Canada Place to Stanley Park: A Walking Route in Vancouver
What Is Canada Place?
Canada Place is the name of a tourist and business complex located beside the waterfront in downtown Vancouver, British Columbia. It's also the name of the road where the complex is located. The area is very popular and offers wonderful views of Burrard Inlet, Stanley Park and the North Shore Mountains. It also offers an attractive waterfront walking and cycling path that connects Canada Place to Stanley Park and beyond.
Canada Place and the seaside walking route are great places for photographers, providing continuous views of the ocean and many interesting scenes to photograph. All of the photos in this article were taken by me during my visits to the area.
The path to Stanley Park is a little over two kilometres long and is paved, flat and wide. There are lots of places to sit, rest and enjoy the scenery along the way. The journey can be extended by continuing through the park, following the seawall path around the park or even travelling along the full length of the 28 km seaside path.
Stanley Park is a major tourist attraction in Vancouver. It's a wonderful place to explore nature and contains many facilities and items of interest to visitors.
The pier at Canada Place is a cruise ship terminal and has a promenade for walkers. The most famous landmark in the area is the five huge sails on the pier, which are a symbol of British Columbia maritime history.
Canada Place History, Facilities, and Attractions
The original Canada Place was built on the pre-existing pier and was the Canadian pavilion for Expo '86. Since that time the complex has been modified and expanded. The area contains the Vancouver Convention Centre, the World Trade Centre office complex, a luxury hotel (the Pan Pacific), a marina, a float plane terminal, restaurants, cafes and a gift shop.
The promenade along the pier is attractive and is decorated with flowers and other plants. A walk along the promenade provides some lovely views. The pier contains a display about Canadian history and geography known as "The Canadian Trail". There are thirteen sections to this trail in order to represent Canada's ten provinces and three territories. In summer, guided walking tours of The Canadian Trail and of the neighbouring port (Port Metro Vancouver) are offered.
Another attraction on the promenade is the giant sails. Each of the five sails is ninety feet high and is made of fibreglass coated with teflon. Until 2010, the sails were made of fabric. The sails are illuminated at night. Special colours are used for illumination during special events
Canada Place in Summer
Canada Day (July 1st) is always a big event at Canada Place. A large outdoor stage is set up for musical performances. There are buskers, other entertainers and food vendors amongst the crowds. The highlights for many families are the parade and the fireworks display. The fireworks are released from barges in Burrard Inlet - the ocean inlet that is next to Canada Place and the trail to Stanley Park - and can be seen from many other places.
There are often outdoor musical performances at Canada Place. On one visit I was treated to an outdoor performance of music and dance performed by a First Nations group. This was part of the CanadaFest celebrations, an event that celebrated both Canada's history and the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.
Another source of entertainment at Canada Place is FlyOver Canada. This is a flight simulation ride that provides a virtual exploration of Canada. I've never been on the ride, but the opinions that I've read suggest that it's great fun.
Even when no special events are taking place on or around the pier, The CanadIan Trail, the giant sails and the views of the inlet are always present. Another attraction near Canada Place is the Olympic Cauldron. This was constructed for the 2010 Winter Olympics, which took place in Vancouver.
In summer, it's fun to watch the huge cruise ships preparing for their journey to Alaska and to get glimpses of the interior of the ships. Local tour buses stop at Canada Place and tickets are sold for bus trips to other attractions in Vancouver and neighbouring regions.
The Heritage Horns
The area around Canada Place has yet another attraction. Every day at noon, the heritage horns play the first four notes of "Oh Canada", which is the national anthem. The horns sit on top of the Pan Pacific Hotel and are controlled by a computer program. According to the Canada Place website, the sound of the horns reaches 115 decibels. The horns use 109 cubic feet of air at a pressure of 150 pounds per square inch to produce the 6.5 second sound.
