In May 1911 two British landscape architects Howard Dunington-Grubb and his wife Lorrie settled in Toronto to set up one of Canada’s first landscape architecture firms. They soon found out that they were going to have to do something about the lack of locally grown ornamental plant material.
In 1913 they purchased 100 acres of land in Ontario near the village of Sheridan, named after the Irish playwright Richard Sheridan and now part of Oakville. An ad in a British journal soon brought a young Swedish born nurseryman, Herman Stensson and his wife and four young sons to Canada to establish this new nursery in the spring of 1914. A daughter, Betty born in Canada a few years later, completed the family.
The first catalogue was released in the fall of 1914 for the 1914-1915 gardening season. Growth was rapid and by 1926 the nursery had grown to 250 acres with an extensive selection of trees, shrubs, evergreens, roses and perennials. The company continued to grow through the war and post war years when farms were added north of Georgetown, Ontario.
Sheridan Nurseries brought the first Boxwood into Ontario from Korea and the first Japanese Yew seed from Japan in the 1920’s. After WW II an extensive program of plant selection started with the release of the Mountbatten Juniper, the Sheridan Hybrid Boxwoods, the Ivory Silk Tree Lilac and many other plant selections.
In the early 1920’s, the first garden centres were opened (seasonally) one located near Yonge and Bloor in Toronto and the other on Southdown Road in Mississauga which is today one of the largest combined retail and trade garden centres in Canada. Other garden centres followed on Yonge Street (1950) in Unionville in (1967), Kitchener (1978) and in Glen Williams (1994). ). In May 2003, Sheridan Nurseries purchased Weall and Cullen Nurseries. Today Sheridan Nurseries operates a Weall & Cullen garden centre on Ellesmere Avenue in Toronto.
Herman Stensson died in 1938 and his oldest son J.V (Bill) Stensson took over as nursery manager. His three brother’s Fred, Chris and Howard and a sister Betty all worked for most of their careers for Sheridan Nurseries. Today three of Herman’s grandchildren are actively involved in the business. Bill Stensson, Howard’s son is the Chief Executive Officer, Karl Stensson, Fred’s son is President and Karen Gazely, Fred’s daughter is the Nursery Sales Representative for the Atlantic provinces.
Today Sheridan Nurseries operates eight modern garden centres in the GTA and KW areas, selling not only hardy ornamental plants but annuals, house plants, garden supplies, furniture, home décor and giftware along with an extensive array of real and artificial Christmas trees and decorations.