About the Peter Russell Rock Garden

Our Vision

Bringing the science of planet Earth into the lives and careers of all by sharing knowledge and raising awareness for the Earth, its history, its resources, and the environmental issues facing society.

Our Mission

The museum, through its collections, displays and programs aims to foster a broad and diverse appreciation for all features and processes of planet Earth for all ages, both within and outside the university community.

Our History

The Geological Garden, located between the Biology and Math buildings, was created by Peter Russell in 1982. The garden is a green space in the heart of campus that was created to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the founding of the University of Waterloo. The plan to make the garden was officially announced by founding President J. Gerald Hageyon January 8th, 1982. The University of Waterloo's Department of Earth Sciences then officially opened the Geological Garden on May 29, 1987 after receiving adequate funding as well the first 23 rock specimens that were representative of different geologic formations found in Ontario. 

The first request for funding to begin the rock garden was to the Canadian Geological Foundation in 1982 was declined, but the proposal was resubmitted in 1984 and accepted. Contributions from Wintario and a bequest in memory of a University of Waterloo alumnus, Malcolm Heaton, made the project viable. The initial plan for the garden included 12 rocks of an attractive and educational nature. A total of $10,000 was raised, and the quest of collecting rocks began in June of 1986. Rocks were collected in many locations, from St. Joseph Island in Georgian Bay to Marathon, Bancroft, Sault Ste. Marie, and Timmins.

Peter Russell

In the summer of 1999, Geological Garden was renamed "The Peter Russell Rock Garden" by the University of Waterloo, in recognition of the work done by Peter Russell. Peter was a laboratory technician for the Earth Sciences Department since June 15th, 1967, as well as working tirelessly as the curator emeritus of the Earth Sciences Museum. He was also made an Honorary Member of the University of Waterloo at the June 1999 convocation as an acknowledgment of his contributions to the university. Three new rocks were installed during that summer in the Peter Russell Rock Garden.

Since then, the garden has continued to grow. It is now the resting place for over 70 rocks, and more to come!

The garden is used to inform elementary students, high school students, and other community groups about Earth’s materials and the geology of Ontario. Even university students use the rocks in the garden as learning tools in first-year earth sciences courses and laboratories! Other students, visitors, and campus personnel enjoy taking a walk through the relaxing surroundings or even sharing their lunch break with the resident squirrels. It serves as a peaceful place to enjoy some outdoor time in the hustle and bustle of the work or school day. 


This picture was taken by Barbara Elve, showing young campers from UW's ESQ and ACE day camp taking a lunch break in the Peter Russell Rock Garden.