Raoul Robillard

Year of Investiture:

British Columbian Landscape Architect, born in the Normandy Village of Goulet, France, immigrated with his family to Western Canada in 1905. In 1912, Raoul, at age 15, visited the future site of the University of British Columbia with his father and the Premier of British Columbia, scaled a large cedar and described the vista of Howe Sound. So was chosen the future site of the Mall and initial buildings of the University of British Columbia. 

Mr. Robillard and his father were the master designers of one of the western world's most famous gardens - Victoria, British Columbia's Butchart Gardens. Completed in 1920, the site was originally an old limestone quarry encompassing twenty-five acres. The project took two and a half years to complete with a labour force of two hundred and fifty Chinese workmen. Much of the introduced plant material, the focus and character of the early gardens form the basis of those that exist today. 

Over a period of seventy years, Raoul Robillard designed fifteen hundred master estate and residential gardens and many commercial sites, including Vancouver's Bentall Centre, and the three dimensional inner "City Park" - the Provincial Government Complex of Robson Square and Courthouse. The structure of this two city block project forms the framework for a series of landscaped terraces on various levels; an integration of the building mass and total utilization of its roofs. He served as a Consultant at this project, and his work was recognized with an American Society of landscape Architects Award of Excellence in 1979, and was posthumously awarded the 1985 Vancouver Amenity Award. 

In 1980, a selection of his work was submitted to the Canada Council for Award consideration with a number of his endeavours published over the years. Noted by a local newspaper columnist, as "one of the men who made Victoria into the city of gardens', he was honoured in 1980 by the British Columbia Society of Landscape Architects with a specially created silver medal. The inscription states "To Raoul Robillard for the legacy of enhancements and improvements to our landscape over these past seventy years - June 1980". 

He "believed that the ideally conceived project was one that included the programmed structure and modified site, conceived as one. All had to be functional, serviceable and had to meet the owner's taste and way of living. Only then would the total concept be a true work of art."

A Scholarship, funded by the British Columbia Society of Landscape Architects, awarded in his name, is a regular part of the Awards Ceremony of the graduating class of the University of British Columbia School of Landscape Architecture. 

Photo credits: Butchart Gardens

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