Michael and Jean Bevan - Image sourced by Doug Bevan
Following the death of his wife Jean Melrose Bevan in early January 2001, Michael Bevan conceived of a memorial to their marriage of more than 56 years and to Jean’s love of nature. That memorial would result in a gift of trees to the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada, where the Bevans were then resident and where the Bevan family had lived more than 50 years earlier. At that time, Mike, educated as a horticulturist at universities in Alberta and Wisconsin, was a Commissioner of Land Use Planning for the Niagara Peninsula for the Agricultural Institute of Canada and developer of Bevan Heights in nearby St. David’s. The result was The Jean Melrose Bevan Memorial Heritage Tree Walk, located parallel to Anderson Lane and running between the Stone Road (Highway 55) and the Town’s Library and Community Centre.
Mike’s careers were varied, reflecting as would be expected his education, skills and interests. He was Canada’s youngest Provincial Horticulturist at age 29. He became a director of television and producer of documentary radio programs with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, worked with the Canadian International Development Agency in the Caribbean, was elected as a municipal counsellor , and ended his formal working life as a science teacher acquiring a Masters of Education along the way. Each stage contributed to his determination that The Jean Melrose Bevan Memorial Heritage Tree Walk would be not only a tribute to his wife but also a way to provide education about Canada’s trees and nature in an urban environment for generations to come.
The trees on The Jean Melrose Bevan Memorial Heritage Tree Walk are either native to Canada or naturalized to this country, often through human settlement. Jean’s family, originally from Scotland, had been early settlers in Upper Canada, as Ontario was called before Canada became a country in 1867, and were closely connected to the land. Mr. Bevan made his gift of the trees to the Town in 2003, which provided the land. The trees are maintained by the Town’s Parks and Recreation Department.
Mr. Bevan died in 2011 on the birthday of his youngest child, Don, who predeceased his parents. You will find places to sit along the Walk placed in their memory, and of Hugh Wild, his son-in-law.