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).
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 AtsenÃ¡ch. 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.
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.
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.