After being known for more than four decades as “the Devonian”, the province’s largest botanic garden is reaffirming its roots and changing its name to the University of Alberta Botanic Garden.
The name change coincides with a period of growth and renewal at the garden.
“We’re at a new point in our evolution,” said Lee Foote, the garden’s director. “We’re proud to be part of the University of Alberta, and want to honour our ties with the institution at this transformative time in the garden’s history. We want visitors and users of this special place to make the connection, through our name, to the university.”
Established in 1959, the garden was originally designated the “Botanic Garden and Field Laboratory” of the department of botany at the U of A. In the 1970s, after the garden was severely damaged by floods, a donation from the Devonian Foundation, along with funds raised by the Friends of the Garden, helped to repair the damages, create a system of canals and ponds, construct a headquarters building and purchase more land. In recognition of the donation, which gave rise to much of the garden as it is known today, the name was changed to the Devonian Botanic Garden, with an agreement to maintain the name for 25 years.
“As a site for learning, research, recreation and the appreciation of beauty, the garden embodies the promise of the University of Alberta of being for the public good,” said Stan Blade, dean of the Faculty of Agricultural, Life and Environmental Sciences, of which the garden is part. “This exciting time of change is the perfect time to affirm, through its name, that the garden is an important part of the faculty and the university.”
The name change will also address common misconceptions that the garden is part of the nearby town of Devon, was named for the Devonian archaelogical era, or is connected to an indoor garden in downtown Calgary that is not related but bears the same name.
The Devonian Foundation was a philanthropic organization, started by the family of oilman Eric Harvie in the 1950s, that funded many projects in Alberta and beyond until it ceased operations in 2000.