As part of this special park visit, there will be an official dedication of the Chinese Guardian Lion statues received as a gift from the Xicheng District of the City of Beijing to the City of Ottawa and the local community. Following the dedication and speeches, there will be a tour of Water Dragon Park.
This special event helps celebrate the City of Ottawa’s strong ties with China and the City of Beijing, as represented by the Ottawa Chinatown Royal Arch and the Sister City Friendship Relations that was established in 1999 by Mayor Watson, prior to amalgamation.
In 2012, the City of Ottawa named the park in the heart of the Barrhaven community ‘Water Dragon Park’ as a tribute to the special Ottawa-Beijing relationship. As part of this recognition, the City of Ottawa has incorporated Chinese influences within this park through the planting of Chinese indigenous trees and the use of Chinese characters on the park amenities, such as the park benches and waste receptacles. Water Dragon Park is enjoyed by the families in our community and features a soccer field, shade shelter, splash pad, play structures, tobogganing hill, puddle rink for winter skating and a community building.
Chinese guardian lions have traditionally stood in front of the gates of Chinese Imperial palaces, tombs, government offices, temples, and the homes of government officials since the Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 220.) They were believed to have powerful mythic protective benefits and capable of driving away evil spirits.
Pairs of guardian lion statues are still common decorative and symbolic elements at the entrances to restaurants, hotels, supermarkets and other structures, with one sitting on each side of the entrance, in locations around the world where the Chinese people have immigrated and settled.
As with many other locations, Barrhaven’s Chinese Guardian Lions which now stand guard at the entrance to Water Dragon Park consist of a male resting his paw upon an embroidered ball (in imperial contexts, representing supremacy over the world) and a female restraining a playful cub that is on its back (representing nurture.)