By Charlie Senack
The National Capital Commission (NCC) has started much-needed restoration work on the Maplelawn Garden wall.
The NCC has looked after the site since 1951. While work to restore the wall has been ongoing for years, recently, the wall has shown to need more extensive repairs to keep it from further decay.
“A first section of the wall collapsed several years ago, and another section collapsed in 2021,” the NCC wrote on its website. “The remaining sections are also at risk. The NCC has fenced the collapsed sections, and is ready to rehabilitate the walls, reusing as much salvaged stone as possible.”
The rehabilitation of the wall will ensure the community’s history will be around for generations to come. It’s one of the last and best-preserved examples of 19th century walled gardens in Canada, the NCC’s website stated.
“For this project, the NCC will work with experienced heritage masonry experts,” the website noted. “They will supervise, dismantle and reassemble the wall. The NCC is also consulting the volunteer group, Friends of Maplelawn Garden, on an ongoing basis.”
The wall, part of the Maplelawn estate, has been around since the 1830s when William Thompson, a Scottish immigrant, bought the land.
The one-acre site is home to the Thomas-Cole-Rochester House, a two-and-a-half-storey ashlar masonry house and a large ornamental garden enclosed by the nearly 200-year-old limestone wall. The garden includes a variety of plants, shrubs and trees which would have grown on the land centuries ago.
Located on Richmond Road in the heart of Westboro, the site is a “living record” of how European architectural and landscape ideas were brought over to Canada during the 19th century. In 1989, it was designated as a national historic site by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, according to the NCC.
Planning and designs for the site began in 2020-2021 and carried through 2022, with tree removal having started early this April.
This fall, the NCC plans to dig a trench for the wall foundation and revitalize landscaping around the wall, including pathway reinstatement and tree planting. The process will end with reassembly of the wall, which will continue into 2023.
While work is underway, the garden will be closed to the public.
Visit ncc-ccn.gc.ca/places/maplelawn-garden to learn more.