Metro Vancouver Park Series: Cates Park

Comments 9 by Rebecca Bollwitt

Summer to us means packing up John‘s big blue backpack and heading down to the beach. We walk through forest trails that open up into sprawling sandy shores and rest for hours in the open air. Snacks include fresh fruit and water, while we either read books or use the headphone splitter to enjoy the latest sonic mixes John has on his iPod (from podcasts to our favourite albums).

Beach Times

The other day we had our first official beach day of the year and we decided to shake things up a bit and head out to Cates Park in North Vancouver. We had access to a car, which made our decision to venture outside of downtown an easy one, but you can also get there by transit. This recreational area along the Burrard Inlet, across from Burnaby and just near Deep Cove, is truly a gem.


At first glance it’s a boat launch, grassy picnic area, concession, sandy beach (with small rocks), and trail network. However there’s also a lot of history at this particular location including signs of the old Dollarton Mill burner (read a little bit about ‘Cates‘ in one of my previous local history posts).

First Nations tradition and culture is also highlighted through totem poles and a war canoe on site at Cates, whose ancestral name is Whey-Ah-Whichen (which means ‘faces the wind’). “Whey-Ah-Whichen is the Tsleil-Waututh name for this place which defines Indian Arm from Burrard Inlet. The Squamish know it as Atsenách. The point was named after Lieutenant Rocke of HMS Satellite, which patrolled the Northwest Coast in the 1850s.” [source]

The beach seems quiet and calm even when the park is packed with groups and families having cookouts and picnics. Also, it’s a great shoreline for beachcombing and exploring tidal pools. One of my beach pass times is rock balancing (on a very small scale mind you) but it was also the perfect place for that.

My humble rock balancing feat

There are kayak rentals, playgrounds, a Wally’s Burger stand, and I would highly recommend exploring the Malcolm Lowry Walk. The park also has a dog off-leash area and in the summer it’s the home of a concert series, running every Saturday night this year from July 11 – August 22.

Photo credit: Mike Todd on Flickr

View from Cates

Exploring more of the beaches the Metro Vancouver area has to offer made me wonder — which is your favourite beach in the region? Could it be Iona? Belcarra? Crescent/Blackie Spit? Jericho?… Feel free to leave your answer below.

[poll id=”34″]

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9 Comments  —  Comments Are Closed

  1. Mandy JansenMonday, June 29th, 2009 — 8:31am PDT

    Thanks for the series on the parks. I’ve visited a number of parks based on this series, actually! You’ve introduced me to some beautiful locations. I want to go visit this park now, too.

  2. JenMonday, June 29th, 2009 — 9:28am PDT

    Wow, I had no idea that Wally’s burgers was still around, I went there as a kid! Thanks for the update.

  3. KevinMonday, June 29th, 2009 — 12:54pm PDT

    My fav beach would be Spanish Banks, as it offers an awesome opportunity for skimboarding at low tide. Wreck Beach is a close second cause you can skim there anytime, but the trek down the stairs is brutal!

  4. melissaMonday, June 29th, 2009 — 3:44pm PDT

    I loved going to New Brighton Park as a kid. We’d head down during the week in the summer and swim at the pool. I also loved going to White Pine & Buntzen Lake in Coquitlam. Still love packing up a picnic lunch/dinner and spending the day out there.

  5. KarlMonday, June 29th, 2009 — 3:48pm PDT

    Cates is also great if you’re learning to scuba. Nice calm waters and easy walk-in beach access. Lots of seals in the area too 🙂

  6. urbanfluteMonday, June 29th, 2009 — 3:52pm PDT

    Sadly I don’t know all of these beaches, however I’m glad to scroll down and see good ol’ Wreck Beach topping the list!

  7. HeatherMonday, June 29th, 2009 — 9:20pm PDT

    Wreck Beach is absolutely amazing in so many ways, but, to be that close to the city with no visible signs of any commercial activity is what makes it so spectacular. The rain forest you walk through to and from is wild in and of itself. It’s definitely worth the hike.

  8. Nude Outdoor “Wreck”reation In Vancouver – Here’s The Skinny | Outdoor VancouverTuesday, July 7th, 2009 — 12:05pm PDT

    […] Bollwitt has a poll going on her blog about people’s favorite beaches around the Lower Mainland. Spanish Banks, Jericho, Third […]

  9. Who You Gonna Call? at Darren FehrmannMonday, July 20th, 2009 — 9:05am PDT

    […] we all drove up to Cates Park in North Van for an afternoon of kayaking. Takaya Tours has pretty good prices on kayak rentals and […]

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