Humber Nurseries Ltd. is Ontario’s largest all season garden centre. Located on 24 acres in the southeast corner of Brampton with a 100-acre growing farm in Caledon East to support the demand for quality landscape plants, locally grown and available at competitive prices.
Humber Nurseries Ltd. is an industry leader in the production and supply of annuals, perennials, ornamental grasses, herbs and aquatic plants with varieties that are not commonly available at other nurseries. Over 225 different varieties of ornamental grasses, over 3,200 different perennials, over 300 herbs and over 150 aquatic plants are grown in our greenhouses. Our selection of trees, shrubs and evergreens is second to none. From the most common shrubs to the most exotic of trees.
Humber Nurseries Ltd. has a number of gardens displaying the ordinary to the unusual in plant material and hard landscaping materials. Our new 12 month indoor Landscape Design and Idea Centre displays numerous landscape themes from water features to patios and lighting.
We further try to meet your needs by supplying a full range of patio stone products and retaining wall systems with printed material or videotapes to assist you in their proper installation. Rockery, fencing, bulk soils and many other items are available to get your beds started or to add that special finishing touch.
At Humber Nurseries, a 25,000 square foot retail store carrying a large selection of giftware, pottery, garden furniture, fertilizers, insecticides, lawn fixtures, hand tools, soils and mulches. Virtually everything you need to create or maintain your dream garden.
Our Goal at Humber Nurseries is to set and surpass the standard of Horticultural Excellence, Complete Selection and above all . . . . . Satisfied Customers.
Humber Nurseries will consistently meet and exceed the expectations of our customers through superior customer service, making Humber a great place to shop and work. To be a leader in our industry and community requires teamwork, a positive attitude, pride, attention to detail, innovation, high quality products and services.
In today’s world of rapid change, it has become much less common to see 60th anniversaries of any kind. For that reason, it is important for us to pause and appreciate this type of achievement. In 2008 Humber Nurseries Ltd., celebrated its 60th year in business. A wonderful accomplishment for this family owned and operated business. It did not come easy for the family that started the business and this is their story.
Eight generations have a role in this legacy that begins with the birth of Joan Bernhardus Peters in the early seventeen hundreds. He is said to have been born in Saerbeck Westfalen in Germany and married to Maria Catharina Müller.
Later, a son was born, Bernhard Antonius Wilhelmus Fiktor Peters, in 1770 in Saerbeck. Perhaps some forty years later, this son married Johanna Wilhelmina Schoenmaker from the town of Twello. They moved to the small town of Deventer, where the family Peters maintained roots for many years to come.
On June 11, 1821, the first Peterś son was born in Deventer. Bernard and Johanna Peters were proud to name their son Johannes Bernardus Antonius Peters. As time went on, this son married Maria Elisabeth Chabot of the town of Maastricht. She died at the early age of 38, in Deventer. Johannes Peters then married for a second time, Maria Hubertine Henrard of the town of Utrecht, who gave them a son on April 6, 1857, named Franciscus Josephus Carolus Peters. The name Franciscus is the long form for the name Frans, a name that was passed on to the first born son for five generations to come.
It was Franciscus Carolus Peters and his wife Maria Grada Berendina Van de Beld of Deventer, who started a jewelry and watchmaker business. This family business has thrived for five generations. In a celebration for the hundred years anniversary 1886-1986, a descendant of the business would say: “My grandfather would never have dreamed of this day!”
In 1918, this jewelry and watch business was passed on to their son Franciscus Caspar Johannes Peters, Franś father. He married Johanna Maria Raayman on June 18, 1918, and they lived in Deventer. There were four children born to the couple. The first was Franciscus Lodewicus Johannes Maria Peters. The second was Antonius Gerhardus Maria. Then came a girl, Maria Johanna Francisca Petronella and lastly, was a boy named Lodewicus Antonius Albertus Gerhardus.
The eldest two boys, Frans of Humber Nurseries, and his brother Ton, did not take over the family business. Nor did his sister Ria. It was the youngest brother Lou, who found a love for the jewelry and watch business, and pursued to continue his heritage established two generations ago. He officially took it over in 1969 and together with his wife Magda, and two of his three sons, Frans and Robert, he successfully managed the tradition of the “Frans J.C. Peters Juwelier Horloger” of Deventer for its third and fourth generations.
Ton Peters continued an interest in the jewelry business, and started his own store in Dieren, a nearby town. Ria stayed at home with her parents. As for Frans L.J.M. Peters, he made his dreams come true by following a path completely different than his ancestors.
