Vancouver Was Awesome: The Beavers of Stanley Park


A Vancouver time travelogue brought to you by Past Tense.

Beavers are fascinating creatures, but they do not make the most cooperative zoo animals. Beaver Lake in Stanley Park got its name because beavers were spotted there in 1907, but they didn’t stick around. When the area was being beautified in 1911, someone at the Parks Board figured Beaver Lake should, naturally, contain beavers, so a pen was built to house the creatures for public viewing. The beavers simply chewed through the wire enclosure.

A new beaver pond was constructed as a zoo attraction in 1972, with heavy gauge wire mesh covering the bottom to contain the industrious rodents. After the road beside the pond collapsed under the weight of a service vehicle, zoo staff discovered that the beavers had chewed through the wire and tunneled beneath the road so they could cut down saplings from the woods and bring them back into the pond. The tunnel was sealed up, but a short while later, staff noticed the miniature train tracks were starting to sag. The beavers had built a new tunnel. Finally, the beaver pond was drained and the bottom covered with concrete.

Source: Photo by Harry R Stenton, 1920s, City of Vancouver Archives #Misc P56. Story from Richard M Steele, The Stanley Park Explorer (Whitecap Books, 1985).