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Image - Catalogue Image - Catalogue
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Halton Region Heritage Services
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Nom de l'objet : Catalogue
Titre : Dominion Seed House Georgetown - Ontario Seed and Nursery Book
Classification de l'objet : Seeds Nursery Stock Agriculture Flowers Garden
Catégorie de l'objet : 10:00
Discipline : Local History
Numéro de catalogue : 1995.2.28.1
Date absolue : 1960 Jan 01 On Object
Description : Dominion Seed House catalogue. Softcover. Black and white text and illustrations with 16 pages of colour inserts. Cover in full colour. Black and yellow cover with provincial coats of arms across bottom, white print and black print. "New Double Rose Form Picotee Hybrid Begonias". One large pink bloom on front cover.

On back cover are "New Giant Ruffled Tetra Snapdragons" (purple), "Super Swiss Giant Panzies (yellow and purple shades), "Heavenly Blue Morning Glory" (blue), "Mum-Flowered Marigolds" Mission Giants (yellow) and "Giant Pansies" Engelmann's, (multicolour). 1960. Good condition.
Commentaires : James Bradley, a native of Ireland, immigrated to Canada and settled in Glen Williams. In the 1870s, James purchased 200 acres of land on the south-eastern limits of the village of Georgetown. James and his wife Isabel had a family of ten children, in this new home that they named Cedarvale Farm.

William Freeman, their youngest child, born Jan 17, 1886, was just two years old when his father was killed in an accident. William worked as a teller in the Georgetown Branch of the Bank of Hamilton, the first chartered financial institution in Halton County. Later, he operated a market garden growing and selling strawberries, raspberries and other fruits on the family farm.

In 1922, in partnership with Roy Edwards, William formed the Bradley-Edwards Electric Company and sold mail-order small electrical appliances such as mix masters, coffee makers and health lamps. As the Electric Company experienced business slowdowns beginning in January, William hit upon the idea of selling mail-order seeds at this time of year to prevent having to layoff employees. The seed business prospered.

In 1928 the Dominion Seed House was established and the business grossed $20,000 in its first year. Unlike the vast majority of Canadian companies, the Seed House flourished during the Great Depression. In 1936 the business was relocated to a portion of the family farm along Guelph Street and the landmark Tudor structure which most people associate with the Dominion Seed House was built.

The structure was modelled after an English manor with a moat that William Bradley had seen in Sussex England. The landmark Tudor-style building with its typical half timbering and plaster filling quickly became a recognized structure to gardeners and travelers alike. The Dominion Seed House was spelled out in large letters across the front.

In 1938 the farm foreman's house and greenhouses were constructed and several additional buildings were added after 1942. By 1936, the Company had offered over 1,000 varieties of seeds and bulbs through a black and white catalogue in digest format. Much effort went into its production. Descriptions were written by William Bradley and the general managers.

Intriguing text accompanied dramatic photos of common and exotic plants and produce. The 1952 catalogue talks of the "Golden Macaroni Squash - a new vegetable from Persia on a vine in nature's own package", the "Giant Long Nerima Radish - a dandy table variety and great curiosity", the "Serpent Cucumber - resembles a green snake sometimes six feet long" and the "Snake-Headed Flesh-Eating Darlintonia - one of the queerest and most fascinating plants known to man".

In 1981 the Dominion Seed House catalogue was produced in full-colour which impressed Seed House customers. Sales increased dramatically subsequent to its introduction. During the 1970s and 1980s well over 200,000 catalogues were distributed yearly. 1987 saw the addition of a new Garden Centre to the Seed House Complex.

By this time Dominion Seed House employed a full time work force of 26, but during the busy season there were as many as 125 on the company payroll. The workforce was never unionized. In 1988, DSH celebrated sixty years of successful business with a garden party, live band, and horse drawn wagon rides.

For much of its history the Dominion Seed House was rated the largest mail-order business in Canada to the garden seed trade. The operation ran its own postal station and postal workers came in to process mail. The Company had also formed a good working relationship with the CNR and a railway car would be left on a siding on Fridays awaiting shipment of Dominion Seed House orders.

Dominion Seed House customers included the celebrated Banff Springs Hotel and the world-renowned Butchart Gardens. Through its growers the Company had worldwide connections from across Canada and the United States to South America, Europe, Africa, Australia, and Asia. Subsequent to William Bradley's death in 1952, ownership of the business passed to his wife Alexandrina, and then to his daughter Margaret Harding, both of whom carried it on with the assistance of general managers. Georgetown experienced substantial growth and land values rose.

Prior to closing in 1993, the Dominion Seed House offered the greatest variety and selection of mail-order seeds in Canada - over 1,200 different items. In fact, on one record setting day, staff members received and had to contend with over 4,000 orders.

During its 64 year history the landmark black and white Tudor-style building became, not only a well-known symbol for the residents of Georgetown and Halton, but a highly recognized symbol for gardeners across Canada! In 1993, Dominion Seed House was sold to Perron Seeds, a Quebec based company. The Garden Centre closed in 1994. By 1998 the property had been sold for development and in 1999, despite opposition, the landmark Tudor-style Dominion Seed House building was demolished.

In 2003, thanks to the efforts of The Friends of the Old Seed House Gardens, a dedicated group of volunteers, The Old Seed House Garden was established in Georgetown at 135 Maple Avenue. The public garden is a tribute to the legacy of the Dominion Seed House and incorporates the foundation of the building into a sunken garden display.
Établissement : Halton Region Heritage Services
Ville de l'établissement : Milton
Province de l'établissement : Ontario
Site web de l'établissement : 

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