By Government House
Even on the day Saskatchewan became a province in 1905, George Watt, the gardener of Government House, was more captured by corn and chrysanthemums than provincial politics. In his diary, mention of this grand event is only secondary to what, in all likelihood, was of far greater concern at the time for the budding botanist, namely the weather: “Very cold. Came near frost. Temp. 35° [Fahrenheit].”
While Watt’s legacy of labour is best displayed today at Government House’s Edwardian Gardens (one of only two such landscapes in Canada), the gardener’s touch continues to animate backyards and boulevards throughout the Queen City. Under Watt’s direction, the Government House grounds of 1905 became a place of gardening experimentation, an investigation to see what could blossom in Regina’s often-extreme climate.
Through diplomatic dealings in saplings and seeds, Watt populated Government House, and later the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Depot and Wascana Park, with a blend of Canadian greenery: elms from the Qu’Appelle Valley, spruces from Banff. And, of course, who could forget Regina’s first caragana bushes? Distant relatives of Watt’s many imported flowers, shrubs and trees now populate green spaces throughout the city, spread by both natural conditions and subsequent generations of gardeners.
In this way, one of Government House’s most enduring and significant figures shaped Regina not through political office but as a domestic servant with a passion for nature. So be it the greenery adorning your choice walking path or the tree towering before your home, think back to the green-thumbed Scotsman, who, amongst many others, made possible the city we enjoy today.