Stanley Park comprises the entire northwest tip -- about 1.5 square miles -- Bill Reid's beluga whale of the peninsula that is downtown Vancouver. It's surrounded on three sides by water, and filled with beautiful forests, recreational areas, benches, lakes, picnic areas, restaurants, monuments of one sort and another, and tourist attractions. You could spend days just exploring Stanley Park.
We started off at the Aquarium, the largest in Canada. It has a fine collection of fish, not only from local waters, but tropical rivers and seas as well. Besides fish there are sea mammals, birds, and reptiles to see. Just like the Maritime Museum, the Aquarium is an excellent teaching museum. Today there were two school groups - one of which was a class of little girls from India, in dark blue headscarves. Teachers and volunteers worked constantly with the children, making sure they learned as much as they wanted to about all the Beluga whales in the aquarium animal life on display.
At the entrance we admired the Beluga whale sculpted by Bill Reid. The star attraction were the five beluga whales, native to the Arctic, and the most numerous whales in the oceans. They are pure white, and, like all marine mammals, very intelligent. They appear to have been Aquarium residents for some years. Docile and domestic, they waved flippers, spat water, and bobbed up and down for fish.
Next we walked from a rugby oval through a cricket pitch to several totem poles and around Brockton Point, stopping to see the nine o'clock gun (a cannon that is fired electrically every evening at 9:00 p.m. -- the ships in the harbor used to set their clocks by this gun), a small lighthouse, and a large Celtic cross, commemorating 8 crewmembers of a tugboat that was sunk in 1906 in a Cherry tree collision with a larger Canadian Pacific Railroad ship.
We drove around the park perimeter, stopping next at Prospect Point, the highest point downtown at about 200 feet. We watched two sailboats, about 35 feet, coming under the Lions Gate Bridge, just using their jibs in a fresh breeze. On both sides of the road is a thick rain forest, with frequent walking trails disappearing into the greenery.
Finally we walked past a row of tennis courts to lunch at the Fish House restaurant -- very elegant.
The temperature was in the mid-forties, but that didn't stop the locals from putting on their shorts and bicycling, jogging, roller blading, and playing tennis!