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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The team from the Gardens are working with artists, curators, researchers and organizations to offer a range of exhibitions linked to the history of the gardens, the different owners of the estate, regional history, horticulture and the environment.

This year, the theme of territory links to each of the exhibitions. They deal with exploration, preservation and documenting the territory and those who call it home.

The 2024 temporary exhibitions program

Light and Fog

Anna Lois Dawson Harrington (1851-1917), watercolourist
Ewa Monika Zebrowski, photographer and poet

Estevan Lodge, June 1 to October 6, 2024

Anna Lois Dawson Harrington is at the heart of an exhibition of watercolours and photographs on view at Les Jardins de Métis this summer. The moment is right to discover the story and personality of this exceptional woman who painted the surrounding landscapes for more than forty years. Resident of Montreal, she lived in this magnificent region during the summer season with her parents and family who left their mark on Metis.

The photographs of Ewa Monika Zebrowski are inspired by the same places that Anna Lois frequented. They amplify the intemporal aspect of the watercolours. From this encounter emerges an affinity with the atmosphere and with nature. The light of the seashore, in the delicately coloured brushstrokes of Anna Lois, combine with the fog of the seashore captured by Ewa Monika Zebrowski. The light and the fog: two elements that pay homage to the meditative beauty of the landscapes of Metis.

This exhibition has been created by Les Jardins de Métis in collaboration with the McCord Stewart Museum

Curator : Hélène Samson
Project Manager : Marjelaine Sylvestre
Research : Nathalie Houle
Exhibition Design : Mélanie Crespin
Graphic Design : Francine Savard, Mathieu Martin

Studiolo. Looking at our Collections

Estevan Lodge, June 16 to October 6, 2024

Les Jardins de Métis began the process of digitizing our plant and museum collections more than a year ago. The process requires each object to be identified, documented and photographed. It has led to many discoveries. From one day to the next, it is a privileged moment to handle and observe the heritage of those who made this historic site what it is today.

Preservation and transmission are at the heart of our work. The teams who work at the gardens recognize that each of the objects has a role to play: they generate questions in the present that open doors to the past as we construct our future.

The exhibition Studiolo. Regards sur les collections presents a selection of the more than 2,500 objects in our collections and archives in the form of a cabinet of curiosities. Artist and art restorer, Mathieu Pennaroya, complement the work brought to him by our teams. He brings an approach more than ludique which is impregnated by his awareness of heritage, to demonstrate how collections also inspire creativity.

A Garden is Never Finished

Kassandra Reynolds

Aire Desjardins of the Great Hall, June 1 to July 28, 2024

A photographic exploration that celebrates the gardener’s craft.

Long white socks, showing the tan marks of the countryman;
The same jean shorts, cutoffs and well used;
A faithful straw hat, with sweat marks;
There was nothing else to do: his life, it has been dedicated to plants!

From a young age, inspired by her horticuliturist father, Kassandra Reynolds has been fascinated by those who work the soil and whose career is in symbiosis with the passage of time. Aware of the world of horticulture, the artist documented during the summer of 2023 the gardeners at Les Jardins de Métis in order to pay homage to their place of work. Often invisible, these workers play an essential role. This exhibition brings their work to life that is hidden behind the care required to maintain a large garden, task required year after year.


Baptiste Grison and Yves Lavoie

Aire Desjardins of the Great Hall, August 4 to September 29, 2024

The idea behind ADDENDA is to present climate change and the biodiversity crisis that is changing our world and to add a kind of “artistic amendment” to the book Flore laurentienne by Frère Marie-Victorin. We are interested in the plants that have only recently appeared in the landscapes of the Lower St. Lawrence, notably those that arrive after disturbances caused by humans. Using materials and a technique used by the pioneers of Quebec botany, wet collodion photography, we are producing images of plant species that are our exact contemporaries from 2024. In other words, the large format vintage photographic chamber made of wood produces images of plants that were not found here when the chamber was made. The corpus of photographs is accompanied by a video.

Faux-plis par hypothèses

Aire Desjardins of the Great Hall, October 6 to December 15, 2024

Faux-plis par hypothèses, curators Louis Déry and Marie-Hélene Leblanc, brings together artists Eruoma Awashish, Anna Binta Diallo, Geneviève Chevalier, Club de prospection figurée, Caroline Fillion, Maryse Goudreau, Sophie Jodoin, Marilou Lemmens & Richard Ibghy, Emmanuelle Léonard, Mélanie Myers, Kosisochukwu Nnebe, Anahita Norouzi and Leila Zelli. The unique role of a university art gallery allows for an exploration of art and science through an encounter of contemporary art. Artists’ residencies at Les Jardins de Métis and five exhibitions at the GUQO, Galerie de l’UQAM and the spaces of five institutional partners, Foreman Art Gallery (Bishop’s University, the Galerie l’œuvre de l’autre (UQAC) and Les Jardins de Métis. This project is supported by UQAM, UQO, Scientifique en chef du Québec and Fonds de recherche du Québec (FRQ).




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 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.

Find out more

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.

Find out more

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.