In June 2021, the Friends of the University of Alberta Devonian Botanic Garden will celebrate their 50th Anniversary! Much has been accomplished by the Friends so far and the board has decided to mark the anniversary with the building of a replacement Imrie Boardwalk. The boardwalk is overdue for an upgrade to make it safer and more accessible to all. It is initially estimated that $150,000 needs to be raised for this project by 2020. Through generation donations FOG has already has $36,700 towards this project so we are well on our way. We will be looking for different fundraising ideas and grants to achieve this goal.
The FOG board has been saying the name ‘Imrie’ a lot as we discuss re-building the boardwalk and fundraising for it. But why is it named the Imrie wetlands and boardwalk? The Imrie Wetlands were named after Mary Imrie who donated the land to the DBG upon her death in 1988. Mary was the first female architect in Alberta and she and her partner, Jean Wallbridge designed many homes and some commercial properties in the Edmonton area. They were the most well-known Alberta women architects of their day. After WWII it was difficult for women to be hired to design commercial properties so Mary and Jean did mostly residential homes. Their projects were characterized as open spaced floor plans with many windows to let in natural light and the surrounding scenery into their designs. This was a unique idea in Edmonton as was their flare for organizing volunteer work parties to reduce construction costs. Later the pair focused on schools and hospitals as they liked the satisfaction of knowing they were helping others. The most intriguing item that I read was that when Mary travelled and couldn’t find a camp ground in an area, she bought some land and camped on it. When she died, all her properties were donated so others could camp whenever they travelled. Mary Imrie was a fascinating, hardworking and caring person who left her mark on Alberta with her beautiful, nature inspired buildings.