In order to preserve the ancient Indian and early Mormon canals, Van B. and Vida Brinton tried to purchase the East 20 acres of what is now the Park of the Canales.
In November 1971, a year and one half after Van Brinton ‘s death, the George Bond family offered to sell the 20 acres to the Brinton family for $85,000 plus interest.
Payments were to be made over three years. Dilworth Brinton gave the Bonds $100 for an option on the property. The Brinton family pledged $5,000 per year for 3 years to start the project. Dilworth then raised $30,000 from the community for the first years’ payment. The Mesa Historical Society, which was organized in 1967 by Mitzi Zipf and Dilworth Brinton, agreed to accept tax deductible donations and take title to the property during the second year. The Mesa Historical Society raised the balance of the second year’s payments. During the third year, the property was donated to the City of Mesa.
The City made the final payment for the acquisition of the land. Additional acres at the West end of the park were acquired by the City bringing the total area of the park to 30 acres. Names of the donors are on the bronze plaque near the information building. When Vida Brinton died in 1987, additional gifts were given by the Brinton family to establish the Brinton Desert Botanical Garden.
Construction began in 1989 as a joint venture between the City if Mesa and the Brinton family. Cacti inside the walls represent the four types of deserts found in Arizona. In 1991 the garden was enlarged outside the walls to include cacti form around the world. The trees West and South of the walls are a gift from the State of Arizona Forestry Department. All plants and cacti not otherwise designated are gift from the Van B. and Vice Driggs Brinton family.