Lou Peters, Franś youngest brother, once proclaimed: “My brother had also worked a (Blue Monday) in the jewelry store. However, he really could not sit inside for very long. He now owns an enormous, well-run nursery in Canada. Frans L. Peters of Humber Nurseries Ltd did not develop an interest in gardening completely on his own. He had some help from heredity through his grandfather, Frans Carolus Peters.”
Franś grandparents were living in downtown Deventer, and wished to own a garden. Now, to own a garden meant moving to the outskirts of the city. So they did move where they purchased a “garden house” near the Ijssel River. Franś grandfather could now enjoy working in his garden. It was in this garden where Frans of Humber also enjoyed his informal education of the outdoors, and developed a love for horticulture. He would often travel by bike after school and after work from his home on the Lange Bisschopstraat just to work in his grandfather’s garden.
Frans L. Peters was born on January 24, in 1921, in Deventer, Holland. He was educated in Deventer where he lived with his parents and siblings. He also assisted in the daily work of the well established jewelry and watchmaker store. At about the age of sixteen, he apprenticed for a gardener, and it was here that he learned hands-on precision in techniques of growing, plant identification, soils and other horticultural knowledge, which he would later apply in future endeavors in Canada. Years later he enrolled in the Horticultural School of Nymegen where he graduated in the Spring of 1940, at the age of twenty. However in the last year of his formal education, he was confronting the unrest and the oncoming of the Second World War.
The outbreak of World War II in 1940 ended the Depression and plunged the entire nation of Holland into a struggle for liberty. As we all know, the Canadian Army fought its way across France and Belgium to liberate Holland in 1945. When the war ended in 1945, Canadians could look back with pride on the part they had played in defending democracy. After the war, Canada welcomed new citizens from many world cultures, one of them being the Dutch farmers and horticulturalists. Frans L. Peters would soon apply and be accepted to immigrate to Canada in the spring of 1948. He first married Sibylla Dorothea Johanna Maria Janssen.
Frans and Sibylla, both born and living in Deventer, were married in the same home town on April 12, 1948, first in the City Hall, and then in the Heilig Haart Catholic Church. They had known each other from school, and it was Sibylla’s brother Jan, who befriended Frans while selling pottery from his business to the garden where Frans loved to work. The twenty-seventh of April soon arrived, and farewells were said to the family, as the couple boarded the Tabinta at the port of Rotterdam. The Tabinta was an army carrier ship during the war, and now it transported about 750 immigrants to Canada. Mr. and Mrs. F.L. Peters were headed to their new address in Sudbury, Ontario, and eventually to Sheguiandah on Manitoulin Island where there were greenhouses to tend to and quite a bit of land!
The arrival to Sheguiandah was eventful. Their first incident was to experience the livelihoods of the Natives, who begged for cigarettes, and their second incident was the awesome sight of many large farms with either one or two vehicles parked nearby. Their first night was spent in a dilapidated and very small, windowless dwelling, with a soil floor and straw beds. In the weeks that followed, there was plenty of work planned for the unsuspecting couple, since it was that well-known Mother’s Day season.
Frans needed to work in the greenhouses during the day, and at night, he had to plough the fields of the farm. Sibylla was to bud carnations, and worked for five cents an hour. Six weeks went by, and it felt like six years, especially for Sibylla. It was time to leave this place, so with suitcases in hand, Sibylla and Frans left for Toronto by hitch-hiking and by bus. They eventually arrived at Mimico, Toronto, where Grobba Greenhouses employed Frans. Frans and Sibylla settled into a room, gathered their luggage originally sent to Toronto from the Tabinta, and adjusted to their new lifestyle in Canada.
Frans wanted to start a business and he left Grobba Greenhouses. At that time the Wilson family lived in Mount Dennis near the Humber River and was renting about ten acres of land. Frans, Sibylla and their newborn daughter Sibylla, moved to one of the Wilson houses.Â Since it was the Spring season, Frans ordered Stokes Seeds, built some frames, and started seedings. That was the birth of the business of Humber Nurseries. The name Humber Nurseries was given because the Wilson property ran along the Humber River. Frans also learned how to grow a fast crop of radishes, cauliflower and cabbage, which he brought to the market. The radishes were not a success. At that time, a Dutch cousin, Wim Klein Beernink, worked for Frans for seventy-five cents an hour, and pulled radishes. However, one crate would not even be worth seventy-five cents, because of the more competitive and experienced people in the industry at the time. Sibylla, who was in charge of the accounting, was not too happy! Frans then looked into another way to make a living and decided to do maintenance of people’s gardens which he pursued successfully after buying a truck.
