• Reporter Elaina John

Vermilion And Area Garden Club Wraps Up


Albertha Van Wageningen and Vermilion Mayor Caroline McAuley after the unveiling of the plaque dedicated to Albertha. Photo Sue Chikie


The Vermilion and Area Garden Club had a wind-up event and unveiled a plaque made in recognition and honour of dedicated club member Albertha Van Wageningen on August 27.

Albertha was an executive member of the club when it first started in 1984 and continued in that role for 30 years. For the remaining five years, she continued to be involved with the club in a less intensive role.

Kim Mcminis opened up the celebration with a few words. Alice Stafinski, former president of the club, spoke on her gratefulness to Van Wageningen for the helpful advice she had given.

Mayor Caroline McAuley attended the event and thanked the Horticultural Society for all they have done for the town over the years. McAuley stated, “Thank you for the amazing work and the many hours of work you have donated over the years. The town has won so many awards due to their efforts. Our community is a better place for all the volunteer work they have done.”

McAuley announced that the Town of Vermilion will be taking over the task of garden upkeep at the Tourist Information Grounds, due to both the dissolution of the garden club and Communities in Bloom, and hopes a new club will start again in the future. This would include maintaining the many garden spaces throughout town such as the streetlamp flower baskets. She added that the town may plant perennials in empty spaces around town upon feedback of residents.

Albertha Van Wageningen was surprised there were so many people there for the event.

After the unveiling of the plaque, the group went to the Community Oven for Recognition of three members and speakers on how they had progressed through the years and a supper followed.

Photo albums were on display of years past for everyone to enjoy.

The Vermilion and Area Garden Club was started by Ramsay Smith and Allan Burnett and was originally called the Vermilion and Area Horticultural Society. However, the name was later changed to attract new members. Van Wageningen’s executive position in the Horticultural Society was due to her background. She attended Horticulture College in Holland where she grew up, and after, continued to pursue horticultural information “all over the place,” she stated, as she was involved in many educational programs on horticulture, both in Holland and Alberta.

The Vermilion and Area Garden Club dissolved in 2018 due to a lack of members, but with leftover funds and a few committed members, the club continued to tend to the Tourist Information Grounds for a few years longer, in a smaller, quieter capacity.

Van Wageningen and Mayor McAuley both share the hope that another Horticultural Society will begin. Vermilion originally had a Horticultural Society in the 1930’s and 1940’s, which dissolved, and was later replaced by the Horticultural Society that began in ’84.

“It comes and goes, so you don’t know what the next generation will do,” Van Wageningen reflected.

Van Wageningen, now 91, is fully and officially retired. However, due to her experience, she still tends to the gardening plots and flower boxes at the Valleyview Condominiums, which was also started by Ramsey Smith in 2002, and was later taken over by Van Wageningen.

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