Durham College collaborates with Parkwood Estate to recreate iconic George Tanaka gardens

Horticulture students showcased their recreation at Landscape Ontario Congress trade show

Oshawa, ON – In celebration of the ongoing partnership between Durham College (DC) and Parkwood National Historic Site (Parkwood), students from the college’s Horticulture Technician program have recreated Parkwood’s iconic Japanese garden. Designed by Canadian landscape architect George Tanaka in 1963, the recreation made its debut at the Landscape Ontario Congress trade show, which took place in Toronto from January 9 to 11.

“Every year Congress offers space for students in horticulture programs to build a garden,” said Shane Jones, professor, School of Science & Engineering Technology. “DC has presented garden concepts before but given the college’s relationship with Parkwood, working together to develop and deliver educational curricula, and the fact Parkwood is celebrating its 100th anniversary, it was decided we would recreate the Tanaka design.”

Commissioned by Sam McLaughlin, to convert the estate’s existing greenhouses, Tanaka was well known for combining his Japanese heritage with elements native to the Canadian landscape. Designed to be “simple and unassertive”, his Japanese garden is a staple at the historical site, occupying one of five greenhouse spaces.

McLaughlin was in his 90’s when the Japanese Garden greenhouse was designed and it became a contemplative retreat for him, mere steps from his domestic spaces. He was often found wandering and enjoying space.

Using original elements retrieved from the garden, which will be restored back to its original exterior this spring, and working in tandem with the heritage docents at Parkwood, the students put together their interpretation of Tanaka’s vision.

“Parkwood Estate has thoroughly enjoyed working with the Durham College students on this recreation of Tanaka’s garden,” said Samantha George, Curator of Parkwood. “Not only was the greenhouse space very special to Sam McLaughlin, it’s has become a fixture at the estate. The students’ recreation really did it justice and gave others the chance to enjoy the garden as much as McLaughlin did.”

Following a two-day installation at Congress, more than 13,000 visitors to the trade show were able to take in the students hard work, while enjoying a piece of local Oshawa history.


About Durham College

At Durham College (DC), the student experience comes first. With campuses in Oshawa and Whitby and a learning site in Pickering, the college offers more than 12,000 full-time post-secondary and apprenticeship students access to more than 140 full-time and eight apprenticeship programs in a number of different disciplines, enabling them to develop the skills required to meet the demands of today’s job market. The college is also set to launch its first four-year degree program, the Honours Bachelor of Health Care Technology Management, in September 2018.

The Oshawa campus features the state-of-the art Student Services building and will soon feature the Centre for Collaborative Education, a legacy project tied to DC’s 50th anniversary in 2017. The new facility will bring together local, Indigenous and global communities, providing a new home for several of the college’s most innovative and ground-breaking programs.

The Whitby campus features the award-winning W. Galen Weston Centre for Food, which includes Bistro ’67, a full-service, teaching-inspired restaurant, and Pantry, a retail store featuring food prepared by students in the college’s culinary programs.

For more information, visit www.durhamcollege.ca or call 905.721.2000.

About Parkwood National Historic Site

Parkwood, The R.S. McLaughlin Estate, is a designated National Historic Site and the family home of Col. R. Samuel McLaughlin, founder of General Motors of Canada. The site provides a museum and heritage garden for the education and enjoyment of all Canadians and fosters an understanding of R.S. McLaughlin’s contributions to Canada and about the nationally-significant architectural, interior and landscape designs. Parkwood is located at 270 Simcoe Street North at the corner of Adelaide Street in  Oshawa.

Media contact:
Meghan Ney
Durham College
Communications and Marketing
905.721.2000 ext. 2197