Frans did not want the land to lay empty during the summer months, so he researched the magazine called the Canadian Florist, for addresses of nurseries. He planted about five to six acres of nursery stock which came from Holland and some of the local areas. However, only through trial and error, did he find out which varieties were hardy in Canada. Sibylla in the meantime helped out with the planting, and she especially remembers “All the sticks” that grew so fast (namely Weeping Willow trees)! Sibylla also went to Toronto by bus to sell flower bunches at seventy-five cents a bunch. She would bring ten bunches to sell, and would normally return with two or three bunches unsold. For two years she would sell flowers at St. Joseph’s and Toronto General Hospitals. At night, Frans would also sell the home grown annuals at the Tuberculosis Sanatorium on the top of the hill of Buttonwood Ave. in Mount Dennis.
Next came an interest in growing bulbs and through connections with Grobba Greenhouses, Frans ordered Dutch bulbs from Mr. Van Noort, so that he could sell them in the small, but growing business.
Their first son Frans was born in 1950, and their second daughter Astrid, was born in 1952. The small nursery was surprisingly growing with added stock such as Privet, Chinese Elm and Red Barberry for hedging. The clientele came to Humber Nurseries because they trusted the goodwill promised by Frans and Sibylla Peters. This was also proven in the way the delivery portion of the business was handled, which started with the sale of Chinese Elm. When there were five orders of Chinese Elm at five dollars a bunch, that was when the deliveries were guaranteed to go out. The nursery became popular even to the east end of Toronto because of this extended service.
It was then that in the Autumn of 1954, just after the birth of their last son, Guy, that the growing Peterś family and business was ultimately challenged by Hurricane Hazel. The Dutch bulbs were just in from Holland and stored in the little barn, and the young pansies were all in flower in the fields. The floods of the hurricane destroyed it all. It was a hurricane not to be forgotten. Since they were in the “Humber Valley”, most people thought that the Peterś family and nursery did not survive. However, the phone was still in operation and the police were informed of the abiding family. They moved to a house that they had luckily purchased for future use, on Islington Avenue. They were not allowed to do business there, and therefore needed to return to the Valley.
Upon returning to the Valley in the spring of 1955, they found that the soil was useless, and that the nursery stock had been washed away. For the next five years, Frans, Sibylla and their little family rebuilt the house and nursery, and then they decided to move in November 1959.
They moved to the present location of Humber Nurseries and on Christmas Day 1959, Frans and Sibylla were putting in the kitchen floor of their new pre-fab home. Later, they set up two greenhouses brought from the Valley. One of those greenhouses, after all these years, still stands.
The flourishing business on the original ten acre lot on Highway 50 represents the fulfillment of a dream for Frans and Sibylla, whose combined talents, and ambition have nurtured the enterprise to maturity. The greenhouseś square footage has increased immensely and the retail-office space has grown dramatically
Already in 1952, they acquired a 100-acre farm at Mono Road for the production of local nursery stock. The farm continues to supply a large volume of trees, evergreens, and shrubs to wholesalers, landscapers, and to Humber Nurseries Garden Centre.
In the 1960’s and the 1970’s, there were many factors in the growth of the business. First, the four children played a large supportive role in the daily business activities. They handled not only accounting, labour organization, and inventory in the office, but also budding of roses, cuttings, planting, seeding, deliveries and many other intricate jobs around the nursery. Humber Nurseries continued to grow. Customers returned year after year to purchase nursery stock and gardening supplies. The business expanded into the areas of specialized stonework and sod and loam delivery.
For over twenty years of growth, reliable suppliers handled deliveries. Frans also had an interest for discovering new plants, innovative methods of growing and creative landscaping techniques. The established Humber’s commitment to its customers:
“Buy from a grower’ buy the best.”
In 1973, disaster struck again. Fourteen years after moving to the present twenty-four acre sales and growing station, fire destroyed the main building and all of the equipment inside it. The house was not touched, but the family was devastated. The set-back was enormous, however Frans and Sibylla, a preserving and hard-working couple, rebuilt their dream, and life went on.
