Twenty-five years ago Martin and Terra Moravcik tied the knot at the Assiniboine Park Conservatory.
On Saturday they renewed their vows and marked the end of the conservatory by remembering their beginning.
“We pledged our love and forgiveness and adoration for one another and commitment for another 25 years I hope,” Terra said.
“We have eight children and a grandson. We’ve been so blessed with so much love and life. It just felt like a wonderful time to give thanks for the past and pledge for the future.”
The couple was surrounded by their children and family members. The couple’s twin daughters were the flower girls while Terra’s father walked her down the aisle one more time.
“It was nice to see my wife cry as she came down the aisle. I could tell it was meaningful for her,” Martin said.
The couple heard it was the final weekend before doors shut on the conservatory for good on April 2.
“I’m thankful that I have a lot of memories here, bringing our babies, walking, reminiscing, smelling the flowers. I’m hopeful the new structure will create more family memories,” Terra said.
The conservatory is more than a greenhouse to many people in Winnipeg.
For Tanya Veness, it’s a sense of familiarity.
“I actually spent a few years living in the tropics so when I come here I feel a sense of home, there’s something about the humidity, the greenness of the plants,” she said.
Other Winnipeggers like Stanley Blok are sad to see the plants go.
“This is going to be a big loss as far as I’m concerned,” he said. “We have this and it’s going to be gone, what have we got in Winnipeg?”
READ MORE: Assiniboine Park Conservatory closing
Construction for the conservatory’s replacement — Canada’s Diversity Gardens has already begun in the southeast corner of the park.
It’s the final major phase of the redevelopment of Assiniboine Park and meant to celebrate culture and biodiversity with three external gardens, a main building with tropical plants and a butterfly garden.
“Canada’s diversity gardens will be remarkable,” Laura Cabak, Marketing & Communications Specialist with the Assiniboine Park Conservancy said. “It’s not simply a replacement of the conservatory, it’s more modern, The Leaf will be spectacular, both in terms of the architecture and the experiences people will be able to have there.”
A total of $60 million dollars of public money will be used to create the gardens. Ottawa will contribute $35 million to the project, the province will commit $15 million while the city will provide $10 million.
Private sector donations totaling $10 million will also go towards the project.
On Saturday morning, protesters stood outside the conservatory, frustrated by the proposed entrance fees for the new gardens.
Organizer Molly McCracken said it should be free like the conservatory so that it’s accessible for all Winnipeggers.
“We understand it’s very sad this building has reached the end of its life but the new building, which is going to be very beautiful, with an entrance charge it’s going to leave some people out. We’re here to say we don’t want that to be the case and it doesn’t have to be the case,” she said.
“We’re asking the park to imagine a place for all Winnipeggers and imagine a place that can be available for everyone.”
The Assiniboine Park Conservancy says there’s no concrete plans for how much admission will cost for the indoor exhibits, but that the outdoor gardens will be free.
The space where the conservatory stands now will be torn down and turned into a greenspace in the long-term plans.
Canada’s Diversity Gardens is expected to open in late 2020.