It used to be called Little Mountain. That’s back when it was known for its rock quarry. Now that eyesore is an eyeful because 2 sections of quarry have been transformed into sunken gardens in Vancouver’s other major park. Famous Stanley Park draws more tourists but the not-as-well-known Queen Elizabeth Park draws an abundance of locals. The mix adds up to about 6 million QEP visitors each year.
Queen Elizabeth is appropriately named since Queen Elizabeth was there to dedicate it. Not the current Queen Elizabeth but her mother. She and her husband, King George VI and the subject of The King’s Speech, came to Vancouver in 1939 for the ceremony. She was far more commonly called The Queen Mother than Elizabeth.
Queen Elizabeth Park’s 52 acres are best accessed by going south from city center on Cambie Street. It sits atop Vancouver’s highest point. That’s why the most spectacular view of the city is at its summit. That view is best appreciated by Ruth & me throughout the windows of Seasons in the Park, Queen Elizabeth Park’s 5 Compass restaurant.
Queen Elizabeth Park reminds me of England. Vancouver’s Lawn Bowling Club is in residence there. Stanley has an abundance of Northwest trees. Queen Elizabeth has an abundance of well-tended gardens. However, it’s arboretum is definitely impressive. Its initial intent was to showcase every tree that grows in Canada, but that idea was expanded to exotic trees from all over the world. Ruth & I especially enjoyed the flowering cherry trees on our 2015 spring visit.
Also impressive is the Bloedel Conservatory perched on Little Mountain’s very peak. Under Bloedel’s dome are 500 plants requiring a controlled environment and 200 birds. The plants are beautifully diverse; the birds are uncaged. Between Seasons in the Park and Bloedel, which will celebrate its 50th birthday in 4 years, is one of the most photographed sculptures in the world, Seward Johnson’s “Photo Session”. Ironically, it depicts a family group being photographed by a male, presumably the father. People instinctively join mom and the kids to have their picture taken.
What visitors like me probably don’t realize as they stroll the sunken gardens is that under their feet is Vancouver’s water supply in the form of a 45 million gallon reservoir.
If you get the opportunity to visit Queen Elizabeth Park, have plenty of toonies in your purse or pocket. You can also pay with a credit card. Parking is generally expensive in Vancouver, and tickets and towing are the prices you pay for inattention.