In 1872, Strathroy’s Horticultural Society was born, and for many decades, was a strong organization with many members.
(photo of 1870-era wheelbarrow courtesy of Museum Strathroy-Caradoc)
As time went on, interest gradually declined and the Society was disbanded sometime in the 1930s. By the 1940s, only three of the former members were left.
On Friday, May 12, 1944, a special meeting of the Strathroy Council was held to reorganize the Strathroy Horticultural Society. The membership fee was set to one dollar and a call was made for all flower lovers of Strathroy to help in the mission to “make beautiful spots and increase gardens.” (Age Dispatch, June 27, 1944)
Just one month later, D-Day! (photo courtesy of Museum Strathroy-Caradoc)
By July 27, 1944 (one month later), membership reached seventy people and the Society became an official organization; eligible to receive grants and benefits from the provincial department and register with the Ontario Horticultural Association. The Society’s purpose was to encourage the planting of trees, shrubs, and flowers on private and public grounds.
In 1947, the Chrysanthemum was chosen as the Strathroy Horticultural Society’s floral emblem.
In 1972, on our 100th anniversary, two memorial trees were planted at the Town Hall, an Alamy Crab and a Blue Spruce.
We weren't recognized officially as an organization until 1944 but did exist before then.
On July 9, 1995, we hosted our first annual garden tour. About 130 people toured 11 gardens.
In 1997, the Society put up a new feature at the cenotaph beside the Town Hall. A black wrought-iron railing was installed to replace a hedge, which lined the sidewalk at the site. The Strathroy branch of the Royal Canadian Legion financed the project and the Society supervised the erection of the railing.
We initiated an annual event in 1997 to encourage beautiful gardens and started presenting the Chrysanthemum Award to the business or institution with the most attractive and best maintained horticultural display.
On June 14, 1998, MacKinlay-Paul Park was officially opened with a newly refurbished garden designed to replicate an old-fashioned park. The Strathroy Horticultural Society was one of the many organizations involved in the project. -
In 1998, the Society helped construct three A-frame wheelchair accessible gardens at Strathmere Lodge. The raised garden beds, which can be used to produce both flowers and vegetables, allow for ease of planting and make gardening possible for those with physical challenges. It has always been the Society’s philosophy that anyone should be able to garden.
We partnered with the Town to give the gardens at the Strathroy Public Library and Art Gallery a facelift.
We presented our first annual Trillium Awards on Sept. 9, 2000. Gardens were judged for "street appeal". Forty gardens were nominated.
Francine Lanting was a familiar sight in Strathroy that summer. Thanks to a grant from HRDC, she worked for us and cared for the gardens at Mackinlay-Paul Park, Centennial Park, the Cenotaph, the library, the Seniors' Centre, Albert and Centre and Murray House (then the Strathroy Middlesex Museum).
Francine cycled with shovels, rakes, hoses and other garden tools from one garden to another. (Age Dispatch)
In 2002, the Society was renamed the Strathroy-Caradoc Horticultural Society when the two communities of Strathroy and Caradoc amalgamated.
This year our Society was recognized by the Ontario Horticultural Association for 75 consecutive years as an active, official organization.
Although the years before 1944 aren't factored in by the OHA, they are an important part of our growth and development, and shouldn't be forgotten.
In 2019, we hosted about 120 people on our 25th Annual Garden Tour.