It's Important to Know our History!

Rockwood Park is one of the jewels in Saint John. The origin of the park can be traced back to the founding of the nearby Public Gardens in 1783 by the Saint John Horticultural Association. Rockwood Park's achitect was Calvert Vaux, who along with his partner Frederick Olmsted designed New York's Central Park. Rockwood Park is 2200 acres and the second largest urban park in Canada. In the park you will find the Lily Lake Pavilion with Lily's Lakeside Casual Dining, 13 lakes (5 man-made), Rockwood Golf Course with an aquatic driving range, Rockwood Park CampgroundCherry Brook Zoo, Rockwood Stables, Rockwood Park Interpretation Centre, a Bark Park, a 40 acre arboretum, several caves, miles of marked hiking and biking trails. The trail around Lily Lake has 25 solar powered lights lining the walkway so it can be enjoyed throughout the evening. The Lily Lake Pavilion is also home to Frank & Ella Hatheway Labour Exhibit, Day of Mourning MonumentInside Out Nature Centre and At the Lake Spa.

Lily Lake was one of the first sources of fresh water for Saint John. It was hauled from the lake by tanks and sold for 1 cent a bucket. In 1907, a court battle ensued as to who had the rights to the ice in Lily Lake; the ice cutters or the skaters. Although the ice cutters had been granted permission to erect an ice block conveyor in previous years, the skaters won and for decades the lake was center for outdoor winter recreation.

In 1926 speed skater, native Charles Gorman, won the World Speed Skating Championship on Lily Lake. Gorman who fought in Vimy Ridge in WW1 returned to speed skating and represented Canada in 2 Olympics. It was estimated that 25,000 people turned out on Feb. 7th to watch him take the Championship setting a world record in the 220 and 440 yard events.

Rockwood Park hosted a permanent amusement park including a Ferris Wheel built in 1903. The amusement park was dismantled around 1912. 

In 1907 the magnificent Lily Lake Pavilion opened only to be destroyed by fire 5 years later. In July of that same year, the Shoot the Shute opened in Lily Lake. This large dory was connected to a cable and pulled to the top where the passengers boarded. They were then released and traveled the steel train rails to the bottom where it shot 100 feet across Lily Lake.

Fast forward to 2012 and the beautiful granite sculpture Sunshine and Moonlight Over Saint John by Japanese artist Hiroyuki Asano has been installed at the park entrance. Rockwood Park is also a destination of the Stonehammer UNESCO Global Geopark. Stonehammer is the first Geopark in North America and while the focus is on geology, it is also about our people, society and culture.

Many will remember the Lily Lake Pavilion that was built again on the shores of Lily Lake in the 1950's. In the late 1990's, this building fell into a state of disrepair and if not for the vision and commitment of citizens, government and private business, the Pavilion would have been lost. 

In 2006, the completely restored Lily Lake Pavilion opened its doors and today is the center of activity in Rockwood Park. The Lily Lake Pavilion is operated by Lily Lake Pavilion Inc. a registered charity and governed by a 10 member volunteer board of directors.  Managed by an experienced, knowledgeable team of hospitality professions, the Pavilion returns all fund from operations and fundraisers back to the community. The Pavilion is the premier destination for weddings, corporate meetings and special events. Lily's Lakeside Casual Dining, located on the lower level, keeps a focus on fresh, local ingredients with a casual menu with in-house, made from scratch meals making it a local favorite.

Lily Lake has been and always will be alive with children swimming, families skating and the community enjoying the beauty of Rockwood Park. Today's Pavilion exists to give back to the community. 

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