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A Series of five Hamilton newspaper clippings complimenting Hamilton Parks system and the Board, in 1930 & 1931, [some undated] mentioning T. B. McQuesten and C. V. Langs. See Footnote for comments on the "City Beautiful" and "Social Gospel" movements. Also see footnote 4 for FLASHBACK in Hamilton Spectator of June 23, 2012, noting that T.B. McQuesten favoured banning auto traffic from Gage Park.

May 20 1930 [some estimated dates, 1927 to 1931]
To: Whitehern Archives Hamilton, Ontario
From: Hamilton Herald &/or Hamilton Spectator


(No Date or credit line, likely 1927 dated by context)

Members of the parks board, who give generously of their time and talents, without remuneration, to the public service, must, feel, at times that theirs is a thankless task. The critics in the city council chamber swung into action again last night, with their peashooters trained on the parks board, and, among other things, called for the abolition of that independent body. As might be expected, the aldermen whose record of distinguished service is almost a blank page were the most abusive. The public, fortunately, has the happy knack of seeing these petty little flare-ups in their proper perspective and repeatedly the taxpayers have expressed at the polls their confidence in the gentlemen who administer our parks, it being a matter of record that, almost without exception, every parks by-law in the last five years has been endorsed. 1 One doesn't need a particularly long memory to recall the time when Hamilton's park system scarcely justified the name. The need of an administration with a forward look was recognized and Hamilton was fortunate, indeed, when Mr. T. B. McQuesten and Mr. C. V. Langs, to name but two of the parks governors, were prevailed upon to accept seats on the board. The parks board, as it is at present constituted, is not infallible, nor has it any right to expect that it should be immune from criticism, but it has a record of achievement to its credit that will stand comparison with anything its carping critics have to offer. It is a fact that its expenditures, at times, exceed its statutory mill rate appropriations, but the public appreciates that this board is building for the future, with the vision of the Greater Hamilton that is to be. Hamilton's parks were never so popular as they are to-day. Instead of being patronized only a few months of the year, they are now year-long playgrounds and recreation spots. Hamilton is proud of the athletic achievements of its boys and girls, but without the co-operation of the parks board, those achievements would not have been possible. One becomes faint at the thought of what might happen to our parks system if control of it passed into the hands of the board's critics, the aldermen, for instance, who tossed the harpoons around with such reckless abandon last evening. There is little likelihood of the public being asked in December to vote on a by-law to abolish the parks board and make the city council responsible for the administration of the parks system, but, if the question was put, the verdict, we have no doubt, would be a ringing vote of confidence.



(no date, or credit line, dated by context, likely 1927)

Last night the City Council joined issue with the Parks Board over the purchase of the property arranged for when the Stewart Park property was sold to the city. The City Council has a weakness for interfering with the bodies to which authority has been delegated, and while it is quite true that supervisory attention and regulation are to be expected from Council, it is too evident that there are other reasons behind much of the interference that arises from time to time.

The work of the Parks Board is essentially of a character that the vote-catching aldermen should be dissociated from. The Parks Board is expected to consider the city not from a twelve-months' point of view-- "not for an age, but for all time," one might well say. Parks are not a luxury but a necessity for a city, and they cannot in the nature of things be left to the time when they become necessary.

Does one suppose that Prince's Square if it had to be provided now, could by any imaginable process be obtained for the city if the aldermen had to be persuaded to buy it at its present value. Does anyone fancy that The Gore could be obtained for the city now, if it had been built over with solid warehouses and office buildings and some one proposed that a park should be established in the center of the city? What would the aldermen say? They would give their usual two-by-four exhibition and the scheme would be throttled as they hope to throttle the East End park scheme.

It takes long-sighted people to deal with park proposals, and when Ald. Brooks gets up and proposes the abolition of the Parks Board because he cannot get his own way we have a characteristic aldermanic performance. The Mayor spoke of the Parks Board "forcing" the City Council to agree to the plan which had been worked out. This is scarcely the idea behind the policy of a Parks Board. It is well-known what the Parks Board had in mind when the City agreed to take the Stewart Park property at an agreed price.

It appears that this arrangement was all open and above board and that no "graft" was involved or possible. The Parks Board has been singularly free from even the suggestion of such a thing.2 It remained for some aldermen to circulate rumours that there had been "graft" in connection with the Rosedale-Albion lands purchase. One statement was that a land-owner had expected to sell his property which he held at $15,000, for $25,000. "Graft" insinuated the whisperers. But the property in question is held under option by the Parks Board for $15,000. What have the whisperers to say about that? And what have they to say about anything in the matter, if they will speak out openly and above board, instead of whispering behind doors.

