Campbell Horticultural Society celebrates 90th anniversary in grand style

Seija Bailey, vice-president of the Campbell Horticultural Society, is presented with a certificate of congratulations by Carol Hughes, MP for Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing. photo by Tom Sasvari

SPRING BAY—The Campbell Horticultural Society (CHS) celebrated 90 years of horticulture and their work in the community at a special anniversary party celebrating its founding this past Tuesday at the Spring Bay Community Centre.


“The Ontario Horticultural Association (OHA) officers, its 19 directors and 28,000 members congratulate the Campbell Horticultural Society on your 90th anniversary,” stated CHS member and a District 13 OHA director Christine Marsh in a letter she read to members and friends of the Society on behalf of Rose Odell, OHA president. “You have a passion for horticulture and accompanying this is your passion to share and educate others in all things horticultural. Volunteers are the grassroots of any organization, and you have shown on many occasions how you and your volunteers make your community both beautiful and livable.”

Ms. Odell wrote, “in 1928 your founding members could never have imagined what you have become today and what you will accomplish in the future. Congratulations to all your members and your society. Let’s celebrate in Keeping Ontario Beautiful! Happy Birthday!”

The Campbell Horticultural Society celebrated its 90th anniversary at a party held in Spring Bay on Tuesday.

After a rousing rendition of O Canada sung by all 60 or so CHS members and guests in attendance accompanied by Carol Lee on the piano, Seija Bailey vice-president of the CHS wished, “everyone a good afternoon. And a very warm welcome to all members, past and present.”

Ms. Bailey pointed out that as everyone arrived for the reception they were presented with a specially made bookmark featuring the CHS 90th anniversary done by Christie Best-Anderson along with the beautiful drawing of the artist’s print, “Wood Lily,” on the other side.

Wayne Bailey then introduced Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing MP Carol Hughes who bade greetings on behalf of herself and Algoma-Manitoulin MPP Michael Mantha. “It is great to be here,” she stated. “It is an honour to be among all of you, for this special anniversary. Your members do so much work in the community, with things like participating in parades, fairs, the flower shows. Through the years members have been leaders for future generations, providing an awareness of how important it is to be involved,” said Ms. Hughes.

“Your group has been an integral part of the cultural fabric of your community,” stated Ms. Hughes. “And this 90 year milestone is one you should be proud of,” she said in presenting a certificate of congratulations on behalf of the province.

Mr. Bailey then introduced Richard Stephens, mayor of the municipality of Central Manitoulin. “It is a great pleasure to be here today,” said Mayor Stephens. “I’ve always thought of the horticultural society as being flower people . I certainly enjoy your flower shows each year, and the wind-up display at the Providence Bay Agricultural Fair. It is remarkable what you do.”

“On behalf of the municipality I would like to thank all of you on your hard work, dedication, partnering with the municipality and in applying for and getting a donation from an organization to further beautify the municipality,” said Mayor Stephens.

It was explained by a CHS member that the group had applied to the OHA who approve 20 grants of $2,000 each year. The application was accepted and the CHS will be planting beautiful ginkgo biloba trees outside of the Mindemoya hospital and in a location in Central Manitoulin.

Carol Lang, chair of the anniversary committee said, “Brian Bell, agriculture development advisor for OMAFRA, is unable to be here today, but has sent some favours and handouts for us to have. I would like to thank Wilda Campbell, and I suspect her husband Wallace helped, for spending long hours combing through the photo albums and choosing and mounting some key pictures, complete with notations, on the poster boards here today. Thank you to you both. The albums are also there for you to examine at your leisure.”

CHS member Bernice Lewis provided some of the history of the  group. “I was born in Campbell Township in 1935 so a lot of the names and faces of the original members were familiar to me from a young age. Elwood (her husband) and I moved to the farm on Beaver Road in 1959,” where they raised their family.

“In 1960-1961 my good friend and neighbour Geraldine Haner invited me to join the Campbell Horticulture  and I have belonged since then, 58 years, and have enjoyed it,” said Ms. Lewis. “At that time the ladies were mostly from Spring Bay and some from Providence Bay, later Mindemoya and Sandfield. Now it extends a lot further. At one time my grandmother Mae Taylor, my  mom Della Fogal and myself all belonged. In fact, one year we all showed up at the flower show.”

“From the start meetings were held in private homes,” said Ms. Lewis. “Each member took turns hosting a meeting.” She pointed out, “the first flower show was in 1961 in the Orange Hall basement. The tea was served upstairs with no running water. So all the water had to be carried in. But we managed. Admission was 35 cents for the flower show and 25 cents for the tea. Hall rental was $12”

“We held an annual picnic in July for a few years,” said Ms. Lewis. “We had volunteers to go to district annual in June. One year I went with a car load of ladies to Thessalon. We extended our trip to Michigan. Another year we went from the Soo to Wawa,” noting one year the CHS made  a trip to Treasure Island, where they had lunch and toured the grounds.

“At one time there were cemetery bees in the spring to clean up the grounds and in later years we started to plant flowers at cemeteries,” continued Ms. Lewis. In October the group would hold a fowl supper in the basement of the Orange Hall.”

“The Society at one time had a table at Providence Bay Fair with prizes given out. We also entered a float in the parade some years,” said Ms. Lewis. “And for a few years there was a home and garden improvement category and it was later judged.”

“I have enjoyed all my years in horticulture. It is a great bunch of people,” stated Ms. Lewis.                                         

“Two Sudbury Horticultural Society guests are with us today,” said Ms. Lang. “Carmen and John Huggins have donated the box of canna lilies you see over there. Anyone who wishes to grow these majestic plants this year, please feel free to take a root home with you.”  Later the Huggins provided information on how to grow and maintain the canna lilies.

Grace was delivered by Reverend Dan Thompson, followed by a fantastic lunch and entertainment provided by Jim and Joanne Smith, including a “name the flower in the song” contest.

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