1946-1993. — 1 cm. — 2,597 slides. — 3 video recordings.
John Alexander Wallace, born April 9, 1899, was the son of William and Mary Wallace. Although the family was of Scottish descent, John was born in Leeds, England, where his father was principal of Leeds Coburn High School. John had an older brother, Hugh, and a younger sister, Helen. In the spring of 1907 the family moved to Canada, settling on a homestead at Campsie, Alberta. Because his precarious health prevented him from doing many of the heavy homesteading chores, John spent time working with his mother in the garden, nurturing his interest in horticulture. He also worked with his father and brother testing cereal varieties for Ottawa’s Central Experimental Farm. Because there were no schools in the area where they had settled until 1917, John was educated at home by his father. John eagerly read farm journals and Dominion Experimental Farm bulletins and, in the late 1930s, corresponded on horticulture with Dr. W. R. Leslie at the Morden Experimental Farm and Professor George Harcourt at the University of Alberta.
In 1928, John married Gertrude Dodgson of Roselea, Alberta and the couple settled across the road from the Wallace homestead. Although farming was to be their chief source of income, John found his cereal and horticulture projects to be much more engaging. In 1935, he started the Wallace Experimental Gardens with the aim of selling some of his plants to finance these interests. Since it was during the Depression and money was scarce, John was able to get Fred Morris, a neighbouring homesteader who had lost his wife, to help with the building of a greenhouse and hardening frames in exchange for Gertrude taking care of his children. Fred remained at the Gardens for several years. Although local sales of the plants were limited for the first year, John was able to supplement his income by landscaping the grounds of local buildings including the Barrhead Creamery and the Hospital. He also worked on the farm at seeding time and harvest. In 1937, John began leasing more land near Thunder Lake, where the frost-free season lasted longer, to expand his business. However, in 1942 a rabbit infestation destroyed much of his work. In the same year, John’s father died and John developed a severe case of grain poisoning during the fall threshing, causing him to rethink his future. In 1943 he applied for and was accepted as a summer labourer at Morden Experimental Farm in Manitoba. Although offered a year-round position at Morden, he returned home at the end of the summer. On his return, John was once again forced to help with the threshing, as his brother had been involved in a serious accident. Another attack of grain poisoning convinced him that farming was no longer an option.
When John received a letter from W. D. Albright, superintendent of Beaverlodge Experimental Farm, offering him a temporary position as horticulturalist while the regular horticulturalist was overseas, he accepted. In the spring of 1944 John moved north with his wife Gertrude and daughter Shelia. John’s activities included studying the plants growing at the Farm, planting many of the seeds and young plants he had brought from Morden, doing variety tests of vegetables, small fruits, tree fruits, and ornamentals, and participating in the field days sponsored by the Experimental Farm. John also spent time collecting and domesticating native plant material. In 1948, after selling his Campsie farm to his brother, John purchased 15 acres of land between Beaverlodge and the Experimental Farm. John used his land to grow adapted plants suited for the area’s climate, as well as producing bedding and vegetable plants for sale, an enterprise that eventually became the Beaverlodge Nursery. Fred Morris moved to Beaverlodge and was contracted to build a shack and greenhouse on the new property. Fred continued to help with building projects and in the greenhouse until his health declined.
John eventually found that his work at the Experimental Farm did not leave him sufficient time to pursue his independent nursery work, so in the summer of 1949 he quit his job at the Experimental Farm and became a Fuller Brush representative. Finding that this new occupation did not suit him, he returned to the Experimental Farm in the fall of the same year. Although the regular horticulturalist had returned from overseas by this time, he did not remain in Beaverlodge long and John again assumed leadership of the Farm’s Horticultural Department, a position he regularly filled while the Farm was between regular horticulturalists. Throughout it all, the nursery continued to grow.