All who examined the property believe that for park purposes and considering the growth and expansion of the City, it cannot be bettered for the price. Moreover the financing of the deal has been remarkably well taken care of. An arrangement has been made with the Federal Government for the use of part of the property as a rifle range, the rent of which will take care of the greater part of the liability. Nothing could be more favourable for the City than this arrangement. Not only does it give the City a Park which will be badly needed in future, but it provides our local regiment with a rifle range which they now have to visit the Long Branch ranges to parallel, paying their railway fare to do so. The military men and the sportsmen of the city will have something to say at the next election to these brash aldermen who want to sell some other property, and cannot bear to see money flowing in any channel they have not chosen.

It is not to be forgotten that the City Council had already agreed to all the arrangements which Parks Board has undertaken and the options were only taken up when the City Council agreed to them.

The abolition of the Parks Board will not abolish the liability of the City Council, and this is a matter which the aldermen would carefully consider. Will they be able to put through the Rifle Range plan without the Parks Board? Controller Bell supposed that he would be dead and forgotten long before the City grew out to a place near Niagara Falls. That is like Controller Bell. He has little faith in Hamilton, and is given to exaggeration. The new Park property is as far from Niagara as Controller Bell is off in his judgement, and that is some way.

The Parks Board has gone to infinite trouble and pains to procure a piece of property for the City which will increase in value yearly, which is exactly what is wanted at present for military purposes, and which in years to come will be regarded as one of the best bargains the city has made. We can not expect aldermen [?] are intent upon votes for next [Dec?] [?] to see the whole of any issue, but they may find out that there are a lot of votes on the side of the Parks Board also. The city is not without long distance thinkers who know where the real interests of the city lie.


Is Only One in Canada Permitted to So Call Parks
OFFER OF LAND Bathing Beach Committee to Take Up R.H.Y.C. Proposal

[Herald, May 21, 1930]

Members of the parks board were much gratified last night when they were informed that a letter from the under-secretary of state for foreign affairs at Ottawa stated that the King had given his permission to use the word "Royal" in connection with the botanical gardens the board is developing in Westdale, at McMaster university, and at the northwest entrance.

The Hamilton board is the only one in Canada thus honoured and it will call the parks system in the western part of the city the Royal Botanical Gardens.3

The members of the board say they have every kind of exposure and every variety of soil for the effective display and growth of all kinds of flowers, shrubs and trees that may be grown in this part of Canada. Much beautification work has already been done, and when the plan is completed Hamilton will have one of the most beautiful park systems in Canada.



Herald, May 20, 1930

Hamilton has the good fortune, under our excellent Parks Committee, to be the second city in Ontario to have a real Botanic Garden laid out as part of its civic activities. Moreover, this fine project is to be distinguished by the title of the Royal Botanic Gardens of Hamilton, an honor which has been graciously permitted by the crown. The Gardens are to occupy the fine site covering 400 acres in Westdale, six times as big as the Ottawa Gardens, and as this property connects with the adjacent South shore of Coot's [Coote's] Paradise and the beautiful expanse of water to be seen from the highway western entrance, there is no reason why in time it should not become one of the finest gardens in the world. Besides the 65-acre Gardens and arboretum at Ottawa there is [are] only a few Botanic Gardens of any note in Canada at present and they are somewhat limited in extent though charmingly maintained by the city of Halifax, and by Vancouver.

Gardens of this kind are not merely for show and pleasure but are of the highest scientific value. The first botanic gardens were established at Padua in 1545 and another afterwards at Pisa. That at Leiden dates from 1577, and that at Leipzig from 1579. Gardens are also laid out at Florence and Bologna. The Montpellier Garden was founded in 1592, that at Geissen in 1605, at Strassburg in 1620, Altdorf in 1625, Jena 1629, the Jardin des Plantes at Paris in 1626; the Upsala Gardens in 1627, the Royal Botanic Gardens at Oxford at 1632, the Royal Botanic Gardens at Edinburgh by Andrew Balfour and Sir Robert Sibbald in 1670, and the great Kew Gardens in London about 1730, when Frederick, Prince of Wales, obtained a long lease from the Capel family of Kew House. After his death in 1751 his widow, Princess Augusta, showed great interest in their development, and in 1759 engaged William Alton to establish a Physic Garden. The garden of the Royal Dublin Society of Glasnevin was opened about 1796, that of Trinity College, Dublin, in 1807; the Royal Botanic Gadens of Glasgow in 1818. The Madrid Gardens date from 1763, and those of Coimbra from 1773.

