Parks, Gardens & Squares
JARDIN DE FRANÇOIS
1. 31 ha
YEAR OF COMPLETION
Baie-Saint-Paul, Québec, Canada
Filion, Hansen & Ass. Inc, Consultants engineers / NCK inc. Consultants engineers / STGM Architectes / BPR engineers / Genecor, Mechanical and electrical engineers
As part of their legacy and testimony of their commitment and community involvement, the “Petites-Franciscaines-de-Marie” (PFM) wished to bestow upon Baie-Saint-Paul a contemplative, and contemporary garden that aims to transmit Francis’ values of love, humility, and respect for nature.
“Le Jardin de Francois” (JDF) takes its visitors on a spiritual journey, retracing the important phases of the life of Francis, the celebrated first ecologist.
This life journey of contemplation and pilgrimage in the garden starts with Francois’ extravagant youthful years, represented with a lush entrance plaza, noble materials, and dancing fountains. A meandering path then carries its visitors throughout the garden along Francois’s chosen path of life, slowly introducing humility and simplicity, abandoning the riches of his family for a simpler and purer life in Nature.
Francois’ conversion is symbolized by a walk up the universally accessible ramp up to the promontory, from where visitors could admire panoramas of the garden and sublime mountainous Charlevoix landscapes.
All through the garden, visitors learn about Francois’ life, and his “Canticle of the Creatures”. They learn how he glorified creatures; they also learn about his “Brothers and Sisters”: The Sun, the Moon, the Stars, Fire, and Wind. These elements are symbolized and represented in the garden in different ways.
Mother Earth, an orchard planted with fruit trees and indigenous shrubs, Sister Water flows from atop the hill transforming into a stream, sometimes calm, other times lively with twelve waterfalls, before jumping into a reflecting pond. An encounter with François is an opportunity to take a break on boulders surrounded by a pine forest and where one can admire the Tau, the magnificent Franciscan symbol that is also seen reflected in the calm water basin.
The generosity of the PFM did not end at the boundaries of the Garden; it graciously extended beyond its walls, allowing the city to tap into the inexhaustible potable water source accidentally discovered on-site. The PFM partnered with the city and solved the drinking water issues of the city, by building an underground reservoir, provided that the municipal facility emerging from the ground becomes integral to the garden.
Integrating the reservoir to the garden, while ensuring safety and environmental requirements was a major challenge. Weight reduction on top of the reservoir was a technical issue that required special construction methods. Also, since the reservoir pavilion had to be accessible by maintenance vehicles, design and camouflage strategies were implemented so that this technical working area does not catch visitors’ eyes while on their spiritual quest.
Planting is intended to thrive without pesticides or irrigation; the selected vegetation met the hardiness and biodiversity requirements of the UNESCO Biosphere reserves, thus highlighting the natural beauty of Charlevoix.
To consolidate and reinforce the years of PFM’s commitment in the region, over fifty local artisans contributed with pride to the success of this wonderful garden; thus instilling a unifying sense of identity and belonging to a unique project from which the whole population benefits today.