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RBG Centre 1963 with rose garden construction.

Garden has just re-opened after a $20 million rejuvenation project, featuring a new garden bed design by Janet Rosen- berg & Studio and a new visitor centre designed by CS&P Architects. Hendrie Park and RBG Centre are

now within the city of Burlington following a change in municipal bound- aries in 1960. The park includes several major gardens: the Rose Garden, Scent- ed Garden, Medicinal Plants Garden, Veggie Village, Kippax Garden, and others, as well as features like the Hend- rie Gates and the Turner Pavilion, a teahouse offering refreshments during the summer months. It is adjacent to the deep ravine of Hendrie Valley, one of the richest areas in Ontario for wild plant diversity. Laking Garden began as the Spring

Garden. The site of a former commercial market garden, the garden was initially designed by Matt Broman as a display of spring-flowering perennial plants. It features RBG’s iris collection, the larg- est collection in terms of numbers of cultivars. The Arboretum was also initially

designed by Matt Broman. The land had been a farm, complete with vine- yards, owned by the Rasberry family, before being acquired by the Ontario government

as a possible highway

bypass. It became part of Royal Botani- cal Gardens in the late 1940s. The nature sanctuaries are also full of

natural botanical delights. Visitors can see Cootes Paradise Marsh, Hendrie Valley, and the Rock Chapel proper- ties by following over 20 kilometers of hiking trails. Botanical research based at RBG’s Herbarium has shown that these lands are among the richest in Canada for wild plant species: 38 per cent of the species of the entire flora of Ontario have been found in the nature sanctuaries. x David Galbraith is the head of science at Royal Botanical Gardens. Thomas Baker McQuesten,

Founder of Royal Botanical Gardens By David Galbraith


homas Baker McQuesten was a lawyer and politician from Hamilton, Ontario. In the 1920s and 1930s McQuesten became known as one of the province’s strongest advocates of the “City Beautiful” move-

ment. Entering municipal politics in 1913, McQuesten joined the town planning

committee and then the board of park management. He tirelessly promoted the development of parks in Hamilton, and championed the young field of town planning. In 1920 he returned to the practice of law but contin- ued to be involved in parks planning. He was the main advocate for Gage Park in eastern Hamilton, a beautiful space designed by Howard and Lorrie Dunington-Grubb, featuring a spectacular fountain by John Lyle. During the 1920s McQuesten and colleagues in the board of park

management undertook an ambitious program of adding parks to Hamil- ton. In 1928 three major projects were underway simultaneously: the beau- tification of a boulevard at the north-western entrance to the city, prepara- tions for McMaster University to move to Hamilton from Toronto, and protection of Cootes Paradise Marsh from development. In 1932 the Rock Garden emerged as one of the highlights of the North Western Entrance project. That year properties in the same area all fell under the name Royal Botanical Gardens. Having long been active in the Liberal Party, McQuesten was elected to

the legislature of Ontario for Hamilton in 1934. He was immediately made the minister of highways and minister of public works, while continuing his association with the city of Hamilton board of park management. Working with a panel of botanical experts, horticulturists, academics, and town plan- ners, McQuesten led the process of shaping Royal Botanical Gardens which led in 1941 to its formal creation by the province. While in office as MLA, McQuesten also led many other significant

projects, such as the creation of the Queen Elizabeth Way highway, the prototype for the province’s four lane highway system, the Niagara Parkway and the Rainbow Bridge over Niagara Falls, the Niagara Parks Botanical Garden, and the restoration of historic landmarks like Fort George. After leaving office in 1943, McQuesten continued to lead the develop-

ment of Royal Botanical Gardens. He passed away in January 1948. His family home, Whitehern, is now a museum in downtown Hamilton, featur- ing original landscaping by the Dunington-Grubbs.

Fall 2016 • 15

Photo courtesy of the Whitehern Museum.

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