When Susan Kerr’s friends Jacques Lemieux and Alex Forman got married last summer, she wasn’t sure what to give them as a wedding gift. Then she had an idea. A Centretown resident and member of the Friends of Dundonald Park, Kerr has maintained a garden in the park for more than 20 years, keeping it stocked with plants and doing regular cleanups and maintenance.
“Knowing that the garden needs plants was one thing that was going on,” Kerr says. “At the same time, there was a lot of press last summer about what was going on in Russia and other areas in the world, and my buddies got married! So at the same time, I was looking for a wedding present and it just kind of all came together.”
In honour of her friends’ marriage, Kerr decided to start the Equal Marriage Garden, giving Ottawa’s same-sex couples a chance to have their unions commemorated with a plaque, a plant or both. On May 13, the first plaque was unveiled, honouring Lemieux and Forman’s Aug 16 wedding date.
“I wish I would have come up with that idea myself,” Lemieux says of the unconventional gift.
“Seeing it come together today actually was really nice,” Forman adds.
In addition to a plaque with their names and wedding date, Kerr also planted a weeping crabapple tree. Over time, as more plants are added to the garden, it will contribute to the ecology and beauty of the park. For Lemieux and Forman, it’s a beautiful way of honouring their marriage and giving it a legacy.
“We will never have a baby, but that will be our baby,” Lemieux says.
“I think it’s really nice just to put a stamp to it and recognize equal marriages, and I hope that it flourishes in the park,” Forman adds.
Anyone looking to commemorate a same-sex marriage, whether their own union or as a gift for others, can contact Kerr at firstname.lastname@example.org. The only cost is to have a plaque made (which is optional) – Kerr will provide a perennial shrub or small tree. She says the garden is also open to the trans community. “Anyone that’s looking for a gift for friends or family that are getting married, it’s an option for them, as well as for any couple that’s married and wants to commemorate their own event . . . Elton and Ellen should be calling me.”