Through a poem read by a friend, Anne Steers recalls walking hand in hand with her late husband, Ernie, past Beacon Hill Park’s famed rose bushes en route to Cameron Bandshell, a blanket tugged neatly under Ernie’s arm as the evening light fades.
She remembers petting old Queenie, the stalwart workhorse gently clopping its way through the park’s pathways, and how she first marvelled at the regal peacocks strutting past flower beds like they owned the land.
Nearly seven decades later, Steers is officially becoming part of Beacon Hill Park’s history with the opening of a new rose garden, made possible through a philanthropic gift from her to the City of Victoria.
“It’s my legacy of beauty and love for (Ernie),” continued Steers’ poem, during a reading by longtime friend David Hepburn at the official ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday.
Hepburn said it’s amazing to think of Steers wandering Beacon Hill Park’s grounds so many years ago.
“It’s the 70th anniversary of D-Day this week. Can you imagine Anne and Ernie walking through this park that long ago,” he said. “That’s how long Anne has cared about this crown jewel of our city.”
Steers’ face lit up as she made her way through the gated entrance of the garden, alongside Mayor Dean Fortin, towards a plaque commemorating the day.
The plaque, attributed to Steers, reads: “I, red rose, I bring love, I bring joy, I bring peace and happiness to all who bring me to you.”
Fortin said he was humbled to witness a legacy of people who care about the park.
He then quipped to parks staff who keep the park looking pristine each year: “Now we get to celebrate creating more work for you.”
The new rose garden contains 150 rose bushes, which when in full bloom next year are expected to display a variety of colours.
An ornamental fence protects the garden from deer and features a custom-iron gate, while new bench seating and extended paved pathways connect the rose garden to nearby Queen’s Lake.
The rose garden is easily accessible from parking spaces near the petting zoo.