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.
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
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:
2020 Corporate Report
2019 Corporate Report
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:
2020 audited financial statements
2019 audited financial statements
2018 audited financial statements
2017 audited financial statements
2016 audited financial statements
2015 audited financial statements
One Hundred Years of Achievement
|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|
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 BOARDS (19)
Immediate Past Director
Treasurer or Secretary-Treasurer
OHA BOARD OF DIRECTORS
District Directors (19)
LOCAL SOCIETIES (278)
Autonomous Horticultural and Garden Societies
Local Members (27,000)
|Vice President(s)||Sharlene Desjardins (1st)
Vicky Culbert (2nd)
|Past President||Katharine Smyth||pastpresident[at]gardenontario.org|
|Past Presidents’ Council||Shirley Daniels||pastpresidentcouncil[at]gardenontario.org|
|S/W Region Rep||Catherine McGill||oha-sw-rep[at]gardenontario.org|
|N/E Region Rep||Sandra Mazur||oha-ne-rep[at]gardenontario.org|
Dundas, Glengarry, Prescott, Russell, Stormont, Grenville, Gloucester and Cumberland
Lanark, Renfrew, Central and Western Ottawa
Frontenac, Hastings, Leeds, Lennox & Addington, Prince Edward
Haliburton, Northumberland, Peterborough, City of Kawartha Lakes
Toronto East, York Region East
Brant, Halton, Norfolk, Wentworth, Haldimand (Wards 1-4), Hamilton
Bruce, Grey, Huron
Elgin, Middlesex, Oxford, Perth
Essex, Chatham-Kent, Lambton
Cochrane, Timiskaming, North Nipissing
Algoma, Manitoulin, Sudbury
Kenora, Rainy River, Thunder Bay
Peel, York Region West, Toronto West
Muskoka, Parry Sound, South Nipissing
Nancy Thompson (Interim)
Carol Armstrong (LOA)
|Code of Conduct||Sharlene Desjardins|
|Community Initiatives, Marketing, and Promotion||Cindy Scythes|
|Convention 2022||Vicky Culbert/Kathy Bouma, Host(s)
Donna Hussey, Registrar
|Convention 2023||Anne Harbord|
|Convention Competitions||Art: Vicky Culbert;
Creative Writing: Sandra Mazur;
Flower Show: Marg Laman;
Photography: Shelley MacKenzie;
Publications: Christine Marsh; and
Youth: Catherine McGill
|Conservation & Environment||Sandra Mazur|
|Constitution, By-Laws & Resolution||Charles Freeman|
|Corporate Report||Kelly Taylor|
|Corporate Sponsorship and Fundraising||Marian Heil|
|Finance||Marian Heil, Treasurer|
|In Memoriam Coordinator||Marilyn Cox|
|Judging Committee||Penny Stewart|
|Judges Registrar||Sharon Nivins|
|Judges School||Jim Mabee|
|Newsletter (Trillium)||Laura Masterson, Editor|
|Newsletter Distribution||Lisa De Young|
|Nominations and Elections||Rose Odell|
|Outreach Programs||Click here to see our current outreach listings|
|Social Media||Kelly Taylor|
|Speakers’ List||Rose Odell|
|Strategic Planning||Margaret Tanaszi|
|Website Coordinator||Michele Petick|
|Youth & Youth Competition Chair||Catherine McGill|
OHA Outreach Programs
|Western Fair Association||Kelly Taylor|
|Ontario Invasive Plant Council||Shelley MacKenzie|
· Peterborough Garden Show
· Canada Blooms, Toronto
· Canadian National Exhibition, Toronto
· Get the Jump on Spring, Toronto Botanical Garden
· Royal Botanical Garden
· Hamilton Gage Park Mum Show
· International Plowing Match, Walton
· Stratford Garden Festival, Stratford
· Go Wild, Grow Wild, London
Past Presidents’ Council
Prior to the 2019 convention, during the afternoon of June 29, 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 were dedicated to mark the passing of John Smith (President 1969/70) and Kathleen Petrie (President 2000).
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
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.
The Ontario Horticultural Association appreciates the support we receive from organizations that share similar values to our own and we thank them for helping to promote the many programs we deliver across Ontario.
How do I become a Member?
Find out how to join your local Garden Society, and become part of a province-wide gardening community.