Grace McCarthy, OC, OBC


(October 14, 1927 – May 25, 2017)  With the passing of Grace McCarthy, VanDusen Botanical Garden and Bloedel Conservatory have lost one of their greatest friends and allies.

A busy young mother and a florist, she was also a popular elected Vancouver Parks Board Commissioner. In the 1960s she campaigned tirelessly for part of the abandoned Shaughnessy Golf Course to become a botanical garden, instead of being completely developed by the owners, CP’s Marathon Realty.

In 1966 she was recruited to run for a seat in the Provincial Legislature and on election was immediately appointed Cabinet Minister. At the provincial level she was able to continue her strong fight for the funding of the botanical garden as well as for the construction of the Bloedel Conservatory, and it was as Finance Minister in 1970 that she made the long-awaited announcement in the Legislature that the Province would put up $1M. With the City of Vancouver also providing a third of the cost, plus the parcel of land on the golf course it already owned around the Point Grey reservoir, a single anonymous donor made a donation through the Vancouver Foundation of $1M, and construction of the garden began. Over the course of her life Grace McCarthy was regularly in the Garden and continued to support many special projects and events. When her then teenage son was once asked which of his mother’s achievements made him most proud, he had no hesitation in saying ‘VanDusen Botanical Garden’.

Aptly nicknamed ‘Amazing Grace’ by members of her political party, she will be sadly missed by the VanDusen community.

Grace McCarthy

Grace McCarthy at the Garden in December 1979. CVA 1502 491