The History of the Royal Botanical Gardens

In 2021, the Royal Botanical Gardens, just on the edge of Toronto, celebrated their 80th anniversary of connecting people, plants and the natural beauty of Ontario. With such a beautiful and ever-progressing site, comes a rich history in developing the expansive and breathtaking gardens that we all know and love today.

The History of the Royal Botanical Gardens

The Royal Botanical Gardens first originated as a piece of the 1917 improvement project put forth by the City of Hamilton. The idea was then brought to life by politician, lawyer and Chair of the city’s Park Management Board, Thomas Baker McQuesten who imagined a lushous botanical garden and was the driving force in the City purchasing 377 acres of land for the project in 1927. Throughout the next 5 years great strides were made in the pursuit of a garden. The once deserted pit of rubble in Burlington Heights was transformed into the Rock Garden, which has since been coined the “birthplace” of the modern Gardens.

In 1941 the Province of Ontario introduced a special Act which triggered the revitalization of many spaces and programs throughout the province. These changes included the development of more display gardens, nature educational programming, land acquisition and construction of new facilities to improve visitor experience, all culminating to what we now know was the Royal Botanical Gardens. With each new decade since the special Act, the City saw a significant portion of progress in shaping the final result.

Throughout the 1950s and 1960s the space underwent the construction of the Arboretum and adjacent nature trails, Hendrie Park and its renowned gates, the Royal Botanical Gardens Centre, and footings of the main components that make up today’s garden, including the Katie Osbourne Lilac Collection and the Centennial Rose Garden. As the project moved into the 1970’s, the city saw an enthusiastic focus on conservation efforts, holding regular cleanup projects beginning in Cootes Paradise Marsh. This initiative remains at the forefront of the Royal Botanical Garden’s goals of preservation as they continue to carry it into the future.

The History of the Royal Botanical Gardens

Today, the Royal Botanical Gardens is well-known as a National Historic Site of Canada and part of the Niagara Escarpment UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. The Royal Botanical Gardens continues to work to foster conservation of the diverse environments in surrounding areas such as Hamilton and Burlington, and thus acts as a vessel for education, inspiration and bonding to the natural world. Throughout recent years great strides have been made to jumpstart rejuvenation projects throughout the space, in order to re-energize many garden areas by introducing both sustainable and representative designs.

Join the Royal Botanical Gardens for celebratory events all Summer long such as live music concerts, the Enchanted Garden Tour, Discovery Stations, and even kids entertainment. Connect with nature while enjoying the flourishing perennials that bring pops of colour throughout the Rock Garden and the iconic Rose Garden’s radiant display. If you are looking to take a scenic hike or bike ride, the 27km of beautiful hiking trails around Cootes Paradise and Hamilton’s Escarpment are ready for you to explore and meet the many birds and wildlife who inhabit them along the way.

For more information about the Royal Botanical Gardens 80th Anniversary Events please visit their website.



About Jaya Kumar 34 Articles
Jaya is a high school student in Toronto, and an aspiring creative writer. She is fascinated by the history of the city, and loves digging deep into the past to paint an accurate and vibrant picture of the city's historical events.