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What’s “Lost” about Stanley Park’s Lost Lagoon?


Above: Lost Lagoon
Photo Credit:

The Lost Lagoon is a landmark oasis in Stanley Park and home to an ecosystem of birds, plants, fish and a variety of other wildlife. This is a popular destination where locals and visitors escape the rush of the city – and to be honest, it is quite easy to find. Located at the West Georgia Street entrance of Stanley Park, one of Vancouver’s busiest routes, one may wonder: “What about this Lagoon is ‘lost?’”

The Lost Lagoon was named after a beautifully haunting poem written in the 20th century by Emily Pauline Johnson, a talented Canadian artist and the daughter of an English woman and a Mohawk chief.

Pauline’s poem reads:

It is dusk on the Lost Lagoon,
And we two dreaming the dusk away,
Beneath the drift of a twilight grey,
Beneath the drowse of an ending day,
And the curve of a golden moon.

It is dark in the Lost Lagoon,
And gone are the depths of haunting blue,
The grouping gulls, and the old canoe,
The singing firs, and the dusk and—you,
And gone is the golden moon.

O! lure of the Lost Lagoon,—
I dream to-night that my paddle blurs
The purple shade where the seaweed stirs,
I hear the call of the singing firs
In the hush of the golden moon.

Born into two worlds in 1861, Pauline learned to appreciate both the Victorian English society’s elegance and the Mohawk Nation’s connection to nature. She shared the complexity of her two identities through poems, stories and theatre performances. To captivate her audiences’ curiosity of her mixed backgrounds, Pauline would wear traditional Mohawk clothing and halfway through, she would change to a Victorian-style evening gown.


Above: Emily Pauline Johnson
Photo Credit: Beautiful Earth

Pauline was also a canoeist, which leads to her adoration of the Lost Lagoon. When she moved to Vancouver in 1909, Coal Harbour waters extended into Stanley Park. Pauline would paddle through the harbour and noticed that the tide pool in Stanley Park would often dry up, hence the name “Lost Lagoon.”

The tide pool was dammed in 1912 and is now a large freshwater lake with a majestic backdrop of downtown Vancouver. Today you won't lose the Lost Lagoon, but the next time you visit, remember that the same lagoon was an oasis for both Pauline then and you now.

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