The beautiful English Garden in Assiniboine Park in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
A stroll along the winding paths of the English Garden in Winnipeg’s Assiniboine Park is a pleasant way to spend a summer morning or afternoon. Nearly three acres of flowers, shrubs, and trees are on display. The garden is indicative of the English Landscape style, a free-flowing style featuring irregular shapes, curved lines, and an openness to the surrounding landscape that became popular in the late eighteenth century.
The English Garden was established in the late 1920s. It was designed by landscape architect George Champion, Superintendent of the Parks Board. Over the years, each successive gardener has changed the garden to their tastes. Today, the informal garden contains evergreens and cedars, prairie grasses, Manitoba-bred roses, northern landscape plants, and many annual flowers.
A pool and garden with a fountain statue greet you at the entrance. Numerous copies of the Boy with the Boot statue were cast in Italy at the end of the nineteenth century. The Winnipeg statue was given to the city in 1897 by the Young People’s Christian Endeavour Society and the Trades and Labour Council to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. It stood in front of City Hall (along with a statue of Queen Victoria) until 1913 when it was moved to Assiniboine Park. In 1952 it was installed in the newly designed entrance to the English Garden. Since then, the bronze boot has been stolen numerous times by pranksters, but almost always turns up again and is remounted.
The Lady in the Park statue also sits at the entrance to the English Garden in Assiniboine Park, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. The statue sat for many years on Wellington Crescent at the home of Izzy and Babs Asper. During the winter months she sported a hat and scarf. The Asper family donated the statue in their memory.
The design of the pathways through the garden lend themselves naturally to one-way traffic patterns that are becoming the norm in these pandemic days. Signs throughout the garden point you in the right direction and advise you to keep right.
The fountain in the centre of the garden had originally been in the backyard of Babs and Israel Asper and was donated to the garden when their home was sold.
Benches throughout the garden, along the pathway, around the central fountain, and in the shady nook pictured above, offer opportunity to sit and enjoy the beauty around you. There are also a number of statues, many with connections to Winnipeg’s history. The weathered stonework in the above photo originally graced the façade of the Canadian Pacific Railway’s Royal Alexandria Hotel, considered one of the finest hotels in western Canada when it opened in 1906. The hotel was demolished in 1971. The stone piece was installed in the English Garden in 1990.
The statue of Queen Victoria in the above photograph was donated to the city in 1897 by the Young People’s Christian Endeavour Society to commemorate the Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. It was installed in the English Garden in 1967, Canada’s centennial year.
The English Garden is just one of several attractions in the 283 acres of Assiniboine Park. The land was purchased by the Winnipeg Public Parks Board in 1904 and the park officially opened in 1909, although it was in use before that. Today, you’ll find walking trails, wide open spaces, picnic spots, playing fields, a zoo, a sculpture garden, public art galleries, playgrounds, and an outdoor event stage.
As I walked through the garden, I sometimes wanted to know what a specific plant was, but there were no signage or labels anywhere. The garden is simply there for you to enjoy in the many colours and shapes of its plantings, the aromas of new blooms, grass, and trees, and the singing of the birds.
I will close with a few photos of plants within the garden.
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