Though everyone is appreciative and impressed with larger parcels of land that have been dedicated to park space, there are a multitude of diminutive parks whose unadorned realms are equally prized. Ravine Park, running practically parallel to Arbutus Street from West 33rd to 36th Avenues, is classified as undeveloped but this natural walkway is a lovely spot for a stroll or short-cut. Its small size feels larger with its banking shoulders swathed in native ferns and other ground covers. The paved pathway, formed at the convergence of the slopes, has long been the haunt of neighbourhood children during Vancouver’s infrequent snowstorms.
By far the best time to explore this leafy and evergreen glade is in the spring, when native flowering cherry trees arch over the ravine in search of more sun, making a pink arbor of petals in light breezes. At the 33rd Avenue entrance to Ravine Park, skunk cabbages, thriving in late spring in their boggy conditions, expose the fact that this site is one of Vancouver’s original streams.
Long culverted, the sharp-of-hearing can detect the sound of water rushing beneath the pathway’s surface. At the turn of the 20th Century Vancouver’s many natural streams bore a wealth of salmon and trout. The waterway running down Ravine Park was called MacDonald Stream with its headwaters originating in the swampy area where Kerrisdale Arena now sits at West 40th Avenue and East Boulevard. MacDonald Stream met the salty sea at English Bay just west of Bayswater Street.
“What is now the asphalt grid of the City of Vancouver was mainly hemlock forest a century ago. And it is hard to imagine the acres of marsh that fed the steadily flowing streams. It’s hard to imagine the streams- overhung with ferns, salmonberry, vine maple and littered windfalls- that rewarded the bushwhacking pioneer fisherman.”*
— Excerpt from Vancouver’s Old Streams