“Not a good park in any way at all.”
#1 in Kensington-Cedar Cottage
3300 Victoria Drive
Stick a lake in the middle of the city. Surround it with multiple playgrounds, multiple fields, some sand and some walking paths. Add a community centre and a famer’s market.
That’s really all you need to be Vancouver’s second best park.
Trout Lake isn’t its name — it’s actually John Hendry Park, named for the co-founder of Hastings Mill (Vancouver’s first major company), and the father of the donor who gave much of the land for the park to Vancouver in the 1920s.
But nobody calls it John Hendry Park, because Trout Lake is a fun name to say, and it’s the darn lake that makes the park so special.
Of course, if you took the lake away, the park would still be plenty sturdy: it’s the only one in Vancouver with soccer and baseball fields, basketball and tennis courts, and lighted fields, to use one metric.
There’s also multiple washrooms and multiple playgrounds (the newer one is excellent, with a large climbing dome, disc swing, and covered wooden playhouses among the attractions). There’s also multiple large covered areas, a ball hockey court, and a community centre.
It’s the lake that holds it all together though. Aside from giving the park a clear focal point and Instagram setpiece, it provides a physical anchor to the design — all other aspects can flow naturally around the water, giving an internal route to exploring Trout Lake that makes it a wonderful place to visit even if you aren’t particularly doing anything.
Then there’s the little extra touches that make it truly magical: the farmers market in the summer (probably the best in the city), the off-leash dog beach on the north side, the periodic bands playing, the winter wonderland Trout Lake turns into on the rare occasion it can be skated on.
It’s a park for the east side that is also a tourist destination; a sports park that is also a beach park; a place for large activities and small hangouts.
One could be a buzzkill and point out that due to high E. coli levels the lake is fairly dodgy to swim in during the summer, and has been closed for significant periods each of the last three years.
One might also say: who cares? Swimming in Trout Lake is a nice bonus. Its mere presence is plenty to be grateful for.
Everyone knew what Vancouver’s top park was going into this exercise. We thought the debate over the second best one would be a contentious affair, different people arguing for different values, but in the end it was pretty unanimous.
There are 10 or 15 places in Vancouver where you can look at the mountains and the oceans and the towers in one fell swoop and be reminded why you fell in love with this ridiculous city in the first place.
There’s only one Trout Lake.