April 29, 2013
Vancouver's Curse of Lord Stanley?
On October 29th of 1889 the Governor General of Canada visited Vancouver. At a spot near what has now become the Lions Gate Bridge, the Governor General poured wine on the ground and dedicated more than 1000 acres of virgin timber to "the use and enjoyment of people of all colours, creeds and customs."
The Governor General was Lord Stanley of Preston. He would become much for famous a certain hockey trophy. But on this particular day the city of Vancouver's iconic Stanley Park was born.
Vancouver's mayor at the time, David Oppenheimer, promised a "fitting memorial" would be erected at that exact spot where Lord Stanley christened the park. But only a small cairn was created Oppenheimer's promise was quickly forgotten about.
Until 1951. Vancouver archivist Major J. S. Matthews decided it was long over due that the city properly honour the man for whom Stanley Park was named. Matthews collected $4,500 in donation and hired Sydney March, a noted designer of war memorials in Ottawa, to design an eight foot tall bronze statue of Lord Stanley. It was completed in 1956.
It took over 60 years, but the story of Lord Stanley's statue is just getting started.
It seems a heated dispute arose over just where to put Lord Stanley's statue. Then there was a lot of hubbub over where the statue actually was being kept. Eventually Matthews let it be known that for months on end Lord Stanley's statue sat in a crate in a warehouse below the south end of the Cambie Street Bridge.
It was not until a rainy May 19th, 1960 that the statue was finally unveiled, at the park's main entrance off of Georgia Street, for all to enjoy.
Vancouver hockey fans have not seen a Stanley Cup victory since 1915. The NHL Canucks have made it to the finals three times only to lose each time. Could it because of the Curse of Lord Stanley? Could Lord Stanley himself, upset at nearly 70 years of neglect including 4 years spent in a crate, have cursed the Canucks?