Queen Elizabeth Park is by no means a local secret (it sees nearly six million visits a year). However, few people (Vancouverites included) know the interesting history of the 52 hectare (130 acre) park.
The site was originally a rock quarry, used to build the city's first roads, and housed two reservoirs for drinking water. The quarry was decommissioned by 1919, but the reservoirs remained. In1930 that the BC Tulip Association suggested the quarries be repurposed and transformed into sunken gardens. The Vancouver Park Board eventually took over the area and dedicated the park to King George VI and Queen Elizabeth on their visit to the city in 1939. The Quarry Gardens, located west of Bloedel Conservatory, were unveiled in 1962 on the city's 75th anniversary.
The arboretum (west of the Quarry Gardens) was started in 1949 with a grant from the Canadian Pulp and Paper Association, with the objective of growing every Canadian tree species, particularly those with commercial importance. With annual donations of $5,000 from the Association until the 1950s, the arboretum contains examples of many Canadian tree species. It was eventually discovered, however, that many boreal forest special do not grow well in this climate, and exotic trees were planted instead.
The main attraction to the Park is Bloedel Floral Conservatory. It opened in 1969 thanks to a large donation from Prentice Bloedel that allowed a roof to be constructed over the reservoirs and the construction of the conservatory. The Conservatory contains a large variety of plants and tropical birds. It's a great place to warm up on a cold, rainy day!
While the tourists flock to the north side of the Park, the locals can be found on the south side at the Pitch and Putt, playing tennis, basketball, or roller hockey on the courts, lawn bowling, on the Frisbee Golf course, or log rolling down the hills.
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