History of Emmarentia Dam (www.jhbcityparks.com)

The land on which the garden is situated was once part of the farm Braamfontein, which dated back to 1853. In 1886, a farmer called Louw Geldenhuys bought a portion of Braamfontein Farm and named it after Emmarentia, the woman he married in 1887.

At the end of the Anglo Boer War, in 1902, many landless farmers returned home, and Geldenhuys offered them employment to build the 7,5ha Emmarentia Dam. Great blocks of stone were brought down from the nearby Melville Koppies, which were then fitted together to construct the dam wall. It banks up water to the depth of 20 metres at the centre of the dam. The wall was built almost perpendicular and has been equal to any flood.

Those men who worked well on the dam wall were chosen to join a farm-sharing experiment Geldenhuys had initiated on his farm.

Emmarentia Dam is fed by the Westdene Spruit, the catchment of which stretches to the suburb of Westdene, to the south of the dam. In earlier times, a furrow from the stream beside the Parkview Golf Course also led water to the dam. Today this furrow no longer exists but the storm water drains from the surrounding roads also feed the dam.

The dam and an area of land to the west of it formed an endowment from Geldenhuys to the city council for park and garden purposes. In 1952, the area was named Jan van Riebeeck Park in celebration of the tri-centenary of Van Riebeeck's historic landing at the Cape. Then, in 1969, a resolution was passed for the building of the Johannesburg Botanical Garden on this land.

Club History

Dabulamanzi Canoe club was founded by a group of paddlers that decided to set up the second canoe club in Johannesburg (after JCC), to be more conveniently situated in the north of Johannesburg, in 1979.The founder members, realising that Emmarentia Dam was to be the premier Gauteng canoeing venue of the future, had the vision to establish a club, which today consistently has a membership of some 700 members, comprising world champions in various categories, SA National Team members, SA champions, a strong provincial representation and recreational (fish 'n chips) paddlers.

Footnote Dabulamanzi was a younger son of the Zulu King Mpande and a brother of Cetshwayo. Dabulamanzi played a prominent part in the battle of Isandlwana. He was killed by a boer commando in 1884 after a dispute in connection with alleged cattle thefts.