From the Stacks: Garden Road Trip!

Growing up, I spent many summers at my family’s cottage in the Gatineau region of Québec. At least once every summer, my parents would take my brother and me to a beautiful heritage site located a short drive away. We would bring a lunch, and spend the day exploring the stately structures, and majestic, sprawling gardens on the property. This historic site is called Kingsmere, the Mackenzie King Estate. Located in Gatineau Park, Kingsmere was Prime Minster King’s own cottage, and it abounds with regal touches, rustic Canadian scenery and picturesque landscaping that includes artificial ruins. What I loved most about visiting Kingsmere was that I could imagine myself as a young William Lyon Mackenzie King, traipsing around the grounds and playing in the gardens or by the boat house.

Visiting gardens is a hobby and interest that many enjoy. We are lucky to have such a great variety of gardens to see to the east, west, north of us, and even in our own backyard. When it comes time for you to discover and choose which gardens to visit, the Weston Family Library can help, with its large collection of books and magazines on public, private, and historic gardens across Canada and the world. Here are a few titles to get you started.

The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada features 150 gardens from across the country with basic details of each listed attraction (e.g. open to the public, dogs allowed, food on-site, etc.). This is a great resource to help you plan a trip, or to get ideas of great gardens to show visitors when they come to town.

Another very neat title is The Real Garden Roadtrip, written by Elspeth Bradbury and Judy Maddocks. This is a light-hearted and charming account of two friends’ road trip across Canada “to find real gardens and real gardeners.” Its tone is relatable and its narrators/authors are extremely likable as they visit real people and their backyard gardens.

Elsie’s Paradise: The Reford Gardens is a terrific overview of the gardens in Grand-Metis, Québec. The Weston Family Library has several books on the Reford Gardens, each highlighting unique aspects of the property, gardens, and its history.

For more ideas, here are other resources organized by geographic area to inspire you to take a garden road trip this year:


  • Bradbury, Elspeth and J. Maddocks. The Real Garden Road Trip. Victoria, BC: Polestar, 1997.
    Call number: 712.7 B67
  • Hodgson, Larry. The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2001.
    Call number: 712.7 H57

British Columbia

  • Kramer, Pat. Gardens of British Columbia. Canmore, AB: Altitude Publishing Canada Ltd., 1998.
    Call number: 712.7 K67
  • Meikle, Marg, and D. McArthur. Garden City: Vancouver. Victoria, BC: Polestar, 1999.
    Call number: 712.7 M25


  • Jongerden, Harry. This Other Eden: The Gardens of the Stratford Festival of Canada. Woodstock, ON: Commercial Print-Craft Ltd., 2002.
    Call number: 712.7 J58
  • MacMillan, Margaret Olwen, et al. Canada’s House: Rideau Hall and the Invention of a Canadian Home. Toronto: Alfred A. Knopf Canada, 2004.
    Call number: 712.7 M11
  • van Ness, Anne Marie. Niagara in Bloom: The Gardens of the Niagara Parks Commission. Toronto: James Lorimer & Company Ltd., 2002.
    Call number: 712.7 V12
  • Seymour, Murray. Toronto’s Ravines: Walking the Hidden Country. Erin, ON: The Boston Mills Press, 2000.
    Call number: 917.13541044 Sey
  • The Storm Coalition (Comp.). Oak Ridges Moraine. Erin, ON: The Boston Mills Press, 1997.
    Call number: 917.135 Oak
  • Track, Norman S. Canada’s Royal Garden: Portraits and Reflections.Toronto: Penguin Books Canada Ltd., 1994.
    Call number: 712.7 T67


  • von Baeyer, Edwinna. Garden of Dreams: Kingsmere and Mackenzie King. Toronto: Dundurn Press, 1990.
    Call number: 712.7 V58
  • Bouchard, Andre. Le Jardin Botanique de Montreal: Equisse d’une histoire. Montreal: Fides, 1998.
    Call number: 712.7 B594
  • Cabot, Francis H. The Greater Perfection: The Story of the Gardens at Les Quatre Vents. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2001.
    Call number: 712.7 C11
  • Reford, Alexander. Elsie’s Paradise: The Reford Gardens. Montreal: Les Editions de L’Homme, 2004.
    Call number: 712.7 R24.2

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  • Liz Hood

    I loved visiting the Mackenzie King Estate on a recent visit to the Gatineaus. As I recall they put on a lovely high tea. Thanks for reminding me Zack!