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Featured Stories

Here at RBG, we have members, donors and visitors who have had incredible positive experiences – whether it was from walking our trails, visiting one of the four Gardens, or attending an event.  RBG has touched the lives of many who have visited.

Below are stories from members, donors and visitors who have been impacted by RBG. Please have a read through some inspiring stories and hope to see you at the Gardens soon!

Joan and Gord Stevenson

Joan & Gordon, Georgetown, ON

Learn more about leaving a legacy at RBG.

Gardens have been a major part of our lives since early childhood. Royal Botanical Gardens therefore was a natural fit for us to continue our involvement with the outdoors and increase our love of plants, wildlife, and healthy living. We also derived much pleasure by sharing all of this with others. On our travels we have investigated many public and private gardens and made certain not to miss botanical gardens in such destinations as Victoria BC, St Louis Missouri and in Boston for the wedding of a family member.

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Being in the teaching profession constantly consolidated the essential commitments to the healthiest quality of life these botanical gardens instil in all generations but particularly in children. When the youth of any society is convinced of the benefits, fun and adventure associated with the outdoors, especially those of the RBG, that commitment will be a constant for a lifetime. Legacy giving makes all this possible for future generations.

Over many years with the expanded mandate of the RBG, we have been constant guests in all the seasons, at the special events curated for traditional family celebrations in each calendar year and the interactive exhibitions which bring fun, excitement, and knowledge to all generations.

When we became grandparents, it was decided that our grand daughter should be exposed to the RBG as early as possible. She began her relationship with the RBG just before her first Christmas at five months old. Watching her reactions to the botanical train exhibit and everything around her made us enjoy the spectacle as if for the first time. She is now six years old and has been a regular guest for hikes, exhibitions and dining many times. Her joy and pleasure were wonderful to observe. We are most proud of the sense of commitment we felt in watching the learning and development of our grand daughter. On another occasion, we were accompanied by a young neighbour who had tended our indoor plants while we were travelling. Once again feeling the excitement and wonder through his eyes made our experience even more worthwhile. A decision to make this possible for other younger children became important and compelled us to contribute monthly to the “Green Angels” initiative.

With our ever-changing world, we are aware of the necessity for a different and greater level of support in order to maintain the high quality of experiences we have grown to expect from the RBG. Monthly donations address a relevant and critical mandate, but estate planning creates a legacy for the future. Our conviction and respect for the youth of our society became starting points. Confidence in the mandate of the RBG to educate these younger citizens towards maintaining and bettering our environment followed. These steps resulted in making legacy giving an intelligent, comforting decision. The final step towards completing this decision came almost immediately after we dedicated a lilac in the Arboretum to our mothers and grandmothers of our two sons. The whole process was joyful, and we can walk there each Spring, stand beside our lilac, and experience the beautiful colours, scent, and the surroundings of the Arboretum in its entirety.

Janet Fraser standing with her family

Janet F., Mount Hope, ON
19-year RBG Member 

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Eighty years…congratulations RBG! I am honoured to have been a part of RBG for twenty plus years. I have lost count now of the years and when exactly my husband and I joined the RBG family. I know it was more than twenty years ago, because it was in summer 2001 that we went on an ecotour to Newfoundland, organized by RBG and led by John Hannah! Not only was the trip fun, educational and inspiring, but it was also life changing. We made friends, who we continue to see, and learned valuable lessons that only a visit to that rocky rugged coast could teach! 

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Another life-changing moment was listening to David Suzuki, at RBG around 1999. His talk, his passion and his books were so inspiring for me that I have never looked at our world the same. He signed his book ‘From Naked Ape to Super Species’ for me. When I asked how I could help, he looked me in the eye and said “just get involved”. I did. I became a David Suzuki Foundation supporter and read his books beginning with The Sacred Balance. From then on, life decisions have always been made with considerations for the environment.

RBG has always been, and continues to be, a great source of joy and learning about our plant world and wildlife. We regularly visit the gardens through all seasons. We have learned about so many plants and filled our gardens with many Royal Select plants. I have learned to watercolour paint and to make lovely arrangements for Christmas! We have visited the magical train displays at Christmas and visited Santa Clause with our grandchildren. We have enjoyed the scent of lilacs, roses, and irises and more while strolling around to music! 

We have happy memories of precious moments. Taking our elderly parents to see the tulips, rhododendrons, and lilacs on Mothers Day, is one of them, many years ago! I We have hiked the natural lands with our dog, and our grandchildren. We have seen frogs, turtles, deer and chipmunks and fed the chickadees. We have sat on logs, sat in trees and rode on trains. We have talked to goldfish and looked for salamanders. I can recall taking my three-year-old granddaughter for lunch at the Gardens Cafe after a visit to the lilac dell – just the two of us! She was treated like a princess with her chocolate milk in a beautiful, stemmed glass! We have played with fairies and were given fairy names! These precious moments in time are so meaningful to me and are what keep us returning year after year. 

