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Development of Early Botanical Gardens in Canada

June 15, 2021 @ 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm

Online presentation by David Galbraith of the Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington.
The story of the early development of botanical and large public gardens in Canada has been largely overlooked by historians. A few existing gardens with 19th century roots are well known, like the Halifax Public Gardens and the gardens at the Central Experimental Farm in Ottawa. Nearly all other extant botanical gardens in Canada were founded in the 20th Century, as major public parks and gardens. Before 1900 a variety of botanical gardens were either proposed or constructed and then lost, especially in Quebec and Ontario, and their stories have been largely forgotten. Throughout the 19th Century several others were proposed but never built. We’ll look at some of the intriguing characters behind these projects such as Christian Ramsey, 9th Countess of Dalhousie, John Litchfield, and Egerton Ryerson, and contrast their gardens with those that have survived, placing them in their historical contexts.
Speaker David Galbraith is head of science at Ontario’s Royal Botanical Gardens. He joined RBG in 1995 to help link botanical gardens across Canada around plant conservation projects. Since becoming head of science in 2006 he has been responsible for staff in RBG’s herbarium, library, archives, and plant taxonomy. He has become interested in the histories of botanical gardens as educational and research centres as well as their cultural origins. This has been in part because RBG’s extensive archival collections, including those of the Centre for Canadian Historical Horticultural Studies, are managed within his department. Beginning with RBG’s own history and cultural landscape, David has been extending his research into the origins and cultural connections of botanical gardens across Canada.
Photo from City of Toronto Archives provided by the speaker.

This presentation will be a free Webinar. There is no registration required. Please consider supporting the future activities of the OHS through renewing your membership, joining for $15/yr, or through a donation, at
How to view the presentation:
To join the presentation, please click on the YouTube link to go to the OHS YouTube Channel. To simply watch the presentation there is nothing else you need to do. The presentation will also be recorded and available to OHS members for 2 weeks afterwards. The easiest way to find the channel is using the link; if you are on YouTube and do a search please use Ottawa Horticultural Society (we aren’t the only ones that use OHS as an acronym!)
Starting the video:
Once you are on the site, you must click on the rectangle of the video to start watching. Until 7:30 you will see a screen that says the presentation will begin at 7:30 p.m., so please be patient.


June 15, 2021
7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
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Ottawa Horticultural Society
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Ottawa Horticultural Society