Vancouver Feature: Pauline Johnson Names Lost Lagoon | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Vancouver Feature: Pauline Johnson Names Lost Lagoon

The following article is a feature from our Vancouver Feature series. Past features are not updated.

Lost Lagoon, near the entrance to Stanley Park, was once a tidal flat linked to Coal Harbour to the east. When the tide came in, water flooded almost all the way to English Bay. When it receded, it left a muddy bog behind. It was the construction of the causeway that created the lagoon, and poet Pauline Johnson who named it.
Tekahionwake (Pauline Johnson)

Tekahionwake, better known as Pauline Johnson, gave Lost Lagoon its name. This photo dates from around 1895. Library and Archives Canada C-085125.

The fountain at Lost Lagoon at night, between 1936 and 1945

Major Matthews Collection, Vancouver City Archives LP 219.

Lost Lagoon Fountain

The fountain in Lost Lagoon was originally from the Chicago World's Fair.

The poet Pauline Johnson — whose work drew heavily on her mixed-race identity as Haudenosaunee and British — was like a touring pop star in her day, performing her poetry on stages across Canada and around the world. In 1909 she settled in Vancouver and in one of her poems she gave a name to the tidal lagoon where she used to walk.

It is dark on the Lost Lagoon
And we two dreaming the dusk away
Beneath the drift of a twilight grey
Beneath the drowse of a golden moon

When Johnson died of breast cancer in 1913 her ashes were buried in Stanley Park and in 1922 a memorial in her honour was placed near Third Beach.

Lost Lagoon was created during World War One when construction of the traffic causeway divided it from Coal Harbour and Burrard Inlet. Stocked with trout in 1929, the lagoon was used for many years for fishing and boating. The fountain dates to 1936 when it was installed to celebrate Vancouver’s 50th birthday.