Brampton is often referred to as “Flower City,” but do you know why?

Back in 1863, a man named Edward Dale moved to Brampton from England and began selling vegetables from his garden. Eventually he expanded his business to cultivating greenhouse roses, and in the process he bought three and a quarter acres of land at the corner of Main and Vodden in 1869. Soon, the Dale family expanded their vegetable production to include celery, radishes and lettuce and they constructed their first greenhouse.

Right before the turn of the twentieth century, Dale Estate expanded from 20,000 square metres to more than 45,000. Not only did the business employ a quarter of Brampton’s population, but was also counted among the largest greenhouse flower producers in the world, boasting 140 greenhouses at its peak.

Edward Dale retired in 1882 and his eldest son, Harry, who had long worked alongside his father, took over the business. Harry’s passion for cultivating roses helped the company expand even further. The business eventually hired a man named T.W. Duggan to help manage the finances. After Harry’s death in 1900, Duggan then took control of the business.

In addition to producing orchids, carnations, daffodils, lilies, snapdragons, hydrangeas, and poinsettias, among other flowers, Dale Estate also created the “autographed rose” technique. One leaf on each of their best roses was marked with the name “Dale.” These roses went on to win major prizes at various international flower shows.

By 1956, The Dale Estate was producing 20 million blooms cut annually. Unfortunately, the 1960s and ‘70s took their toll on the business due to rising fuel costs and a decrease in the market for flowers. The company was sold, merging with another local grower to become the Calvert-Dale Estates. Production eventually slowed to the point that the company closed for good in 1980. In 2012, The Dale Estate was commemorated with a provincial plaque that was eventually installed in Duggan Park near the estate’s original location.

On July 28, 1921, Prime Minister Mackenzie King gave a speech in Brampton on the economy. A Globe (now the Globe and Mail) article on the event opens by referring to Brampton as “the flower town of the province.” Eventually this moniker transformed into the “Flower City” name that is so familiar to residents. Brampton’s first “Festival of Flowers” parade took place on June 28, 1963, and ran through 1980. This parade was reinstated in 2003 for the city’s Sequicentennial events and ran until 2016.

Sources: Region of Peel Archives

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