The birth of a great garden
There was talk of creating a large botanical garden in Montréal in the mid-19th century, but it wasn’t until the 1920s when the idea took hold in the mind of a young botany teacher, Brother Marie-Victorin.
Despite the Great Depression, municipal elections and the Second World War, the project managed to take root and develop, nourished by the passion of Brother Marie-Victorin and the man who would become the Garden’s chief horticulturalist, Henry Teuscher. Their work took shape over the years with the official founding of the Garden (1931), design of the administration building and reception gardens (1936 to 1939) and construction of the exhibition greenhouses (which opened in 1956).
With the help of economic conditions and a growing interest in the environment, the Jardin botanique really began to come into its own in the 1970s. It began its research activities, and the success of the Floralies international flower show in 1980 opened the Garden up to the world. Many impressive achievements took place in these years: the renovation of the greenhouses, new facilities, increased collaboration with the Université de Montréal, the creation of societies and social clubs and the development of an ornamental horticulture professional training program.
During this period, the Jardin botanique rose to the rank it enjoys today among the world’s great gardens, thanks to a number of major projects: the Arboretum, the Rose Garden, the Japanese Garden, the Insectarium and the Chinese Garden. Since then, development has not slowed down, as evidenced by the new Reception Centre, the Molson Hospitality Greenhouse, the Frédéric Back Tree Pavilion and the First Nations Garden, all of which opened after 1995.
Although the Jardin botanique de Montréal is the result of Brother Marie-Victorin’s determination and persistence, we often forget that Henry Teuscher’s vision made it a physical reality. These two dedicated partners shared the ups and downs of the Jardin botanique’s creation.
In 2010, the Jardin botanique lost another of its great collaborators, André Bouchard, a key figure of the institution in the lineage of Brother Marie-Victorin et d’Henry Teuscher.
Bouchard, André, (with) Francine Hoffman, Le Jardin botanique de Montréal : Esquisse d'une histoire. Fides, Montréal, 1998, 111 p.
Available for consultation on site at the Library of the Jardin botanique de Montréal.
Teuscher, Henry, Programme d'un jardin botanique idéal. (In French) Jardin botanique de Montréal, Montréal. 1940, 33 p. (Mémoires du Jardin botanique de Montréal, no 1 - édition française)