Greenhouse Canada

Celebrating your success: looking back at our first 35 years

Celebrating your success

November 12, 2015  By Dave Harrison

December 2015 — New varieties, technologies, challenges and markets – that’s an average year for the Canadian greenhouse industry.

That’s our conclusion after an exhaustive review of our (almost completely intact) archives of 35 years of publishing Greenhouse Canada.

The magazine was launched by Growth Publications in 1981, with a sneak peek edition in December 1980. The decision, according to the original publisher/editor, was a bit of a gamble. “To be honest,” Jim Brown noted, “we were scared. We really didn’t know what the reaction would be.”


The apprehensiveness, as it turns out, was unnecessary. The initial print run was 1,600 copies. Within seven months, circulation had grown by 50 per cent to 2,400. This was followed a few months later by 400 new subscribers who signed up during the Canadian Greenhouse Conference.

I’ve only been here since February 1996, so the research of the early years proved quite interesting. My cubicle area for about three weeks looked even more chaotic than usual, if that’s possible.

It was great reading, an unparalleled experience in learning of the growth of the industry in the 1980s and ’90s, through to the modern area.

It was interesting to read of early discussions of new crop opportunities. Vegetable production used to be primarily tomatoes and cucumbers, but then a 1988 report suggested peppers warranted some attention. That year’s Ontario greenhouse pepper crop, for example, was a meagre five acres (up from 10,000 square feet in 1987). It’s now the second largest crop in Canada at 1,232 acres (tomatoes are at 1,408 acres and cucumbers are at 1,067 acres), according to StatsCanada’s 2013 report.

In 1986, cut flower growers were encouraged by Ontario specialists to look at a relatively new crop to the Canadian industry – alstroemeria. It is now the sixth largest cut flower crop (StatsCan 2013).

There were interesting challenges in the earlier years. A 1981 story noted how frustrated some Nova Scotia growers were with cuts to rail traffic to northern communities in the region, affecting their ability to ship flowers to customers.

Energy has been a constant theme. In 1981, for example, we read of a Quebec grower who invested in 18 heat pumps to heat half of his 110,000 square feet of growing space.

Greenhouse Canada has taken great pride in helping get the word out on new varieties, technologies, trends and markets for the past 35 years, through features, news reports and workshops, and more recently via webinars. We’ve had several feature series on such topics as labour management (“Growing Lean”), energy efficiency (“Energized” and the “Energy Edge” microsite and magazine features), and crop assistance (“In The Rootzone,” courtesy of Grodan).

Specialists who have submitted articles over the years reflect a who’s-who of leading Canadian horticulturists. They’re not only the best in Canada, but they’re among the best in the world at what they do in helping growers succeed.

Thanks for welcoming us into your greenhouses and onto your computers over the past 35 years. Thanks for letting us share in your success.

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