Dorothy Perkins, Canadian garden writer, unveiled

by Pleasance Crawford

Dorothy Perkins was the name of a popular turn-of-the-century rambler rose. It was also the pen name of the author of at least two contributions to the literature of Canadian gardens. Dorothy Perkins wrote The Canadian Garden Book (Toronto: Thomas Allen Publisher, 1918), a 116=page work urging Canadians to experience the joys of gardening; and a description of the Japanese gardens at Lady Eaton’s country estate, published in Canadian Homes and Gardens in May 1927. In that issue, a who’s who of contributors revealed that “Dorothy Perkins is the name by which a very pleasing young Toronto writer, Adele Austin, has chosen to hide her personal identity.”

During the teen, ‘20s and early ‘30s, Toronto city directories included both Adele H. and Adele M. Austin. Adele H. Austin lived at 65 Oriole Road, and served for a time as treasurer of Austin & Co., Ltd., her family’s wholesale jewellery business. She was listed by the Rose Society of Ontario as a member in its 1914 and 1927 annuals. Adele M. Austin lived at Spadina, 285 Spadina Road, the garden-surrounded home of her parents, Toronto Gas Company president Albert E. Austin and Mary Austin. Descendants of the Austins of Spadina are certain that Adele M. Austin was not Dorothy Perkins. In fact, Adele H. Austin of 65 Oriole Road is the more likely candidate. In The Canadian Garden Book, Dorothy Perkins described – at a level of detail suggesting her own involvement – the large allotment garden organized by a committee of women to further the war effort. That garden was on Oriole Parkway, just below Oriole Road.

©Pleasance Crawford. If you quote from this short essay, a citation would be appreciated.

Heinrich Adolph Engelhardt, landscape designer

By Pleasance Crawford

Heinrich Adolph Engelhardt trained as a civil engineer in Prussia and emigrated to the United States in 1851. He was said to have practiced landscape gardening in several eastern cities before his arrival in Canada in 1870. In 1871-72, H.A. Engelhardt – as he signed himself – was employed by the Ontario Department of Public Works to prepare plans and lay out the grounds of the Institution for the Education of the Deaf and Dumb at Belleville and the Institution for the Blind at Brantford. Other work for the province included a ca. 1873 pen and watercolour plan for the grounds of the Parliament Buildings in Toronto and “services on grounds” of the Ontario College of Agriculture at Guelph in 1882.

Engelhardt soon earned a reputation in Ontario for skill in laying out parks and parklike cemeteries. He prepared plans for the town park in Port Hope in 1871, for Belleville Cemetery and possibly also Port Hope’s Union Cemetery in 1873, and – as unbuilt competition entries – for Toronto’s High and Eastern parks in 1876. His best known and best-preserved landscape work – and one which occupied him from 1874 through 1888 – was the design, construction, and superintendence of Mount Pleasant Cemetery, the Toronto General Buying Grounds Trust’s new cemetery north of that city.

Engelhardt’s name survives as author of the Beauties of Nature Combined with Art (Montreal: John Lovell, 1872), a 174-page treatise whose introduction he wrote as a “Prof. of Agriculture and Landscape Gardener, Belleville, Ontario.” The author discusses ornamental design principles and plant materials not only for private grounds, but also for public works such as asylums, prisons, capitols, courthouses, fairgrounds, schools, cemeteries, streets, highways, and railways. The book was the first on landscape design published in Canada. Although unillustrated, its recommendations are for the same highly manipulated, yet essentially naturalistic, landscapes seen in Engelhardt’s designs. The elegant writing style, however, suggests that Engelhardt – whose surviving letters to Ontario government officials from the same period display a less-than-perfect command of English – may have had considerable help in committing his ideas to print.


Photo credit: Deansfa, 27 October 2010, Wikimedia Commons.

©Pleasance Crawford. If you quote from this short essay, a citation would be appreciated.

Cataraqui Cemetery, Kingston, Ontario, Canada

By Pleasance Crawford

Cataraqui Cemetery, Kingston, Ontario, is the burial place of Sir John A. Macdonald, Sir Alexandre Campbell, Sir Richard Cartwright, and many other prominent Kinstonians. It is also one of Ontario’s earliest picturesque cemeteries, an excellent example of its type, and worthy of continuing preservation and restoration.

The Cataraqui Cemetery Co. [sic] was incorporated in 1850 for the establishment of a non-profit, nondenominational public cemetery to supplant several crowded, unsightly, and possibly unsanitary cemeteries in town. The company purchased about 100 acres dominated by gently hills, ravines, and streams. The first plan of the cemetery, showing lots, sites for chapel and superintendent’s cottage, three ponds, and a network of curving drives and paths, was drawn up in 1853 by F.J.M. Cornell, the surveyor.

The superintendent’s cottage, a picturesque Gothic board and batten structure just inside the main entrance, was completed in 1854 (with additions in 1887 and 1900). The first superintendent was Alpine Grant. He was replaced in 1864 by David Nicol who in the 1870s, initiated a long-term program of improvements which increased the cemetery’s “limited means” by stimulating the sale of lots. George Nicol succeeded his father in 1894.

Cataraqui Cemetery is well worth a visit. Its gravestones, the earliest from a pre-existing Quaker cemetery and dated 1812, include many interesting, although somewhat conservative, examples of the monument maker’s art. Several family lots have fine Victorian cast iron gates and fences, some ornamented with heavy tassels and other mourning motifs. (Although David Nicol argued against fences, they were not prohibited.) The main entrance is flanked by high gates purchased in 1879 from the Kingston Iron Works. Cast metal statues of female biblical, allegorical, and mythological subjects, placed by David Nicol between 1885 and 1895 and still – as in the 19th century – painted white, terminate views. (Statues representing the four seasons were ordered from John R. Peel, the London, Ontario, stone mason, sculptor, art teacher, and father of painter Paul Peel; most of the others were from J.L. Mott of New York.) Cast iron urns, which he also ordered, mark culverts and intersecting drives. The present fountain, erected in 1897, replaces an 1884 drinking fountain of Hebe.


Photo credit: SimonP, August 4, 2007, Wikimedia Commons.

©Pleasance Crawford. If you quote from this short essay, a citation would be appreciated.