Butchart Gar­dens wel­comes a dragon

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By HATTY LIU in Vic­to­ria For China Daily

China and the city of Suzhou have pre­sented a dragon foun­tain to the Butchart Gar­dens in Vic­to­ria, BC.

The gift was un­veiled at a pri­vate cer­e­mony on June 13 by gar­dens owner Robin Clarke and Sheng Lei, deputy mayor of Suzhou, on the oc­ca­sion of the 35th an­niver­sary of the twin city re­la­tion­ship be­tween Suzhou and Vic­to­ria.

Dig­ni­taries on hand in­cluded BC Lieu­tenant Gover­nor Ju­dith Gui­chon, and Liu Fei, con­sul gen­eral of the Peo­ple’s Re­pub­lic of China, who made open­ing re­marks at the event. Of­fi­cials and lead­ers from Suzhou, Vic­to­ria and the Chi­nese com­mu­nity in BC were also present.

Gui­chon said that

“China and Canada have a long-stand­ing friend­ship that dates back to the very be­gin­ning of our recorded history in Bri­tish Columbia, Canada’s door­way to Asia.”

“It’s such an ap­pro­pri­ate place to gather to­gether to celebrate that friend­ship, in one of Bri­tish Columbia’s best known, long­est-en­dur­ing and most suc­cess­ful des­ti­na­tions and a na­tional his­toric site for Canada,” Gui­chon said.

Liu, one of the orig­i­nal pro­posers of the pro­ject to the Suzhou gov­ern­ment, said “Butchart Gar­dens is the icon of Canada in China.”

“On the oc­ca­sion of the CanadaChina Peo­ple-to-Peo­ple and Cul­tural Ex­change Year, and to pro­mote friend­ship and un­der­stand­ing be­tween our two coun­tries, we’d like to see more Chi­nese tourists come here to en­joy the lovely weather, lovely gar­dens and friendly lo­cal peo­ple,” Liu said.

Clarke said the dragon foun­tain will help com­mem­o­rate the Chi­nese work­ers who helped her great-grand­mother Jen­nie Butchart build the gar­dens in 1904.

“Ev­ery time we see this statue, not only will it be an enor­mous hon­our for those of us that are here, but we will truly re­mem­ber all the peo­ple who came years ago to make us what we are now,” Clarke said as she un­veiled the gift.

The Butchart Gar­dens is a pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tion for Chi­nese tourists and one of the sites vis­ited by the first Chi­nese tour groups to come to Canada af­ter it be­came a gov­ern­ment ap­proved des­ti­na­tion in 2010.

Suzhou is a 2,500-year-old city in the Lower Yangtze River Basin renowned for its UNESCO World Her­itage clas­si­cal Chi­nese gar­dens built in the 11th to 19th cen­turies.

The city was twinned with Vic­to­ria in 1980 in or­der to pro­mote cul­tural and eco­nomic ex­change op­por­tu­ni­ties.

“Some­thing as em­blem­atic as the Chi­nese dragon is ap­pro­pri­ate for cel­e­brat­ing this 35-year jour­ney of friend­ship,” Sheng Lei, deputy mayor of Suzhou, told China Daily. “By mak­ing this dragon a per­ma­nent part of the Butchart Gar­dens, we hope to share the good for­tunes and bless­ings rep­re­sented by the Chi­nese dragon with the peo­ple of both cities.”

The foun­tain is the first Chi­nese style per­ma­nent in­stal­la­tion at the Butchart Gar­dens. Cast by ar­ti­sans in Suzhou, it de­picts of a two-by-three me­tre, 2.7-tonne bronze dragon rid­ing on frothy waves made of gran­ite.

DANWEI BU / FOR CHINA DAILY

From left: Thomas Chan, pres­i­dent of the Chi­nese Con­sol­i­dated Benev­o­lent As­so­ci­a­tion; Lisa Helps, mayor of Vic­to­ria; Sheng Lei, deputy mayor of Suzhou; Robin Clarke, owner of The Butchart Gar­dens; Ju­dith Gui­chon, lieu­tenant-gover­nor of BC; Liu Fei, con­sul gen­eral of China; Ryan Wind­sor, mayor of Cen­tral Saanich; and Dave Cowen, gen­eral man­ager of The Butchart Gar­dens; at­tend the un­veil­ing cer­e­mony of the Chi­nese dragon statue at the Butchart Gar­dens on June 13.

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