The 10-km or 13,123-step seawall loop around Stanley Park is Vancouver’s most popular fresh-air attraction.
The beautiful area now known as Stanley Park was once home to many Indigenous peoples and remains a culturally significant area for the local First Nations people today. Stanley Park is on the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh peoples. The park’s villages were occupied for thousands of years by First Nations and newcomers before their eviction in the 20th century.
While you walk through the lush greenery, you might reflect on the many people who have entered this space for many purposes during its long history, and the many people who enjoy it today.
Unceded means that First Nations people did not give up land or legally sign it away to Britain or Canada. Vancouver and 95 percent of BC are on unceded First Nations land. In many parts of Canada, treaties were signed with First Nations that gave incoming settlers rights to much of the land, but in BC very few treaties were signed.
Want to learn more? Read First Peoples: A Guide for Newcomers PDF file (5.4 MB)
The Stanley Park Seawall is a beautiful way to get some exercise while learning about the history of the land beneath your feet. A popular starting point for the Seawall walk is the east side of Stanley Park Drive by Coal Harbour. From there the circular path will take you past a full range of scenic vistas, landmarks, as well as monuments and sculptures.
As you walk, think about which cultures are reflected and how and what we choose to commemorate. Take a moment to think about what this area was like before, and think about how culturally and spiritually significant this area is for the people who lived here since time immemorial, the local Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh peoples. As you enjoy the fresh air and beautiful sights, imagine how for thousands of years Indigenous peoples lived here, raising their children, weaving and fishing. Take a moment to feel grateful that this land was cared for, and is still here for you to enjoy.
Learn more about:
This walk is wheelchair accessible. The pathway is a concrete surface with both mixed and separated paths for walkers, runner, and cyclists.
Travel on the seawall is one way, counter clockwise, around Stanley Park.
Points of interest
- Rowing Club
- Nine O'Clock Gun
- Brockton Point
- Lumbermen's Arch
- Prospect Point
- Siwash Rock
- The Beaches
The Vancouver Rowing club building was part of the colonization process. It has been in this location since the early 1900s.
Learn more about the Vancouver Rowing Club External website, opens in new tab
Nine O'Clock Gun
The famed Nine O'Clock Gun booms out the time daily and has done so for more than 100 years.
The gun is a naval type twelve pound muzzle-loader cast in 1816 and carries the crest of King George III and the Earl of Mulgrave, who was the Master General of Ordnance.
There are conflicting stories on the history of the gun but one thing is certain, every evening it can be heard throughout the region as it fires to mark the 9 o'clock hour.
The nine totem poles at Brockton Point are BC's most-visited tourist attraction. The original totem poles purchased from other First Nations communities as people at the time thought they were more visually appealing than the local nations art.
The nine totem poles at Brockton Point are a collection that started in the 1920s at Lumberman's Arch. The Park Board bought four totems from Vancouver Island's Alert Bay, Haida Gwaii and the BC central coast Rivers Inlet, to celebrate the 1936 Golden Jubilee. In the mid 1960s, the totem poles were moved to the attractive and accessible Brockton Point.
The Skedans Mortuary Pole is a replica as the original was returned home to Haida Gwaii. In the late 1980s, the remaining totem poles were sent to various museums for preservation and the Park Board commissioned and loaned replacement totems.
The only local First Nations works are the Yelton Memorial Pole and Susan Point’s People among the People Coast Salish Gateways. Raised in 2009, the Yelton Memorial Pole was created to honour Rose Cole Yelton, her family and all those who lived in Stanley Park. This pole is erected in front of the house site where the Cole family lived until 1935. Until the time of her passing in 2002, Rose was the last surviving resident of the Brockton Community.
Susan Point’s People among the People Coast Salish Gateways are three beautifully-carved red cedar portals that welcome visitors to the Brockton Point Visitor Centre and to the traditional lands of the Coast Salish people. Their form represents the traditional slant-roof style of Coast Salish architecture. The gateways show the history and thriving modern culture of Coast Salish people. Constructed over three years and installed in 2008, the gateways were created by Coast Salish artist Susan Point, in collaboration with Coast Salish Arts; Vancouver Storyscapes (a City of Vancouver Social Planning project to encourage aboriginal people to share their stories through a variety of media); the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations; and the Vancouver Park Board.
Empress of Japan figurehead
A replica of the figurehead of the SS Empress of Japan can be found on the north side of Stanley Park, west of Brockton Point. The original figurehead was on display at this location until 1960 when deterioration forced its removal. The original can now be seen on display at the Vancouver Maritime Museum External website, opens in new tab
What is now known as Lumbermen’s Arch is a village site called X̱wáýx̱way (rendered in English as whoi whoi). It was the largest settlement in Stanley Park before it was claimed for use by the Federal Government.
Erected in 1952 to honour British Columbia's lumber industry, Lumberman's Arch replaced the original Bowie Arch built in 1912. That arch was built and placed at Pender and Hamilton streets for the visit of The Duke of Connaught. After years exposure to the elements and a move from downtown Vancouver the Bowie Arch was and dismantled in 1947.
- Learn more about X̱wáýx̱way External website, opens in new tab
- View the Bowie Arch at the Vancouver Archives External website, opens in new tab
Siwash Rock is a 32 million-year-old sea stack (rock outcropping) located just off the seawall between Third Beach and Lions Gate Bridge in Stanley Park.
According to Squamish first nations legend, a man was transformed into Siwash Rock "as an indestructible monument to Clean Fatherhood" – a reward for unselfishness.
A lookout above Siwash Rock is accessible from Park Drive or Siwash Rock Trail leading from Prospect Point and Third Beach.
Located at Ferguson Point in Stanley Park, Third Beach is a naturally sandy beach surrounded by trees that shield beach-goers from urban noise. This is a great beach for quiet bathing, picnics, and watching sunsets.