• Danielle Wong
  • Wed Jun 13 2012
  • The bed where soldiers once stood

    Bed of red geraniums along York commemorates War of 1812

    Volunteers helped create a giant War of 1812 Peace Garden, which stretches along York Boulevard for 400 metres. There are 1,812 geraniums.

    War of 1812 gardenVolunteers helped create a giant War of 1812 Peace Garden, which stretches along York Boulevard for 400 metres. There are 1,812 geraniums.

    Scott Gardner/The Hamilton Spectator

    Two centuries ago, British troops set up defensive positions and barracks in the stretch of land between Cootes Paradise and Carroll’s Bay.

    Today, red geraniums stand in their place in a 400-metre garden within that area along York Boulevard near the McQuesten High-level Bridge as a reminder of a two-year war that shaped Canada’s national identity.

    The Royal Botanical Gardens’ (RBG) commemorative War of 1812 Bicentennial Peace Garden was planted over two days by volunteers. Access to the garden, which is one of the organization’s celebratory bicentennial programs, is free.

    TOPIC:The War of 1812

    The local patch is also part of the International Peace Gardens Trail, a cross-border network of gardens being formed around the Great Lakes region to mark the historic war, which was sparked June 18, 1812 when president James Madison and the United States Congress declared war on Great Britain.

    The RBG’s head of horticulture, Carlo Balistrieri, said the property where the garden has been planted was a staging ground for British troops during the war.

    “It was a very important piece of property and very strategic,” he said Tuesday. “Had they not stopped the advancing U.S. forces at Stoney Creek, the next step for those forces would have been that stretch of property, and then more and more of Canada.”

    Staff recently installed benches in the Peace Garden and plan to put up viewing scopes to observe Carroll’s Bay, downtown Hamilton, Hamilton Harbour and, on clear days, the Battlefield Monument in Stoney Creek, Balistrieri said.

    Volunteers from the Bank of Montreal (BMO) and Union Gas came out two days in early June and worked on the garden, whose main feature is the beds of red geraniums — the unofficial provincial symbol for the bicentennial — and a path for pedestrians.

    They let the turf grow out with native plants to resemble what the area may have looked like 200 years ago, Balistrieri said.

    “It’s kind of like a meadow at the moment — a grassy area. Beautiful when the wind ripples through it,” he said.

    BMO spokesperson Paul Gammal said about 20 of their volunteers planted 1,812 red geraniums in the rain as part of its North America-wide BMO Volunteer Day.

    The volunteering experience gave participating employees a chance to learn more about the RBG, he said. “It was an opportunity to also learn about something that’s terrific in our community that we all love.”

    Balistrieri said he hoped people visiting the garden would come away with an increased awareness of the land’s history.

    “All of this territory — everything we take for granted today — was paid for by what happened in the past.”

This entry was posted in CANADIAN NEWS AND EVENTS. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s