In the early hours of 15 December 2006, a windstorm of a ferocity not known for more than forty years ripped through Vancouver. In the crisp light of dawn, the city's residents awoke to discover that Stanley Park, their city's most treasured park, had been transformed into a tangle of splintered and uprooted trees. In the weeks that followed, people toured Stanley Park by car and by foot like a procession of mourners at a funeral. Their anguish revealed more than just an attachment to the memory of a park – it marked the end of a romanticized vision of timeless natural space.
In Inventing Stanley Park, environmental historian Sean Kheraj examines how this tension between popular expectations of idealized wilderness and the volatility of complex ecosystems helped shape one of the world's most famous urban parks. Drawing on a wealth of illustrations and the insights of environmental history, Kheraj not only describes and depicts the natural and cultural forces that shaped the park's landscape, he also reveals the roots of our complex relationship with nature.
Released to coincide with Stanley Park's 125th anniversary, Inventing Stanley Park offers a revealing meditation on the interrelationship between nature, culture, parks policy, and public memory.
Sean Kheraj is an assistant professor in the Department of History at York University.