Community In Action

We believe gardening is a way to preserve and restore the natural environment which helps to create a quality of life that is accessible and sustainable for all communities. Get Involved Today!


Our websites, newsletters, and events promote the many benefits and diverse nature of gardening and green spaces.

Recognizing Excellence

We recognize outstanding achievement by individuals and communities. We all benefit from shared best-practices, successes, and solutions to related issues.

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Who We Are

The Ontario Horticultural Association (OHA) is a volunteer charitable organization that encourages interest in gardening and related environmental issues with horticultural societies and like-minded organizations by providing leadership and education.

We inspire Ontarians to promote and share gardening.

Our goals will:

  • Provide recognition, awards, and grants throughout Ontario.

  • Develop and support programs for all ages encouraging gardening, community beautification, environmental enhancement, and conservation.

  • Provide resources for horticultural societies.

  • Encourage the development of new horticultural societies.


Our History

Awards and Grants

The OHA believes that members who show strong leadership and active participation within a Society should be recognized.

Full descriptions of the many OHA Awards and Grants can be found in the OHA Award & Grants Booklet. Please contact Sharlene Desjardins for more information.


OHA is a Provincially Mandated Organization

These links will take you to the Province of Ontario E-Laws website:

Agricultural and Horticultural Organizations Act

R.S.O. 1990, CHAPTER A.9

R.R.O. 1990, REGULATION 16 – Amended to O. Reg. 945/93 – GENERAL

R.R.O. 1990, REGULATION 17 – No Amendments – NAMES

Reports and Statements

Activities and progress of all our local Societies, and the Association at large, are detailed in our reports. A selection of them can be found below for further reading.

The Annual Report provides a bridge between the many different geographical conditions, interests and histories of OHA Societies and demonstrates that, among many similarities, each society is unique in the way it benefits its community. The Annual Report is also a convenient point of access for those interested in joining a Society.
2012 OHA Annual Report

Our Corporate Report highlights our achievements and the volunteers that make that success possible:
2018 Corporate Report
2017 Corporate Report
2016 Corporate Report
2015 Corporate Report
2014 Corporate Report
2013 Corporate Report

Here is a selection of our audited financial statements for your information:
2018 audited financial statements
2017 audited financial statements
2016 audited financial statements
2015 audited financial statements



One Hundred Years of Achievement

Before Incorporation
1792 Niagara-on-the-Lake Agricultural Society was formed in then Upper Canada
1797 Agricultural Fair was established in Toronto York.
1834 The first Horticultural Society in Ontario was formed in Toronto
1846 Provincial Agricultural Fair became Canadian National Exhibition.
1888 Agricultural Society became Ontario Department of Agriculture and Land
1906 An Act of the Ontario Legislature sorted Agricultural and Horticultural Societies into two incorporated associations: the Ontario Horticultural Association and the Ontario Agricultural Fairs Association
1906 – 1929
1906 The Ontario Horticultural Association helped restore many abandoned cemeteries.
1912 The Vacant Lot Gardening movement started in Ontario. With assistance from the Ploughmen’s Association teamsters, vacant lands in the Toronto area were ploughed to grow food for the needy.  During the First World War these gardens, numbering in the hundreds throughout Ontario provided great quantities of food.
1916 Sent vegetable seeds in variety to England where they were distributed by the Red Cross to war prisoners.
1916 Responded to the plight of Northern Ontarians ravished by fire, to assist and support them in various ways. Sent food parcels to aged pensioners in Britain.  The OHA also contributed to “Seeds for Russia” and the “British War Victims Fund” during this time.
1930 – 1949

Seeds and tree rootstocks sent to 1000s of families in the prairies after the area was swept by dust storms and drought.

The OHA and member societies organized “Relief Gardens” for the needy and conducted lectures on growing vegetables.

