By Gerry Clare
Early in 1938, Spencer Tuck of Pouce Coupe suggested that it was time the gardeners of the Peace got together to form a Horticultural Society. The purpose of the society would be to foster an interest in the cultivation of better flowers, fruits and vegetables than were currently being grown.
The idea took root and, on May 23 of 1938, an organizational meeting was held in the home of Harry Giles. There were enough interested people from Pouce Coupe and Dawson Creek to elect a temporary executive and to start working. The first officers of the society were Spencer Tuck, Mrs Harry Giles, Mrs Tom Crack, Mrs Irwin Groh, Mrs Ed Anderson and Mrs Jim Bond. The Peace River District of B.C. Horticultural Society — the name at that time — began to grow from that point.
A competitive show was staged in the Legion Hall on August 13. In spite of the very dry season the show was very successful, attracting 195 entries in 34 classes — including garden vegetables and children’s classes. Four challenge trophies were awarded and 30 individual winners named with Mrs Tom Norman being declared the Grand Aggregate Winner. Louisa Braden opened the show and introduced the judges — Mrs J. Moore and Mr Murdock of Edmonton, and WD Albright from the Dominion Experimental Farm in Beaverlodge.
The show became an annual highlight of the Dawson Creek Fall Fair after 1954 and the Society continues to organize and manage that part of the Fair, attracting hundreds of entries in dozens of classes each year.
Today, the Dawson Creek and District Horticultural Society still follows the purpose of its founding members: to promote interest in and knowledge of things pertaining to horticulture. The Horticulture Show at the Fall Fair is a major undertaking and involves year-round work in organizing the event before it opens in its own building.
Eight spectacular demonstration gardens — Gardens North — at the Walter Wright Pioneer Village show just what can be grown here in Zone 2 in the way of flowers and ornamental plants. Visitors from more southern areas are always amazed at the variety of plants we can grow and enjoy in our short season.
An annual Garden Tour in late July has some members invite the public to view their gardens and get first hand advice. Throughout the year, the society meets to hear speakers discussing the perennial problems facing gardeners everywhere — weed control, insect pests, suitable varieties for the climate — and to share ideas and information about new and exciting developments in gardening.
The Society’s 60th Anniversary will be marked by the opening of a new garden at the Art Gallery in NAR Park and the production of a souvenir pin. With a current membership of more than 60, the Dawson Creek and District Horticultural Society is one of the largest and most active groups in the community.