One of the most precious moments was the first time we experienced the ‘Weekend of Magic and Mischief’ and two of our young grandchildren lined up to see the Fairy Godmother to receive their ‘Fairy Names’ on a little wooden disc. They not only wore them all day, but still have those little wooden name tags today! The magic was real in those days, and we returned to see the fairies for several more years, until one day they decided they were too big to go. We went anyways without them, with our dog who loves the gardens, but those sweet memories remain. Although our grandchildren are too big and busy now for the magic, we know in our hearts we have planted a seed that will bloom and grow and they will return to see the fairies with their own little ones some day.

Happy 80th Birthday RBG !! 💖 

young child

Norm M, Dundas ON
26 year RBG Member, Volunteer & Donor

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Royal Botanical Gardens has been connecting people, plants and places for eighty years; our family has been fortunate to have been enriched by it for over 65 of those years. In the mid-1950s, my mother registered me to be part of the Junior Gardeners’ program. It was held in Westdale, at the then Children’s Gardens, and started by the late Dr. Lesley Laking. I was part of Junior Gardeners for 4 years. During that time, there were two wonderful volunteers who, along with my mother’s guidance, introduced me to the wonders of nature and a love of gardening.  

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Hikes along Caleb’s Walk, with Mrs. Barr, and learning about the beauty and magic of woodland plants, through her stories of Dog Tooth Violets, Wood Ferns and Horsetails was exciting stuff, for me, as a ten-year-old boy. Marion Fair was the other amazing volunteer. She faithfully helped all the kids set up their garden plots. In those days, Dr. Laking was very precise on what plants should be grown, in what order they should be arranged in their garden plot, and how far apart each row should be from the next.

However, my best experience was meeting Cathy Campbell. Cathy’s parents were long time members and volunteers of RBG, and they brought their two girls from Dundas to Junior Gardeners. Cathy and I became fast friends, as did our families, and that friendship continued up to Cathy’s early death, 40 years later.

I remember Sunday afternoon drives, in the 1950s, to the Rock Garden, with my Mom and Dad. At that time, you could drive into the Rock Garden and park at the back of the lower bowl, and admission was free. In the 1950’s, RBG had a small annual budget and there was sufficient government funding. Years later, in August 1974, my wife and my wedding photos were taken beside a group of white birch trees in the lower bowl of the Rock Garden. That would have been near where my father use to park years before; by 1974, that former driveway was part of the paved walking path.

In the summer of 1991, my 12 year old son was presented with the Top Junior Gardener’s Award Trophy by Brian Holley. Two years later, my daughter was dressed in a bonnet and long dress with other girls, who were part of the Junior Gardeners, helping out at one of the early “Herb Fairs”. The summer my son was 16, he was able to get a summer job working at the Children’s Garden in Westdale. Like their dad, both my children have continued to enjoy gardening that was fostered by our experience with RBG.

Bloom festivals, in the spring and summer, have always been more than a one day outing for our family. From walks in the woods to see the spring ephemerals, the 180,000 tulips in the Rock Garden, to the roses and native plants in Hendrie Park, visits to “the Gardens” always made for a refreshing change from the daily work week. We also love RBG in the winter. The Mediterranean Garden is one of our favourite places, when the snow is 20 cm deep and the winds are howling.

After I retired, I became an RBG Auxiliary member. Over the past years, I have volunteered in a wide range of RGB volunteer activities, including with the Children’s Garden Program – now held in Hendrie Park. During that time, my wife and I have learned so many more things about gardening practises, plants, and the people who have interacted with plants. My RBG education has not only been gained from being an auxiliary member, but through the various courses and members’ programes that we have taken advantage of. However, like my childhood experience with Junior Gardeners, my life has been mainly enriched by meeting and working with the amazing staff and other volunteers, which make up Royal Botanical Gardens, who love plants and the environment. Our Royal Botanical Gardens membership has been a big part of my whole life and that of my family. I hope this will continue to be, for many years to come.

Donor Profiles

As conservation leaders, botanical gardens around the world work to identify and address critical threats to ecosystems. We also act as trusted science educators able to share best practices in sustainability with audiences of all ages and skill levels.

Here’s what RBG means to some local donors, employees and volunteers

By supporting Royal Botanical Gardens, you give the children of today and tomorrow the gift of nature. Learn more about how your donations are supporting RBG’s mission-based initiatives.

Contact the Development Team

Do you have a question about donating to Royal Botanical Gardens, or are you interested in setting up an estate gift? Fill out the form below and a member of our team will get back to you.