1936 Initiated and advanced the legislative process to see the Trillium grandiflorum become Ontario’s Floral Emblem. It is now also the Association’s official stylized logo (copyrighted).
Sent seedling maple trees to England’s military cemeteries and seedlings and seeds throughout Europe, Sicily and Italy.
Early 1940’s OHA’s WWI vegetable gardens, now called Victory Gardens, provided fresh vegetables and fruit to many needy families. Public schools assisted with this program.
1945 1200 schools planted 600 acres of tree seedlings throughout Ontario. Continuing encouragement and support in the planting of trees at the annual spring Arbour Days (which has now been extended to a week).
OHA promoted education of horticulture-related subjects in public schools.
1948 OHA lobbied successfully for legislation to eradicate the proliferation of billboards along provincial highways that detracted from our beautiful landscape.
1950 – 1979
1950 OHA assisted with highway beautification by planting trees.
1952 Sent 2000 young trees to Holland to assist with re-establishing reclaimed land from the sea.
1967 Promoted the Royalty Crab as the Canadian Centennial tree.
1978 Established the Ontario Horticultural Association Oak Grove as part of the arboretum in Guelph. The First tree planted was a Scarlet Oak honouring Mabel Stewart. In 1981 two trees were planted to honour Harry Occomore and Ellen Bigelow. The Association acquired a plot of land to extend the existing area and oak trees were planted and benches dedicated to the memory of former presidents.
1980 – present
1981 OHA became involved with the CNE. Cam Stewart was in charge of the flower show.
1985 Marjorie Durnford started a program of Community Gardens, copied in other locations later.
1986 Assisted with and provided 1000s of trees to replanting the many tornado-struck areas throughout southern Ontario.
1988 The Agricultural & Horticultural Organizations Act came into effect on December 15, 1988. It replaced the Agricultural Societies Act, the Horticultural Societies Act and the Agricultural Associations Act. All societies that were established under these earlier pieces of legislation were continued under the Act. The Ontario Minister of Agriculture and Food is responsible for the administration of the Act.
1991 Planting wildflowers at Todmorden Mills. This was the brainchild of Charles Sauriol and carried out by the societies of District 5 and the City of Toronto with the assistance of Dave Money.
1992 Provincial grant ($19,000 annually) was terminated by the Government. Grants to societies were to be terminated later but were left in place after much lobbying considering the many thousands of hours given to communities by volunteers.
1992 Loblaws became involved with OHA through its Garden Centre program, raising funds for OHA and societies. This program is still in place.
1994 Memorial Book established by Alex MacIntosh in memory of his late wife. Entries in the Memorial book, along with the donations received have provided funds for societies to plant trees in memory of members or other horticultural friends. The Memorial Book is on display at the Convention each year.
1996 The Association sold yellow OHA Commemorative Tulip to celebrate the 90th anniversary of OHA.
1998 Districts affected by a major ice storm that devastated rural and urban forests in Eastern Ontario and Quebec received plants of all kinds donated by society members. Societies contributed money to replace trees and Directors of the affected Districts received the donations at the Peterborough Convention.
1999 Ontario Horticultural Association Millennium Tulip. Bulbs for large deep pink tulips were sold by societies as a fundraiser for the OHA and named for the Association to commemorate the Millennium. 188,800 bulbs were sold throughout the Province.
2006 OHA Centennial Year

Our Organization

Since 1906, The Ontario Horticultural Association (OHA) has led Ontarians in all things horticultural. Our organization is an integral part of this province’s cultural fabric.

Our Board is made up of Officers and Directors from all corners of Ontario – from the shores of Lake Ontario, to the Shield country of Northern Ontario.

Despite the differences in climate and horticultural challenges, our members all share a:

  • Love of gardening
  • Deep enjoyment in sharing knowledge
  • Commitment to preserving and restoring Ontario’s natural environment
  • Dedication to making the communities we live in beautiful, sustainable and livable

Officers and Other Roles

First Vice President
Second Vice President *New 2019
Immediate Past President
Past Presidents’ Council Rep
South & West Regional Rep
North & East Regional Rep

District Director
Immediate Past Director
Assistant Director(s)
Treasurer or Secretary-Treasurer

District Directors (19)

Autonomous Horticultural and Garden Societies
Local Members (27,000)

Key Contacts

Officers 2018-19

President Katharine Smyth president[at]
Vice President(s) Charles Freeman (first)
Sharlene Desjardins (second)
Secretary Kelly Taylor secretary[at]
Treasurer Jane Leonard treasurer[at]
Past President Rose Odell pastpresident[at]
Past Presidents’ Council Representative
S/W Region Rep Vicky Culbert oha-sw-rep[at]
N/E Region Rep Candace Dressler oha-ne-rep[at]