It will be seen therefore that Gardens in the modern sense are comparatively recent in creation, and that their scientific purpose has been kept in view along with their natural aesthetic interest. For a good many years Toronto has had in mind a design for a botanic garden in connection with the Provincial University, but nothing has been done. Hamilton, therefore, as perhaps is fitting, in connection with the Scottish associations, is taking the lead in this respect, for the Scots gardeners are the greatest in the world.

The climate of Hamilton is singularly well adapted to the development of a botanical garden, and in due time an arboretum may be added to the design. In connection with McMaster University, the existence of a Botanical Garden will be of real scientific value to the students. There are, of course, climatic limitations to every country and district, and while, for example, we may not be able to cultivate certain varieties of plants that flourish in Vancouver, there is probably no part of Canada besides in which such a wide range of plants can be acclimatized and keep in perfection as in Hamilton.

Those who are familiar with Francis Bacon's essay on gardens, beginning, "God Almighty first planted a garden," will rejoice to think that something of his design may be realized here, and the universal love of flowers will find satisfaction in the beauty of such collections, but flowers are not so much the object of a Botanic garden as of a park or public garden, and these we have in great richness. The value of plants consists in other qualities than the beauty of their flowers, and it is this scientific study that of course is promoted by a properly constituted botanical garden.


Attracted Thousands of Visitors Over the Week-End June 1, 1931 [date estimated by context]

Attracted by the early summer beauties, large throngs of people visited Hamilton's parks yesterday. To-day, Fred Marshall, parks board superintendent, was deluged with flattering comment over the manner in which developments have been carried out. From the tone of some of the voluntary statements made to the superintendent, it would seem that one must go far afield in order to find better kept and more expertly arranged floral displays than exist in Hamilton parks.

Gage Park4 located as it is on the route to Niagara Falls, attracted many hundreds of visitors, tourists from the United States over the week-end, and it was from some of those visitors that tributes came in the morning mail. At the present time, the display of lilacs at the park is one of the outstanding features.

While the recognized beauty spot came in for a lot of attention, the sunken garden at McMaster University5 and the rock garden at the northwest entrance to the city [Royal Botanic Gardens], each created its share of attention and enthusiasm. On both Saturday and yesterday scores of automobiles were to be found parked close to either place while their passengers went into raptures over the beauties enfolded before their eyes. The rock garden, Mr. Marshall explained, is not now at its best. He anticipated that within a fortnight, its tangled growth of bloom would be at its height of perfection.


1 This article is dated by fact that T.B. McQuesten became Chairman of the Parks Board in 1922. Dr. L. Laking said of Tom that "he was both founder and first president of the RBG" (W8703). G. Minnes, Whitehern historian states: "[T. B. McQuesten] served as Chairman of the Works Committee for 25 years, contributing to the development of the modern Hamilton Parks System which, at his time, was responsible for acquiring and developing 2,500 acres of land to create:
Royal Botanical Gardens (RBG)
North-West Entrance of the City of Hamilton [including the High Level Bridge, now the T. B. McQuesten High Level Bridge].
McMaster University Campus [he also was instrumental in bringing McMaster University to Hamilton from Toronto]
Kings Forest Park
Present Mountain Facelands
Chedoke Civic Golf Course
Gage Park
Crerar Park
Bruce Park
Inch Park

In 1941, as Minister of Highways, he had a bill passed through the Ontario Legislature to give the RBG complete independence from the Board.

In 1934 Tom was appointed Minister of Highways in Mitchell Hepburn's new cabinet. . . and he laid the foundations of one of the best highway systems in Canada which included:
the Queen Elizabeth Highway. . . the East & West entrances to Toronto, Northern Ontario Road System, the Rainbow Bridge, Ivy Lea Bridge, Blue Water Bridge, and other bridges in Ontario. He also commissioned the rebuilding of historic forts in Ontario and the renovations at the Joseph Brant Museum in Burlington. (Minnes 3, 4).