Photos of Canada Place and its SurroundingsClick thumbnail to view full-size
The Seaside Greenway is a 28 km path that extends from the Vancouver Convention Centre at Canada Place to three beaches known as Spanish Banks. It passes through Stanley Park on the way. The section of the greenway located in Stanley Park lies on top of a seawall. Sometimes the whole Seaside Greenway is referred to as "the seawall".
The Waterfront Path, Seaside Greenway, or Seawall
The waterfront path that begins at the Vancouver Convention Centre is a lovely place for exercise or exploration. It's popular with runners, cyclists and inline skaters as well as walkers. I generally walk along the path. It's wide enough to accommodate the different types of propulsion.
There are beautiful views throughout the whole walk. All that's necessary to enjoy them are some comfortable shoes and appropriate clothing for the weather, but a camera is a very useful accessory.
The part of Burrard Inlet located next to the waterfront path is known as Coal Harbour after the historical discovery of a coal seam in the area. The coal was never mined due to its low quality. Despite the rather unattractive name of the harbour, it's a pretty area. There always seems to be something interesting happening on the waterfront, such as float planes taking off and landing, boats passing by, people working and sea birds swimming into view or posing for a photograph. It's easy to get sidetracked from planned exercise in order to take photos of the surroundings.
The path is maintained as a greenway, as its name implies, even though it runs thrrough a city and passes by expensive condominiums in some sections. There are cultivated flowers, shrubs and trees to see along the path as well as two small but pleasant parks - Harbour Green Park and Devonian Harbour Park. The path also passes by restaurants and a community centre.
Photos Taken on the Walking PathClick thumbnail to view full-size
A popular marina is one of the sights beside the path. Whale watching tours and dinner cruises are available. Some of the boats in the marina can be chartered. A few years ago, the graduating class in the high school where I teach had their graduation ceremony during one of the dinner cruises. The event was very successful and enjoyable.
The luxury yachts and the more humble boats in the marina are interesting to observe. I often stop to daydream about the travel possibilities that they provide. There is a world beyond the coastline that I don't often see.
Lost Lagoon in Stanley Park
If a walker intends to turn around once he or she reaches Stanley Park, it's nice to pay a visit to Lost Lagoon first, which is near the entrance to the park. Lost Lagoon was once connected to the ocean via Coal Harbour but is now landlocked. It contains a nature centre for people to explore and is an excellent place to see water birds close up, since they are always on the lookout for food donations from visitors. A trail circles the lagoon.
Stanley Park is a wonderful place to visit, especially for nature lovers. The walk from Canada Place can be extended to an all-day outing if Stanley Park is explored, or a shorter outing if just part of the park is visited. There are many trails to follow and many things to do in the park. You may find that you are having so much fun at Canada Place, on the connecting trail or in Stanley Park that time passes without you realizing how late it is. The nice thing about living near Vancouver is that I can always explore the areas that I missed on another visit.
Stanley Park PhotosClick thumbnail to view full-size
Getting to Canada Place
Finding the way to Canada Place is easy once a visitor is in Vancouver or its surroundings. The complex can be reached by taking the SkyTrain, Seabus, a bus, a car, or walking from downtown.
SkyTrain is the rapid transit system in Vancouver and its neighbouring cities. Despite its name, the train follows an underground route in some of the urban areas on its route. One SkyTrain line provides a direct connection from the Vancouver Airport to downtown Vancouver. There are SkyTrain stations near Canada Place as well as buses that stop nearby. The nearest station to Canada Place is the Waterfront Station. The SeaBus terminal is also located at the Waterfront Station. SeaBus crosses Burrard Inlet, connecting the city of Vancouver with the city of North Vancouver.
There are parking lots in the area around Canada Place for people who prefer to drive, although visitors will have to pay for this privilege. It's also possible to take a taxi to the area.
Canada Place is close to the office buildings, stores, hotels and attractions of downtown Vancouver, so it's easy to combine a visit to Canada Place with a walk around downtown. A walk along the pier is always enjoyable. It would be a shame to miss travelling along the walking path, though. There are many access points to the path along its route. It's a lovely place to explore.
© 2012 Linda Crampton