History · stanley park · urban design · Vancouver

Stanley Park and the creator of Lost Lagoon’s Fountain

CVA Photo: St Pk N142.05
CVA Photo: St Pk N142.05

Got a question today about the fountain in Stanley Park’s Lost Lagoon and was asked about whether it came from the Chicago World’s fair of 1934…

This idea has been floating around for awhile and appears in many write ups about the park, but it seemed far fetched. Why would we drag a big chunk of concrete across the country for the City’s Jubilee in 1936 instead of building it here?

The August 8, 1936 Vancouver Sun carried a story called ‘Secrets of the Fountain’. In there it talks about Robert Harold Williams, Chief Electrical Engineer with the Vancouver firm of Hume and Rumble Ltd. who conceived, designed and supervised the construction of the fountain. It took the draining of the lagoon and the setting of 70 some-odd piles into the lake’s bottom to get the fountain built.

The designKULTUR blog has a great post from 2010 about the fountain and in the comments section R.H. Williams’ grandson Glen added that “my grandfather was acknowledged for all the work [he had done] at a party at the Hotel Vancouver.” and that “when they turned [the fountain] on for the first time, HE was inside operating it manually.”

Sometimes the real story is just way more fascinating.

One thought on “Stanley Park and the creator of Lost Lagoon’s Fountain

  1. Yes its true. I have done extensive research on the fountain and found many newspapers articles and in my grandfathers collection his photographs, letters and stories. He was in LA in 1932 when he was inspired about a fountain and the rest is history. As to a fountain from Chicago, I have pictures of the framed rebar all placed in Lost Lagoon ready for the cement, from his collection.

    Why all these stories came out is because my Harold died suddenly in the 50’s at a young age of a brain tumour and being a modest man he never looked for gratitude or recognition. Then I saw another man saying it was his, shame on him, so I wanted to set it straight for my grandfather since he can’t stand up for himself. I even met the man, little old man now so I was very nice, holding in my anger for what he had done.

    I hope Vancouver residents and visitors for many more years can enjoy this vision of my grandfather for many more generations.

    Glenn Williams,
    Grandson Robert ‘Harold’ Williams.

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