This Week in History
Elsie Reford's Paradise
For the week of Monday January 16, 2006
On January 22, 1872, Elsie Meighen Reford was born in Perth, Ontario. She established the Jardins de Métis that line the shores of the Métis and St. Lawrence rivers on Quebec’s Gaspé Peninsula. In addition to introducing unique species to Canada, she perfected the art of gardening for 33 years.
Elsie discovered her passion for flowers in the greenhouse adjoining the house of her uncle George Stephen (Lord Mount Stephen), president of the Bank of Montreal and founder of Canadian Pacific in 1880. In the summer of 1902, George Stephen lent his favourite niece his salmon fishing lodge in Grand Métis. In 1918, she inherited it officially and expanded Villa Estevan, built in 1887, transforming it into a 37‑room resort residence.
She was in touch with the best Canadian horticulturists of the time, who shared their knowledge with her and helped her buy supplies. In addition to keeping a journal of her achievements, she published her experiments in various specialized publications and became a Canadian reference in the field. Elsie died on November 8, 1967, in Montréal.
The Jardins de Métis contain approximately 3,000 various species on more than 9 hectares of land arranged in an English style. The gardens enjoy a microclimate that lends itself to horticultural diversification unprecedented in Canada, for which they were designated a national historic site in 1995.
To learn more about the Jardins de Métis and how they evolved, visit the following Web site: http://collections.ic.gc.ca/metis/ .
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