The Royal Botanical Gardens (RBG)
The establishment of the Royal Botanical Gardens (RBG) Royal was initiated in the 1930s by conservationist and local Hamilton politician Thomas Baker McQuesten. The construction of the gardens was a make–work project to help beautify the surrounding area, thus creating employment during the Great Depression. The first garden established was the Rock Garden.
Over the years the RBG added gardens and natural areas to their portfolio. They include: the Laking Garden (in 1947), a Rose Garden–also known as Hendrie Park–(in 1967), the Arboretum (1950s and 1960s), the Turner Pavilion within Hendrie Park (in 1974), the Memorial Pagoda (in 1976) and a Mediterranean Greenhouse (in 1986). The RBG also includes several large natural environmental areas and hiking trails.
As the park began to expand its boundaries into the Burlington area along Plains Road West and Hendrie Avenue, the park became a feature of Burlington’s history. This part of the RBG land was once owned by the Hendrie family who donated 122 acres. William Hendrie, the patriarch of the family, emigrated from Glasgow, Scotland to Hamilton where he established a successful business of hauling freight between the railway lines and the local wharves and ports (Burlington Historical Society 1997). The Hendrie family bred race horses and the donated land was previously part of the family horse breeding farm. Their horses were so successful that the family donated money from the horses’ winnings to the Hamilton General Hospital to build a new wing named for one of the horses, Martimas.
The contribution of the Hendrie family is commemorated with the ‘Hendrie Gates.’ The Hendrie family commissioned Frederick James Flatman to design the gates. Around this location is also a grave stone for Martimas who was “Winner of Futurity and other races. A good horse and a sire of good horses”.
Today, the RBG spans 2,422 acres that links the regions of Wentworth, Halton and the City of Hamilton (Visser & Irwin 1995). The RBG connects these regions by offering a recreational and educational platform where the communities can learn and play together.
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