Thomas B. McQuesten had many collaborators in his work, including his law partner, C. V. Langs, architect John Lyle, Noulan Cauchon, the Dunnington-Grubbs, Matt Broman, and many others. He was quick to give credit to these collaborators and often took the secondary role and preferred to work in the background in order to avoid the kind of political interference demonstrated by some of these newspaper articles, e.g., party politics.

Thomas and his collaborators all subscribed to the Victorian philosophy of the "City Beautiful Movement" which believed that gardens and beautiful surroundings would promote the development of moral and ethical behaviour in citizens. This was part of the "Social Gospel" of the Victorian age as propounded by many faiths.

The City Beautiful movement was a Progressive reform movement in North American architecture and urban planning that flourished from 1890 to 1930 with the intent of using beautification and gardens to counteract moral decay in urban environments. The kernel for the idea of the "City Beautiful" first took place in the 1850's with Olmstead but the term itself was not in use until the 1890's. The proponents did not seek beauty for its own sake, but rather as a social device for creating moral and civic excellence and virtue among urban populations. Advocates of the movement believed that such beautification could thus provide a harmonious social order that would improve the lives of the inner-city poor.

It borrowed from the European Beaux-Arts idiom, and was viewed as a kind of renaissance. The premise of the movement was the idea that beauty could be an effective social control device. "When they trumpeted the meliorative power of beauty, they were stating their belief in its capacity to shape human thought and behavior."

The "Social Gospel" movement was an attempt to apply Christianity to the collective ills of an industrializing society, and was a major force in Canadian religious, social and political life from the 1890s through the 1930s. It drew its unusual strength from the remarkable expansion of Protestant, especially EVANGELICAL, churches in the latter part of the 19th century. For several decades the prevalent expression of evangelical nationalism, the Social Gospel was equally a secularizing force in its readiness to adopt such contemporary ideas as liberal progressivism, reform or social Darwinism, biblical criticism ("higher criticism"), and philosophical idealism as vehicles for its message of social salvation. It developed, however, a distinctive spirituality elevating social involvement to a religious significance expressed in prayers, hymns, poems and novels of "social awakening." Its central belief was that God was at work in social change, creating moral order and social justice. It held an optimistic view of human nature and entertained high prospects for social reform. Leaders reworked such traditional Christian doctrines as sin, atonement, salvation and the Kingdom of God to emphasize a social content relevant to an increasingly collective society. The Social Gospel at large gave birth to the new academic discipline of social ethics and in Canada contributed most of the impetus to the first sociology programs."

2 Thomas B. McQuesten was never accused of "graft" and he refused to be a part of that kind of political pressure. His ethical stance is best illustrated in a letter to his mother on March 6, 1906: "I do know my dear mother that if I am going to achieve anything and come to you for commendation, I must come with clean hands" (W5440). When Hon. T. B. McQuesten died in 1948, he left a modest estate of $51,219.96.

3 King George VI provided the "Royal" designation to the Royal Botanical Gardens." And this designation has preserved the gardens from any future threat to its integrity such as a sale to developers. King George VI and Queen Elizabeth II were present for the opening of the Queen Elizabeth Highway and the Rainbow Bridge in 1939, see photo at IMG164.

4 Hamilton Spectator, June 23, 2012. FLASHBACK: THIS DAY IN HISTORY, Hamilton Spectator, June 23, 1924. On this day in 1924, Hamilton's park board made the controversial decision to ban automobiles from Gage Park. Those who favoured the move, such as Thomas Baker McQuesten, said having vehicles in the park compromised the safety of children. [He stated] "Any afternoon in the park there can be seen scores of women and small children, and they should be given a safe place somewhere in the city." Those who opposed the move, such as the Hamilton Spectator editorial writers, argued it would "debar old people and invalids of the opportunity to see the beauty of what will one day become one of the finest city parks in Canada; and, at the same time, prevent passing tourists from being able to view one of the few places of beauty in the city..." But eventually the idea stuck and was accepted by fellow parks board members.

5 The Sunken Gardens were located on the site of McMaster University. They were magnificent gardens and fountains built as a contemplative retreat for scholars. Unfortunately, T. B. McQuesten had neglected to add a perpetuity clause in the original contract and thus no attempt was made to preserve the Sunken Gardens, and they were razed when the new McMaster Hospital was built. A view of the sunken gardens can be seen on the Hamilton Postcard site.

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