In celebration of the Vancouver’s 125th Anniversary, the Heritage Vancouver Foundation is celebrating 125 Places that Matter within our fine city. The public nominated sites are to commemorate the people, places and events that are shaping Vancouver’s future and continue to tell the stories of Vancouver’s past. After public voting and site selection committee meetings, the final sites were chosen.
Left to right: Karen Russell, Vancouver Heritage Foundation; John Coupar, past President, Friends of the Bloedel; Sarah Blyth, Commissioner Vancouver Park Board; Vicky Earle, President, Friends of the Bloedel
On December 15th, amid the festive Jewel Box of Lights, the Friends of the Bloedel were thrilled to be presented with the Places that Matter plaque #47. Harry Jongerden, Garden Director MC’ed the event. Minister of Health, the Honorable Margaret MacDiarmid and Park Board Commissioner Sarah Blyth both shared their thoughts about the importance of our tropical Conservatory to the citizens of Vancouver and how fortunate we are to have this oasis in our city.
Vicky Earle, President of Friends of the Bloedel, spoke of the inspiration the Conservatory provides to all visitors, paid homage to visionary and philanthropist Prentice Bloedel, and shared with the group why the Conservatory is considered a healing garden. “The Bloedel Conservatory engages our senses and gives us reprieve from daily stress all year round. Visitors have shared their stories with me first hand. For example, cancer patients come here to recharge and regroup after radiation treatments; children with cerebral palsy and sensory overload issues come here because it is a safe and soothing haven; and it has helped a woman experiencing late onset blindness, who was depressed, bitter and fearful of the world outside her home … overcome her fear and anxiety and move more confidently in the world after a single visit. These stories to me are amazing and truly show that the Bloedel Conservatory is a Place that Matters in our community!”
photo by D Sharon Pruitt
John Coupar, past President of the Friends of Bloedel and Vancouver Park Board Commissioner, paid tribute to his father Charles Coupar who was the first Garden Director at the Conservatory and who helped plan and shape this iconic building into what it is today. John, then 13 years old, watched the Conservatory as it was built under the careful direction of Deputy Superintendent Bill Livingstone and Park Board Superintendent Stuart Lefeaux. He vividly remembers opening day back on December 6, 1969 – just 4 months after man landed on the moon. “I remember watching the dome’s construction ….first concrete… steel and aluminum followed by acrylic panels then finally the wonderment of Nature appeared. In that first year, more than 500,000 people visited and I witnessed a proud city which embraced nature and welcomed visitors to this special place.”
Bloedel Conservatory under construction. Photo courtesy the Coupar family
Attendees at the ceremony included Park Board Commissioner Melissa DeGenova, former Vancouver City Councillor and Park Board Commissioner May Brown, former Vancouver City Councillor Marguerite Ford, former Park Board Commissioner Bill McCreery, former Park Board Commissioner Christopher Richardson and very special guest Stafford Buswell who was a long serving past Garden Director at the Bloedel Conservatory. Thank you all for coming out to this special day!
Harry Jongerden, Garden Director will soon install the Places that Matter plaque at the Conservatory for all to see!
In the meantime, don’t forget to visit the spectacular Jewel Box of Lights illuminating the Conservatory for the holidays! It is truly enchanting with twinkling waterfalls of light and magical lasers. Only the festive colours of the parrots can outshine the light show! Hope to see you there!