A new garden was built on the west side of Estevan Lodge as part of a major investment to install new ecological sewage treatment systems for the property. The garden was designed by Stuart Webster Design of Montreal. When Elsie Reford lived here, this was one of several areas of the gardens that she allowed to go wild, with the daisies and hay cut in the fall every year.
The new garden provides a form to the space, allowing it to be used for events and activities. Bordered by grey limestone, pathways lead visitors to the gravel terrace and down towards the lawn and the Robert W. Reford pavilion. The plantings along the wooden fence feature a large collection of species peonies and cultivars from the Gilbert collection of peonies. Wally Gilbert was a grower and hybridizer in Elora, Ontario who bought a nursery from peony breeder William Brown. Gilbert grew peonies there until the late 1980s. These peonies were donated by the Canadian Peony Society in 2007. In the sloping beds reaching down towards the lawn is displayed the Jean Rocheleau Collection of daylilies. Rocheleau is a daylily enthusiast and hybridizer from nearby Rimouski. Some of these daylilies are used by the Garden’s chef in his garden salads.
Robert Reford Pavillon
This small garden pavilion renders homage to Robert W. Reford (1921-2006), the eldest grandchild of Elsie and R.W. Reford. Soldier, journalist, expert in international affairs, orchid admirer and bird-watcher, he spent many summers as a young man at Grand-Metis. He accompanied his grandmother fishing for salmon on the Mitis River and collecting orchids for her gardens in the woods and in nearby bogs and streams. In his honour, she named a garden after him, “Robert’s Garden”, a privilege later bestowed on her other grandchildren, Maryon, Michael, Boris, Sonja and Alexis. This garden pavilion was constructed of spruce and cedar by Gervais Pineau of Charpenterie Menuiserie Petchedetz of Saint-Léandre. It was erected in 2008 with donations from his widow, Stephanie McCandless Reford, and his family and friends in Canada and abroad. It is nestled against the forest overlooking the great lawn and the Mitis River and is intended to be used for events and activities.