Royal Roads University’s president Philip Steenkamp and gardener Greg Higgs restart the restored water wheel at the campus’ Japanese Garden. (Photo courtesy of Royal Roads University)

Royal Roads University’s president Philip Steenkamp and gardener Greg Higgs restart the restored water wheel at the campus’ Japanese Garden. (Photo courtesy of Royal Roads University)

Restored water wheel returns to Japanese Garden at Royal Roads in Colwood

The wooden wheel was initially installed betweem 1915 and 1930

The newly restored water wheel at Royal Roads University’s Japanese Garden hopes to give people some moments of tranquility in the current stressful times.

The 7’1” diameter wooden wheel was initially installed between 1915 and 1930, but was removed in 2020 after last being restored in 1999.

It took four skilled joiners from Vintage Woodworks in Saanichton 160 hours to complete the $40,000 restoration. They used a mix of modern tools, old-world skills and sustainable materials, the university said in a news release.

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This restoration is expected to last decades, as the wheel is made from a type of pine, called accoya, that’s brined and heat treated with chemicals – making it able to withstand being exposed to the elements.

The wheel restoration is part of the $100,000 A Vision in Bloom fundraising drive, which aims to revitalize the campus’ Hatley Park.

Philip Steenkamp, the university’s president and CEO, said the he hopes the renewed gardens can be a place people can go to rejuvenate their mental and physical health.

“This garden, with its artful combination of plants, trees, water and rocks is truly a tranquil retreat and with all that’s going on right now, we need places like this more than ever,” said Steenkamp.


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