What to do now - Garden-Inspired Travel

Five must-see gardens in Canada

A look at inspirational and influential historical gardens across the country.


By Sandra Phinney

Atlantic annals
There’s something magical about old gardens that links us back to our roots and history. One of my favourite haunts is the Halifax Public Gardens. The gardens were created in 1867 by the Nova Scotia Horticultural Society, which wanted to provide a peaceful retreat from the city and promote an interest in botany. It’s quite rare to have a formal Victorian public garden survive smack
in the centre of a bustling city. Today, a plethora of ducks, swans and birds add to the charm of the gardens, as well as several unique statues and fountains, some of which have historical significance, such as the nymph fountain, erected to honour Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897. For information call 902-490-3995 or visit halifaxpublicgardens.ca.

Another historic site that strikes my fancy is the Fortress of Louisbourg, located on Cape Breton Island, where one-quarter of the original buildings, gardens and streets have been reconstructed to reflect what they were like in the 1740s. A unique feature of this period is “mirror imaging,” where vegetable plots are replicated opposite each other (in reverse) and rows of vegetables are laid out in pleasing patterns. Although all the herbs and vegetables were grown for sustenance or medicinal purposes, the overriding principle was to create beauty. For information call 902-733-2844 or visit http://fortress.uccb.ns.ca.

In Newfoundland, you’ll find Bowring Park near downtown St. John’s. In 1911, Bowring Brothers Ltd. commemorated their centennial by donating a park to the community. Over the years it expanded to 200 acres and includes trails, bridges, fountains, ponds, gardens, a conservatory and recreational facilities.

The most popular monument is Peter Pan, commissioned by Sir Edgar R. Bowring in memory of his granddaughter who died at sea. Now, an annual Peter Pan Festival takes place at the park and is considered a highlight of the summer season in St. John’s. For information call 709-364-1331 or visit bowringpark.com.

Other great gardens to visit:

British Columbia




  • Maison des Jésuites de Sillery, Quebec City, 418-654-0259, maisondesjesuites.org
  • Domaine Joly-de Lotbinière, Ste-Croix, 418-926-2462, domainejoly.com 
  • Maison Chénier-Sauvé, Saint-Eustache, 450-473-0149, maisoncheniersauve.ca


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