Vancouver Natural Historical Society

Scotland Walks Vancouver

Vancouver Natural Historical Society

Vancouver, British Columbia V6Z 2H7, Canada

Created By: SFU

Point of Interest Details

John Davidson was a famous Scottish-born Vancouver botanist who, just five years after arriving in British Columbia, founded the Vancouver Natural History Society. Davidson got his education through what the University of British Columbia classified as the “the back door.” His parents were working class and couldn’t afford a proper education. However, Davidson made his way by starting as boy attendant in the botany department at the University of Aberdeen at the age of fifteen. He spent eighteen years at the U of Aberdeen, slowly rising up to botanical museum curator and eventually assistant professor. The astounding fact that Davidson managed to get so far in academia without a formal degree would eventually cause him some grief. With the professionalization of European universities near the turn of the century, Davidson needed to find employment elsewhere.

That elsewhere was of course Vancouver. In 1911 he moved and was appointed British Columbia’s first provincial botanist. Davidson would establish the first botanical garden in British Columbia, a massive operation with over 25,000 plants. He also would find employment as a full time professor at the University of British Columbia, as one of the only professors without “formal training.” He would hold the post as president of the Vancouver Natural History Society, now located at the Vancouver Public Library, for over twenty years after.


Brownstien, David. “John Davidson” Retrieved from:

“The Founding of The Botanical Office” Retrived from:

This point of interest is part of the tour: Scotland Walks Vancouver


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