Iconic Lumberman’s Arch in Vancouver’s Stanley Park draws us like a magnet. The popular meeting place in the park, celebrating its 125th Anniversary this year, was erected by The B.C. Lumber Manufacturers Association more than 65 years ago (see SFU archives photo of the arch here, and an excellent environmental history of Stanley Park at Inventing Stanley Park). While visiting the park this beautiful Labour Day weekend, I captured images of the arch posted below.
The season-changing mood of Stanley Park speaks of history, natural beauty, and reminder of privilege in having enjoyed countless hours of recreational activity – sheer enjoyment – on our Vancouver doorstep. In my case, the most memorable hours in Stanley Park were spent at Upper Brockton, as a playing member of The UBC Cricket Club, of the B.C. Mainland Cricket League. Upper Brockton is considered by many to be the most picturesque setting for a cricket match in the world. In fact Sir Donald Bradman, an Australian cricketer widely acknowledged as the greatest test batsman of all time, famously wrote in 1948:
“I have said on many occasions, and I am glad to repeat that, in my opinion, the Brockton Point ground is the prettiest upon which it has been my pleasure to play. It is a really magnificent setting, and I wish that some of our more important games such as test matches, could be played under these ideal circumstances.”
It’s been said that Stanley Park is a jewel in Vancouver’s crown of creation, a developer’s idea that became a poet’s ideal and an ideal that became a popular icon now embedded both in the city’s perception of itself and in the world’s tourist brochure perception of the city.
Cynics say we love the park in penitence for what the great city claimed in payment for its own creation. Yet for most of us Stanley Park remains not a temple of regret but a sanctuary, a retreat where anyone, rich or poor, young or old, may seek respite from the hurly-burly of contemporary life in the Information Age.
In Stanley Park, the important language is not digital but elemental. It is the world of our origins speaking to us — the faint iodine taste of spindrift over the seawall on a day when the steel blue sea is flecked with silver; the scent of a sudden rain on the evergreens; the sound of wind in the canopy far overhead or the hiss of a rain squall across Lost Lagoon, sounds that cancel even the city’s pervasive white noise.
It’s the cry of gulls and children laughing; the undisciplined sighs of lovers and the disciplined shouts of cricketers; the rhythmic tread of runners following the ghosts of champions — Percy Williams and Harry Jerome — who trained on the park’s trails and who came to know in muscle and pulse what the painters and writers and First Nations elders knew from their sacred muses and what we all, even the simplest of us, know in our own hearts. We love Stanley Park because it is us.
– from Vancouver Sun Editorial, Stanley Park, how do we love thee