A History of the African Violet Society of Canada, 1960-2002

This document is a shortened adaptation of “African Violet Society of Canada, 1960-1997” by Doris Brownlie. Our thanks to Doris for preparing the very thoroughly researched original.

The African Violet Society of Canada’s modest beginnings can be traced to a meeting held in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario on June 25, 1960. The fourteen people present created a new African Violet Society of Ontario. In September of the same year the Society gathered in Kitchener, Ontario for its first annual meeting as guests of the Waterloo African Violet Society. Mr. Gerald Hunt was elected President.

Chatter, the magazine that was to become the Society’s official journal, was already in existence. It had been founded in the early 1950’s when a group of eight interested ladies held a meeting about forming local African violet societies. Initially the magazine was a monthly 2-page pamphlet dealing with the care of African violets. It was begun by a commercial grower named Mrs. Copeland. In 1956 three ladies from one of the local societies took over the publication from her. They expanded it gradually and by 1960 it was 16 pages per issue.

At the second annual meeting of the African Violet Society of Ontario held at Glebe Road United Church in Toronto, the Society expanded its scope to become a national organization. This new African Violet Society of Canada started with 350 members. The same church is still the location of meetings for the Toronto African Violet Society. In April 1962 the new AVSC held its first show in the church with 800 visitors attending.

Until 1966 the Society’s events (show in the spring, annual meeting in the fall) were held in various cities throughout southern Ontario. Then in September of that year the annual show moved westward to Vancouver where 1,300 people attended. Membership had reached 800 by this time. In ensuing years Winnipeg, Moncton and Victoria were among the host cities for the annual shows which by this time were called Convention Shows as they are today and had come to include the Society’s annual meetings of its Board and of its members. Official AVSC pins became available to members.

In 1972 the annual meeting was held in London, Ontario. At this time Mr. Ed Elliot presented the Society with a wooden gavel, one of two carved from wood of Nelson’s flagship “Victory” which was involved in the British defeat of the French and Spanish at Trafalgar in 1805. This gavel is still in use by AVSC’s President today. Its mate is in a museum in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Also in 1972 AVSC Awards of Merit were presented for the first time, honouring many of the founding members, and a Canadian Registry of African Violets was begun. The first edition was printed 1974.

The annual Convention and Show continued to move among the regions of Canada through the 1970’s, 1980’s and 1990’s. Chatter became a quarterly magazine of about 30 to 40 pages per issue and added a French section to recognize the fact that a large number of French-speaking members were now playing a large role in the Society.

The African Violet Society continues to operate in much the same way today. There is an annual Convention and Show each spring which includes the annual meetings of the Board and members. There are four issues of Chatter per year. In 2003 a web site was added to AVSC’s activities. Found at https://www.avsc.ca the web site is intended to make the best use of electronic communication to bring news and information about African violets and African violet societies to both our members and the general public.