The computer opens up a whole new world of information, and the other day, quite by accident, I found a site called Our Roots. The site is describes as “a library, archive, museum, and school all in one. Check the collection to find Canadian local histories in French and English.” So while this site doesn’t pertain to “our roots” as gardeners, I found some information about a former Yorktonite, and I’d like to tell you about him.
Theodore Onufrijchuk (1904 – 1989) was an educated and talented man who was the horticulturalist for the City of Yorkton from 1959 to 1981. Previously, he was the horticulturalist for the City of Winnipeg.
Theodore was a busy man in Yorkton. He had his green thumb in many aspects of the community’s horticultural landscape. His duties included raising plants to grace the grounds of many of the City’s public buildings; he supervised tree planting along many of Yorkton’s streets; and he even created many of the holiday displays that brought a festive touch to Broadway at Christmas.
From what I read, it sounds like Theodore was like the Energizer bunny of gardeners, and never tired of learning new things about gardening. Not content to sit in an armchair and just daydream about gardening, Theodore tested flowers and shrubs and trees that might be better suited to the prairies. The Botanical Gardens in Yorkton became an outdoor laboratory where Theodore tried many plants first-hand.
His gardening pursuits didn’t stop there. Theodore wrote a book, “Landscaping for Modern Canadian Living in the Prairie Provinces” in 1964. And he answered endless questions as Yorkton citizens asked for his knowledgeable green thumb advice.
(Visitors to our fair city often comment how pretty it looks in the summer, and we should give a green “thumbs up” to the City for making things look so attractive. We might take it for granted that there are always nice flowers blooming throughout the City, and not even realize how much they add to the general ambience. I always try to take note of this, and once again, I thank my parents for this notion: I can remember my Mom commenting many times about the beautiful plantings by the Post Office and City Hall, as well as by the Fire Hall and the Court House. When we’d go for our many “gardening drives” over the summer, these locations were always included on the tour!)
But back to Theodore: obviously a man with a gardening dream and vision, Theodore recognized the importance of “green spaces” and horticultural beauty in a city long before it became the “thing to do”. He was obviously very forward-thinking, very energetic, and very creative.
So let’s tip our gardening hats to Theodore Onufrijchuk, a local gardening hero!
Gardeners, if you’re free this evening, Wednesday, April 18, the Yorkton and District Horticultural Society is holding their regular meeting at 7 p.m. at SIGN on North Street. Our special guest will be Marie Saretsky speaking about “Planting, Gardening, Fertilizing and Pruning according to the Moon Phases”.
This is a gentle approach to gardening, and I’m sure it will be very interesting, so if you have time, please join us!
Have a great week, and let’s focus on the spring garden work.