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Reford Gardens Mark the End of a Special Season of Celebrations
by Alexander Reford
November 12, 2012

Reford Gardens (Les Jardins de Métis) completed their 50th season with an exceptional program, a magnificent summer and a series of special events from June through September. The summer began with the news that the government of Quebec intends to designate the gardens and its historic buildings. And it ended with the re-construction of the sculpture Mirage (Delta de Metis) by land artist Bill Vazan that will greet visitors when they arrive at the gardens next summer.

More than 56,000 visitors visited the gardens this summer and hundreds of thousands explored garden installations by the International Garden Festival in Toronto, Montréal and London, where Floating Forest by NIPpaysage was shown at the inaugural edition of Chelsea Fringe.

In the coming months we will begin work on two major capital projects to restore and protect our two 1887 buildings. The guardian’s house will be completely renovation and brought up to code to house our administrative offices and documentation centre. And Estevan Lodge will be given a state of the art fire protection and sprinkler system. These projects will be a lasting legacy of our anniversary year and our ongoing commitment to preserve our heritage buildings. Our partners for these projects are: the Ministère de la Culture et des Communications, Parks Canada National Historic Sites Shared Cost Program, Caisse Desjardins de Mont-Joli, Investissement Québec and the Conférence régionale des éluEs du Bas-Saint-Laurent. The Fondation Hydro-Québec pour l’environnement, the Pacte rural de La Mitis and the Programme de mise en valeur des ressources du milieu forestier Volet II are partnering with the gardens to build a new pathway along the Mitis River, the first in a series of initiatives to prepare for the future regional park.

The summer of 2012 was a special one for the Gardens. The centrepiece of our celebrations was on June 24, when more than 2,400 local residents took part in the events to mark the opening of the gardens to the public. The gardens opened for the first time fifty years ago on June 24, 1962. Since then, more than 5 million visitors from Québec and around the world have marveled at the beauty of the gardens and historic buildings and the horticultural talents of the creator of the gardens, Elsie Reford.

Throughout the summer the Gardens offered a popular program of special events that included 8 literary teas, 12 musical brunchs, 4 culinary events, the special anniversary screening of La grenouille et la baleine and the two memorable performances of Qualia by Les 7 doigts de la main. More than 100 artists performed at the gardens to the delight of over 10,000 visitors who attended our special events, confirming the special role played by the gardens as a cultural space where creativity and innovation are celebrated and where artists and authors from throughout Quebec can perform and showcase their talents.

Our 2012 program of exhibitions highlighted the art of portraiture, with New Faces, portraits from the Canada Council Art Bank and Portrait of a Family, portraits of members of the Reford family by artists from Canada and England. We also exhibited two new works by local artists Gauthier Leclerc and Marie-Claude Hamel, as well as five sculptures on loan from the Canada Council Art Bank.

This year’s International Garden Festival thrilled visitors who played on our installations in Metis, Montréal, Toronto and London. For the 13th edition, we welcomed designers from across Canada and from Australia, France, Germany and the United States. The Festival also presented Surface Deep by Harvard designers David Mah and Leire Ascensio at Canada Blooms in Toronto, Tisse Métis Égal by Plux5 on the Place de la Dauversière in Montréal and Floating Forest by NIPpaysage in London in May as part of the inaugural edition of Chelsea Fringe.

We wish to thank the following partners for their support in our program of cultural events and activities: Canada Council for the Arts, Canadian Heritage, Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec, ministère de la Culture et des Communications, ministère du Tourisme, Fonds culturel mitissien, Heritage Lower Saint Lawrence, Carrefour de la littérature, des arts et de la culture, Les 7 doigts de la main, Eléphant-mémoire du cinéma québécois, Concert aux îles du Bic, Festi jazz international de Rimouski and our sponsors: SAQ, Fédération des caisses Desjardins du Bas-Saint-Laurent, IGA Alimentation de la Mitis, MacDougall, MacDougall & MacTier Inc., Miellerie Tête en Fleurs, Pépinière Charlevoix and Premier Horticulture. Hydro-Québec has been the lead partner of Les Jardins de Métis and its environmental initiatives since 1999 and presented The Right Tree in the Right Place Garden again this summer.

The 2013 season will offer a range of activities, old and new, beginning with our annual winter visit in March, and a program that will include live theatre, music, exhibitions and culinary events from May through October. The Gardens open for their 51st season on Saturday, June 1.

Consult www.refordgardens.com for further information.

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