The Deans’ Cottage vs The Pollard Shanty

One can easily imagine the hard decision it was for Jane Deans to approve the demolition of the old Deans/Manson/Gebbie’s barn in 1897.  It was after all, the very roof where her dearly departed husband and his late brother had laid their heads to rest over 50 years earlier, when the Riccarton she so loved …

Hagley Park

“…the land commonly known as Hagley Park, shall be reserved for ever as a public park, and shall be open for the recreation and enjoyment of the public…”   and boy, have we Cantabs expected this law passed by our Founding Fathers in 1855 to be upheld and respected today or WATCH OUT! From the beginning …

Memories of Elizabeth Hawdon nee Barker

Elizabeth Barker was the eldest daughter of Dr. A.C. Baker and his wife Emma. The Barkers arrived in Canterbury aboard the ‘Charlotte Jane’ on the 16th December 1850. Emma was pregnant with Elizabeth during the voyage. The couple already had three boys. Elizabeth was born on the morning of the 15th March 1851 under a …

The Hart Family

The first time I read about the Hart family, my imagination was stirred! Here was this family fresh off the ‘Cressy’ struggling through the tussock of the Canterbury Plains (after tramping over the Bridle Path and punting across the Heathcote), squinting into the blazing setting sun. They stop for breath, the father looking at his …

Captain Joseph Thomas (1803 – ?)

Captain Joseph Thomas is easily the most forgotten man in Christchurch’s history. Born in 1803, Joseph was educated at the Royal Military College – so naturally he spent the beginning of his working life in the Army. He served in India and the West Indies, retiring in 1830. He travelled to South America where he …

Godley’s Farewell Spot

On the right hand-side as you drive into the Riccarton Ave carpark of Hagley Park (by the tennis courts) sits this historical gem. The memorial tablet acknowledges the departure of John Robert Godley from New Zealand, the founder of Canterbury in 1852. This breakfast event was set up in a spacious marquee, catered by the …

Pilgrim’s Well

On the 16th December 1930, this stone memorial was built around a natural spring that the first settlers used for water – just a few metres from Settler’s Corner in Hagley Park. You can find it along the Kate Sheppard Memorial Walk in the Botanic Gardens. It acknowledges the 80th anniversary of the arrival of …

The Avon River (Ōtākaro)

I can’t begin to fathom how surreal the afternoon/evening of the 16th December 1850 would have been for the Deans brothers. Especially as they may have stood in the doorway of the Deans Cottage while the shrieks and shouts of two stripped down male settlers splashed about in the Avon River – their echoes adding …