District Directors 2018-19

District 1
Dundas, Glengarry, Prescott, Russell, Stormont, Grenville, Gloucester and Cumberland
Candace Dressler
District 2
Lanark, Renfrew, Central and Western Ottawa
Anne Harbord
District 3
Frontenac, Hastings, Leeds, Lennox & Addington, Prince Edward
Sue Carew
District 4
Haliburton, Northumberland, Peterborough, City of Kawartha Lakes
Dianne Westlake
District 5
Toronto East, York Region East
Cindy Scythes
District 6
Brant, Halton, Norfolk, Wentworth, Hamilton
Catherine McGill
District 7
Dufferin, Wellington
Kathy Bouma
District 8
Bruce, Grey, Huron
Vicky Culbert
District 9
Niagara, Haldimand
Margaret Tanaszi
District 10
Elgin, Middlesex, Oxford, Perth
Shelley MacKenzie
District 11
Essex, Chatham-Kent, Lambton
Margaret Laman
District 12
Cochrane, Timiskaming, North Nipissing
Peggy McIntyre
District 13
Algoma, Manitoulin, Sudbury
Christine Marsh
District 14
Kenora, Rainy River, Thunder Bay
Sandra Mazur
District 15
Peel, York Region West, Toronto West
Barb O’Malley
District 16
Simcoe County
Linda Forster
District 17
Durham Region
Rick Causton
District 18
Muskoka, Parry Sound, South Nipissing
Carol Armstrong
District 19
Bruce MacNeil


Committees 2018-19

Archives Malcolm Geast
Awards Sharlene Desjardins
Community Initiatives Christine Marsh, Cindy Scythes
Competitions Vicky Culbert (Chair);
Art: Gary Brenner, Vicky Culbert;
Flower Show: Marg Laman, Penny Stewart, Sharlene Desjardins;
Photography: Dianne Westlake;
Creative Writing: Sandra Mazur; Publications: Christine Marsh; and
Youth: Catherine McGill
Conservation & Environment Anne Jamieson, Marg Tanaszi, Sandra Mazur, Vicky Culbert
Constitution, By-Laws & Resolution Charles Freeman, Penny Stewart, Russ Talbot
Convention Marg Laman (Chair), Barb O’Malley (Registrar)
Corporate Report OHA Officers: Charles Freeman, Jane Leonard, Katharine Smyth, Kelly Taylor, Vicky Culbert, Rose Odell, Sharlene Desjardins
Corporate Sponsorship Jane Leonard, Vicky Culbert, Rose Odell
Education (President’s Quick Start) Anne Jamieson, Katharine Smyth, Sharon Nivins;
(Convention Manual) Cindy Scythes; (Director’s Quick Start) Anne Jamieson, Katharine Smyth
Finance Jane Leonard (Treasurer)
Fundraising Marg Tanaszi
In Memoriam Registry Marilyn Cox
Judges’ Registry Sharon Nivins
Judges School Coordinator Jim Mabee
Judging Committee
(OJES Revision Project)
Marg Laman, Penny Stewart,
Sharon Nivins
Newsletter (Trillium) Malcolm Geast (Editor), Lisa De Young (Distributor)
Nominations & Elections Rose Odell
Outreach Programs Click here to see our current outreach listings
Publicity Cindy Scythes, Gary Brenner
Social Media Kelly Taylor, April Davies
Speakers’ List Rose Odell
Strategic Planning Margaret Tanaszi, Dianne Westlake, Anne Jamieson, Vicky Culbert
Supplies Rose Odell
Website Support April Davies (Webmaster)
Youth Catherine McGill

OHA Outreach Programs


Western Fair Association Kelly Taylor,
Shelley MacKenzie
Ontario Invasive Plant Council Shelley MacKenzie

District 4:
·     Peterborough Garden Show

Dianne Westlake

District 5:
·     Canada Blooms, Toronto
·     Canadian National Exhibition, Toronto
·     Get the Jump on Spring, Toronto Botanical Garden

