The Royal Botanical Gardens span over 2,500 acres and link the regions of Wentworth, Halton and the City of Hamilton. In the style of Kew Gardens in London, England the Royal Botanical Gardens were meant to house and display a wide variety of local and exotic plants.
A National Historic Site, the RGB contains over 400 acres of floral displays and hundreds of acres of natural areas such as Cootes Paradise. This eco-sensitive wetland is a natural fish hatchery for Lake Ontario fish and a habitat for migrating birds.
Thomas Baker McQuesten, a lawyer and politician from Hamilton, Ontario, promoted the idea of a teaching garden in Hamilton. McQuesten served as an alderman between 1913 and 1920, and tirelessly promoted parks as Chairman of the Works Committee. In 1934 he was elected as a Liberal member of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario and represented the riding of Hamilton-Wentworth, serving concurrently as Minister of Highways (a position he held until 1943) and Minister of Public Works.
During his term in public office he was instrumental in the creation of the Royal Botanical Garden. Other projects that can be attributed to McQuesten are the rebuilding of Fort George in Niagara-on-the-Lake and the Niagara River Parkway along the Niagara River. Many of these projects were completed during the Depression years.
In 1931, George M. Hendrie donated 122 acres from his property known as Valley Farm to the city of Hamilton, with the intention of building a park in memory of his father, William and four of his brothers. The park would become known as Hendrie Park which would eventually become the beginning of the Royal Botanical Gardens.
The Hendrie farm was located where the old outlet of Cootes Paradise met the Bay. The Hendrie family was well known in the Hamilton area. The family had founded Hendrie Cartage in Hamilton. William Hendrie was one of the first farmers to raise Holdstein cattle in Wentworth County.
William Hendrie also had a passion for thoroughbred horses and had success with horses such as Martimas and Lyddite. Martimas, won The Futurity in New York in 1898, the premier race for two-year-olds in the United States. When Martimas died in 1916 he was buried at the Hendrie’s Valley Farm in Aldershot near Hamilton. Eventually the property would become part of the Royal Botanical Gardens. Located within the grounds of the Royal Botanical Gardens visitors can still find the grave of Martimas, William Hendrie's prized thoroughbred.
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