Vancouver History Tidbits: Park Names

Add a Comment by Rebecca Bollwitt

Although Stanley is our most famous, there are more than 200 other parks in our City that range from wetland, dog parks, beachfront, forest trails, golf courses, and colourful playgrounds. Some parks are named for their neighbourhood or geographical location however many are named in honor of a person.

Fall Photowalk in Stanley Park
Lord Stanley – Stanley Park, Photo credit: John Bollwitt

I’ve played the name game with streets and trails before but I thought it would be exploring some namesakes of various Vancouver Parks in order to share a bit of history with residents and visitors.

Alexandra Park
Location: West End, 1755 Beach Avenue at Bidwell

History: Originally known as English Bay Park, it was developed at the turn of the 20th Century. In 1911 it was renamed Alexandra after Queen Alexandra, Britain’s King Edward VII’s consort. The bandstand was built in 1914. (Vancouver Parks)

Other: You can find a drinking fountain dedicated to Joe Fortes in the Park. Also, the original fountain outside the Vancouver Art Gallery was a tribute to King Edward VII. It still stands today but has been moved over to the North/West side of the building on Hornby Street.

Choklit Park
Location: Fairview, West 7th Avenue at Spruce Street

History: The name is no coincidence, this was the original location of the Prudy’s Chocolate Factory. (Vancouver Parks)

Photo credit: kazecki on Flickr

Discovery Square
Location: Downtown, 625 Burrard Street at Melville Street

History: The park was named in the mid-1980s after Captain Vancouver’s ship, the Discovery. (Vancouver Parks)

Other: This is actually the plaza area that surrounds the Burrard SkyTrain station. In the spring it’s a actually a beautiful site with dozens of cherry blossoms powdering the canopy in pink.

Photo credit: random dude on Flickr

Dusty Greenwell Park
Location: Hastings Sunrise, 2799 Wall Street at North Kaslo Street

History: The park was named for popular community activist and Hastings Community Centre volunteer Dusty Greenwell. (Vancouver Parks)

Major Matthews Park
Location: Mount Pleasant, 2627 Manitoba Street at West 11th Avenue

History: Named after Major James Skit Matthews, Vancouver’s first Archivist. You may notice that in some of my Then and Now photo series posts, many of the images from the City of Vancouver Archives are from the Major Matthews Collection. Without him, we wouldn’t have thousands of photographs and memorabilia documenting the growth of our city. (Vancouver Parks)

Norquay Park
Location: Renfrew-Collingwood, 5050 Wales Street at Kingsway

History: The park was named for the nearby school in 1909 when it fell within the district of South Vancouver (before the city was amalgamated in 1929). The name comes from an eminent Canadian, John Norquay, who was Premier of Manitoba when he first visited Vancouver in 1886. (Vancouver Parks)

Other: Our softball team has played there a few times and I was always curious about the name so I had to include Norquay in today’s post.

Pandora Park
Location: Grandview-Woodland, 2325 Franklin Street at Garden Drive

History: The park was named on February 11, 1914 after its bounding street. The street was named for HMS Pandora which was lost in the south sea while seeking the mutineers of the HMS Bounty.

Other: The park also has a community garden.


Many parks in Vancouver are named after members of the community, the BC Legislature, or the Royal family. I decided to highlight a few here that were a bit unique or that I was a bit curious about myself. If you have a park in your neighbourhood and would like to know its origin or history, please feel free to mention it in the comments.

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