Inventing Stanley Park
304 pages, 6 x 9
51 b&w photos, 11 maps, 1 chart
Release Date:01 Aug 2013
Release Date:15 May 2013
Release Date:24 May 2013
Release Date:24 May 2013

Inventing Stanley Park

An Environmental History

UBC Press

In the early hours of 15 December 2006, a powerful windstorm ripped through Vancouver. The city’s residents awoke to discover Stanley Park, their most treasured landmark, transformed into a tangle of splintered, fallen trees. Their anguish revealed more than just an attachment to their memories of the park – it marked the end of a romanticized vision of timeless natural space.

In Inventing Stanley Park, Sean Kheraj traces how this tension between popular expectations of idealized wilderness and the volatility of complex ecosystems helped shape one of the world’s most famous urban parks. Using an environmental history approach, Kheraj not only describes the natural and cultural forces that moulded the park’s landscape, he also reveals the roots of our complex relationship with nature. Released to coincide with Stanley Park’s 125th anniversary, this book offers a revealing meditation on the interrelationship between nature, culture, parks policy, and public memory.

Visit the author’s website at

Inventing Stanley Park will appeal to scholars of environmental history and captivate many of the estimated eight million people who visit the park each year.


  • 2014, Shortlisted - Basil Stuart-Stubbs Prize for Outstanding Scholarly Book on British Columbia, UBC Library
  • 2014, Commended - BC Historical Federation Book Prize
  • 2014, Shortlisted - Roderick Haig-Brown Regional Book Prize, BC Book Prizes
  • 2014, Winner - CLIO Prize for BC, Canadian Historical Association
  • 2013, Shortlisted - City of Vancouver Book Award
The world’s great parks are bigger than any of us. Viewed historically as landscapes in need of a helping hand, they are living entities that are just as likely to withstand natural and human interventions as succumb to them. For those of us who see parks as more than visual treats, this book is a must-read. Jean Barman, BC historian and author of The West Beyond the West: A History of British Columbia
A fascinating history of Vancouver’s iconic park that places nature squarely at the centre. Kheraj shows how foresters and engineers struggled with the disruptive power of windstorms, insect infestations, and erosion to maintain the illusion of a primeval forest in the heart of a city. We have too few histories of city parks – this one sets a high standard. Joanna Dean, Department of History, Carleton University
This alluring and magnificently illustrated work adds to and revises established interpretations of the processes of urban park creation in North America. from the Foreword by Graeme Wynn
Sean Kheraj is an assistant professor in the Department of History at York University.

Foreword: Between Art and Nature / Graeme Wynn

Introduction: Knowing Nature through History

1 Before Stanley Park

2 Making the Park Public

3 Improving Nature

4 The City in the Park

5 Restoring Nature

Conclusion: Reconciliation with Disturbance

Notes; Bibliography; Index

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