Bethune Memorial House National Historic Site of Canada

A Victorian Landscape

Bethune Memorial House
Bethune Memorial House
© Parks Canada 1998

Surrounded on all sides by stretches of lawn and encircled with a boundary of trees, shrubs and fence, the grounds of Bethune Memorial House offer a view of a typical Victorian domestic landscape.

In the Victorian era, the grounds surrounding a home were seen as an extension of the interior of the house. The porch at Bethune House, with its wicker furniture, provides a transition area between the interior and the exterior. In the summer you may see baskets of flowers hanging on the veranda or pots of indoor plants brought outside to sit in the summer sun, as was the practice around the time the Bethunes lived here.

The house was only nine years old when Reverend Bethune and his family moved into it in 1889. It would have been a proud addition to the neighbourhood. Even today, if you look at some of the older homes in the neighbourhood, you can see how Bethune Memorial House and grounds would have harmonized with their environment.

The stretches of lawn to the front and side of the house are relieved by beds of flowers containing varieties which were popular and available in Gravenhurst in the 1890s. Among these, bloodroot and lungwort, found in the bed in the front yard, were chosen deliberately to represent to the modern visitor the important work done by the adult Norman Bethune in blood transfusion and tuberculosis.