Almost entirely surrounded by the waters of English Bay and Vancouver Harbor, Stanley Park was one of the first areas of the city explored by Europeans. First Nation people had used this land for centuries before British Columbia was founded in 1858. In fact, archeological evidence suggests there had been human presence here as far back as three thousand years ago. Remnants of a Squamesh village, including a two hundred foot long by sixty foot wide longhouse, were found in the park. The first European explorers to visit this part of Canada were the Spanish Captain Jose Maria Navaez in 1791 and the British Captain George Vancouver in 1792. By the late 1800's , European settlers had begun to build here and renamed the area "Stanley Park" after the 16th Earl of Derby and the 6th Governor General of Canada. In spite of the man made structures (most of which were constructed between 1911 and 1937), the majority of this 1000 acre park has remained as densely forested as in the late 1800's. The British saw the strategic advantage of this land at the mouth of Vancouver Harbor and built a military reservation here in 1863. While six different logging companies began harvesting timber from the land between the 1860's and the 1880's, the strategic nature of the park prevented further development. Towards the end of the century, the city council petitioned the Canadian government to lease the military reservation as a public park. A 99 year lease was granted, which eventually became "...perpetually renewable...". Stanley Park was officially opened to the public on September 27, 1888. A half hour walk from downtown, this is a lovely and relaxing place to visit.
This 700-800 year old "Hollow Tree" is one of the most photographed landmarks in the park. Badly damaged in a severe windstorm in December of 2009, it was slated for removal until the Stanley Park Hollow Tree Conservation Society stepped in to save it.
Vancouver's famed Nine O'Clock (pm) canon has faithfully signaled that time of day for 107 years.
Another highlight attraction in the park is Vancouver's Aquarium.