Irene Hamel was born on April 5, 1920 to Philias and Ernestine Hamel in St. Adolphe, Manitoba. The family moved to British Columbia when she was quite young. By the time Irene was 12, the family had moved again, to a farm in southern Alberta. However, the poor farming conditions of the 1930s necessitated another move to Tawatinaw, where they had family. By this time, the Hamel family had grown to eight children: Gabrielle, Simone, Ernest, Adeline, Germaine, Joseph, and Helen. Irene was interested in becoming a teacher and completed grade 9; however, after her schooling was cut short, she instead became a hired girl on a farm near Legal for nine years. When she was no longer needed, Irene journeyed to Manitoba for a change of scene. Although tempted to stay, she returned to Alberta. Irene planned to enroll in a business course in Edmonton, but as her summer work brought her to Grande Prairie, she attended business training at Grande Prairie’s St. Joseph’s instead. Following graduation, she became a typist at the Beaverlodge Research Station in June 1951. In 1952 she began helping out at the Wallace nursery, eventually becoming an informal partner. Irene’s sister Germaine, who had remained at home caring for her parents, both of whom were in ill health, followed Irene north after their death. Germaine began working at the nursery in 1956, gradually taking over the greenhouse work from Gertrude Wallace.
In 1959, John Wallace retired from his job at the Research Station and was able to devote himself to his nursery on a full-time basis. Irene continued to work at the Experimental Farm and to improve her education through the Department of Education Correspondence Branch. With the expansion and reorganization of the Experimental Farm she advance from typing into clerical. After a few months as a clerk, she was sent to Ottawa for a two-week course in data-oriented bookkeeping. In 1963, Irene took a part-time job as secretary-treasurer at St. Mary’s Separate School. Irene and Germaine’s brother Ernest Hamel joined the nursery staff in 1963. He had visited the year previous between his winter work in a lumber camp and summer farming in Legal. He continued to work in the lumber camps another couple of winters before enrolling in the University of Guelph’s Horticultural Diploma correspondence course. Germaine also took a correspondence course over the winters, from the American Art Schools.
As the plot of land owned by John Wallace was becoming too small, new land was sought and found at the farm of Norman Hauger, near the Beaverlodge River. After a fire in 1961 destroyed the office/living quarters and attached greenhouse, a small house was purchased and moved to the new location. The nursery also rented land on the Beaverlodge River from Louis Houde, which they purchased in the late 1960s.
By 1968-69, John’s daughter, who was married and living in Chilliwack, B.C., had been diagnosed with a terminal cancer. Gertrude’s health was also in severe decline by this time and she eventually lost both her legs. Shelia died in the fall of 1969, followed by her mother 10 months later.
John married Irene Hamel in the summer of 1971. The nursery continued to expand in the following years with the construction of a new house, office, and greenhouse complex in 1973, the employment of D. John Grant, a horticulture graduate from the Niagara Parks Commission, in March 1977, and the addition of another greenhouse in 1978. The nursery’s prosperity and the slow propagation of some plants were such that they were forced to import certain plants, particularly fruit trees and evergreens, to supplement their own stock. The nursery had both a retail outlet and a large mail order business. John and Irene also continued John’s practice of collecting interesting native plants, even making trips to the Yukon and Alaska and in the Rocky Mountain areas of Thunder Mountain and Kinuso Falls.
Irene retired from her job as Office Manager of the Beaverlodge Research Station in the early 1980s and was able to devote her attention to the nursery business full-time. John Wallace died on March 29, 1986. Through his work at the Beaverlodge Experimental Farm and independently, John Wallace was responsible for discovering, selecting, developing, and breeding many cultivars, the most famous being the Protem strawberry, the Early Yellow tomato, and the Pembina and Smoky saskatoons. In 1989, he was inducted into the Alberta Agriculture Hall of Fame. He had previously been honoured for his work in various ways including being granted honourary lifetime memberships in the Canadian Society for Horticultural Science in 1980, the Western Canadian Society for Horticulture in 1980, and the Landscape Alberta Nursery Trades Association (LANTA) in 1983 and being awarded the Alberta Horticultural Association’s Centennial Gold Medal in 1967, the WCHS Award of Merit for ‘Dunvegan Blue’ juniper in 1967, an appreciation award from the Alberta Nursery Growers and an award in recognition of his work from the Peace Chapter of LANTA in 1983, and the Manitoba Horticultural Association’s A. P. Stevenson Memorial Award in 1984. John Wallace has also had two memorial gardens (in Beaverlodge and Grande Prairie), a memorial cup, and a shrub rose named after him.
