The Ghosts of Glen Villa | The press

In the former Abenaki Territory, bordering Lake Massawippi, in the Eastern Townships, there is now a lush garden with artwork and plant paintings where birds sing. But those who listen can still hear the whispers of those who once trod its soil…

Posted yesterday at 12:00 p.m

Texts: Isabelle Morin

Texts: Isabelle Morin
The press

Photos: Martin Tremblay

Photos: Martin Tremblay
The press

At this time of year, the Glen Villa artificial garden smells of lilacs. There was a time when people came from far away to sunbathe and smell its peaceful nature. North Hatley, late 19th centurye Century was a resort town popular with a well-heeled international clientele, but especially with Southerners who came north to find the less stifling summer heat.

In this period of prosperity for the village’s hotel industry, the small Hotel Glen Villa was built in 1893, before being replaced by a larger house: three floors – an attraction in the area – which made it possible to accommodate no more 50 people, but 200 guests . The hotel also has its own agricultural land and farm, which provides it with milk and fresh vegetables.


PHOTO FROM THE BOOK AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A GARDEN

The Glen Villa Hotel at the beginning of the 20th centurye century

The year is 1907. New visitors arriving in the village by train disembark by steamboat on the banks of Glen Villa. It’s time for umbrellas. We escape in smart outfits while trout fishing, in a horse-drawn carriage in the woods, while playing tennis or golf. An orchestra accompanies meals in the villa. Couples head to the casino in the evenings or embrace discreetly in the ballroom. The cigar smoke around the pool tables and bowling lanes is cut with a knife… Glen Villa has a lively spirit.

tribute to the past

What remains of Glen Villa’s glory days is an extraordinary site made up of a forest, waterfalls, agricultural fields and meadows from which you can admire the shimmering reflections of the Massawippi… A few ruins too: the two hotels of the Wende of the century were again devastated by flames.

After the last fire, the land and his farm were bought by a wealthy Sherbrooke businessman before it passed into the hands of two owners and fell into obscurity. Journalist Norman Webster’s father was one of them. Having lived in China during the Cultural Revolution and in England during the Thatcher years, it is in the country of his youth, where he spent his holidays, that the correspondent of the globe and mail settled in 1996 with his wife Patterson and their five children after purchasing the property.

“I fell in love with the place, the family, the people. That’s where the heart was,” says Patterson Webster, who is originally from Virginia.

The gardens were tended but without big surprises. I didn’t know much about gardening but I knew I wanted to take this opportunity to highlight the natural beauty of the place.

Patterson Webster, creator of the Glen Villa Art Garden

An overview of the art installation Over time

  • The trail begins with an installation that pays homage to the territory's first inhabitants, the Abenaki nation.

    PHOTO SUPPLIED BY PATTERSON WEBSTER

    The trail begins with an installation that pays homage to the territory’s first inhabitants, the Abenaki nation.

  • Produced in collaboration with Myke Hodgins and Mary Martha Guy, The Cenacle is a memorial to the artist's mother.  Glass panes with a dogwood tree, the symbol of Virginia, form an imaginary wall on which light plays.

    PHOTO MARTIN TREMBLAY, THE PRESS

    Produced in collaboration with Myke Hodgins and Mary Martha Guy, the cenacle is a monument to the artist’s mother. Glass panes with a dogwood tree, the symbol of Virginia, form an imaginary wall on which light plays.

  • Some artifacts found on the grounds of the Grand Hotel

    PHOTO MARTIN TREMBLAY, THE PRESS

    Some artifacts found on the grounds of the Grand Hotel

  • Instead of clearing this tree that has just been crowned by a storm, Patterson Webster pays homage to it with this sculpture, the circles of which represent the life cycles of the tree.

    PHOTO MARTIN TREMBLAY, THE PRESS

    Instead of clearing this tree that has just been crowned by a storm, Patterson Webster pays homage to it with this sculpture, the circles of which represent the life cycles of the tree.

  • Estate Sculpture

    PHOTO MARTIN TREMBLAY, THE PRESS

    Estate Sculpture

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A bridge to the future

For more than a quarter century, visual artist, writer and philosopher Patterson Webster has shaped flora, studied topography and unearthed the soul of places through art and horticulture. She discovered several artefacts that were highlighted in artistic works.

“All of these ruins spoke to me in a way, and seemed to say that if you looked closely, you could find more about this site than beautiful aesthetics. One of my first installations is called The Ghost Walk. Sometimes I feel like they’re everywhere, warm and friendly, she laughs. There are many romantic elements in this country. In a book, the artist and writer tells of the creation of her art garden, Autobiography of a Gardenwhich will appear in July.


PHOTO MARTIN TREMBLAY, THE PRESS

Patterson Webster holds a Master of Arts from Concordia University and honorary doctorates from Laurentian University and the University of Prince Edward Island for his work promoting bilingual education.

Gardens often revolve around their beauty. I wanted mine to make sense too.

Patterson Webster, creator of the Glen Villa Art Garden

“It’s easy to go through life without seeing what’s in your way and not thinking about the consequences,” she says. I hope that by being aware of the history of the place and taking the time to observe what is there, we can gauge the impact of our own passage on the territory and the future. »

Glen Villa Garden is a plant story in 15 paintings that tells the story of its inhabitants. Added to this story is the footprint of Patterson Webster and his family.

Open House at Glen Villa

Patterson Webster opens his private garden to the public this year: June 25th, July 23rd, August 20th and 1stah October. These open doors are a rare opportunity to discover the art installation Over time, philosophical and contemplative journey of 2 h 30 min between forests, meadows, garden rooms and sculptures. “As with many trips, the reward depends on what the hiker put in,” says Patterson Webster. The route is the goal. The cost is $25 per person. All proceeds go to the Massawippi Foundation, which works to preserve the land around the lake.

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