Stanley Park on Today in Canadian History

122 years ago, Vancouver’s Stanley Park officially opened to the public. I joined Joe Burima in studio at CJSW 90.9fm to discuss this day in Canadian history:

[audio:] Today in Canadian History, 27 September 2010

Toward the end of our interview, Joe asked me about last summer’s controversy over a proposal to change the name of Stanley Park to Xwayxway, one of the Aboriginal names for the peninsula. The suggestion came from a Squamish elder during the opening of the new First Nations village display in the park last June and it was turned into a moderate controversy by the Vancouver Province. The Province and the Vancouver Sun are generally known for dubious attempts to inflame conflict between local First Nations, like the Squamish, and non-Aboriginal Vancouverites. This was evident during the course of the exaggerated, nonsensical consternation over the electronic billboards on Squamish land in the Lower Mainland prior to the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.

In the case of the name of Stanley Park, I mentioned to Joe that one of the overlooked parts of the debate was that the name Stanley Park is not at all unique. There are several other Stanley Parks in Canada and around the world. Lord Stanley of Preston was a prominent nineteenth-century Conservative Party politician in Britain who served as Colonial Secretary and the sixth Governor General of Canada. His name is most famously associated with the top prize in the National Hockey League, the Stanley Cup, but he is also named for a number of parks throughout the former British empire. Stanley Park is probably most associated with the urban park in Vancouver, British Columbia, but we must remember that the naming of this park in 1888 was directly tied to Canada’s position within the British empire. The name reflects broader British imperial interests more than it reflects the local character of Vancouver, but it has come to be very closely associated with BC and the Lower Mainland.

To follow up on my commnets, I wanted to list a few of the other Stanley Parks:

1.) Stanley Park, Calgary, Alberta

2.) Stanley Park, Toronto, Ontario

3.) Stanley Park, Kitchener, Ontario

4.) Stanley Park, Liverpool, UK

5.) Stanley Park, Blackpool, Lancashire, UK

6.) Stanley Park, Tokoroa, New Zealand

7.) Stanley Park, Queensland, Australia

8.) Stanley Park, Kasese, Uganda

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