Monday, May 19, 2008

Bike the seawall in 2 1/2 minutes

The Stanley Park Seawall: Introductory Materials

The Vancouver Parks Board has posted a short video here that summarizes the history and evolution of the seawall, originally contrived as a means to stave of erosion around Stanley Park. The video refers to park board superintendent W. S. Rawlings's vision for the wall, and James Cunningham, who oversaw construction for 32 years, devoting his life to make that vision a reality.

The park board also has a handy printable map of the park which you can download here. Visit this page for more info about the sculptures and monuments that punctuate the park and seawall path.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

First to Second Beach

There is so much going on between First and Second Beach (about a five-minute walk) that already I feel overwhelmed by the scope of this project.

There is a slight escarpment that separates the bike path from the seawall below, which in this section is for pedestrians only. It is along this pathway on top where Stanley Park is bursting at the seams with stuff: hot dog vendors dot the path while blue herons noisily nest in the treetops overlooking a rhododendron garden, and courts of tennis players dressed in white (a good camouflage for the rampant flurries of bird poo).

The lawn bowling club is next, just beside The Fish House, a fancy restaurant that boasts 3-course dinners for $29.95... Followed by a picnic pavillion, and two playgrounds, including basketball courts and a fire engine to play on. All this before the bustling swimming pool and concession stands at Second Beach.

The start of summer/something

It is a day to be outside. In fact it is the day to be outside; real live "summer" days in Vancouver are so few and far between. This long weekend is as good a time as any to start up this blog. My goal on the Seawaller is to map out the entire seawall of Vancouver in words and images, events and experiences--a task that seems like it will complete itself, because I live directly between two seawall paths: English Bay and Coal Harbour.

And yet out of habit, it seems I always return to the same place, along the beach at English Bay. I guess that it's the draw of the ocean. But living on the cusp of Stanley Park with a long weekend at hand, the seawall simply demands exploration.

Here's a photo of the park board's map of (the seahorse head-shaped) Stanley Park: the seawall is the line that wraps around the outer edge... ie. the wall of the sea. But this is just the beginning. It extends much further off the map in both directions... by the end of the summer I hope to have covered the whole thing. To be honest, at this point I don't actually know where it ends... only that I've ridden my bike via English Bay through False Creek past Science World, and walked home from Gastown along Coal Harbour on those occasions when my usual laziness didn't propel me onto the bus.