PODCAST | From Downton Abbey to the Reford Gardens

Butlers, chambermaids, footmen: the large teams of domestic staff who served the aristocracy of Britain’s Edwardian age are widely known. Perhaps less well known, however, is the fact that this lifestyle straight out of “Downton Abbey” existed in Quebec as well, among certain wealthy families of English Montreal early in the twentieth century. Listen to this immersive experience, produced by the Reford Gardens, and find yourself in the Estevan Lodge during a busy summer!

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Camera Obscura

A camera obscura (precursor of the modern photographic camera) is presented here as a rectangular box reproducing the unusual Kodak Panarom No. 4. The Kodak Panarom No. 4 was the first Kodak panoramic camera and was manufactured by the camera giant between 1900 and 1926. From 1910 to 1940, Elsie Reford’s husband Robert W. Reford spent hour upon hour armed with his Kodak capturing images of the countryside surrounding the family’s estate in Grand-Métis. His photographs are an impressive record of the panoramas of La Mitis during this period. Throughout summer 2021, this installation will capture the ephemeral nature of La Mitis’ beautiful surroundings. The oversized device provides visitors with an immersive experience as they find themselves standing in the very scene they are viewing while also discovering how cameras work. This new travelling exhibit will be available in several different locations across our region. Come and make the most of this unique opportunity!

A Reford Gardens production with the financial support of the MRC de La Mitis.




Elsie Through the Eyes of…

This exhibit takes visitors through the life and times of Elsie Reford.

Best known for her gardens, Elise also had many other interests ranging from politics, to women’s health art, and international affairs. Her involvement in politics and public debates led her to cross paths with many of the era’s leading figures. For the first time, new facets of this remarkable woman will be revealed through a collection of pictures, objects and stories.

This exhibit is presented on the 2nd floor of the historic Estevan Lodge

The Museum of Tools

The Museum of Tools holds an impressive collection of garden tools acquired by the Reford Gardens in 2013.

Just like gardening techniques, gardening tools have evolved tremendously over the centuries. Tools once handmade and designed to last a lifetime are now manufactured en masse in factories. Garden tools are often considered collectors’ items and many gardeners form attachments to their tools as though they’re old friends. It is rare to see so many under one roof, and rarer still to see them on display for all gardeners to enjoy! Shears, trowels, wheelbarrows, spades… the list goes on. Come see what you can discover!

photo: Jardins de Métis

Elsie Through the Eyes of… her husband Robert W. Reford

Robert W. Reford was one of Canada’s first amateur photographers. He acquired his Kodak No. 1 in 1888, as soon as this first Kodak hit the market. This would be the beginning of his lifetime passion for photography.

In 1926, when Elsie adds a second storey to the Estevan Lodge, she sets up a dark room for her husband. Located in the couple’s private quarters, few ever had the chance to visit this room. This multimedia exhibit grants you the privilege of assisting Robert at work in his darkroom.
This exhibit is complementary to the Elsie through the eyes of… permanent exhibit, which has been presented in the Estevan Lodge since 2018. It lifts the veil on the intimate gaze Robert’s posed on his wife through his camera lens.

Presented on the second floor of Estevan Lodge

photo: Umanium



History goes digital

Fish Stories

Go back in time to explore the history of salmon fishing along the mythical Metis River in Quebec’s Bas-Saint-Laurent region. The rivers, and the salmon that return to spawn in them, have fascinated people since time immemorial. Discover how the Metis River participated in the region’s development and how it went from being a wild oasis to a private one, only to become the protected salmon river it is today.

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Elsie – In Her Own Words

Elsie In Her Own Words is a virtual exhibit that gives online visitors an opportunity to hear Elsie Reford, the gardens’ creator, read some of the writings that will help you better understand her. In it, we hear Elsie retell personal experiences that were drawn from the writings she left behind discussing everything from her horticultural experiences to summers in Métis and her social, political, and philanthropic involvement during her time spent in Montreal throughout the rest of the year. The exhibit was created by Montreal’s Umanium firm with research by historian Karine Hébert. It was developed with the help of the Société des musées québécois and Quebec’s Ministère de la Culture et des Communications “Programme d’aide en numérique” program.

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A Trip Around the Gaspé – The Tale of an Epic Road Trip

Internationally recognized for its breathtaking landscapes and coastal route forming an 885 km loop, the Trip Around the Gaspé circuit is now over 90 years old. Through period pictures, stories, and newspaper excerpts, discover the epic story behind the tourist circuit that has long been recognized as a great destination.




 Fishing Guides

At times, their identities were known, and at others, they were a mystery. From Indigenous, francophone or anglophone backgrounds, fishing guides were truly the heart and soul of this activity practised in Les Fourches, later renamed Matamajaw, and in Grand-Métis. Their vast knowledge of the rivers running through the fishing camps helped them guide anglers to the best salmon fishing spots. The guides were also indispensable resources for anglers—and their biggest fans when they made the catch of the day.

Fishing guides truly set themselves apart from others working on the river and garnered respect from anglers alike, appearing in photographs and letters, and receiving gifts of gratitude for their knowledge of the land and fish-finding talents.

This exhibit pays tribute to the many fishing guides who lived in the region, exploring in depth their hard work, the friendships they forged with those they guided, and their knowledge of the river’s natural resources that they strived to protect.

2023 : Presented at the Site patrimonial de pêche Matamajaw

Scenography: Diane Bernier

Graphics: Sophie Jean