The eldest son Frans G. Peters had a love for growing plants and an interest in the nursery business. The youngest son Guy G. Peters, had a love for retail sales and also an interest in the nursery business. In 1973 Frans graduated from the University of Guelph and Guy graduated from the same university in 1974. Both brothers had degrees in Horticulture and they took on administrative roles at Humber Nurseries very quickly.
Their training had begun at an early age: Frans and Guy, with their two sisters worked in the fields in the summer months, in the store after school hours, and in sales on weekends especially in the Spring season, the busiest time of the year. Frans eventually excelled in organizing Evergreens, Trees and Shrubs. Guy enjoyed work in the Annuals, Insecticides and the Coke Machine! Such was the life until the end of the high school years.
After graduation from University, Frans and Guy eventually assumed their appropriate duties at the nursery: Frans in Wholesale Operations and Guy in Retail Operations. Frans L. and Sibylla Peters acquired other responsibilities in the daily management of the business.
During the 1980’s to 1990’s Humber divided into four departments: Landscaping – an area which communicates to us in many ways without saying a word; Greenhouses – a growing area producing thousands of flats of annuals and perennials aided with computer technology; the Garden Centre – an expansive retail area selling all of your gardening needs; and the Wholesale Operation – which is the growing of nursery stock for future Humber Nurseries sales.
In 1998, August 2, Sibylla Peters celebrated her seventy-fifth birthday. To commemorate this day and to give memory to her work and dedication to Humber Nurseries, she was honored with a Hybrid Tea-Pink Fragrant Rose named “Mrs. S. Peters.
Humber Nurseries is a leader in the production and supply of annuals, perennials, ornamental grasses, herbs and aquatic plants that are not commonly available at other nurseries. In over seventy greenhouses covering four acres, Humber Nurseries carries over 3,000 different perennials, 225 different varieties of Ornamental grasses, more then 300 herbs, 150 aquatic plants and 70 fern varieties. Humber’s new features over the last few years are the complete renovations of their outstanding pond department which includes the selling of outdoor pond fish as well as the newly enlarged – completely covered outdoor retail display area of 25,000 sq. ft. There are several displays everywhere of typical plant varieties and exciting findings of new and unusual plants which Humber Nurseries has famed itself for in its research and development department.
Once Frans and Guy’s careers were set, there came weddings and children. There was a symbolic structure in the name giving of Frans to the eldest male of every Peterś family since the birth of Frans Carolus Peters in Holland in 1857. Frans G. Peters named his son Frans, who now takes the name of Junior (JR) to differentiate him from his father, cause they work so closely together in the family business. The Peterś families are fortunate to be in business for many generations, especially in a family-owned and operated business. The family also projects its personality and character into the business and so it is important for the family to retain this heritage.
The family has worked hard and they plan to continue to do so for generations to come. Frans (JR) Peters was taught by his ever so patient father Frans G. Peters, about the many things in the nursery business and more perhaps in life.
Monica Peters, his sister, was taught by her mother Vita Peters who, at the time of her marriage to Frans G. Peters, acquired an expertise in accounting and office management. Monica is now married to Ron Piotrowski, who brings new knowledge and talent to the nursery business. It is clear that another generation of Peters is ready to take its place in the company and continue growing Humber Nurseries for the next sixty years.
Over the last 60 plus years, Humber Nurseries Ltd. and the Peters family have provided jobs within the community, as well as beautified it with the plants and products sold through their store. With a recognition of its valued past, Humber Nurseries Ltd. heads into the future, sensing an ever-growing need to continue its contact with nature and serve its community.
It was on Saturday April 10, 2010, at the age of 89, that Frans L. Peters passed away. He was indeed a very clever nurseryman, lover of plants and gardens and a force in the nursery business, yet more then that, a very loving, honest and admired man by his family and his friends. He will truly be missed, but never forgotten. He planted his roots here as part of Humber Nurseries and his legacy will continue to grow on.
It was on Thursday, May 12, 2011, at the age of 92, that Sibylla D. Peters passed away. She was and will always be a cornerstone in the growth of Humber Nurseries. She would run the cashes, the office and often be seen talking on the phone to one customer while directing another customer to a certain plant. As the years went on Sibylla Peters would be seen in the Perennial or Annual departments talking with customers and answering their plant questions. Customers may have also seen her taking a nap while working.
Sibylla Peters will be missed by family, friends, employees, and customers, but will never be forgotten. We can always enjoy her in our garden with the patented “Mrs. S. Peterś rose.”