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White Rock garden club reflects on their history as 75-year anniversary creeps up

The White Rock & District Garden Club was established in 1947 and remains strong

Seventy-five years of flowers, friendship and fun will be celebrated at the end of the month for the White Rock & District Garden Club.

The club is a group of about 70 members who have their own gardens in their homes and get together once a month to share together in their favourite activity.

“We have the flowers in common, so right away, it holds you together,” said Eileen Davidson, a long-time member of the club, along with her husband.

The club’s actual anniversary is on December 11, but with August bringing so much sunlight, moving the festivities was an easy decision. Another perk is being able to have it outdoors in the inviting weather, rather than the December chill that would likely force the club indoors.

Gathered together in club historian Margrit Elmiger-Isert’s backyard on Wednesday afternoon were club members Claire Murihead, Donna Lawson, Darlene Chamberlain, Cynthia Bliss, Mavis Taylor and Eileen Davidson.

What began for many as a childhood hobby with their parents and grandparents has blossomed into an activity that has stood the test of time and remained an interest for them all.

“There are people who no longer garden but are still part of the club. They still come for the companionship,” Chamberlain said, who has been in the club for seven years.

Although none of the original members of the club from 1947 are around, a little insight into the history is available thanks to records that have been kept.

According to records from the White Rock Museum & Archives, Col. E. A. Pitman was the first elected president of the society – originally called the White Rock and District Horticultural Society — as outlined in a correspondence to the Surrey Leader on Dec. 11, 1947.

The earliest photo of the club is from 1966, which was captured in a newspaper that year. A noticeable change from then until now is the dwindling number of men who are active members of the garden club. What began as more equal footing, now sees about seven male club members out approximately 70 total.

Before the pandemic put a wrench in gatherings, the club would get together in gardens with a “huge table full of food and afternoon tea,” Murihead said, who has been in the club for 21 years.

“That’s when the men do turn out,”said 25-year member Lawson, causing laughter to erupt through the crowd.

Lessons in gardening and curating flower arrangements is another element in the club. Taylor, who has been in the club the longest — over 30 years, to the best of her memory — is credited as teaching most of the members a lot of what they know and practise now in flower arrangements, among other things.

Parlour shows in Semiahmoo Shopping Centre are quite the draw for the club’s competitive types. Various awards with rotating prizes are included.

The original trophies from the very first parlour show are still in the club’s possession. Every time a trophy is awarded, the winner gets to keep the historical piece for a year until a new winner is chosen for the category — best rose, best flower arrangement, and so on.

“Some of them are really old and crotchety now. The trophies – not the people,” Lawson quipped, drawing another laugh.

All of the memorabilia over the years, kept by club members, especially Bliss — who has been a member since ‘91 — will be filed digitally with the White Rock Museum & Archives soon, replacing the binder that everything is kept in currently.

The White Rock & District Garden Club will be celebrating their 75-year-anniversary on Tuesday, Aug. 30 at noon in Cranley Place with Surrey and White Rock City members scheduled to attend.

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Sobia Moman

About the Author: Sobia Moman

Sobia Moman is a news and features reporter with the Peace Arch News.
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