Gerry and Molly MacPherson at North Vancouver City Hall where he
received the freedom of the city award for spending many hours making a
lush park for the public to enjoy. (Meera Bains/CBC News)
A man who turns 100 on Wednesday has been awarded the City of
North Vancouver's highest honour for creating a much visited and much
loved public garden in memory of his son.
Gerry MacPherson has
been working on a derelict piece of land in a city park
beside Brooksbank Elementary School for more than a decade following the
death of his son Jeff. Over time, it's become known simply as "Gerry's
In awarding MacPherson the freedom of the city in a
special ceremony at city hall on Monday, Mayor Linda Buchanan told a
crowd of his friends and family, along with city staff, that what had
once been a municipal dump had became a beautiful garden thanks to his
Jeff died of cancer in 2007 at the age of 47.
"To soothe his grief, Gerry poured himself into improving the condition of this area," Buchanan said.
A bad fall that resulted in three broken ribs and a cracked pelvis last week couldn't stop MacPherson from receiving the award.
He said he managed to get a day pass from Lions Gate Hospital to attend the event.
"I'm blown right out of the water," MacPherson said after accepting the symbolic gold key.
MacPherson and his wife Molly say the garden wasn't planned
— "I can't plan the next two minutes," MacPherson said — but his
dedication made it flourish.
"He just went on and on and on from early morning 'til nine o'clock at night. I hardly saw him," Molly MacPherson said.
garden is home to trees, flowers and a large stone centrepiece donated
by the students of Brooksbank Elementary. Just before Christmas 2018,
students at the school also helped MacPherson realize his dream of
installing holiday lights at the garden.
is hoping to leave the hospital again on Wednesday. Brooksbank students
have planned a special celebration for his 100th birthday.