Deadman Island, Stanley Park

Encompassing a roadway, several buildings and a parking lot and a small marnia, Deadman Island is remarkably larger then it appears from along the Stanley Park Seawall. The Island serves as the Naval Reserve Base, named the HMCS Discovery. Its previous use as a burial ground for native and early settlers in the Vancouver region led to its naming. CREDIT: Venture Vancouver, SOURCE:

Deadman Island is connected to Stanley Park via a small vehicle bridge which spans over the water. This Island operates as the HMCS Discovery, Vancouver's Naval Reserve Base.





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Camera, Binoculars, Sense of Curiosity

Visible from almost the entire Burrard Inlet, Deadman Island is an interesting stop along the Stanley Park Seawall. Inaccessible to tourists, Deadman Island was claimed by the federal government shortly after Stanley Park was formed and a Naval Reserve, part of the Canadian Military, was built on its shores, the HMCS Discovery. Closely guarded, it is impossible to visit. The peculiar name of the island comes from its use as a burial ground by both natives and the first settlers, a past integral to the shaping of Vancouver.

Visible from Coal Harbour and the Stanley Park Seawall, Deadman Island's heritage is true to its name. Although it's current role is as the site of the Naval Reserve unit HMCS Discovery, its past was afflicted by epidemics and circumstance.

When one of the first settlers in the Vancouver region visited the island he noticed cedar boxes lashed to the tops of the trees. After examining it was discovered the island was used as a tree burial ground by local natives as well it served as a site for a deadly battle between two tribes.

In the late 1880s the island was used as a burial site and cemetery for early settlers. This use ended when Mountain View cemetery was opened on the mainland after Vancouver became a city. However, its former use was reinstated during the deadly smallpox epidemic in the late 1880s where it became a quarantine site for victims of the disease and a burial ground for those who did not survive in order to contain the disease from the unaffected population.

It is hard to believe its past was so sinister as the island currently houses a fenced off and guarded bridge, a small grassy area with trees and an older red brick building which serves as the base of operations for the Naval Reserve which is not accessible to the public.

This current arrangement may be changing as the federal land use agreement ended in 2007 after a one hundred year term and Deadman Island is now technically classified as city property.

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Deadman Island has been a government controlled Naval Reserve Unit for over sixty years. The rich stories with the island are popular Halloween tales regaling listeners to tales of natives and early settlers of Vancouver who perished from fights, disease and even old age.

Location of Deadman Island

Use the interactive map below to locate and explore the areas around Deadman Island

Along the Stanley Park Seawall near Hallelujah point
Stanley Park

Map of Stanley Park

Click the brown GEMS on the map to navigate to the other activities within this region

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