We live so close to the beach. We may forget that there are streams and creeks running below us and ending at English Bay.

As the city developed, these streams were converted to culverts and sewers; and covered over for buildings and yards.

Have you seen any markers indicating where these streams are located?

Marion Penner-Bancroft installed this sculpture of markers and maps in 1994 as a City of Vancouver Park Board program “Artist in Communities”.

Penner-Bancroft’s project was the result of a long process of researching and photographing the local landscape and consultation with members of the community, Park Board and the School Board. The work consists of 16 in-ground and 4 above ground markers installed along the routes of four historical streams that once existed in Kitsilano.

Each of the in-ground markers has the words LOST STREAM engraved around the outer edge. Each marker also contains engraved words on two themes; first, along the edges, two-word phrases for the edges of the demise of the stream (e.g. Logging Railway) and second, in the centre, four kinds of plant and animal life that have disappeared (e.g. sockeye, thimbleberry, lynx and fir).

Penner-Bancroft writes “… my desire became to find a way of recalling what was now invisible, of marking the routes of the streams and in doing so to call up an earlier image of this place, to bring some history into the present … I also installed at [Kitsilano] Community Centre a set of black and white photographs, two for each [stream] path. These are close up images of where the streams once were, paired with images of trees that are fed by the underground flows, those vestiges of another landscape.” 

The locations are listed below. The in-ground markers can (if not covered by vegetation or pavement) be found along lost stream beds.

We challenge you to find these markers. They are probably on boulevards, school grounds or public property. You may want to ask neighbours living near these locations if they have ever seen the markers.

When I was pursuing these markers, I chatted with people walking by. One neighbour (at West 3rd and Balaclava where I couldn’t find the marker) told me that one of the houses was built on stilts over a stream.  He told me of an old neighbour telling him of ships pulling up to the beach to get fresh water from this stream.

The markers at ground level have wording based on this:

  • Around the perimeter: Historical event/activity
  • Listed in the centre: Fish, berry, animal, tree

One stream:

  • Jericho Beach: above-ground marker, approximately 100 meters west of the concession, south of the path, near a tree
  • South-east corner at West 7th and Alma: Naval – Reserve; steelhead, salal berry, cougar, hemlock
  • South-west corner at West 12th and Collingwood: masts – spars, rainbow, cloudberry, lynx, fir
  • East side of boulevard dividing West 16th and Blenheim: timber – lease; chum, salmonberry, deer, yew

Another stream:

  • Above ground marker: Bayswater and Point Grey Road; West side of stairs to beach; diagram of streams, marker locations and writing
  • West 3rd and Balaclava: I couldn’t find. It may be on private property at 3089/3091 West 3rd.
  • West 6th and Bayswater: I couldn’t find. It may be on South-east General Gordon Elementary School grounds
  • West side on boulevard dividing West 16th at Trafalgar: logging railway; cutthroat, blackberry, beaver, spruce

Tatlow Creek:

  • Above ground marker: Volunteer Park at Point Grey Road; 2nd bench from left overlooking water; diagram of streams, marker locations and writing
  • West 5th and Stephens: North-west corner: street – car; coho, thimbleberry, weasel, cottonwood
  • SE corner at West 10th and Larch: crown – grant; pink, cranberry, flying squirrel, cedar
  • NE corner at West 16th and Vine: building – boom; trout, rosehip, elk, arbutus

Another one:

  • Above ground marker: Kitsilano Beach between basketball court and playground; copper plate with diagram and writing removed
  • South-east corner at Maple and Cornwall: logging – camp, eulachon, plum, muskrat, maple
  • South-east corner at West 6th and Cypress: pre – ?____, salmon, huckleberry, bear, birch
  • West side of Cypress, about halfway between West 10th and West 11th Avenues, just North of stairs entering Lord Tennyson Elementary School grounds: town – site, spawn, elderberry, hare, pine

Where is this?:

  • Land auction – Chinook, strawberry, wolf, alder

Have fun trying to find these. Please send us photos of yourself at these markers, with a description of location to help us find them for others to discover.

Last modified: April 4, 2019

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