Durham & District Horticultural Society

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Durham and District Horticultural Society

For many years the records of an early society organization were not available, but recently some of these have come to light.  From the first minute book of the first Horticultural Society organized in Durham, it is read that a meeting for this purpose was called by several enthusiastic residents on November 19th, 1896.  This was held in the Middaugh House.  Dr. Jas. Gun was elected Chairman and Wm Gorsline, Secretary.  A representative of the Ontario Department of Arts and Agriculture addressed the meeting.

On January 18, 1897, the first regular meeting was held to deal with the election of officers for the new society with Christopher Firth as President and Wm Gorsline, Secretary and John Kelly, Treasurer.  On a motion by Dr. Gun and John Kelly this society became associated with the Ontario Association.  In September of that year an exhibition of plants and flowers was held, specializing in cannas and gladioli.  Members received premiums - the first was twelve gladioli, costing one cent each and two canna tubers, followed by seeds of begonias and geraniums and later premiums were gooseberry, currant and raspberry bushes.

In November 1900 a delegate was appointed to attend the meeting of the Provincial Fruits, Flowers and Honey show in Toronto and to report back at a later meeting.  A government grant of $52.00 was recorded in 1902.

Between 1902 and 1912, the society devised fund-raising schemes to make improvements in connection with the town and the society.

The last entry in this, the only minute book available, was for June 10th, 1912, when a lively discussion was held on how to encourage more active interest among the young people of the Town of Durham and the neighbourhood.


In 1970 a group of interested people met to discuss the possibility of re-organizing a Horticultural Society for the area.  A charter was presented to the new group dated March 12th 1971.  Fred T. O'Brecht was elected as President. 

The society is appreciative of both grants and generous donations received each year.  Many people have served throughout the years on the executive and as members.

In 2017 the Durham & District Horticultural Society had 90 members, a record for our society. We held 8 General Meetings with great speakers, our Annual General Meeting & Pot Luck Dinner, 3 workshops, a bus trip and a special Flower Show and Dinner. We again hosted the growing Durham Herb Fair which had 39 vendors and community groups and welcomed close to 700 visitors. Our members created a new garden at the Durham Clinic in honor of Archie Lawrence, a long time area resident who left our society a very generous bequest. Members also planted and tended other Durham Clinic and Hospital gardens as well as those belonging to the Durham Royal Canadian Legion. Work on a collaboration with the West Grey Soccer Club has begun with the planting of shrubs and perennials in their new garden. We will be planting 2 trees at the soccer fields this spring and begin working with the kids and their families on more plantings and youth education.

2018 is shaping up to be another very busy year for our society with General Meeting speakers having being booked, workshops planned, a garden tour in the works as well as the planting of more pollinator friendly plants in the gardens we care for. The Durham Herb Fair has grown again and will host 50 vendors and community groups on June 9th.  Many of our members look forward to visiting other society events in our district and beyond. Here's to a bloomin great 2018!!




Last Updated: 2018-01-20