Winnipeg Conservatory closes its doors as Diversity Gardens’ construction is underway

BY Claire Renic

People of all ages say goodbye to the Assiniboine Park Conservatory on March 30, 2018 during its last weekend in operation./CLAIRE RENIC


An iconic Winnipeg landmark is now history.


On Monday, April 2, the Assiniboine Park Conservatory shut its doors to make way for Canada’s Diversity Gardens, the replacement project designed to explore the relationships that exist between people and plant life.


Hundreds of people saw the Conservatory one last time during its final weekend in operation. The space was home to a rotating display filled with hundreds of different types of plants.


“I’m really sad to see it go,” said Avi Posen, 26, who came to say goodbye with his girlfriend.


“I remember coming here as a kid. I’m happy I saw it one last time but it’s nice that its being replaced,” he said.


Countless feasibility assessments conducted since 2002 concluded that it wasn’t practical to keep the Conservatory open any longer.


Sherri Grant, an artist, said she would often come to the Conservatory to sketch the plants and find inspiration. A group of people crowded around her bench on Saturday, all trying to see her artwork.


“It’s like a jungle in here, it’s so beautiful. I’ve never run out of things to draw.”


The Conservatory hosted an open house style celebration from March 27 to April 2 that featured a commemorative slideshow and refreshments. One hundred plantable bookmarks were given to the first 100 visitors every day.


Volunteers at the Conservatory couldn’t comment, but spoke fondly of their memories at the Conservatory. They were happy to speak with anyone who came to the farewell celebration.


The Assiniboine Park Conservancy is being more strategic with its selection of what exactly will fill Canada’s Diversity Gardens. The featured plantings will highlight the use of plants in our lives and aim to showcase Canada’s multiculturalism through the use of themes like food and drink, health and well-being and spirituality and consciousness.


While a chapter ends with the Conservatory shutting its doors, a new one is started with building the Diversity Gardens, which are currently under construction in Assiniboine Park.


Video by Aidan Cloet