Welcome to the Toronto Japanese Garden Club
"For the Betterment of the Community through the Advancement of Arts and Culture"
- Toronto Japanese Garden Club, 1953 -
The history of the club
In 1952, a small group of young people met in the Toronto Buddhist Church to discuss the formation of what was to become the Toronto Japanese Garden Club. The idea of a cultural association of Canadians of Japanese ancestry gathered momentum so quickly that the first general meeting was held on March 8, 1953 . The first entry in the minutes of the Toronto Garden Club gives us this account:
“On Tuesday, March 8, 1953 , at 8pm a meeting was held at the Canadian Legion Hall, 22 College St. , Toronto , to organize a garden club. Mr. Mamoru Nishi was chairman.
Mr. John Bradshaw, Garden Editor for the Toronto Star, was introduced by Jon Onodera. The guest speaker spoke on ‘The Care of Various House Plants’. A note of thanks was extended to him by Rev. T. Tsuji.
Mr. T. Yoshida chaired the second part of the meeting which took the form of a discussion on the foundation of the garden club.
A committee composed of Messrs. Isukawa, Heike, Hirano, Jon Onodera, Tak Yoshida, Mamoru Nishi, Mrs. Nishikawara, and Kay Obokata was appointed to draft plans for the first general meeting.”
Secretary – Kay Obokata
The next general meeting of the garden club was held on Friday, April 10, 1953 at 8:00 PM in the Canadian Legion Hall. The guest speaker was Mr. A.J. Webster, a banker and past president of Canadian Rose Society. During the business portion of the meeting , it was decided to call the group “The Toronto Garden Club”, Mr. John Bradshaw was appointed Honorary President. Yearly fees were set at $3.00 per person and $5.00 per married couple. Fees have not changed since that time. The drafting of a constitution and the election of officers were left to a committee to decide.
On April 15th, a committee meeting was held at the Toronto Buddhist Temple and the following officers were elected:
President Mr. M. Nishi
Vice-President Mrs. C. Umezuki
Secretary Treasurer Miss K Obokata
Programme Chairman Mr. J. Onodera
Membership Chairman Miss G. Sato
This first executive, in keeping with the club’s motto,”For the Betterment of the Community through the Advancement of Art and Culture”, soon began organizing flower arrangement classes. Miss Yosh Omori and Miss Sakae Goto volunteered the use of their homes on Wednesday and Thursday night’s respectively. It was decided to meet once a week for six months, beginning May 20, 1953 under the guidance of Mrs. Yamada.
Within the first six months of his existence of the Toronto Garden Club had already held weekly flower arrangement classes and monthly general meetings, including; “a Night of Lecture and Lantern Slides” by Mr. H. Mountain,Grounds Superintendent at Sunnybrook Hospital; a tour of the grounds of the P. F. Grand’s home at 26 Forest Glen Crescent by R. Tsuji; a tour of the Delworth Greenhouse, Scarlett Road in Weston; and tours of the Niagara Parks Commission Greenhouses and School of Gardening in Niagara Falls. In addition, preparations were begun for a combined Ikebana and Chrysanthemum Show with some space allotted to hobbies.
On Wednesday, October 28, 1953 , the New Canadian gave this account of the first show:
“The first exhibition of the Japanese Garden Club of Toronto went over with grand success last weekend as more than 600 persons including 150 Occidentals paid to view the impressive array of delicate floral and evergreen arrangements, dwarfed plants, kimono-clad, and fancy embroideries that were put on display.
The exhibit, held Saturday and Sunday at the Canadian Legion Hall, displayed approximately a hundred entries that represented the graceful elegance of the Japanese floral arrangement according to the styles of the various ‘ryu’ or schools, the skilful handicraft of the Japanese dolls and embroideries, and the ingenuity of the artificially dwarfed plants.
Such an undertaking is worthy of high commendation in bringing to light the fine art of traditional Japanese culture for public appreciation, and it is hoped similar projects will be offered to the public from time to time. Hearty congratulation goes to the Toronto Japanese Garden Club on making its first exhibition such a success.”
View the Toronto Japanese Garden Club demonstrations of Ikenobo, Ohara and Sugetsu on the GCO Photo Gallery Page