Upon entering Stanley Park, either by turning east off Georgia Street from Vancouver or from the Coal Harbour Seawall, the first statue you will come across is that of Scottish poet and lyricist Robert Burns. Looking down at the Vancouver Rowing Club and out over the city, this was the very first statue ever installed in the City of Vancouver back in 1928.
Robert Burns Statue in Stanley Park
According to the Vancouver Archives: “In February 1924, inspired by a recently published critical analysis of Burns’ work, the Vancouver Burns Fellowship was formed to encourage the study of Burns’ life and works and the singing of his songs. The group also hoped to erect a statue of Burns in Stanley Park.”
“The unveiling ceremony was August 25, 1928 and was followed by dinner at the Aztec Room of the Hotel Georgia. The Honourable Ramsay MacDonald, ex-Prime Minister of Britain, arrived by train that day with his three daughters. It has been reported that a large crowd welcomed him in spite of his arrival time of 7:30am. He was, coincidentally, in Canada on vacation and agreed to unveil the monument.”
The inscription on the monument’s front plaque reads:
1759-1796. Robert Burns’s sincere desire or friendship and brotherhood among all peoples is clearly shown in his many poems and songs. His poetry and letters, both serious and humorous are worthy of study by those who value liberty and freedom.
On the side plaque is an excerpt from To a Mountain Daisy (1786):
On turning one down with his plough
Wee, modest, crimson-tipped flow’r,
thou’s met me in an evil hour;….
to spare thee now is past my pow’r
thou bonie gem.
This memorial was rededicated on the 200th anniversary of the bard’s death by the Burns Club of Vancouver on July 21st, 1996.
Robbert Burns Day (January 25th) is widely celebrated and in Vancouver several organizations, businesses and groups keep the tradition alive by hosting a supper, as the Centre for Scottish Studies will do on Friday, January 23, 2015. One of the most unique events in honour of The Bard is Gung Haggis Fat Choy (February 8th) which blends the Chinese New Year with a Burns Supper.
Previous Vancouver Icons posts: Vancouver Maritime Museum, Flack Block, The Drop, Prospect Point Lighthouse, Engagement, Ovaltine Cafe, The English Bay Slide, Freezing Water #7, Cleveland Dam, Heritage Hall, School of Theology Building at UBC, Gate to the Northwest Passage, St Paul’s Hospital, Capilano Lake, Stawamus Chief, Nine O’Clock Gun, Malkin Bowl, Search, Vancouver Rowing Club, Echoes, Point Atkinson Lighthouse, English Bay Inukshuk, Hollow Tree, Hotel Europe, Lions Gate Bridge Lions, LightShed, Granville Bridge, 217.5 Arc x 13′, Canoe Bridge, Vancouver Block, Bloedel Conservatory, Centennial Rocket, Canada Place, Old Courthouse/Vancouver Art Gallery, Dominion Building, Science World, Gastown Steam Clock, SFU Burnaby, Commodore Lanes, Siwash Rock, Kitsilano Pool, White Rock Pier, Main Post Office, Planetarium Building, Lord Stanley Statue, Vancouver Library Central Branch, Victory Square, Digital Orca, The Crab Sculpture, Girl in Wetsuit, The Sun Tower, The Hotel Vancouver, The Gassy Jack Statue, The Marine Building, and The Angel of Victory. Should you have a suggestion for the Vancouver Icons series please feel free to leave a note in the comments. It should be a thing, statue, or place that is very visible and recognizable to the public.