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'Bear' gardener brightening up Boyle Street for 47 years

A staple of Edmonton's downtown, Dick "Bear" Barr is often seen walking along Jasper Ave with a leather jacket and a staff with a stuffed bear on top. As Edmonton AM's Tim Adams discovers, he's also the caretaker of one of the core's lushest gardens for nearly half a century.
Dick Barr has been living in the Boyle Street neighbourhood for the past 47 years, tending to his lush garden every summer. (Tim Adams/CBC)

For years, Dick Barr has been a regular, but odd, sight along Jasper Ave, clad in a leather jacket with "bear" emblazoned on the back and a carrying a staff with a stuffed bear on top. 

But he is less well-known as the caretaker of the lush garden that thrives in front of the Boyle Street apartment building where he has been living for the past 47 year. 

Barr was riding the bus down Jasper Avenue in 1967 and saw a for rent sign at a building he often admired for the lush garden out front.

He immediately jumped off the bus, rented the apartment and “never left.” He has now become vital in keeping that green spot alive. 

The CBC’s Tim Adams caught up with Barr to talk about what the garden has meant to the area and his odd attire. 

On mobile? Listen to the interview here.

Dick Barr shows off the garden he has been tending to for the past 47 years. (Tim Adams/CBC)

With files from CBC's Tim Adams