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An Afternoon at Lost Lagoon

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“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.” —Martin Buber

A Hidden Gem!

Take the time to spend a relaxing afternoon surrounded by the beauty and serenity of Lost Lagoon. This piece of paradise is a short stroll from English Bay and Downtown Vancouver. Pack a picnic lunch and spend the afternoon birdwatching as you take in the stunning view. Your picnic can be as simple as a deli sandwich or as elaborate as a spread of gourmet foods and epicurean delights. For out-of-town visitors, I recommend visiting Granville Island Public Market, Lonsdale Quay Market, or Urban Fair to pick up the essentials for your delicious picnic. Urban Fair has four locations in downtown Vancouver: Coal Harbour, False Creek, Shangri-la, and Yaletown. The Coal Harbour location is closest to Lost Lagoon.

Lost Lagoon in Stanley Park is one of Vancouver’s best-kept secrets. The artificial lake is a 16.6-hectare (41 acre) body of water, west of Georgia Street, near the entrance to Stanley Park. Surrounding the lake is a 1.75 kilometre (1.09 mile) trail that hundreds of people use daily. The lake is a nesting ground for many species of birds and animals, including blue herons, Canada geese, ducks, eagles, skunks, squirrels, and swans.

Lost Lagoon was originally a shallow part of Coal Harbour, which itself is an extension of Burrard Inlet. In 1909, the park board retained the services of T Mawson and Associates to create the artificial lake. In 1929, the saltwater pipes entering the lake from Coal Harbour were shut off, turning Lost Lagoon into a freshwater lake. Robert Harold Williams erected a lit fountain in 1936 to commemorate the city’s Golden Jubilee. The fountain was restored for the World Expo in 1986.

Naming Lost Lagoon

The name for Lost Lagoon comes from a poem written by Pauline Johnson, who explained her inspiration:

“I have always resented that jarring unattractive name [Coal Harbour] for years. When I first plied paddle across the gunwhale of a light canoe and idled about the margin, I named the sheltered little cove Lost Lagoon. This was just to please my own fancy for, as that perfect summer month drifted on, the ever restless tides left the harbor devoid of any water at my favorite conoeing hour and my pet idling place was lost for many days; hence my fancy to call it Lost Lagoon.”

In 1922, the lake was officially named Lost Lagoon by the park board, long after Johnson’s death and, ironically, after the lagoon had been permanently lost after becoming landlocked.

Lost Lagoon Nature House

The Lost Lagoon Nature House, operated by the Stanley Park Ecology Society, has displays where visitors can learn about the animals and plants of Stanley Park. The Nature House is a valuable resource of information and is located on the southeast shore of Lost Lagoon under the viewing plaza at the corner of Chilco and Alberni Streets. It is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM from July to August, and is open during the weekends from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM from September to June.


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