Inventing Stanley Park

View the trailer.

Sean Kheraj, Associate Professor of history at York University, published Inventing Stanley Park (UBC Press, 2013), a book in environmental history about the development of this famous urban park in Vancouver, British Columbia. Dr. Kheraj has done research in this field of study for many years. Inventing Stanley Park describes the history of Stanley Park from geological times to the present, focusing on the relationship between the natural environment and human intervention in nature in an urban context. The book clearly demonstrates that, although the general public views Stanley Park as a natural jewel in the midst of an urban landscape, it is in fact human intervention in nature that has given it the appearance of being “natural.” Through reference to literature on urban park development, anthropology, and colonial studies, and extensive use of archival materials specific to this aspect of Vancouver’s history, Kheraj shows that, if it had either been left to the forces of nature or manipulated by humans in a different fashion, the peninsula that is now Stanley Park would be very different from what it is today. The film project based on this book entailed collaboration between various people and institutions in the Vancouver area. Anne Marie Goodfellow, the film’s producer, has a PhD in anthropology with research interests in the effects of European-First Nations culture contact in North America. She has been producing documentary films on a variety of topics since 2007, and has also developed curriculum and published in the areas of First Nations history, culture and language. The film shows the process of park development from the late 19th century to the present and examines this period of Vancouver history in terms of the following:

· First Nations occupancy of the peninsula prior to European colonization

· the effects of colonization and urbanization

· early business ventures (e.g., logging and mining)

· advocacy by citizen’s groups for park space including philosophical differences in how the park should be used

· involvement of city council, the park board and other governing structures in decisions regarding the park’s purpose, appearance and management.

The film will be screened in 2022.