Advanced Search 

Home - introductions to the site
Search - a searchable database of letters/essays/etc.
Genealogy - short biographical information of each family member
Photographs - various images pertaining to the McQuesten family
Thesis - essays on the McQuestens and lifewriting by Mary Anderson
Timelines - a chronological list of events in the McQuesten family and corresponding historical events

Search Results

Jul 21 2004 Wednesday,
From: Toronto, Ontario

There's no need to cross the Atlantic to savour Gardens with a storied past. Canada has an abundance of cultivated spaces, from the romatic, ruin-strewn grounds of a former prime minister to public gardens founded for the "health and cheerfulness" of ordinary citizens.
By Barbara Ramsay Orr


Whitehern, located near Hamilton's City Hall, is an urban estate that presents a very different style of garden than Elsie Reford's massive endeavour [Les Jardin de Metis]. The gardens here are walled, terraced and elegant.

These gardens surround the home, part Georgian, part Edwardian and part Victorian, where the McQuesten family lived from 1852 to 1968. The family was instrumental in such endeavours as the Royal Botanical Gardens in Hamilton, McMaster University and the building of the Queen Elizabeth Way. Whitehern is a national historic site, and the garden is home to many beautiful flowering plants, shrubs and a variety of trees, including several 150-year-old pear and apricot trees.

In the 1930's, the Misses Hilda and Mary McQuesten held a June tea for the Woman's Missionary Society.

Whitehern has revived the affair with its own version, featuring music, lemonade, tea and other period refreshments, as the kickoff for their warm weather program, "picnic in the Park," that will run on Wednesdays at Whitehern throughout the summer. Even without the tea, this is a lovely garden to visit.

Whitehern has been lovingly restored to the design created in the early 1930's by well-known landscape architect and founder of Sheridan Nurseries, Howard Dunnington-Grub [a husband and wife team].

When I visited, the head gardener was fussing about "the poppy incident." Apparently, an oversealous volunteer had mistaken the poppies for weeds and torn them out. There is a good chance that they will come up again next spring, but in case they don't, a friend of the gardens has volunteered the seeds from her poppies, which came from Flanders Field.2

1 We have included here only the article about Whitehern. The article also includes a large picture of Whitehern which will be scanned into this site. The article offers Garden Packages which include hotel accommodation and tours. The Whitehern tour is led by Kathy Renwald, a master gardener and host of HGTV's "Gardener's Journal." For more information, call 1-888-627-8161. The other package tours can be viewed at, and click on "Highbrow Heritage."

We might add here a note about the lifesize iron flowers that grace the top of the garden wall at the back of the garden: holly-hocks, sunflower, and?
They were made by Fred Flatman, the same iron-worker craftsman who made the Hendrie Gates at the RBG, and the Navy Hall Gates at Niagara.

Box 14-126 states:

"The wrought iron flowers set into the stone wall continued to decorate the gardens all year round. Fred Flatman, a local craftsman, had continued the garden's ornamental theme when he fashioned these unique objects of folk art without the use of a mould; instead he worked the metal with anvil and hammer, creating each leaf in a unique and totally distinct way."
See also: W-MCP7-1.111; W-MCP7-1.017; W-MCP7-1.145.

2 The Flanders Field connection is appropriate to Whitehern since Col. John McCrae the writer of the poem "In Flander's Fields" was a good friend of the McQuestens, see W4651.

Home | Search | Thesis | Family | Timelines
Photographs | Whitehern | Sitemap | Credits

Copyright 2002 Whitehern Historic House and Garden
The development of this website was directed by Mary Anderson, Ph.D. and Janelle Baldwin, M.A.
Please direct questions and comments to Mary Anderson, Ph.D.

Hamilton Public Library This site was created in partnership with and is hosted by the Hamilton Public Library. Canada's Digital Collections This digital collection was produced with financial assistance from Canada's Digital Collections initiative, Industry Canada.