Throughout most of the last century, Brampton enjoyed an international reputation as ‘The Flower Town of Canada’. Acre upon acre of glass greenhouses filled almost every nook and cranny of the town, and at one point, there were over 48 nurseries whose businesses were devoted to the growing of hothouse flowers. The largest of these was the Dale Estate located at the northern limits of the town occupying both sides of the main street, with greenhouses stretching east to the Etobicoke Creek and west to the CPR rail line.
Royalty, heads of government, business leaders and movie stars, among others, all made their way to tour the greenhouses of the Dale Estate, especially to see the famous Dale Autographed Roses and the over 500,000 orchid plants. At the height of its productivity, the Dale Estate had 140 greenhouses with over 1.5 million square feet of glass, and had bragging rights as the largest cut flower business on the continent and the third largest in the world. They were famous for their huge production of over 20 million blooms, the quality and prestige of their roses, and for introducing innumerable new species of roses and orchids for the mass market.
Most of the men and women who worked at the Dale Estate have passed on, but many of those remaining still recall the acres of greenhouses, the tunnels, the steam pipes, the Dale whistle, the Dale chimney and the Dale family. The mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, cousins and neighbours who worked there have fond memories of a company that treated them with respect and produced some of the finest flowers in the world, and they remember a small town called Brampton.
The Story Behind a Company and a Town
Behind every great enterprise such as the Dale Estate there is a story. This story is about Harry Dale, an Englishman from humble beginnings, who had a deep-seated love of roses, and who was filled with the entrepreneurial spirit that symbolized Canada in the early years of immigration. It is a story that parallels the growth of Brampton from a small village to an internationally known town, with the two entities enjoying a close symbiotic relationship. It is a story about the Dales, a family that experienced personal tragedies as well as triumphs. It is about the floral empire they built, which was known for over a century throughout North America and Europe for its highly-prized, award winning roses, and then, within a span of ten years it disappeared. Their 27 acres of greenhouses were abandoned, their international reputation was forgotten and not a trace of their former company remained. It is hard to believe that a business that grew to such magnitude and reputation could be so rapidly and completely dismantled.
Today we are witness to the intrinsic floral legacy left by the Dale Estate, which is manifested in the ongoing revitalization of the city’s heritage
The story of the Dale Estate and its influence on the development of Brampton as 'The Flower Town of Canada. is chronicled in the new book "Acres of Glass" by Dale O'Hara. Just $29.95 this hardbound book can be purchased at:
- The Brampton Arts Council Office, 24A Alexander Street, Brampton 905-874-2919
- The Peel Heritage Complex, 9 Wellington Street East Brampton 905-791-4055x3629
- General Store, McLaughlin Road, Inglewood 905-838- 4386
- Flowerland Florist, 2 Ellen Street, Brampton 905-456-7177
- Bovaird House, 563 Bovaird Dr. E., Brampton 905-840-1023
- Beaux Arts, 70 Main Street North, Brampton 905-454-5677
- Forster's Book Garden, 334 Queen Street, Bolton 905-951-1501
- Booklore, 121 First Street, Orangeville 519-942-3830
- Chapters (Brampton) Bovaird and Main St. N. 905-456-7177
- Online at Global Genealogy globalgenealogy.com
For more information visit AcresOfGlass.com