Vancouver poet Gerry Gilbert once echoed the advent of spring in haiku: “within without end/the world wanders through me/I wake up each spring/the phone is ringing.” All it takes is an outing along the ocean shoreline to tune in to nature’s seasonal message of renewal as spring is carried on a breeze that freshens by the day.
To experience the vernal alchemy, head to Port Moody—affectionately referred to as “Puerto” Moody by those wistful for more southerly latitudes—where the prevailing winds whisk minds clean of cobwebs.
Port Moody anchors the east end of the inner harbour, a stronghold for aquatic and land dwellers of all stripes. That’s where the Georgia Straight ventured recently to explore a brace of trails that link Rocky Point Park and five companion waterfront municipal parks, as well as to gauge progress on TransLink’s Evergreen Line between Lougheed Town Centre in Burnaby and Lafarge Lake–Douglas Station in Coquitlam, including two stops in Port Moody.
With the Evergreen Line slated for completion in 2016, and steadily increasing populations in the Tri-Cities—Port Moody, Port Coquitlam, and Coquitlam (as well as the villages of Anmore and Belcarra)—these parks will truly prove their worth as demand for green spaces intensifies. For the moment, the maw of a tunnel at the Barnet Highway’s intersection with Port Moody’s main drag—adjacent the works yard, where a massive boring machine is being assembled—is evidence of what’s to come.
Dwarfed by the activity, the quaint Port Moody Station Museum puts up a brave front as the bastion for the self-styled City of the Arts’ pioneering railway heritage. Set beside Rocky Point Park’s entrance, this site was the western terminus of the Canadian Pacific Railway’s transcontinental line from 1886 until the upstart settlement of Vancouver stole the limelight several years later. For a taste of Port Moody’s past glory, step inside both the 1908 station house and the CPR’s first-class 1921 Venosta sleeper car mounted outdoors.
Rocky Point Park offers a full range of day-tripping activities. Whether you’re pushing a stroller or your heart rate, the options for exploring here beckon. For many, the most compelling place to begin lies at the tip of the park’s viewing pier that juts out into Port Moody Arm. That’s where the sound of spring sings in one’s eardrums as a zephyr kicks up whitecaps on the shallow inlet.
Care for a paddle, in a kayak or canoe or on a standup paddleboard? Rocky Point Kayak operates out of the Old Mill Boathouse, complete with a public launch ramp adjacent the pier. Those with small children will find commodious playgrounds at both the Rocky Point and Old Orchard sites. Older progeny will gravitate to the nearby skateboard, BMX, and mountain-bike trials parks.
On foot, budget at least 90 minutes to cover the five kilometres of trails from the Rocky Point seawall to Old Orchard Park. With four pocket parks sprinkled along the way, you’ll have plenty of choice without necessarily going the entire distance. Certainly, those along for the ride—the bike ride, that is—can easily cover the route in half the time. Depending on conditions, those with a bent to cleave as closely as possible to the tide line should follow the rougher Shoreline Trail rather than the paved, two-lane multi-use pathway set on higher ground, a portion of which is also part of the Trans-Canada Trail network.
The seaside route provides a more scenic perspective in places, such as a stretch of elevated boardwalk that crosses Pigeon Creek where the intertidal marsh teems with ducks of all stripes. From this vantage point, the set of peaks that constitutes Mount Seymour—hidden from view in Vancouver owing to the mountain’s gently sloping southern face—defines the northwestern skyline. The Shoreline Trail undulates with a gentle rhythm that will appeal to trail runners and dog walkers alike.
Of all the pocket parks, Old Mill Park, with its decrepit cement foundations formed like step pyramids, offers the most imaginative setting, on a finger of land isolated from the mainland at high tide. Brick shards, remnants from the former mill site, litter the mud flats. Many bear the iconic Clayburn imprint of the Fraser Valley factory where they were fired. In recent times, creative minds have fashioned brick pathways along both the parapets and the shoreline.
This sequestered environment—with the city nearby yet distanced by the archaic nature of these crumbling surroundings—prompts thoughts of how spring breezes have signalled the start of an annual renewal that has, seemingly, gone on forever.
Within without end, indeed.