You probably know the famous Stanley Park in Vancouver, but do you know Queen Elizabeth Park? This majestic park is known to be the highest point in Vancouver so, since I’m slightly obsessed with mountains, I obviously had to visit it during my recent stay in British Columbia.
Well, I admit that at 125 metres above sea level, I don’t think you can really consider Queen Elizabeth Park as a mountain, but this park is also renowned for its pretty gardens, its arboretum, its conservatory and, above all, its many cherry trees, which were all blooming during my stay in Vancouver.
I’m lucky, because the friend I was staying with in Vancouver lives only a few blocks from the park, so I took advantage of a rainy Sunday afternoon to go for a walk there.
Queen Elizabeth Park has long been nicknamed “Little Mountain” and it was home to a basalt quarry which was mined there in the 19th century. In the 1930s, the Canadian Pacific Railway, which owned the land, sold the site and the disused quarry to the city of Vancouver. The city renamed the site Queen Elizabeth in honor of a visit by King George VI and his wife Elizabeth (the mother of Queen Elizabeth II).
A pretty garden has been laid out in what was once the quarry. Even on a rainy day, the walk there was pleasant. The basalt cliffs are almost a reminder of the park’s mining past.
As the park is considered the highest point in Vancouver, it apparently offers a nice view of the city with the mountains in the background. Unfortunately for me, heavy clouds veiled the mountains. With my foggy hike at Dog Mountain two days before, I definitely didn’t have much luck with the lookouts during my stay in Vancouver!
Since I was a bit disappointed that I couldn’t really enjoy the view, I decided to visit the Bloedel Conservatory instead. Located at the highest point of the park, this indoor tropical garden is home to more than 500 plants and flowers as well as many exotic birds. There are macaws, finches, pheasants and parrots, some of which have even learned to repeat the word “Hello! to visitors.
Built in 1969, the Bloedel Conservatory is considered a heritage building. You have to buy a ticket to visit it, but spending a little time there is the best remedy to counter the moody weather of Vancouver and definitely worth it!
My few hours strolling through Queen Elizabeth Park and the Bloedel Conservatory reminded me that urban parks are not to be overlooked when I want to fill up on nature and fresh air!