made the ten minute walk from the totem poles out to the end of Brockton Point. For me a trip to see the little light is a must. Brockton Point also has a cricket ground that when Don Bradman visited in 1932, he proclaimed it to be the "most beautiful cricket ground in the world". As I am no cricket ground buff, I just concentrated on getting to the lighthouse. For me it was my first visit to a Canadian Light so it was a day of firsts.

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After a short stop and look around we kept walking around the seawall and back to the hotel. We passed the 9 O'clock Gun, which is a cannon that is fired each day at 9pm. I must say what is the use of having a cannon if your not going to use it? If you click on the link you will see that the gun has a history with the University of British Columbia Engineering students. Bless them! We unfortunately didn't get the opportunity to see the cannon in action.

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Just as we were leaving the park we came upon a tree beside the path that just didn't look right. It took a moment to realise that someone had painted some of the leaves different colours. On closer inspection I could see that the painted leaves where plastic and tied in onto the tree. After I took photo's a few other couples stopped and took snaps also. This tree reminds me alot of Canada and in turn Canada like Australia. Both are melting pots are far as the make-up of their population. People from all over the globe have made Canada home and like Australia, it has made it a more interesting place.

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It took us another hour to walk to our hotel, so we were home by 1pm. We spent a quiet afternoon doing not much at all and resting for the most part. Tomorrow we are going on a tour of the Vancouver North Shore and back to the snow. Hoping that the sun comes out again!

Posted by petty1912 07.01.2013 18:53 Archived in Canada

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