Irene, Germaine, and Ernest continued to operate the Beaverlodge Nursery after John Wallace’s death, although they scaled back their market from Canada-wide to the local Peace area only. Ernest Hamel died on February 15, 1993 at the age of 69. Germaine Hamel died on November 26, 2006 at the age of 81. Irene Wallace died two years later, on December 29, 2008.
The slides and textual records were donated to the Landscape Alberta Nursery Trades Association (LANTA) around 1990. The slides were used to make a video in 1993, which is now also included in this fonds. In 2007 LANTA donated the records to South Peace Regional Archives.
Scope and Content
The fonds consists of material relating to the life and work of John and Irene Wallace and the Beaverlodge Nursery, dating from 1946 to 1993. The records include 2597 slides taken at variety of locations featuring nursery and horticultural activities and a wide variety of plant material, a video presentation prepared using several of the slides, and a file of various clippings and historical information about John Wallace, his work, and the Beaverlodge Nursery.
The fonds is divided into two series: Slide Collection, and Clippings and Historical Information.
Title based on contents of fonds.
Table of Contents
|Series 383.01||Slide Collection|
|Series 383.02||Clippings and Historical Information|
|Series 383.01||Slide Collection. — 1946-1988. — 0.1 cm. — 2,597 slides.The series consists of 2597 colour slides dating from 1946 to 1988 and taken at variety of locations, including Beaverlodge Nursery and the Beaverlodge Experimental Station. Several of the slides feature John Wallace’s various cultivars. The majority of the slides were presumably taken by either Irene or John Wallace, although some appear to be gathered from other sources. The slides were originally housed in 10 binders and 2 slide carousels. Although the order of the slides within the binders and carousels has been maintained, the order of the binders and carousels themselves was imposed by the archivist according to the content of each.|
|383.01.01||Apples & Crabs, Pears, Pruning 1946-1988.The file consists of 251 slides dating from 1946 to 1988 from a variety of locations including the Beaverlodge Experimental Station and the Beaverlodge Nursery.There are 245 slides of apple and crabapple trees and fruit, 5 slides of pear trees, and one slide of pruning, including slides of some of John Wallace’s crabapple cultivars: Albright, Arctic Dawn, and Snowcap. The slides have been numbered according to their original order within the binder labelled “Apples, Pears, Pruning”, but blank spaces originally between some slides have been removed.|
|383.01.02||Trees 1954-1987The file consists of 187 slides dating from 1954 to 1987 from a variety of locations including the Beaverlodge Experimental Station and the Beaverlodge Nursery.There are slides of spruce, larch, cedar, juniper, birch, and willow, including slides of one of John Wallace’s cultivars, the Blue Dunvegan juniper. The slides have been numbered according to their original order within the binder labelled “Spruce, Birch, Juniper, Cedar”, but blank spaces originally between some slides have been removed.|
|383.01.03||Bushes and Trees 1954-1988The file consists of 261 slides dating from 1954 to 1988 from a variety of locations including the Beaverlodge Experimental Station and the Beaverlodge Nursery.There are slides of chokecherry, bird cherry, buffalo berry, pincherry, gooseberry, raspberry, blueberry, plums, currants, cranberry, dogwood, cotoneaster, aronia, hawthorn, maple, basswood, elm, ash, barberry, caragana, Ohio buckeye, poplar, saskatoon, mountain ash, oak, birch, and roses, including slides of some of John Wallace’s cultivars: the Copper Schubert chokecherry, the Green Island cranberry, and the Altaglow saskatoon. The slides have been numbered according to their original order within the binder labelled “Saskatoon, Chokecherry, Pincherry, Current, Cranberry, Dogwood, Hawthorn, Mnt. Ash, Willow, Pine, Poplar, Maple, Elm, Bur Oak, Larch, Green Ash”, but blank spaces originally between some slides have been removed.|
