Vancouver Stories and Tips

Totem Poles at Stanley Park

Stanley Park's Totem Poles Photo, Vancouver, British Columbia

Totem Park is located at Vancouver’s urban 1,000 acre park called Stanley Park. This is my favorite attraction at Stanley Park. It was one of the many places we saw on our Landsea Tour of Vancouver City highlights. The totem poles are located just off the sea wall beside the Brockton oval cricket pitch. There are eight totem poles here.

The totems have an interesting history. They were the British Columbia Indians "Coat of Arms". The totem poles were carved from western red cedar. What is interesting to note each of these poles have a story behind it whether it is real or a mythical event. As you view the totem poles here, you will notice eagles, whales, wolves and frogs on these poles. Each of these has a meaning. For instance, the eagle represents the kingdom of air, the whale the lordship of the sea, the wolf, the genius of the land, and the frog, the transitional link between land and sea.

A more in-depth look at explaining what a totem pole can represent can be seen with the following totem pole called Ga’Akstalas:

The Ga’ Akstalas was carved by Wayne Alfred and Beau Dick in 1991. It was based on a design by Russell Smith. This pole represents several essential figures in Kwakwaka’ wakw culture. For example, the red cedar-bark man is an ancestor who didn’t perish in the great flood and gave the people the first canoe. The hero Siwidi on the pole is riding a killer-whale and was taken under the sea to the home of the sea-world’s chief and brought back the right to utilize all of the sea-kingdom masks. Lastly, at the base of the pole is Grantess Dzunkwa. She symbolizes her central role in bringing music and wealth to her people.

In the words of the totem pole carvers, Dick and Alfred, they carved this pole "to be a beacon of strength for our young people and show respect for our elders. It is to all our people who have made contributions to our culture."

Besides the totem poles in this area, an interpretive centre was built in 2001. This was done by building a separate structure that has working areas, many signages, a gift shop that possesses related items and a refreshment place. As a result of this, the totem poles received an upgrade with the landscape around them. You now can view plagues that inform you about what story each pole has to reveal.

I highly recommend this area to go to while you are visiting Stanley Park. It is a great place to learn about the British Columbia Indian culture and a spectacular site to take pictures.

Stanley Park is located at 2099 Beach Avenue, Vancouver, B.C., Canada, V6G 3E2; the phone number is 604/257-8400. The following are ways to get to Stanley Park:

By taxi: A taxi ride from downtown Vancouver to the entrance of Stanley Park (at the Rowing Club) is only a five-minute ride (about $6 CAD). The yellow cab phone number is 604/681-1111.

By Vancouver Trolley: Use your Vancouver Trolley pass to get into Stanley Park. Ask your hotel concierge for the closest trolley stop. The trolley driver will give you a guided commentary along the way. You need to get off the trolley at either 14, 15, or 16 stop in Stanley Park, depending on what you want to do there. You can hop back on the trolley to head back to your hotel at any of these stops too.

Landsea Tours include this attraction in their city highlights tour of Vancouver. This tour is 3½ hours long. The tour current charges are the following in American money: $48 for adults, $45 for seniors, and $30 for children. Their phone number is 800/558-4955. Their website is tours@vancouvertours.com.

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