Must-see public art, natural wonders and cultural icons
By JILL VON SPRECKEN
Stanley Park Seawall
The ribbon of seawall that winds its way around Stanley Park has plenty of sublime sights, but chief among them is iconic Siwash Rock. Located between Lions Gate Bridge and Third Beach, the outcropping has stood sentinel at this spot for an estimated 32 million years—long (like really, really long) before Captain George Vancouver sailed these waters. According to Squamish First Nations legend, the stone is a man who was transformed by supernatural beings, forever immortalized as a reward for being unselfish. A noble legend, and one that may explain why Siwash remains completely unruffled by all the attention.
Vancouver Convention Centre
In a city surrounded by ocean and known for rainfall, one drop of water stands out. And it’s easy to see why. This public art piece by Berlin-based collective Inges Idee stands 20 m (65 ft) tall, and is decked out in stunning cobalt blue. The moment of contact between land and raindrop is documented in its angled descent, while the colour itself complements both the sea and sometimes (okay, often) grey sky. Elegant yet formidable, the artwork isn’t just a tip of the hat to Vancouver’s wet weather, but to the power of nature, too. This is one raindrop you won’t mind on your camera.
Gastown Steam Clock
Water St. at Cambie
One of the city’s most-photographed attractions, Gastown’s famed steam clock charms visitors with its steam-and-whistle display. It was created by Canadian clockmaker Raymond Saunders, and is one of the first of its kind ever built. Designed to match the historic surroundings, the clock’s antiquated appearance belies its youth—it was only in 1977 when it was first revealed to a (polyester-clad) crowd of onlookers. And there’s another trick up its sleeve: electric motors help keep the time, though steam still powers the chimes. But it’s more than bells and whistles. The clock marks a powerful turning point in the neighbourhood’s history and subsequent revival.
Monument for East Vancouver
Clark Drive at East 6th Avenue
Perched above Clark Drive, this LED-lit sculpture is an East Vancouver fixture. But that’s not the only place you’ll find it—jewellery, t-shirts, mugs and more have been emblazoned with the iconic image. More commonly known to locals as the East Van Cross, it’s long been a familiar graffiti tag in the area, often with the word “rules” inscribed below. Vancouver-born artist Ken Lum has elevated the image to a towering 17 m (57 ft), where it overlooks the city from its eastern vantage point. We recommend finding your own spot to view this formidable artwork.
Since 1987, this granite monument has greeted visitors to beautiful English Bay. But in 2010, it welcomed the world as the official logo of the 2010 Winter Olympics. It’s based on an age-old Inuit symbol, where stacked stones are used as a directional marker or navigational tool in the treeless Arctic. Historically, they indicate food sources or people, so they’re often considered a symbol of friendship and hospitality. This inukshuk was first created for the Northwest Territories pavilion at the Expo ’86 World’s Fair. Now it has Stanley Park and the ocean as its backdrop—a spot that we’re glad to find our way back to.