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5 things you (probably) didn't know about weird Vancouver park names

And there are two bonus facts!

Vancouver has 250 parks, and a lot of them have pretty boring names.

Coal Harbour Park is in Coal Harbour, Captain Cook Park is named after Captain Cook and Riverview Park is near the river. There's a simple explanation for all those.

There are some with some fun facts, though, like Stanley Park. It's named after the same guy who gave his name to the Stanley Cup (he was an English Earl and Governor General of Canada for a spell).

And there's Garden Park. It doesn't have any notable garden in it (but that's ok!) because it's named after one of the city's former mayors, James Garden. It's not like Captain Cook Park has a captain or a cook there.

Then there are the parks with unusual names. For example, Ebisu Park, named after a Japanese god. It got its name as an honour to the Japanese community in Marpole. Here are some others.

1. Choklit Park

Yes, that's a phonetic spelling of chocolate, the snack/essential food (depending on who you ask). 

The park was created in 1970 at the intersection of Spruce Street and West 7th Avenue. While it's all residential now, the area had been a more industrial neighbourhood and Purdys Chocolates was based there.

They had an awkward entrance, so co-owner Charles Flavelle made a deal with the city to rework it. In exchange, the company created a park and it was dubbed Choklit Park after the companies product.

According to Flavelle, the odd spelling came from one of the "gang of five hippies" he hired to build the park, who suggested it was how a child would spell chocolate.

2. Tea Swamp Park

It may sound unpleasant, but it was once an accurate description of the area.

The small park at East 15th Avenue and Sophia Street got its name from the Labrador tea plants that once lived in the area of the park. The plant grows in swamps in bogs.

It's good to note that the Labrador tea is not a true tea and in fact three species of Rhododendron. While commonly used in a few different ways by Indigenous groups, including as herbal tea, the plants can be toxic and excessive consumption is not recommended.

3. CRAB Park at Portside

This one has two unusual parts to it. It's capitalized and it's "at" a place.

In 1987 it was built and called Portside Park after a group called Create A Real Available Beach advocated for a beach near the Downtown Eastside in the early 80s.

They had gone so far as to set up an encampment on the land they thought could be repurposed (which was owned by the federal government). It was an unused stretch of waterfront being leased by the Vancouver Port Authority.

In 2004 the city renamed it to its current name, CRAB Park at Portside, to honour the group's efforts.

The port authority still has authority over the land, though the park is managed by the city's parks board, which has impacted how issues at the park have been handled in the past. 

4. Bobolink Park

This one is related to the strange naming of Vancouver's streets that happened as developments took off post-World War 2.

In the 1950s a city planner decided a bunch of streets near Vancouver golf courses should be named after other golf courses not near Vancouver. In this case, it was Bob O'Link Golf Course in Highland Park, Illinois.

While most who do know this name say it's not named after the bobolink (a bird that rarely shows up in B.C. and never in Vancouver), there's an argument it is. It's not entirely clear where the Highland Park course got its name, but its logo is a bobolink, and other golf courses with the same name point to the bird as the source.

5. Portal Park

Before you get excited, there's no hidden portal to some amazing place here.

But there is (in a sense) a hidden portal here. It's just not leading to an amazing place.

The park is built above a train tunnel. It was built in the early 1930s and Canadian Pacific Railway used it to move freight trains. That's not a thing anymore, but the tunnel still exists. The SkyTrain uses it now.


Two bonus facts about park names.

One is about Dude Chilling Park. If you thought that was the name of the park, you'd be mistaken. It's actually Guelph Park, which is located on Guelph Street. So, it's not a very interesting park name. The Dude Chilling Park sign is considered art, not infrastructure.

The other is a very odd name of a park, but it's located just outside of Vancouver. West Vancouver has a chuck of land called Suicide Bend Park. Located on a section of Marine Drive with an infamous curve known as Suicide Bend, the park shows up in city documents but doesn't appear to have a sign.