Sweetman’s Gardens

From 1962 to 2012, Murray Sweetman gardened on the former CNR right-of-way in North Bay, Ontario, creating a place of beauty from a wasteland. In all the years that followed, the garden has had a devoted following, delighting — for instance — wedding parties, who come to have their portraits taken. Photographers and fellow gardeners visit often for a shot of inspiration. And many in the city walk through it at some point in the summer, drinking in the succession of beauty — first the masses of lupines, then the gloriosa daisies, then the lilies, and so on for an entire season of outrageous pleasure. Children, sensing the quality of serenity that pervades the almost two-acre  site, have named it “the secret garden”.

The last Emperor of Ethiopia, Haillie Selassie, on a Canadian tour in the 1960’s, asked that his train be stopped here so he could visit this marvellous place. Sweetman (who has done all this at his own expense)  has been joined in his efforts by other volunteers who treasure this small paradise, maintaining it as one of North Bay’s jewels.

Murray Sweetman  died in 2012. But Since 2009, he had allowed members of the Seedlings Storytime group (part of Greening Nipissing) to plant vegetable gardens in the Sweetman Garden.  Now families register their children (ages 6 and up) at the North Bay Public Children’s Library every spring (after March break) to join the Seedlings Storytime program.  This hands-on program entails a unique combination of gardening, ecological education, improving literacy and having fun exploring individual creativity.  Half the program is spent at the Sweetman Garden and the other half at the North Bay Public Children’s Library.
Join us for our annual Family Fun Spring Clean Up event: usually the last Sunday in April (1pm to 4pm).  Corner of Cormack and McIntyre Street.

If you wish to become involved with the Sweetman Garden or would like more information about activities, events or the gardens themselves please contact:

Adelaide Saeger,
Tel: (705) 476-3696


2 Responses to Sweetman’s Gardens

  1. Heather Sweetman says:


    My husband is Mike Sweetman, Murray’s grandson. His birthday is coming up and I would love to surprise his with some photos from Murray’s garden. I have two cards that were sent to us both before our girls were born we just found. Our girls are Lily, Iris and Poppy we have an iris and Poppy card they were made my a Lorna Jackson. Is there anyway you know and have a contact for her? I would love to get copies of those cards and hopefully one of a lily to print for my husband.

    It is so nice to see things going on with the garden to this day. Thank you

    Please don’t post this comment if you could just reply that would be amazing.


  2. Brian Hazzard says:

    How is this garden named after? I knew years ago of two teachers in WFSS high school named Sweetman any relations to them?

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