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Vancouver History Tidbits: Fountains

September 22nd, 2009 @ 9:00am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

Even though Vancouver is surrounded by water there are man-made aquatic creations placed around the city which each have a unique story to tell.

Morning Gastown photowalk - Blogathon

Salmon Fountain-Shrine – Water and Abbott
Installed in 1987, this fountain was designed by Sam Carter, an instructor at the Emily Carr Institute of Art. It was commissioned in honor of Samuel Leshgold, a “Gastown enthusiast”. His family had the work made featuring salmon since he loved to fish. [VancouverHistory.ca]

Fountain of the Pioneers – 500 Burrard Street
A popular lunchtime oasis for nearby office workers, the Fountain of the Pioneers at the Bentall Building was installed in 1965. Sculpted by George Tsutakawa it involves three elements, fire, earth and water.

Vancouver Aquarium

Killer Whale – Vancouver Aquarium, Stanley Park
Sitting at the entrance to the Vancouver Aquarium, the Killer Whale fountain by Bill Reid is a welcoming site for visitors. This bronze orca was unveiled in 1984 in the presence of Lt. Gov. Robert Rogers.


Photo credit: pkdon50 on Flickr

Swedish Fountain – Van Dusen Gardens
Installed in 1975, the Swedish Fountain by Per Nilsson-Ost was donated by the Swedish community. “Eight bronze panels depict Swedish involvement in B.C. industry.” [VancouverHistory.ca]

King Edward VII Fountain – Hornby and Georgia
Tucked around the side of the Vancouver Art Gallery, this memorial fountain pales in size compared to the one on Georgia but it certainly holds a lot of history. It is a heritage monument in the City of Vancouver and when first installed in 1912 it featured bronze cups on chains. It was actually the main fountain out in front of the Gallery up until 1966, then it was removed. In 1983 it was “brought out of storage”. [City of Vancouver] Sculptor Charles Marega also did the Joe Fortes drinking fountain, the statue of George Vancouver at City Hall, and the pair of Lions that site at the entrance to the Lions Gate Bridge — just to name a few of his works around the City.

The final fountain I’ll highlight is one whose origins are currently unconfirmed, from what I can tell at least.

Jubilee Fountain – Lost Lagoon, Stanley Park
The fountain in Lost Lagoon or Jubilee Fountain is a year-round fixture in Vancouver. During the colder months it’s decorated with green and red lights to resemble a Christmas tree and when the hot summer heat is pummeling down it mists those passing by on the shore.


Photo credit: ihember on Flickr

For some reason, ever since I found out that Pauline Johnson was the one to name Lost Lagoon, I’ve been more drawn to it than ever. Lately I’ve been tracking down the history of Jubilee Fountain, which was installed in Stanley Park to celebrate Vancouver’s 50th anniversary. Reports I’m finding are conflicting as some say it was an original structure and others say it’s a hand-me-down, coming from Chicago after being at the World’s Fair in 1934.


Photo credit: Tyler Ingram on Flickr / Website

According to an article referenced on Wikipedia, “To build the fountain, Lost Lagoon was drained. Seventy piles were driven into the mud. On these a concrete mat was laid. The fountain was built upon this mat. The work was of necessity rushed; it was done in a month.” Harold Williams, engineer, of Hume & Rumble Ltd., supervised the work. Regardless of its origins, it’s certainly nice to enjoy its presence, power, and movement when you’re taking a stroll, watching the geese, or driving by on the causeway.

If you have a favourite fountain or sculpture around town, please feel free to share in the comments or add a photo to the Miss604 Flickr group.

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8 comments

  1. Alan Hawker says:

    I love the water feature by the Waterfront Centre by Canada place, that is very pretty and relaxing to listen to the water.

  2. Darren says:

    What about the crab? The crab!

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/qole/235644823/

    Hmm…technically speaking, maybe that’s not a fountain.

  3. Miss604 says:

    @ Darren – interesting story about the crab. The sculptor did another work that apparently looked like a metal dragonfly that sat at the corner of Georgia and Granville until the 80s. It was removed and is now sitting in the Surrey Works Yard. I may have to go on an expedition to find it ;-)

  4. Bruce says:

    My favourite fountain/water feature is the water wall between Christ Church Cathedral and Park Place, south side of the 600 block of Burrard St. It’s a truly lovely urban oasis. Now, if they could just put in the staircase from the cloisters above (by the Bill Reid museum) it would be that much more stunning.

  5. Alan Hawker says:

    Oh I saw that water wall when I was in Vancouver in November Bruce. It is lovely.

  6. Nancy says:

    Unfortunately the Swedish Fountain at has been taken down for its own safety.It was badly vandalized earlier this year. Some of the panels were stolen and others were badly damaged. The remaining panels have been put into storage until such time as the redesign of the Garden entrance is completed. Then a decision will be made as to what to do with the surviving panels.

  7. […] History Tidbits series has contained everything from Fountains, Trails, and Mansions but today I thought I would play the Name Game once […]

  8. robert H Williams descendant says:

    It is Robert Harold Williams that supervised and created the jubilee fountain and it was built in vancouver, the mayor was inspired by an LA fountain and decided he neede to build one in vancouver to beautify it :D

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