Sightseeing Spots

One of Stanley Park's most fascinating attractions, not to mention one of the most-visited tourist attractions in British Columbia, is the famous totem pole display at Brockton Point. Begun in the early 1920s with just four totems from Vancouver Island's Alert Bay region, the display grew over the decades to include totems from Haida Gwaii (previously known as the Queen Charlotte Islands) and Rivers Inlet (on British Columbia's central coast). Some of the original totem poles were carved as early as the late 1880s and have since been sent to museums for preservation; others were commissioned or loaned to the park between 1986 and 2009.

Nearby is another excellent example of First Nations art in the form of the Coast Salish Gateways. The three carved gateways serve as the entry to the Brockton Point Visitor Centre as well as the traditional lands of the Coast Salish people. They were created by Susan Point, a Coast Salish artist, and fashioned after a traditional architecture style.

The Brockton Point Lighthouse can be seen from various points along the Seawall, but it is the views offered from the point that are truly some of the best in the park. Look out onto Burrard Inlet and the Lions Gate Bridge, or just watch cruise ships slip past. This historic building has been standing since 1914. Beware of the nearby 9 o'clock gun, which is fired (safely and) electronically at 9 pm each night. Despite warning lights, it’s been known to startle a few. The gun was delivered from England in 1894 and was used by mariners to set chronometers and warn fishers of closings.

One of the seawall's quirkiest sites and a worthwhile stop is a stone statue of a Girl in a Wetsuit floating in the water. The life-sized statue is situated atop a large boulder, so when the tide is high it almost looks as if she is floating in the water. Other monuments in the park include the SS Empress of Japan Figurehead, a beautiful replica of the ship’s figurehead that sailed between Vancouver and the Orient from 1891–1922; Lumberman’s Arch—a photogenic archway honouring B.C.’s lumber industry; a statue of Lord Stanley, who had both the park and hockey’s most important trophy named after him; and a statue of Scottish poet Robbie Burns.

If more natural attractions are your idea of sightseeing, make sure you don’t miss the Siwash Rock. It’s a 32 million-year-old rock outcropping that’s best viewed from the seawall Third Beach and the Lions Gate Bridge. According to First Nations legend, a man was transformed into Siwash Rock a reward for unselfishness.

Directly inland from the Siwash Rock, towards Park Drive is the Hollow Tree, a well-loved Stanley Park landmark. The cedar stump itself is around 700 – 800 years old, and for as long as the park has been a park, Vancouverites have posed for photos inside its cavity. The stump was badly damaged in a storm in 2006, and despite being slated for removal, locals rallied around to raise the funds to stabilize it, and it’s once again a popular spot for visitors to snap a picture.