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Montréal Botanical Garden National Historic Site of Canada

4101 Sherbrooke Street East, Montréal, Quebec, Canada

Formally Recognized: 2008/04/11

General view of Montréal Botanical Garden National Historic Site of Canada, showing the First-Nations garden, 2006.; Parks Canada Agency/Agence Parcs Canada, Nathalie Clerk, 2006.
General view of Montréal Botanical Garden.
General view of the Montréal Botanical Garden National Historic Site of Canada, showing the naturalistic, modern Japanese Garden, 2006.; Parks Canada Agency/Agence Parcs Canada, Nathalie Clerk, 2006.
General view of the Montréal Botanical Garden.
General view of Montréal Botanical Garden National Historic Site of Canada, showing the oldest section of the garden, 2006.; Parks Canada Agency/Agence Parcs Canada, Nathalie Clerk, 2006.
General view of Montréal Botanical Garden.

Other Name(s)

Montréal Botanical Garden National Historic Site of Canada
Montréal Botanical Garden
Jardin botanique de Montréal

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1931/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2010/03/31

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

Montréal Botanical Garden National Historic Site of Canada is a botanical garden built in the 20th century, which now occupies a square plot of land of 75 hectares in eastern Montréal, Quebec. It consists of a cultural landscape of formal and picturesque character comprising some thirty thematic gardens, about ten exhibition greenhouses, an arboretum and an “H” shaped administrative pavilion conceived in the Beaux-Arts and Art Deco styles. Official recognition refers to the legal limits of the Montréal Botanical Garden.

Heritage Value

Montréal Botanical Garden was designated a national historic site of Canada in 2007 for the following reasons:
-it is one of the most important botanical gardens in the world by virtue of the extent of its collections and facilities, such as its 22,000 plant species and cultivars, ten large exhibition greenhouses, thirty thematic gardens and vast Arboretum;
-from the outset in 1931, Brother Marie-Victorin, the scientist and botanist who spearheaded this ambitious project, and Henri Teuscher, the landscape architect who created the plan and set out its broader directions, aimed to create an ideal botanical garden, which it continues to be perpetuated in its strong aesthetic qualities, scientific vocation and educational and social functions;
-the wealth and diversity of its collections devoted to research, conservation, presentation and educational purposes illustrate clearly the mission that is specific to botanical gardens.

The heritage value of the Montréal Botanical Garden lies in its close association with Brother Marie-Victorin, designated a national historic person, the man who instigated the project. The garden is one of his numerous achievements, realized at a time when he was one of the prominent figures in an emerging Canadian scientific movement, making a name for himself through his innovative approach to botany. The Montréal Botanical Garden was conceived in collaboration with Henry Teuscher, the horticulturist, botanist and landscape architect who designed the original garden plans. Many original features of the garden have been preserved; it has evolved harmoniously over time, remaining a steadfast representation of the primary intentions of the designer.

The main functions of the modern botanical gardens are research, conservation, presentation and education, which the Montréal Botanical Garden has adhered to since its conception in 1931 and opening to the public in 1936. In 1938, Brother Marie-Victorian founded L’École d’apprentissage horticole and reserved a part of the Montréal Botanical Gardens for young scholars and researchers. In addition to its sustainability, the scientific and aesthetic values of the venue lie in its scope, comprehensiveness and complexity, and the quality of its facilities. The rarity of the garden is also notable, since it is one of the principal botanical gardens in the world. The aesthetic experience is based amongst other things, on the beauty of the venue as a whole, including the spectrum of colours of vegetation, the diversity of arrangements and forms, and the contrasts as well as harmony existing between each installation.

Sources: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, July 2007.

Character-Defining Elements

The key elements that contribute to the heritage character of this site include:
- its location in an urban environment in east Montréal, Quebec;
- its rare and extensive collections, which make it one of the most important gardens in the world and which include the Rose Garden, with more than 10,000 rose specimens, some dating from before 1867; the orchid collection, with 3,000 specimens of species and of hybrids; the Nordic rhododendron collection; the alpine plant collection, with 4,000 species and cultivars; the Arboretum, with 45 collections covering 40 hectares; the bonsai and penjing collections; and the Marie-Victorin Herbarium, containing specimens that represent 99% of all of the plants in Quebec;
- the aesthetic appeal of its collections, which compel guests to look, touch and smell the plants, particularly in the Courtyard of the Senses;
- the visual quality of the gardens, demonstrated by their variety and colours, particularly in the Rose Garden; the Leslie Hancock Garden of rhododendrons and azaleas; the lilac garden with its 3,000 bushes; and gardens that have a natural, simple, familiar beauty, such as the ponds, Youth Gardens and First-Nations Garden;
- the foreignness and novelty of the designs, as conveyed by the size, shape and uncommon beauty of the exotic plants and trees, such as those in the exhibition greenhouses and the Alpine Garden, Chinese Garden and Japanese Garden;
- the garden elements, such as walls, tree wells, basins and water features that contribute to the distinctive design and ambience of each garden, especially the Reception Gardens, exhibition gardens and Aquatic Garden;
- the Beaux-Arts style particularly apparent in the gardens’ symmetry and immensity; the orderly, balanced façades of the administration building; and the design of the Reception Gardens, exhibition gardens and Aquatic Garden, with their symmetrical axes and characteristic landscaping elements;
- the Art Deco style particularly evident in the use of limestone, bricks embellished with decorative elements such as zigzags, herring bone motifs, bas-reliefs, urns and medallions on the administration building; and the octagonal and cascading basins of the Reception Gardens;
- allusions to the natural heritage of Quebec and Canada, including basins adorned by medallions carved with images of beavers, herons, maple leaves and pinecones;
- the spirit of the English Picturesque movement, as reflected in the informal character of the romantic landscaping and the undulating lines of the Rose Garden and Flowery Brook garden, for example, or in the natural character of the Arboretum, Youth Garden, Alpine Garden and First-Nations Garden;
- stylistic influences from other cultures, as seen in the Ming Dynasty private-style Chinese Garden and the naturalistic, modern Japanese Garden;
- elements demonstrating the integrity of the site, including the maintenance of its functions and limits;
- key elements preserved from Teuscher’s original plan that reflect his vision and have ensured the perpetuity of the Botanical Garden, including its overall structure; its main boundaries; the use of the space; the location of several major components; the maintenance of the sequence of the front gates, the Reception Gardens, administration building, greenhouses and services; and certain gardens, such as the Reception Gardens, exhibition gardens, Aquatic Garden, Alpine Garden, Japanese Garden, rhododendron garden, English garden, Native Medicinal Plant Garden, Chinese Garden, and Courtyard of the Senses;
- the buildings that convey the site’s function, namely, the administration building, which houses the laboratories and Reception Centre; the many greenhouses, including the service greenhouses (1930s) and exhibition greenhouses (post-1956); and the adjacent facilities, such as the heating plant and garages.

Recognition

Jurisdiction

Federal

Recognition Authority

Government of Canada

Recognition Statute

Historic Sites and Monuments Act

Recognition Type

National Historic Site of Canada

Recognition Date

2008/04/11

Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

1936/01/01 to 1936/01/01

Theme - Category and Type

Building Social and Community Life
Education and Social Well-Being
Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Architecture and Design
Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Science

Function - Category and Type

Current

Leisure
Park

Historic

Health and Research
Research Facility

Architect / Designer

Henri Teuscher

Builder

n/a

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

National Historic Sites Directorate, Documentation Centre, 5th Floor, Room 89, 25 Eddy Street, Gatineau, Quebec

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier

11845

Status

Published

Related Places

n/a

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