Mr. Gilles Vincent and Ms. Sonia Dandaneau Interviewee: Mr. Gilles Vincent, Director, Montreal Botanic Garden （Date: August 29, 2007; Place: Montreal Botanic Garden, 4101 Sherbrooke Street East; Interviewer/Writer: Takahiro Miyao）
Mr. Gilles Vincent (Director) and Ms. Sonia Dandaneau (Cultural Agent, Japanese Garden & Pavilion) spent more than two hours showing me around in the Montreal Botanic Garden, including the Courtyard of the Senses, the Rose Garden, the First Nations Garden, the Chinese Garden as well as the Japanese Garden and Pavilion, all of which I enjoyed very much. Especially, the Japanese Garden, designed by master architect Ken Nakajima, was so impressive and the Japanese Pavilion, full of Japanese culture and art, was so delightful, and should be quite useful in promoting mutual understanding of Quebec and Japan in terms of history and culture.
Summary of Mr. Vincent’s Interview
The Montreal Botanic Garden is open to everyone, especially to local citizens, who “own” this garden. Although I am the director of the Garden, I could not change any part of it without approval of local citizens. In return, a majority of our visitors, about a million a year, are repeaters from the greater Montreal area, and this is a remarkable phenomenon in view of increasing alternative attractions for local citizens. Another important aspect of the Botanic Garden is its emphasis on research and education. A team of experts are conducting scientific research at the Garden as part of the plant biology research institute at the University of Montreal in cooperation with the City of Montreal, trying to contribute to the advancement of scientific knowledge as well as improvements in the urban environment. The Botanic Garden also plays an educational role by offering various opportunities for young people to enjoy and learn about the wonderful world of plants. One of the advantages that this huge garden has is its variety. One can enjoy both the Japanese Garden and the Chinese Garden, which are located side by side, and also wander around in the First Nations Garden. Or one can walk from the Courtyard of the Senses through various vegetable gardens to the Rose Garden. There are so many to see and so much to enjoy that one would feel like coming back again and again. Regarding the Japanese Garden and Pavilion, Ms. Sonia Dandaneau is doing a good job in organizing special exhibitions and cultural activities to help visitors enjoy and understand the original spirit of Japanese culture and traditions. An excellent bonsai collection and tea ceremonies are also popular attractions, creating more repeaters to the Japanese Pavilion every day. All these must be contributing much to the public’s understanding of Japanese culture and society.