The First Nations Totem Poles in Stanley Park in Vancouver, British Columbia are a collection of totem poles representing a number of indigineous nations.
Additionally, there are 2 other totem poles that are on the Miniature Train route that can only be seen by taking the train ride during the day. Note that the train ride is currently closed for repairs as of May 2023.
The collection of Totem Poles at Brockton Point are the most visited attraction in Vancouver, British Columbia, and possibly all of Canada!
Below we have a history of the Totem Poles in Stanley Park and links to more detailed information/videos/photos of each individual totem pole!
The Totem Poles are a free attraction in Stanley Park.
The collection of totem poles in Stanley Park started in the 1920s when the Vancouver Parks Board started buying them thinking that they would eventually build a replica First Nations village in Stanley Park.
Some of these original totem poles were carved as early as the 1880s.
There are stories that there are parts of some old totem poles in the bush behind the hill where the totem poles used to be at Lumbermens' Arch, but we looked and didn't find any!.
In 1962, the totem poles were moved to Brockton Point where they now reside.
By the mid-1980s, many of the totem poles in Stanley Park were damaged and rotting. Some of the damaged poles were put into museums and replicas carved. The totem poles were also put into a separated grassy area where the public was not permitted to walk. This is where they reside now.
Because they are made of wood they will continue to deteriorate because of the weather.
The plaque says:
INDIAN TOTEM POLES
The Totem was the British Columbia Indians's coat of arms.
Totem poles are unique to the north west coast of BC and lower Alaska.
They were carved from western red cedar and each carving tells of a real or mythical event.
They were not idols nor were they worshipped.
Each carving on each pole has a meaning. The eagle represents the kingdom of the air. The whale the lordship of the sea. The wolf, the genius of the land, and the frog, the transitional link between land and sea.
The Thunderbird House Post is an example of a carved house post. Carved house posts were used to support the huge roof beams of traditional First Nations cedar homes.
We have just added a narrated video describing this totem pole which you can listen to when looking at the totem pole.
The Oscar Maltipi Totem Pole is a beautiful colourful totem pole showing many animals including the mythical Thunderbird and a killer whale.
The Chief Skedans Mortuary totem pole is a mortuary totem pole. The chief's remains would be placed in a small box at the top of the pole.
The Chief Wakas Totem Pole was a totem pole placed at the entrance to a First Nations house. People entered via the Raven's mouth!
The Rose Cole Yelton Memorial Totem Pole is the first totem pole you see when you enter the area in Stanley Park with totem poles.
The totem pole honours Rose Cole, the last surviving resident of the Brockton community, and all those who lived in Stanley Park.
The Kakaso'Las Totem Pole was carved by famous carver Ellen Neel.
The Beaver Crest Totem Pole is unique because it isn't painted in bright colours and doesn't have wings or beaks protruding from it. It has very intricate carvings!
The Ga'akstalas Totem Pole depicts important figures in Kwakwada'wakw culture, including Red Cedar-bark man who survived the great flood and gave people the first canoe!
The Sky Chief Totem Pole represents that "our art comes from spirituality".
The Children of the World Totem Pole honours the children of the world. It was carved in 1991 for the 64th annual Variety Club International Convention in Vancouver.
The Children of the World Totem Pole is located in the plaza at Stanley Park Junction. This totem pole is free to view.
There are 2 totem poles that are on the Miniature Train ride route.
You can only see these 2 totem poles if you take the minature train ride during the day. The miniature train ride is a paid attraction. Note that as of May 2023 the Miniature Train is not operating due to maintenance issues.
All but 3 of the totem poles in Stanley Park reside in an area at Brockton Point.
Two additional totem poles are on the Miniature Train route and are only viewable if you ride the train during the day.
You can get to the Totem Poles in Stanley Park by walking, by bicycle, by car, or on a tour.
The Totem Poles are about a 20 minute walk on the Stanley Park Seawall from the Coal Harbour entrance to Stanley Park. The seawall is flat so this is an easy, but fairly long walk.
You can bicycle to the Totem Poles. It is about a 10 minute bicycle ride on the Stanley Park Seawall from the Coal Harbour entrance to Stanley Park to the Totem Poles. The one issue with bicycles is that the seawall is one-way so to get back to the city, you will either need to walk your bicycle back to the city, or go all the way around Stanley Park on the seawall (about 1 hour), or ride cross-county across the park back to the city!
You can drive to the Totem Poles via Stanley Park Drive. There is limited pay Parking at the Totem Poles. You may have to drive farther around the park to find a parking space. You may have to drive around Brockton Point and back past the Totem Poles on the north side to the Brockton Oval parking lot.
A number of tours stop at the Totem Poles. The Horse-drawn Carriage Tour stops for about 5 minutes at the Totem Poles. A number of city bus/walking/bicycle Tours stop at the Totem Poles for a period of time.
Yes, there are washrooms next to the Totem Poles.
You can stay as long as you want to visit the Totem Poles. Some tours only stop for 5 minutes to allow people to get some quick photos. Expect to spend 30 to 60 minutes to fully enjoy the Totem Poles.