Thursday, August 5, 2010

1886 Decision Still Sound

One of our favorite ways of getting to know a little about a large city that we visit is to take a bus tour of the main attractions.

Our favorite type of tour is the "hop-on, hop-off," which provides information about specific sites and also provides the opportunity to to extend a stop at any point of interest.

The Vancouver Trolley Company provided one such tour, so we jumped aboard with Stanley Park as our first destination.

In 1886, Vancouver's first City Council made a momentous decision by petitioning the Federal Government to lease 1,000 acres of a largely logged peninsula for park and recreation purposes.

On September 27, 1887 Stanley Park was officially opened establishing the fledgling city's first official "green-space". Council decided to set up an autonomous and separately elected committee to govern all park and recreation matters in Vancouver. The system now includes more than 200 parks, but its heart continues to be the evergreen oasis of Stanley Park, named for Lord Stanley, Governor General of Canada in 1888 when the park was officially opened.

(Yes, the same Lord Stanley after whom the National Hockey League's Stanley Cup is named.)

While it could be stated that all of Stanley Park is one great big garden, one of the smaller gardens (and one of the primary draws) is the formal Rose Garden.

The Garden was first established by the Kiwanis Club in 1920 "to demonstrate the possibilities of rose culture in Vancouver." The number of roses have increased during the ensuing years with over 3500 plants now on display.

It was our first stop and the inspiration for the photographs in today's entry. The peak of the blooming period for the roses was June, but we still found some beautiful roses.

It was just five years ago, when Rick Harrison, who took over the job of looking after the rose garden, thought it was a complete mess. "Last year was the first year I was not embar-rassed by this garden," says Harrison, who has worked as a gardener in Stanley Park for more than 30 years" (Steve Whysall, Vancouver Sun, 7/30/2010).

Yearly visits to Stanley Park, North America's third largest urban core park, are estimated at eight million people.

This was only our first "hop-off" stop on the tour and only the first of several inside Stanley Park, so we "hopped-on" and headed west.

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