|383.01.04||Flowers and Herbs 1953-1987The file consists of 283 slides dating from 1953 to 1987 from a variety of locations including the Beaverlodge Experimental Station and the Beaverlodge Nursery.There are slides of asters, mint, thyme, clematis, lupines, lythrum, lychnis campion, phlox, poppies, primula-primroses, meadowsweet, adonis, violets, columbine, bluebells, monkshood, chrysanthemums, petunias, and various other annuals and perennials, including slides of one of John Wallace’s cultivars, the Nelson lupin. The slides have been numbered according to their original order within the binder labelled “Aster, Clematis, Lupine, Lythrum, Phlox, Poppy, Primrose, Monkshood, Violets, Yarrow”, but blank spaces originally between some slides have been removed.|
|383.01.05||Flowers 1946-1987The file consists of 239 slides dating from 1946 to 1987 from a variety of locations including the Beaverlodge Experimental Station and the Beaverlodge Nursery.There are slides of dahlias, gladiolas, irises, anemones, windflowers and pasqueflowers, delphiniums, myosotis, forget-me-nots, erigeron, fleabane, pansies, dianthus, heuchera, coral bells, campanula, bellflower, Jacob’s ladder, heliopsis, globe flower, ferms, pyrethrum, phlox, sunflowers, periwinkle, and aster. The slides have been numbered according to their original order within the binder labelled “Dahlias, Glads, Iris”, but blank spaces originally between some slides have been removed.|
|383.01.06||Lilies, Amarylis, Bulbs 1951-1988The file consists of 413 slides dating from 1951 to 1988 from a variety of locations including the Beaverlodge Experimental Station and the Beaverlodge Nursery. There are slides of lilies, tulips, cacti, begonias, daffodils, siberian squill, and various other plants, including slides of some of John Wallace’s cultivars: the Shelia lily, the Germaine lily, and the Katja lily. The slides have been numbered according to their original order within 2 slide carousels labelled “Beaverlodge Nursery Wallace Lily Collection” (383.01.06.01 to 383.01.06.160) and the binder labelled “Amarylis, Lily, Small Bulbs” (383.01.06.161 to 383.01.06.413), but blank spaces originally between some slides have been removed. Presumably, many of these spaces would have been filled by slides from the carousels. Four index sheets relating to the slides originally in the carousels are also included in the file.|
|383.01.07||Peonies and Roses 1948-1988The file consists of 211slides dating from 1948 to 1988 from a variety of locations including the Beaverlodge Experimental Station and the Beaverlodge Nursery. There are slides of peonies, roses, and rugosas, including slides of one of John Wallace’s cultivars, the Kakwa rose. The slides have been numbered according to their original order within the binder labelled “Rose, Peony”, but blank spaces originally between some slides have been removed.|
|383.01.08||Flowers, Fruit, Shrubs 1946-1984The file consists of 273 slides dating from 1946 to 1984 from a variety of locations including the Beaverlodge Experimental Station and the Beaverlodge Nursery. There are slides of almond double flowering plums, barberry, cinquefoil, caragana, forsythia, euonymous, red and golden elders, dwarf and climbing honeysuckles, tartarian honeysuckle, ninebark, mock orange, mahonia, lilacs, spirea, askatoon bushes, tomatoes, strawberries, and various wild flowers, including slides of some of John Wallace’s cultivars: the Altaglow saskatoon and the Thunder Mountain erigeron. The slides have been numbered according to their original order within the binder labelled “Flowering Plum, Caragana, Honeysuckle, Lilac, Spirea, Strawberry, Tomatoes, Wild Flowers”, but blank spaces originally between some slides have been removed.|
