Toronto Gesneriad Society

We're not strangers, only friends you have not met!


Jump to: History of the Toronto Gesneriad Society


TAVS originated in September, 1957 with a sign placed in Wain's Greenhouse encouraging customers to begin a Violet club. That year, a few growers met at the Eglington YMCA, which included Jean Hamilton who remained a member of TAVS until her passing on January 17, 2013.

As the room was too small, they found another location, in January 1958 at the Carlton St. United Church (across from Maple Leaf Gardens). The executive then consisted of Don Wain as President, and Jean Hamilton as Secretary-Treasurer. The membership fee at that time was $1.00. There were about 20 members.

With the Carlton St. Church location not being available on a regular basis, the club moved to the United Empire Loyalist Hall, on Prince Arthur Ave. They stayed there for the next five years at a cost of $5.00 per month rent.

In 1960, Don Wain found a larger room at the Glebe Road United Church and relocated the club there. The rent then was $10.00 per month. It was here that the Club started to hold November 'Violet Teas' and sold aprons to raise money for the Club treasury. The first judged show was held there on May 21, 1968.

In 1973, the annual judged show was moved to the Civic Garden Centre on Lawrence Ave. (now known as the Toronto Botanical Garden). TAVS continued to operate the club at the Glebe Road United Church until 2010. All club meetings and activities are now being held at the Toronto Botanical Garden.

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Documented by the late Frances Coombs (Archivist)

The seed for the Toronto Gesneriad Society was sown in 1976 when Ron Myhr obtained a mailing list of gesneriad growers from Floyd Chalmers, a commercial grower. Mr. Chalmers had tried earlier to form a chapter, but nothing came of it. Ron Myhr's first attempt was not successful either. Later, Mel Sater, Chairman of the AGGS chapters and affiliates (now The Gesneriad Society), placed a notice in The Gloxinian (now Gesneriads) to the effect that there were a number of AGGS members in the Toronto area, and asked for a volunteer to organize a chapter. Ron replied, and was given these names. This time, there was a better response -- enough to form the nucleus of a chapter.

In January, 1977, Ron invited Sally Weir, Ella Wakeford, Danielle Curtis, and Andy Cartmell to his Toronto home for discussion of this idea. In February, 1977, a second meeting was held -- this time at Sally Weir's home. Josie Stefaniak and Gustav and Lillian Ciamaga were added to the group. It was decided to hold future meetings at the Civic Garden Centre as there were more and more people becoming interested in forming a Toronto Gesneriad Society.

The first meeting at the Civic Garden Centre was held on March 6, 1977. There were 25 people present. Of these, 21 became paid-up members. The meetings were to be held on the second Sunday of each month at 2:00 p.m. There were to be no regular meetings in July and August and the annual meeting was to be held in June of each year. The By- Laws were presented for adoption at the annual meeting on June 5, 1977.

The charter was presented to Ron Myhr at the 21st Annual AGGS Convention in Minneapolis, Minnesota on July 1, 1977.

Newsletters: The first issue of the newsletter was sent out prior to the April 3, 1977 meeting. Back copies of the newsletter are kept on file in the society's library.  

Birthdays: Our 10th Aniversary was celebrated at the Civic Garden Centre on April 8 - 10, 1988.  On April 6, 2002, we celebrated our 25th Anniversary. We had a Banquet and on April 6 - 7, 2002  a Show at Sherway Gardens.

Web Site: On February 19, 2003 we had our first web site hosted by AGGS, which continued on through the transition to the Gesneriad Society in 2005/2006. On April 19, 2008, a new revised web site was started which had our own Domain name - this site.

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Streptocarpus 'Suzie'

Streptocarpus 'Suzie'

Cape Primrose

Streptocarpus 'Crystal Ice'

Streptocarpus 'Crystal Ice'

25th Aniversary Cake

The year 2002 marked our 25th Anniversary. Our Show Theme in April was titled  "Gesneriads in Toronto; A Silver Celebration".