Canada and Canadian Garden Design
Frequent references are made in this chapter, both in foregoing and in following pages, to conditions in Canada. General statements, unless explicitly qualified, apply to the North American continent, including Canada and the United States. Special mention was made in an earlier section of the national parks and forests of the Dominion. A brief special reference in this place may be permitted, therefore, to cover an important area.
Canada’s northern position on the map has fixed the belief in many minds that it has an arctic climate, a limited horticulture and little opportunity for gardens and gardening. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The Canadian climate, especially in the more thickly settled portions of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario and the Western Provinces, is agreeable, and wholly suited both to horticultural pursuits and to the development of the highest type of civilisation. Since garden design operations are determined by the summer season rather than by the winter, it may be pointed out that the Canadian summer, though shorter than the summer of Florida, is warm and highly adapted to the growing of all popular kinds of plants, including such fruits as the apple, pear, plum, and even the peach; all kinds of forest and ornamental trees; all hardy shrubs, roses, etc., and of course every popular genus of hardy perennials, such as peonies, irises, delphiniums, etc.
In the English sections of Canada the gardening tradition is strong, being derived direct from the mother country. In these sections good gardening has been promoted to a marked degree by local and provincial horticultural societies, These organisations have been much more active and effective, generally speaking, than in the United States. With respect to kinds of plants grown, however, or to types of design, whether in cottage gardens, large private estates or public parks, there is hardly an appreciable difference anywhere between Canadian practice and that of neighbouring states across the border.
Mention has already been made of Mount Royal Park at Montreal, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, Senior, as illustrating the development of the park idea in America in the years from 1865 to 1900. Victoria Park at Niagara Falls belongs to the same era, It is a fine public park of 1600 acres on the Canadian side of the great falls and is under the control of the government of Ontario. The superlative scenic importance of the Niagara Falls makes this park unique. Though it was first conceived under the earlier theory as a reservation of purely natural scenery, it has latterly been developed in the modern manner with ample refectories and other facilities for the entertainment of tourists and recreationists.
Mount Randle and Echo Lake in Banff National Park (Fig, 668) make this noble park famous.
Perhaps the most effective example of municipal park-making in Canada is found quite fittingly at the capital city, where the Ottawa Improvement Commission (established 1899) has created a comprehensive modern park system of the best sort, As at present constituted, this system comprises Rockcliffe Park, Central Park, Strathcona Park, Nepean Point Park, Macdonald Gardens, National Park, Somerset Street Park, Russell House Park, and Bronson Park; also certain beautiful islands in the Rideau and the Ottawa Rivers; also a system of park driveways through the city. In addition to these areas, formally dedicated as parks, the controlling commission also holds and administers various smaller tracts, more or less completely developed. This brief inventory of the parks of Ottawa gives a fair picture of modern tendencies as seen in most modern cities, both in Canada and the United States. But before dismissing finally the Canadian parks, mention should be made of a few others. Spring Gardens, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, have considerable historic interest and are highly cherished by the Nova Scotians. At Victoria, British Columbia, are the Butchart Gardens, especially famous as a rock-garden on a grand scale. Stanley Park, near the same city, is notable for its very large trees of Pacific Coast species. Further, the Central Experimental Farm at Ottawa deserves mention on account of its very influential position and the extensive work done there in testing and disseminating valuable trees, shrubs and flowers.