The Garden Club of Toronto was formed in November 1946 by a group of women who had worked together throughout World War II at the Red Cross Canteen on Adelaide St. They patterned their aims after those of the very successful and highly respected Garden Club of America, formed in 1913.
In 1947 the Garden Club of Toronto was granted a charter by the Province of Ontario. The Club immediately affirmed its commitment to flower shows and public service. In that first full year of operation, the Club created flower arrangements to enhance the Hogarth exhibition at the Art Gallery and responded to a first project request with a donation toward the gardens at historic Barnum House in Cobourg.
Garden Club of Toronto members organized major flower shows annually from 1947 to 1997 at venues that included the Royal Winter Fair, Casa Loma and the Civic Garden Centre, now known as the Toronto Botanical Garden. In 1997, the Garden Club of Toronto, with Landscape Ontario, sponsored the first Canada Blooms Flower Show. Both organizations continue to play major roles in this annual flower show and festival.
In tandem with the members’ interest in flower shows was their concern with specific garden projects. The first major project, in 1954, was the planning and planting of the Fragrant Garden for the blind at the Canadian National Institute for the Blind. Others followed, including the establishment of the Civic Garden Centre, today's Toronto Botanical Garden. The opening of June Callwood Park in 2014 marked another successful Garden Club of Toronto project. Find more information about Garden Club Projects.
Other achievements include the 1958 formation, along with garden clubs in London and Hamilton, of a provincial group called The Garden Clubs of Ontario. Through The Garden Clubs of Ontario, our members helped to form The World Association of Flower Arrangers, a membership of national organizations from thirty countries. WAFA is hosted on a three year term by an elected member country. During its tenure, the host country is responsible for organizing and hosting a World Flower Show. The fourth World Flower Show was hosted by Canadian garden clubs and held in Toronto in 1993.
2008 marked the publication of "The Growing Years", written by Helen Skinner, an informative, illustrated account of the events and achievements of the Garden Club of Toronto from 1946-2007. This hardcover volume is available for purchase here.