“Pretty underrated park if you want amazing mountain and water views.”
#2 in Kitsilano
1905 Ogden Avenue
It was front page news in 1928.
“Harvey Hadden, Pioneer Investor in Vancouver, Presents Park to City,” the Vancouver Daily Province effused. “Donates Two Whole Blocks of Land Fronting On English Bay…Dedicated Specifically To Women And Kiddies.”
A prominent landowner, Hadden purchased the property from the Canadian Pacific Railway company (which owned huge amounts of Vancouver well into the 20th century), and quickly gave it to the city, which is among the more altruistic reasons for having a park named after yourself.
It took a few decades for Hadden to be developed into the mix of attractions that it became known for — the Vancouver Maritime Museum, the harbour of heritage boats, a large totem pole that is currently removed for restoration — but now it’s an outstanding part of our extended public waterfront, the type of place that would be a huge tourist attraction in other parts of North America, but in Vancouver is just another ho hum space.
What makes Hadden special though? Chiefly, it’s the amount of interesting things packed into a relatively small area.
That harbour of old-timey boats is neet to peer at, and is right next to Elsje Point, which itself is one of the most photogenic spots in the city. The lawn between the walking path and the museum is adequate for picnics and home to a popular yoga class. The washrooms are a nice bonus too.
And Hadden has a secret weapon in its off-leash dog beach; a dense area of sand and logs where doggos can live their best life. If that’s too frantic, you can go to the even smaller beach on the eastern edge of the park, ideal for gazing across to English Bay and the West End.
It’s an embarrassment of riches for a small park that never gets too busy because Kits Beach is right next door, but Hadden is worth visiting in its own right.
But back to that front page from 1928: the newspaper reported that Hadden’s “only request … is that in developing the area the commissioners retain, as far as possible, the natural beauties of the place, and that it be especially regarded as a haven for tired mothers to rest and for little children to play.”
85 years later, those requests formed the basis of a lawsuit against a proposed $2.2 million bike lane through the park, the petitioners arguing it violated Hadden’s terms of keeping the land “as near as possible in its present state of nature.”
A court gave an interim injunction halting construction, and the park board decided to go in a different direction.
The past influences so much of Vancouver’s parkland — sometimes in a more direct way than others.