March 7, 2018

For immediate distribution


Elsie - In Her Own Words, a new virtual exhibition on Elsie Reford

The new virtual exhibition on Elsie Reford, Elsie – In Her Own Words, is being launched on International Women’s Day, Thursday, March 8.
 Recognized as one of the leading women of Montreal, this virtual exhibition illustrates her lifelong work to claim a voice for herself and for women in the political landscape of Montreal. In a series of eight thematic capsules, the words and thoughts of Elsie Reford come to life through the imaginative interplay of voice, text, image and archival photographs.


On the occasion of International Women’s Day, Les Amis des Jardins de Métis is launching a new virtual exhibition dedicated to Elsie Reford, one of the most formidable women of her era. Created as part of the Plan culturel numérique du Québec, the eight videos that make up the exhibition can be viewed at and will also be broadcast on the web site of La Fabrique culturelle, the digital platform of Télé-Québec.

Elsie – In Her Own Words is also available in a French-language version, Elsie – Dans ses propres mots. The virtual exhibition presents the life and times of Elsie Reford, offering a selection from her letters and speeches, narrated by an actress who gives voice to never before seen documents from the collections of Les Amis ds Jardins de Métis and private and public sources like Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ), Library and Archives Canada (LAC) and the McCord Museum.

Alexander Reford, great grandson of Elsie Reford, is one of the artisans of the project developed by the Montreal firm Umanium. “Elsie Reford was a remarkable women who is best known today for her gardens. While gardens were a great passion – she had many others. And this exhibition allows us to present her passion for politics, philanthropy, family and travel. Because she destroyed most of her correspondence, what remains is an important documentary legacy and one that we are thrilled to be sharing here for the first time to audiences in both French and English.”

The story of a life well-lived
Born in Perth, Ontario, in 1872, Elsie was actively involved in social and political causes from 1904 through the 1940’s. She was one of the founders of the Women’s Canadian Club of Montreal, directress of the Montreal Maternity Hospital and president of the Victorian Order of Nurses. During the First World War she was active on both sides of the Atlantic and made speeches in Quebec and Ontario describing war conditions in England and calling on Canadians to augment their participation in the war effort.

She carried on an extensive correspondence with several leading political figures of her era. Her letters to and from Lord Grey (Governor General of Canada from 1904 to 1911) and with Sir Wilfrid Laurier (Prime Minister of Canada from 1896 to 1911) are released here for the first time. Alongside her husband, Robert W. Reford, she was an enthusiastic builder and creator, supervising the construction of her Montreal home and the expansion of Estevan Lodge. Elsie Reford began the creation of her gardens at Grand-Métis in 1926, at age 54, dedicating more than thirty years to their creation and development.

Through eight capsules based on her writings, the virtual exhibition explores eight themes: woman of her time, political causes, woman of action, world traveller, a portfolio of choices, nature lover, adventures in gardening, and a family of interests. Each one allows us to explore this woman who was in many ways exceptional. Historian Karine Hébert has written introductions that present the context and important events of the time, the role of woman in society, conscription, the Reciprocity Treaty and the Tercentenary celebrations of Quebec City. Elsie Reford’s more personal and private life is revealed in her accounts of her trips to Europe, her expeditions into the Gaspésie, her explorations of Mount Royal Park and on the Metis River, her adventures in gardening and her family life.

The virtual exhibition was made possible with a grant from the Société des musées québécois as part of the Plan numérique du Québec. It is the work of multi-disciplinary team formed by Les Amis des Jardins de Métis: editorial direction Alexander Reford,  project manager Sylvain Legris and Marjelaine Sylvestre archivist. 

Conception and production: UMANIUM; artistic design: Pierre Fauteux; production: Sophia Borovchyk; assistant producer: Alexa Catalan; video editing: Vincent Myette; sound: Tristan Capacchione; narration Anik Matern.

Special collaboration for research and writing of texts: Karine Hébert; research assistant: Jessie Morin.

About Umanium
The Montreal firm Umanium specializes in heritage projects. “The core of Umanium is formed by the combined forces of positively charged sympathetic protons. They are paired with one another through their creativity and shared passion. Their collective experience encompasses the fields of anthropology, architecture, museology and visual design. For every project, an array of talented protons gravitates around Umanium. Illustrators, writers, graphic artists, sound designers, programmers… all the dynamic artists needed to create powerful concepts and realizations.” Umanium is the powerful fusion of a multidisciplinary team. From original concept to production, an array of products and services are offered in a turnkey formula: temporary and permanent exhibitions, interpretation concepts, analysis and quotes, virtual exhibits, multimedia shows, interpretive trails, documentaries, podcasts. Their most recent project is presented at the chalet on Mount Royal in Montreal, Sur la trace des découvreurs, la fabuleuse histoire de Montré

About Les Jardins de Métis / Reford Gardens
National historic site, Les Jardins de Métis / Reford Gardens is recognized as one of the great gardens of North America. The gardens were created by Elsie Reford from 1926 to 1958. Open to the public since 1962, they are a must-see attraction for those visiting the Gaspésie and the Lower St. Lawrence regions of Québec. A visit of the historic gardens and the historic Estevan Lodge is complemented by a wide-ranging program of cultural events in the visual arts, music, literature and the environment. The International Garden Festival presents 25 contemporary installations that are playful and interactive as well as La Grande Table, a culinary festival that offers new tastes and flavours built on Québec’s unique culinary heritage.

Elsie Reford is at the heart the programming for Les Jardins de Métis / Reford Gardens for 2018. A new permanent exhibition Elsie vue par… will open in Estevan Lodge in June. Photographer Catherine Arsenault will present a temporary exhibition La fabuleuse trajectoire de Madame Elsie on the interpretive screen and in Estevan Lodge. Author and biographer of Elsie Reford, Hélène Jasmin, is preparing an agenda inspired by Elsie Reford Les saisons d’Elsie – Le livre des jours.

Les Jardins de Métis / Reford Gardens are open every day, from Saturday, June 2 to Sunday, October 7, 2018. Admission is free for children 13 and under. Visit www.refordgardens for further information.

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Sylvain Legris
Jardins de Métis / Reford Gardens

For an interview with Alexander Reford or Karine Hébert, contact Mélanie Gauthier at (418) 775-2221, x 228 or



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