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Development of Early Botanical Gardens in Canada

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

Presenter:  David Galbraith

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 linked 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.

This presentation will be a  free Webinar.  There is no registration required.  A recording will be available for members only for 14 days after the presentation. 

Please consider supporting the future activities of the OHS though renewing your membership or joining for $15/yr, or though a donation.  

How to view the presentation

To join the presentation, please click on this You Tube link to go to the OHS You Tube Channel.   To simply watch the presentation there is nothing else you need to do.  The presentation will also be recorded and available at this link afterwards. The easiest way to find the channel is using the link; if you are on You Tube 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.

If you think you may want to ask a question

There will be a Q &A session at the end of the presentation when your questions submitted will be put to the speaker by the moderator.  There are two ways to ask your questions during the presentation:

  1. You can put your question in the live chat panel on the YouTube page while the presentation is running. To make a comment, you need to be registered and have a personal Youtube channel. Steps to do this are described below.
  2. If you don’t wish to register, you can still watch the video and can email a question during the presentation to  info@ottawahort.org

How to create a personal channel  


 Follow these instructions to create a channel that only you can manage using your Google Account. 

  1. Sign in to YouTube from a Google account on a computer or using the mobile site.
  2. Try any action that requires a channel, such as uploading a video, posting a comment, or creating a playlist.
  3. If you don’t yet have a channel, you’ll see a prompt to create a channel.
  4. Check the details (with your Google Account name and photo) and confirm to create your new channel.



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