Roses In The Near North: History of the Huronia Rose Society

The Huronia Rose Society’s website was made possible by a bequest from the estate of Elizabeth (Betty) Nielsen. Betty was a member of the Canadian Rose Society in Toronto and she was the editor of the Canadian Rose Annual when they lived in Toronto. They moved to Waubashene and she became a charter member of the Huronia Rose Society. She donated a trophy for the Best Design which is still being vied for at our annual show. We appreciate her lifelong dedication to the promotion of rose culture and will continue her work with the information on this website.

Early in 1980, a public meeting was organized in Barrie to see if there was enough interest to start a Rose Society. A good attendance indicated it could be a viable organization and so the Huronia Rose Society was born.

This is still the ONLY Rose Society north of Toronto, being in the Georgian Bay area of the Great Lakes. Huronia, a tourist destination, had already been home to the Huron First Nations when the first Euoropeans arrived in the late 1600’s.

The old adage – “You can’t grow roses north of Toronto” was proven wrong by the many members of Huronia Rose Society who are enjoying gardening with roses over the years. Also, our annual rose shows testify to the excellent roses grown in Huronia.

As early as the first year of existence we have held an annual Rose Show, an evening tour of members’ gardens; published a newsletter called “Rose Petals” several times a year as a reminder of upcoming meetings and events. Over the years, the annual Rose Show has been of great interest to members and the area’s residents.

Public meetings are held to bring informative speakers on all aspects of growing roses and other gardening techniques, for sharing problems and successes as well as socializing with rosarians from the Huronia area.

Since Barrie’s Floral Emblem is a Red Rose, two HRS members have been invited to sit on the Communities in Bloom committee. Through this involvement, we had several opportunities to promote our Rose Society.

In the spring of 2000, when the Barrie White Rose Nursery established a rose garden at Barrie’s Royal Victoria Hospital, planted with a new rose variety introduced by White Rose called “Royal Victoria Hospital Rose”, a fund-raising venture for the hospital, members of Huronia Rose Soiety assisted with the planting.

For several years we had sought a location to establish a rose garden of hardy Canadian Roses. In 2000 as a Millennium project, our Millennium Memorial Rose Bed was created as a gift to the city and an educational project to promote growing Canadian bred roses. The city donated and prepared the garden and members donated the cost of 28 roses in memory of loved ones.

Each year a fund-raising sale of rose bushes to members and friends was organized and still continues. In 2000 a sale of rose bushes to the public was held at the Barrie Farmers’ Market, focusing on hardy Canadian Rose and this successful event is repeated each May since.

Our first rose garden tour was offered to the public in 2000. “Huronia Roses:, A Garden Tour” featured 10 gardens in the Barrie area, each one with roses but also many other wonderful garden plants, each one different. Over 100 visitors had a delightful Sunday enjoying our members gardens.

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