Ruth Redmond was born August 2, 1902, in Holleford, Ontario, a small village north of Kingston, to an Irish father and mother of United Empire Loyalist background.
Redmond graduated from Queen’s University in 1923 and obtained her teaching degree from the Ontario Institute Studies in Education, in Toronto the following year. After time spent teaching at two Eastern Ontario schools, Redmond followed her older sister, Mildred, a Thorold school teacher, to Niagara. Ruth was hired by Stamford Collegiate and Vocational Institute in 1926 where she taught English and History.
It was while she was teaching at Stamford C.V.I. that she became concerned that parts of the War of 1812, Battle of Lundy’s Lane site were being lost to hotel and commercial development. Ruth began purchasing properties, financing them through her teaching salary. Ruth lived on this land, surrounded in her properties that were rented to tenants. Although she was frequently approached by developers, Ruth Redmond staunchly refused to sell her land.
Retiring from teaching in 1967, “Miss Redmond” was remembered fondly by former students as she continued to keep in touch with many of them throughout her life.
A series of events in the Spring of 1999 focused national attention on the Battle of Lundy’s Lane site. Terrence and Brian McKenna’s film, “The War of 1812”, was broadcast and many Ontarians watched that Easter weekend as Ruth Redmond appeared in the Epilogue speaking wistfully about “the boys” who died at Lundy’s Lane. Ruth Redmond passed away the morning after the program aired.
While media attention was focused on the site, Herb Grey, Deputy Prime Minister at the time, announced the approval for a Canadian Millennium Partnership Grant to the Friends of the Lundy’s Lane Battlefield, a local citizens group dedicated to preserving and protecting the lands of the Lundy’s Lane battlefield. News of the funding had been shared with Ruth before she passed and friends claim that she was very pleased, as the announcement confirmed that her long years of work to preserve the battlefield lands had come to fruition.
Gardens at Redmond Heights
In her later years Ruth took to gardening, with the goal of transforming her property into her own “Shangri-La”. Ruth surrounded herself with red geraniums, her tribute to the men who fought and died during the War of 1812. Ruth won 10 Trillium Awards - an award recognizing excellence in horticultural display - for her work at “Redmond Heights”.
When talking about the gardens in 1994, her love for them was evident:
“Shangri-La - I love it,” she whispered. “I love it.” Her voice picking up volume: “Sometimes I cry when I think of giving it away. It’s like giving up a child ‘cause I’ve worked so hard on it ... Every time I close my eyes I think of Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner: “But oh! The silence sank like music on my heart.” -St. Catharines Standard, September 14, 1994
Friends will remember the retired school teacher as a “unique Canadian Patriot”, a quiet, gentle woman who surrounded herself with hundreds of geraniums. At the same time, she spent much of her life aggressively acquiring as many portions of the historic Lundy’s Lane Battlefield as she could afford. She was determined that one day there would be a tribute to “Her Boys”.
On June 25, 1996, among her gardens, Ruth Redmond officially handed over the historic lands to the City of Niagara Falls, for the creation of a historic park. Since that time her dream of a lasting remembrance of the Battle of Lundy’s Lane has been fulfilled.
Generations of Canadians will know their history a little better because of her untiring efforts.
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Road Movies: Fall Film Series