The Ross Fountain, created in the vast expanse of the Butchart Gardens in Victoria, British Columbia, is completely different from its famous counterparts around the world in its individual beauty and character. Placidly announcing its idyllic presence in the abundance of nature, it is one of the most popular attractions of Victoria, which claims to receive more than a million of visitors each year. Named after Ian Ross, the grandson of the garden’s founders, the fountain was constructed in 1964, in recognition of the 60th anniversary of the gardens.
It all started way back in 1904, when the Butchart family moved from Owen Sound in Ontario, Canada to Victoria on the west coast, to be close to a limestone quarry, as limestone was an essential factor in the running of their original family business of producing cement. Incidentally, Robert Pim Butchart began manufacturing Portland cement in 1888 near his birthplace of Owen Sound and after shifting to Victoria, they established their home near his quarry on Tod Inlet, located at the base of the Saanich Peninsula on Vancouver Island. When the quarry exhausted in 1909, Jennie Butchart decided to turn it into a sunken garden and after the completion of the garden in 1921, the couple named their home ‘Benvenuto’, meaning ‘welcome’ in Italian.
However, the enthusiastic couple did not stop there. In 1926, they turned their tennis courts to an Italian garden and after three years, in 1929, replaced their vegetable garden with a huge rose garden to the design of Butler Sturtevant of Seattle. In 1939, they gifted the Gardens to their beloved grandson Ian Ross on his 21st birthday and washed their hands in the matter. Ian Ross, a soul devoted to the Gardens, was involved in the operation and promotion of the gardens until his death 58 years later.
Ian Ross passionately devoted his life for the betterment of the Gardens, helping to turn his grandparents’ vision into a reality and making the gardens one of Victoria’s most popular attractions. In fact, he was largely responsible for the expansion of the site and its further development in the late 20th century. To mark the 50th anniversary of the Gardens, miles of underground wiring were laid in 1953, to provide night illumination. Finally, the ever-changing Ross Fountain was installed in 1964, in the lower reservoir to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Butchart Gardens.
The huge Garden, along with the unusual Ross Fountain was recognized by the Canadian Heraldic Authority, as they Authority granted a coat of arms to the Butchart Gardens in 1994. After that, to mark the 100th anniversary of the Gardens, two 30 feet totem poles were installed in 2004 and The Gardens was designated as a national historic site. However, the ownership of the magnificent Garden still remains within the Butchart family and since 2001, Butchart's great-granddaughter Robin-Lee Clarke has become the owner and managing director of the property.