History & Culture

History of the Sunken Gardens

Nestled in the heart of the city lies one of Prince Rupert’s community treasures, a garden that, as its name suggests, lies sunken behind the Courthouse.

Not immediately obvious to the average passerby, part of its appeal lies in the fact that one would most likely need to know about its existence prior to being able to visit. Lying behind nondescript buildings on each side, the Gardens can be accessed from either side through a short tunnel. Walking distance from the Prince Rupert Visitor Center, one can enjoy being within what feels like a hidden pocket of the city, with the majestic Prince Rupert Courthouse overlooking it all.

But how did this uniquely beautiful garden come to be?
Created in the 1920’s, the hollow cavity that the garden takes root in was created to be the initial location of the Courthouse. All of that drastically changed however when World War 2 began and it became an ammunition bunker in World War 2. When the Courthouse needed to be relocated, the sunken hole that was left behind created an opportunity for the community that went beyond just a simple beautification project.

Since its inception, the Sunken Gardens have fostered a place where residents of Prince Rupert can stretch their green thumb in a fun and safe environment, but the kickoff truly began in earnest in 2003 when the Prince Rupert Garden Club took the caring of the gardens under their responsibility. Every year, volunteers from the Garden Club and anyone else that wishes to participate or get involved take part in a weekend initiative to plant new flowers. This ensures that no matter when you decide to come back to visit Prince Rupert, you’ll most likely be viewing an almost entirely new garden. To enjoy the Gardens to their fullest extent, aim for late spring or early summer but due to the uniqueness of its architecture however, this attraction can truly be enjoyed at any time of the year. The Sunken Gardens now provide a beautiful respite for everyone walking in and around Cow Bay, including full accessibility to those with wheelchair mobility. Furthermore, one can also bring a friend to play a game of chess, with chess tables available at the base of the Gardens to be enjoyed among the scenery.

Shayd Johnson

Indira Smith

Indira Smith is a marketing specialist that previously worked in the tourism sector of Prince Rupert, sharing her love for everything the city had to offer. When she’s not working, she loves spending her time making the most out of BC’s north coast. In the winter you can find her snowboarding on Shames Mountain and in the summer, climbing at Exchamsiks.

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