The Dark Secrets of Stanley Park Tour

Last updated on
Tuesday, January 16th, 2024
Experience type: 
Program Description

Pretty much everyone in Metro Vancouver knows about Stanley Park. It’s world famous for its dense forest, spectacular views, seawall, beaches, and fabulous trails. The park even won the title of “World’s Greatest Park” in a TripAdvisor contest. But while the park hosts millions of people every year, very few come away from their visit with any knowledge of the park’s remarkable social history.

Stanley Park is not an untouched rainforest. It was home to local Coast Salish people for thousands of years before it became a park, and even for decades afterwards. Numerous villages dotted the shoreline, including Whoi Whoi, which hosted large potlaches and from where a delegation sailed to meet Captain George Vancouver as he explored the area in 1792.

The story of the forced eviction of indigenous people from the land that would become Stanley Park is a shocking background to the park’s creation. Some mixed race indigenous and European families were able to fight back against the City’s onslaught of lawsuits, and keep their homes in the park near Brockton Point until the 1950s. Today their memory and resilience is honoured by the statue Shore to Shore, by Salish artist Luke Marston, which we visit on the tour.

The creation of the park was also about more than creating a space for Vancouverites to enjoy afternoon strolls and picnics. The land was originally intended as a military reserve, established to protect the city should the Americans decide to invade. After it became clear that wouldn’t happen, real estate developers, the Canadian Pacific Railway, the City of Vancouver, and the Federal Government all battled for control of the land. The fact it became a park illustrates the colossal power the CPR once had in Vancouver. 

Throw into the mix the tale of Deadman’s Island, stories of true crime, smallpox pest houses, buried treasure, public art, crow shoots and poetry and you’ll find that despite its beauty, there’s a lot more to Stanley Park than meets the eye!

A unique field trip for students from Grade 5 – University:

  • Duration – 2 hours
  • Start and end point – Outside the Vancouver Aquarium entrance by the whale fountain at 845 Avison Way
Big Ideas
  • Disparities in power alter the balance of relationships between individuals and between societies.
  • Emerging ideas and ideologies profoundly influence societies and events.
  • The physical environment influences the nature of political, social, and economic change.
  • COVID Precautions
    • Limit of 20 guests per guide.
    • Walking tours will take place completely outside.
    • Mask wearing optional for students that prefer to wear masks.
    • Anyone feeling ill, or who has been in contact with anyone ill in the previous two weeks, should not attend.
    Trip Details
    For Grades: 
    5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, Teachers Only
    See notes. minutes unless otherwise stated.
    Maximum Students: 
    Offered In French: 
    Also Offered For: 
    Adult Groups, Daycamps, Guides
    Packages Provided: 
    No Packages Provided
    Fee Details
    Cost Per Student: 
    Cost Per Adult: 
    Fee Notes: 

    With a minimum of 20 students, we can offer you the discounted rate of $19.00 per student including GST.

    If you bring 19 students or less, then the price per student is $31.50 including GST.

    If you have any teachers or staff joining as chaperones, they attend free of charge!

    Additional Notes

    2 hours in duration, tours run rain or shine.