03 July 2010

Stanley Park: What’s in a name?

A lot it would seem. At the opening of the Klahowya village display a suggestion was made by a member of the Squamish people that Stanley Park should be re-named Xwayxway in honour and recognition that this was Squamish territory. An interesting idea, but one fraught with difficulties. Not only was Xwayxway not the name of the entire peninsula, but the area we know as Stanley Park was once home to other First Nations peoples as well as the Squamish. The Musqueum and the Tsleil-Waututh also had villages in this area, and I’m sure they will have something to say about this re-naming.

The park itself is the creation of the first city council of Vancouver in 1887. The city council created the Park Board to manage this new park. It was named for and dedicated by Canada’s Governor-General, Lord Stanley, in 1888 when it first opened. Just prior to this it had been extensively logged but was protected from development because it was designated a military reserve.

Xwayxway was the name of a Squamish village in the area now known as Lumberman’s Arch. I like the idea of honouring the First Nations history in this area. One way would be to recognize the area of the village of Xwayxway with commemorative markers recognizing the history of the area. Other areas of the park could be recognized for the other villages that once stood there. I would endorse the recognition of areas of the park for the aboriginal villages that once stood there, but the park itself, as a creation of the city, should remain as Stanley Park.

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