By Colwyn Beynor, Hamilton Mountain historian
Many will remember back in August of 2011, I suggested to the city a viable plan to create a Horti – tectural Garden at Sam Lawrence Park to honour the memory of former Mayor Sam Lawrence and Controller Nora Francis Henderson, both of whom went far beyond the call of duty representing the people of Hamilton as members of the Board of Control in the 1940s and ’50s.
I chose Sam Lawrence Park not only because of its historic background but for its magnificent panoramic view of the city and the pristine blue waters of Lake Ontario beyond.
It was so important at one point in its colourful past that it had the distinction of having the great City Hall bell mounted in the look out park just west of the Jolley Cut.
Across the cut on sloping land was the huge mast of the “Eternal Flame” that ultimately became not so eternal and was dismantled as was the colourful cascade waterfall that once tumbled off the rim of the escarpment into a shallow reflecting pond that drew thousands for photographs. What remains is a rather useless four posted Gazebo marking the spot where the Mountain’s first water tower once stood
People who were not aware of the issue I brought before Councillor Brian McHattie initially, and Terry Whitehead, Scott Duvall and Tom Jackson, ask what in the heck is a Horti – tectural Garden? Simply put, it is a very special garden or series of gardens dedicated to artistically arranged remnants of stone architecture, removed from various historic buildings, gates, arches, and statues, blended well with cleverly designed flower beds, arbours and ponds, planned in such a way as to create a virtual Horticultural, Architectural Garden.
Whew! What a long sentence. I just gave away my excitement at the very thought of such a paradise on the brow. When I broached the subject to Brian McHattie over a year ago, I felt the strength of his approval immediately. He in turn conferred with “Art in the Parks people” who also showed great interest, going as far as to further excite me by stating that there was a $125,000.00 fund available to kick the project off.
Great stones are free, derelict aches and capitals are in storage, the Gage Park green house swells with countless horticultural jems, so why has there been nothing done to further investigate the feasibility of my idea? It all sort of flies in the face of me recently receiving the coveted Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for outstanding community service.
A great deal of the reason I was nominated for the medal was because of the many initiatives I have taken in this column for the good of the Mountain people, their historical and cultural needs.
It would appear that we on the Hill come second in the idea race, having read that a city councillor proposed recently that Floral Advertrising be sold along the Linc and the Red Hill Valley Parkway. That revenue generator, I guess is far more important to the community than immortalizing the memories of Sam and Nora.
I will now hold my breath waiting to hear from our reps at city hall!
Mountain historian Colwyn Beynon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.