There is some controversy over the name of the rock. "Siwash" is a Chinook Jargon word for a person of First Nations or Native American heritage. Though the word 'siwash' in the jargon did not necessarily have a negative connotation and was used by native peoples themselves, its etymology can be traced to the French word "sauvage," which means wild or undomesticated. The word nowadays is, however, widely considered derisive but remains in use in certain placenames and other contexts without derogatory associations, as with Siwash Rock.
Up on the cliffs overlook Siwash Rock is a lookout point off the Siwash hiking trail. While today it is an ideal spot for park users to admire the scenery, it was known as "Fort Siwash" during the wars. An artillery battery was mounted there in the First World War, as were searchlights in the next war. A runaway mountain goat, according to park board lore, lived free in this area for almost a year in the mid-1960s until he was hit by a car and died in another area in the park. Also residing in this area, until he was arrested shortly after the Second World War, was a man living in a nearby cave for a 17 year period interrupted only by his service overseas to fight in the war.
The small Douglas fir atop Siwash Rock that helped make it such a distinctive landmark for the first generations of Vancouverites did not survive the exceptionally dry summer of 1965. An article on the tree’s passing in the Vancouver Sun reads more like an obituary than news story, quoting former Vancouver Member of Parliament, H. H. Stevens as saying “I’ve known that tree for about 68 years now and I’m sorry the tree has died because it was one of our main attractions in Stanley Park.” A park superintendent felt sure that it was “virtually impossible to establish another fir up on the rock from a young plant.” Less than three years later, however, while park crews were still working to restore the park’s forest from the devastation of Typhoon Freda, persistent efforts were rewarded when new saplings finally began taking root.