Western Canadian Society for Horticulture (WCSH)

  The Founding of the Canadian Society for Horticultural Science, by Roger Vick

  Record of WCSH Executive

"The Western Canadian Society for [originally of] Horticulture was formed at Regina , November 11-12, 1943 at a meeting chaired by M.B. Davis, Dominion Horticulturist. The meeting was organized in response to the severe winter of 1942-43 which had caused devastating losses in horticultural plants on the prairies, particularly fruit trees. The main aim was to coordinate horticultural research on the prairies and thus facilitate a breeding program for hardier cultivars. Work on hardiness zonation began immediately, and through the efforts of this group, the Prairie Cooperative Fruit Breeding Program was established, with headquarters at Morden , MB .

WCSH was the originator of the Canadian Society for Horticulture Science, which was formed in 1956. According to the 1957 WCSH proceedings report, a highlight of the 1957 convention was "the wholehearted support given to the newly formed Canadian Society for Horticulture Science by way of agreement that the WCSH should constitute the Prairie Section of the national Society and that an additional one dollar membership fee be charged active WCSH members which would constitute membership in the Canadian Society". For many years, WCSH was the strongest component of CSHS and considered vital to its success, although it operated independently for the most part. WCSH, made up of horticulturists across the prairies, met annually in one of the prairie provinces to discuss research results and future needs. This increased communication was invaluable in reducing duplication of efforts. Eventually the various federal research stations on the prairies began specialization in particular crops.

The Prairie Regional Trials for Woody Ornamentals, begun at Morden in 1959, gave regular reports via WCSH. Vegetable research was highly promoted by WCSH. Potato research, led by Agriculture Canada at Lethbridge , was also prominent, and reports via WCSH were common until it was deemed desirable to set up an independent organization, the Prairie Potato Council. WCSH also provided a venue for good interaction with universities and private plant breeders, and horticultural extension was increased on the prairies. For a number of years WCSH provided student medals to the top graduating students in horticulture at the University of Alberta , Saskatchewan , and Manitoba . WCSH Merit Awards were given to ornamental plants, starting in 1965. Over the years, emphasis on research and extension services gravitated towards commercial horticulture on the prairies. Established grower groups across the prairies took on an increasingly active role in promoting their crops and established direct links with government. As a result, attendance at WCSH functions became greatly reduced, also due to cutbacks in horticultural research at Agriculture Canada stations on the prairies and reduced funding for inter-provincial travel. WCSH became dormant in 1992 but was renewed as the prairie chapter of the CSHS in 2005 at their Annual General Meeting in Edmonton, AB."

(left) MB Davis, Dominion Horticulturist who chaired the formation meeting of the WCSH in 1943; (right) Rosthern Experimental Station - one of the many stations set up across the prairies for agricultural and horticultural research purposes.


Drs. Karen Tanino (left) and Bob Bors (right) are the representatives of the WCSH on CSHS board.