History of Royal Botanical Gardens
For over 80 years Royal Botanical Gardens (RBG) has been an ecological jewel at the western tip of Lake Ontario. Conceived and founded through the tireless efforts of early conservationist Thomas Baker McQuesten, RBG lands were set aside to create the region’s first botanical garden. Patterned after Kew Gardens in England, RBG was created to serve as both a regional botanical tourism site and an environmental agency. In his book “Garden with a View”, former Executive Director Dr. Leslie Laking explains RBG’s unique role in society:
“Royal Botanical Gardens puts nature’s beauty on display, but it isn’t a park system. It teaches but it isn’t a school. It protects and preserves forest and marsh, but it isn’t a conservation authority. It collects and propagates botanical knowledge and plant life, but it is not a library, museum, or laboratory. It is all those things and more than their sum”.
Designated as a national historical site, RBG is revered world-wide for its extensive 400 acres of display gardens. What makes RBG unique is that it also protects and stewards over 2300 acres of environmentally sensitive lands and diverse ecosystems that connect the Niagara escarpment to Lake Ontario. In acknowledgement of this crucial environmental role, Royal Botanical Gardens was granted a provincial mandate in 1941 for the development of four areas of focus: Conservation, Education, Horticulture and Science. In the 70 years that followed, RBG has established a national and international reputation as a living laboratory for science, a connecting point for children in their early embrace of nature, a leader in sustainable gardening and the standard-bearer for ecological restoration and plant preservation.
In the face of devastating environmental threats world-wide, RBG is more relevant now than ever before. Its established and evolving environmental programs provide straight-forward, workable solutions designed to maintain sustainable biodiversity in Canada, for the world.