Photo Provided by Destination BC & Grant Harder 

The idea of getting lost in crooked pathways or meandering slowly through curved passages has fascinated man since the dawn of time. Mazes and labyrinths have been made of hedges, stone, corn, wood, and mirrors. They can be spiritual places or visually stimulating exercises.

The legendary Labyrinth of Crete is perhaps the most famous of all early paths. It’s said the labyrinth wound beneath the Palace of Knossos. The center was believed to be home to a menacing minotaur (a half-human, half-bull creature) that the hero Theseus killed.

Remnants of other labyrinths have been found throughout northern Europe. Some believe they were constructed to confuse evil spirits. However, it was during England’s Renaissance period that mazes were designed as a form of entertainment.

Kings and queens often included mazes in their elaborate gardens, growing them from hedges. Today, most public mazes are cut into cornfields and sport Halloween-themed mascots, like scarecrows.

But scattered throughout North America, you’ll find a half dozen hedge mazes that harken back to a time of young courtly love. Vancouver’s VanDusen Botanical Garden is among the floral displays carrying on this tradition. Near the western edge of the 55-acre grounds rests the garden’s maze.

It’s made from 3,000 pyramidal cedars, each planted in 1981. For those less-adventurous visitors, an observation terrace offers a view of the maze and its participants.

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