Roses for Remembrance

By Judee Fong

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On the corner of Newport Avenue and Currie Road in Oak Bay, there is a garden where the colours of blooming hybrids, floribundas and climbing roses visually delight; their scents gently linger in the air. Visitors passing through a pair of wrought iron gates leading into the garden are greeted with a stone plaque announcing: “ADA G. BEAVEN ROSE GARDEN. This park was donated by the late Ada G. Beaven 1867-1958.”

Ada Georgina (Pemberton) Beaven was born to Joseph Despard Pemberton and his wife, Theresa on May 23,1867. When the Hudson Bay Trading Company decided to sell some of their wilderness farmland, Pemberton was among the first to purchase 1,200 acres. His property stretched from his home at Rockland Avenue and St. Charles to the waters off south and east Oak Bay including Gonzales Point and the Victoria Golf Club. With its views of mountains and sea, Ada grew up in the family home her father named “Gonzales.”

At an early age, Ada learned to shoot snipes (seabirds), fish, hunt, ride horses and, with her five siblings, explored every inch of her father’s land. She grew up in an era when British Columbia was rapidly growing, and its politics constantly changing.

Robert Beaven was premier for only seven months. After his defeat, five different men became premiers of British Columbia between February 1883 and August 1898.

Perhaps it was through her brother, Frederic, a long-time president of the Victoria Horticultural Society, that Ada met her future husband, Hugo. The eldest son of Robert Beaven, Hugo was a respected banker who hunted, fished, rode horses and loved gardening, especially propagating roses.

Both were 35 years old when they married in 1902 and, from all accounts, it was a happy marriage. When Ada’s mother, Theresa, died in 1916, she left to each of her surviving children, a portion of “Gonzales.” With Ada’s inheritance, the Beavens built “Arden,” designed by Samuel Maclure and located on Beach Drive and Margate.

The Beavens were socially active hosting charitable events, garden parties and hunts at Arden. Hugo devoted his spare time to his flower garden, especially his 2,000 species of roses created from 800 stock plants. He became famous for his roses, and Arden became renown for its gardens.

When Hugo died in 1937, Ada eased her anguish by donating a piece of Arden and 500 rose plants to create a garden in Hugo’s memory. The garden was a peaceful place for Ada and visitors to quietly enjoy the tranquil setting surrounded by Hugo’s fragrant roses. A few of the original Beaven roses still thrive among the many roses in the Oak Bay Rose Garden.

Ada never remarried and remained at Arden until she died at the age of 91 in 1958. She was a familiar sight in her 1941 Packard driving along Oak Bay Avenue. Unselfishly giving her time and money to charity, Ada was a generous benefactor to the CNIB, Salvation Army, Veteran’s Hospital, Goodwill Enterprises for the Handicapped, the Protestant Orphanage and the Victoria Art Gallery.

Visitors enjoying the tranquil beauty of the Oak Bay Rose Garden can thank

Ada Georgina Beaven, a woman who enjoyed giving, and still gives pleasure long after she has passed.





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