Cindy Scythes
Malcolm Geast

District 6:
·     Royal Botanical Garden
·     Hamilton Gage Park Mum Show

Catherine McGill

District 8:
·     International Plowing Match, Walton

Vicky Culbert

District 10:
·     Stratford Garden Festival, Stratford
·     Go Wild, Grow Wild, London

Shelley MacKenzie

District 15:
·     CNE

Barb O’Malley

Past Presidents’ Council

Following the 2017 convention, during the afternoon of July 23, a tree dedication ceremony took place at the Past Presidents’ Oak Grove at the Guelph Arboretum. Two Bur Oaks (Quercus macrocarpa) that had been planted earlier in the month were dedicated to mark the passing this year of Ed Endersby (President 1980) and Ken Fink (2008).

The Past Presidents’ Council was created in 1964.

What is their role in the OHA?

  • The Council acts in an advisory capacity to the Board on Association-related issues. The immediate Past President serves as the Council’s representative on the OHA Executive.
  • The Chair of the Past Presidents’ Council and the immediate Past President both sit on the OHA Awards Committee. The Council currently sponsors the Frances Lemke Youth Activity Award.
  • Members of the Council take on occasional projects from time to time and work on various OHA committees.
  • They serve as facilitators in disputes when called upon.

The Guelph Arboretum

guelph arboretum logo

The Arboretum at the University of Guelph is somewhat modeled after the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University which is 100 years older. Plantings started in 1971 and are now maturing to produce a beautiful landscape, within which The Arboretum continues to develop specialized gardens, botanical collections, and gene conservation programs. Labels are maintained at the base of all woody plants in the collections that are listed on The Arboretum map.

The Ontario Horticultural Association Oak Grove was established as part of the Arboretum in Guelph in 1978. The First tree planted was a Scarlet Oak honouring Mabel Stewart. In 1981 two trees were planted to honour Harry Occomore and Ellen Bigelow. The Association acquired a plot of land to extend the existing area and oak trees were planted and benches dedicated to the memory of former presidents.


The Ontario Horticultural Association is a volunteer, charitable organization whose mission is to provide leadership and assist in the promotion of education and interest in all areas of horticulture and related environmental issues in Ontario, through an expanding network of horticultural societies dedicated to the beautification of their communities.

OHA Supporters and Donors

OHA depends on many individuals and organizations who provide their time, materials and/or financial donations to help support the many programs we deliver across Ontario.

Thank you for your generosity...

The Ontario Horticultural Association warmly appreciates what you give us. We are delighted to offer the following acknowledgements as a thank you for helping us to keep Ontario beautiful.


  • Humber Nurseries
  • Loblaws Companies Ltd.
  • Ontario Gardeners Magazine
  • Ontario Invasive Plant Council
  • W.H. Perron
  • Members of the OHA Board


  • Bee City Canada
  • Garden Clubs of Ontario
  • Lee Valley
  • University of Guelph Arboretum

OHA In Memoriam

Planting Trees to Remember our Gardening Friends

Memorial Book

The Ontario Horticultural Association memorializes gardeners in the Province of Ontario so they can be remembered by loved ones and friends alike. It offers societies and individuals an opportunity to honour deceased gardeners who have devoted their lives to the joys of tending their own and, in many instances, public gardens. This honour roll is for all gardeners; they need not have been members of the Ontario Horticultural Association, a society, or garden club.

Donations can be made to the Ontario Horticultural Association “In Memoriam”. The name and date of death of the person being honoured will be inscribed in calligraphic form in a special memorial book. This book is displayed at our annual conference, which is held in a different Ontario city every year and is attended by more than 500 delegates from every corner of the province.

Funds received “In Memoriam” will be used by the Ontario Horticultural Association for planting memorial trees. To donate to this Memorial Fund, please send a cheque or money order together with your completed form.

Please make sure the deceased’s name and date of death is clearly and accurately recorded on the form. Include your name and address for tax receipt purposes, along with the name and address of the deceased’s family if you wish them to be notified of your memorial gift.

Ontario Horticultural Association
c/o Marilyn Cox
(Memorial Book Custodian)
86 Church Street
R.R. #2
Keswick, ON L4P 3E9

How do I become a Member?

Find out how to join your local Garden Society, and become part of a province-wide gardening community.