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The Totem Poles at Stanley Park

Stanley Park Totem Poles in Vancouver BC

Nestled in the heart of Vancouver’s iconic Stanley Park, the totem poles stand tall, narrating tales of indigenous heritage and artistry.

These vibrant wooden sentinels, each carved with intricate designs, offer a window into the rich tapestry of First Nations’ stories and traditions.

As the sun casts its golden hue, and the shadows play on the ground, a visit to these poles becomes a journey back in time.

Dive in as we unravel the mystique of the Stanley Park Totem Poles, a true testament to Canada’s indigenous legacy.

Stanley Park Totem Poles

Stanley Park, a verdant oasis in the heart of Vancouver, is home to a collection of First Nations Totem Poles that stand as a testament to the indigenous heritage of British Columbia.

These totem poles, representing various indigenous nations, are not just mere wooden structures; they are a vibrant tapestry of stories, beliefs, and traditions.

History of Stanley Park Totem Poles

The journey of these totem poles began in the 1920s when the Vancouver Parks Board acquired them with a vision of creating a replica First Nations village in Stanley Park.

Some of these poles date back to the 1880s, making them invaluable pieces of history. Originally situated at Lumbermens’ Arch and Prospect Point, they found their current home at Brockton Point in 1962.

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Over the years, the elements took a toll on these wooden marvels.

By the mid-1980s, many were deteriorating. Conservation efforts were initiated, with damaged poles being replaced by replicas, ensuring their legacy for future generations.

Related: Best Stanley Park Tours

Meaning of the Totem Poles at Stanley Park

The Thunderbird House Post Totem Pole is a carved house post that once supported the roofs of traditional First Nations cedar homes. Its intricate carvings and designs are a sight to behold.

The vibrant Oscar Maltipi Totem Pole showcases a myriad of animals, including the mythical Thunderbird and a killer whale, each telling a unique story.

The Chief Skedans Mortuary Totem Pole is a mortuary pole, where the chief’s remains would be placed in a box at its pinnacle.

The Chief Wakas Totem Pole stands as a sentinel at the entrance of a First Nations house, with a unique design allowing people to enter through the Raven’s mouth.

The Rose Cole Yelton Memorial Totem Pole pays homage to Rose Cole, the last resident of the Brockton community, and all those who once called Stanley Park their home.

Totem Poles at Stanley Park Junction The Children of the World Totem Pole is a tribute to the children across the globe. Carved in 1991, it stands in the plaza at Stanley Park Junction, celebrating the spirit of youth.

Visiting the Totem Poles If you’re planning a visit, the totem poles at Brockton Point are a mere 20-minute walk from the Coal Harbour entrance to Stanley Park. Whether you choose to walk, cycle, or drive, the journey to these poles is as enchanting as the destination.

Amenities Near Totem Poles For those looking for amenities, there are washrooms adjacent to the totem poles. If you’re feeling peckish, the nearby gift shop offers refreshments and a range of souvenirs to commemorate your visit.

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Significance of Totem Poles in General

Totem poles are the British Columbia Indians’ coat of arms.

Each carving on these poles, whether it’s the majestic eagle symbolizing the kingdom of the air or the powerful whale representing the lordship of the sea, has a profound meaning.

They narrate real or mythical events, embodying the essence of the north west coast of BC and lower Alaska.

Stanley Park Totem Poles FAQ

  • What is the significance of the carvings on the totem poles? Each carving on a totem pole has a specific meaning, representing real or mythical events from the indigenous cultures of British Columbia.
  • How old are the totem poles in Stanley Park? Some of the original totem poles in Stanley Park were carved as early as the 1880s.
  • Are there any fees to view the totem poles? The Totem Poles are a free attraction in Stanley Park, allowing everyone to experience this slice of indigenous heritage.
  • How were the totem poles preserved? Conservation efforts in the 1980s ensured that damaged poles were placed in museums and replicas were carved to replace them.
  • Can you drive to the totem poles? Yes, you can drive to the Totem Poles via Stanley Park Drive. However, parking is limited, so it’s advisable to plan ahead.
  • Are guided tours available? Yes, several city bus, walking, and bicycle tours stop at the Totem Poles, offering insights into their history and significance.

Conclusion The Totem Poles in Stanley Park are more than just attractions; they are a bridge to the rich indigenous culture of British Columbia. A visit here is not just a visual treat but also an educational journey, making it a must-visit for anyone coming to Vancouver.


I've lived in 5 countries and created content for travel websites like eDreams and Amex Essentials, but here I finally get to work my passion project - my hometown, Vancouver!

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