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What the heck are these random stone objects around Vancouver?

Are they ancient remnants left behind by aliens?
Vancouver locals may have spotted some mysterious stone objects along Ontario and Arbutus streets as well as other greenways.

Vancouver is filled with random and quirky objects. 

From futuristic creatures made of junk and giant mind-boggling statues to ordinary yet puzzling "air stacks," locals aren't fazed by the city's peculiarities. 

One of the less-noticed oddities of the city is planted along Ontario Street.

Strange stone obelisks are spaced out several blocks apart down the street with mysterious markings etched into the sides. Similarly, granite slabs are fixed in various patterns along Arbutus Street. 

What the heck are these random stones for?

There isn't actually any written history, location, or story on why random granite pieces exist along some of the city's greenways, nor how they got there, explains the City of Vancouver in an email to V.I.A.

But when it comes to the odd obelisks along Ontario Street, those, in fact, do have a purpose. 

Why are there obelisks on Ontario Street?

The granite markers along the Ontario Greenway are far from random.

Leftover granite curbs from the original construction of Ontario Street are stored in one of the City's yards in the Mount Pleasant neighbourhood. 

The curbs were repurposed as seating areas along the greenway and the chess board at 18th Avenue. The re-use of the leftover granite inspired the obelisks along Ontario Greenway, which is the only greenway with this stone feature. 

A total of 12 obelisks were installed as part of the Ontario Greenway around 2002.

But this answers only part of the mystery. 

The meaning behind the lines and dot

What makes the obelisks furthermore perplexing are the lines and dot engraved along the sides. 

"The markers have lines that represent the arterial roads that cross Ontario Street and the dots are where you are along the route," the City demystifies. "The markers are intended to spark curiosity and social interaction and it seems that they have been successful."

Other granite markers around Vancouver

Markers made of repurposed granite from old curbs and cobbles pop up along other greenways as seating areas and water drinking fountains. 

Starting at the intersection of West 11th Avenue and Maple Street and continuing down Maple, the large granite markers resemble giant footsteps. These were installed in 2006 as part of the start of the Arbutus Greenway. They, too, have a cool story behind the design. 

Other granite markers include:

  • A series of seating areas between East 41st and East 39th avenues, just on the west side of Nanaimo Street, as part of the Ridgeway Greenway.
  • A unique water drinking fountain at the north-west corner of the park at Killarney Street and East 45th Avenue.
  • An obelisk and granite drinking fountain near a seating area next to the tennis court entrance at Ontario Street and East 56th Avenue. 
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