Spread over Riverview's 244 acres, the tree collection is the second oldest collection in Canada - the first being the Experimental Farm in Ottawa. This is also one of the few places where people can see mature versions of different species of trees because the trees were allowed to grow in open spaces.
From 1917 to 2000, the trees were tended by three head gardeners: Jack Renton (1917-1947), Joe Hancock (1947-1980) and Bob Elsdon (1980-2000). The current day arboretum is the legacy of these dedicated men and the many patients who assisted them over the years.
“John Davidson started his work there almost a century ago. So many trees are in beautiful mature form that you generally won’t find. Usually ornamental trees have been cut back or trimmed; in Riverview, they’ve been left. After John Davidson left, it’s almost like a miracle happened. Gardeners who came to work on the land stayed for a long time and treated it like a life’s work.”
Val Adolph, Director Riverview Volunteer Association, 1990-94 and author of The Riverview Lands: Western Canada’s First Botanical Garden
Volunteers with the Burke Mountain Naturalists and the Riverview Horticultural Society restored Finnie's Garden in early 2000. It is a 2.5-acre garden high on the hill and often features in the work of local artists.
Gone are the dorm style wards seen at institutes such as Riverview. Now the facilities provide patients with private rooms and more home-like environment. Patients can participate in cooking, cleaning and other daily living activities. These facilities have strong links to the communities where they are located, making it easier for patients to live independently and re-integrate into the community.
The provincial agency, Accommodation and Real Estate Services (ARES) - formerly known as the British Columbia Building Corporation (BCBC) - owns and operates the Riverview lands. Once the health authorities have completed their planning and determined their facility needs and locations, ARES will be in a position to determine the long-term implications for the Riverview. (The report I am getting information from is a few years old and I will do more research when I am finished with the PDF.)
I hope you find the beauty around you.