|383.01.09||Annuals and Houseplants 1955-1988The file consists of 238 slides dating from 1955 to 1988 from a variety of locations including the Beaverlodge Experimental Station and the Beaverlodge Nursery. There are slides of a variety of annuals and houseplants, including cyclamen, orchids, philodendron, birds of paradise, primroses, african violets, peace lily, Japanese aralia, Chinese evergreen, rubber trees, geraniums, coleus, honeysuckle, lady slipper, amaranthus, cacti, jade plant, speedwell, hydrangea, pyrethrum, snow-in-summer, scarlet basketvine, columnea microphylla, hibiscus, dieffenbachia, ferns, sanseveria, clivia, echeveria runyonii, Swedish ivy, panda plant, striped aloe, umbrella plants, azalea, pineapple, Swiss-Cheese plant, passion plant, wax plant, oleander, patience plant, calcoelaria, oxalis, Star of Bethlehem, kalanchoe, poinsettia, and shrimp plant. The slides have been numbered according to their original order within the binder labelled “Annuals, Houseplants, etc”, but blank spaces originally between some slides have been removed.|
|383.01.10||Miscellaneous 1952-1988The file consists of 241 slides dating from 1952 to 1988 from a variety of locations including the Beaverlodge Experimental Station and the Beaverlodge Nursery. There are slides of miscellaneous plants and bushes, slides collected from various locations while on travels, slides of activities around Beaverlodge Nursery, and slides of many of John Wallace’s cultivars: the Rose Beauty aster, the Two Lakes aster, the Thunder Mountain erigeron, Pink Pussytoes, the Snowcap crabapple, the Arctic Red crabapple, the Trailman crabapple, the Mission Red chokecherry, the Copper Shubert chokecherry, the Campsie lilac, the Altaglow saskatoon, the Green Island cranberry, the Protem strawberry, the Early Yellow tomato, the Whitehorse iris, the Beaverlodge elm, the Beavermor honeysuckle, the Frosty honeysuckle, the Magnared honeysuckle, the Kakwa rose, the Goldfried cinquefoil, the Wapiti juniper, the Albright crabapple, and the Nugget lily. The slides have been numbered according to their original order within an unlabelled binder, but blank spaces originally between some slides have been removed.|
|Series 383.02||Clippings and Historical Information. — 1974 – 1993. — 1 cm. — 3 video recordings.The series consists of various clippings and historical information relating to John Wallace, his work, and the Beaverlodge Nursery, dating from 1974 to 1993. The material includes: copies of the Beaverlodge Nursery Entry from the “Beaverlodge to the Rockies” community book, Ernest J. Hamel’s obituary, John Wallace’s biography (compiled in 1979), a short description of the Beaverlodge Nursery Ltd., a list of John A. Wallace Cultivars, invitation to a banquet in honour of John Wallace, a photocopy of Wallace’s Alberta Agricultural Hall of Fame certificate, and various articles and publications entitled: “Pruning with care,” “Veteran nurseryman taps nature’s wealth,” “John Wallace gains farm hall of fame”, “Long-time local nurseryman is given appreciation awards,” “Beaverlodge Man Honoured,” “Former Campsie resident inducted,” “John A. Wallace Inducted into the Alberta Agriculture Hall of Fame,” “A Brief History of Horticultural Research and Beaverlodge and in the NRG, Agriculture Canada,” “Smoky and Pembina Saskatoons: the Real Story,” “Saskatoons – A Useful Native Plant in Commerce,” “Arboreum and Landscaping at the Beaverlodge Research Station,” “Checklist of the Trees & Shrubs in the Landscaped Areas at the Beaverlodge Research Station,” “Vegetable Varieties Recommended for the Peace River Region,” “Fruit Varieties Recommended for the Peace River Region,” and ” John Wallace Inducted into Agriculture Hall of Fame.” The records also include a video presentation “History of Beaverlodge Nursery Plant Material”, which was prepared in 1993 from a selection of slides from the slide collection. The video was produced by Koop Bosscha from the Peace Chapter of the Landscape Alberta Nursery Trades Association. It is introduced by Agnes Bosscha with commentary by Irene Wallace.The video is in four parts: plant material selected and named by John Wallace, plant varieties developed and promoted by Beaverlodge Nursery, slides from around the country of material from Beaverlodge Nursery, and a name these plants quiz. The textual material was originally housed in a binder labelled “John Wallace Beaverlodge Nursery” except for the article entitled “John Wallace Inducted into Agriculture Hall of Fame” which was removed from the slide binder labelled “Apples, Pears, Pruning”. At least some of the material was assembled after John Wallace’s death.|