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A little bit of History

The Daily Record
Published by German Printing and Publishing Company of Berlin Ltd.
*** Thursday, August 28th, 1895 ***
Berlin, Ontario

The Flower Show a Great Success

A stranger in town last evening might have fancied that some big fete was in progress from the crowds wending their way to the Town Hall, but if he would have joined the procession and entered he would have been surprised and delighted at the sight. Three days ago the officers of the Horticultural Society proposed holding a free exhibition of Flowers, Fruit, and Vegetables. The idea took like wildfire - all classes joined, and the results exceeded the expectations of the most sanguine of its promoters.  Rarely in any city or town could such a display be made or such an enthusiasm created.  The Hall was well arranged, and the cultivated eye and good taste of the ladies made the tables a symphony in colour. 

Gladiolus and Asters were shown in greatest numbers and in these lines no show we have ever seen could surpass them.  We are sorry that space prevents more than a mere mention of the fine exhibit of Sweet Peas (Eckford’s Best), Gloxinia, Verbenas, Phlox, Begonias, Cannas, Stocks, Delphinium, and many other cut flowers, while Palms, Auracasias, Ferns and Foliage plants made a rich contrast and a fascinating sight. 

A magnificent specimen of Lilium Auratum was the centre of attraction, its rich perfume enjoyed by all, and a collection of rare and curious Cacti also formed an interesting feature of the exhibition.  The Hall was filled during the evening with a delighted lot of spectators, and all declared the town of Waterloo Horticultural Society a necessary and permanent institution of the place.

​Judging from the smiling countenance of the general President Mr. Lockie he must be the most popular man in town.

Waterloo Horticultural Society Annual Flower Show 1923 poster

George Coltart

George Coltart retired as the superintendent of Waterloo Park in 1951 after working at the park for twenty-eight years. He was in his late seventies at the time and had spent his entire career making the park beautiful with lily ponds, rock gardens and award-winning flowerbeds.

Coltart, a native of England, took the top post in 1927 after initially working for the Waterloo Park Board between 1917 and 1923. He is remembered for the artistry of his flowerbeds, and his skill in nurturing young seedlings in the park’s greenhouses. During his term as superintendent, seventeen maple trees were planted to honour the Waterloo men who had died in the First World War. During the 1920s, there was a toboggan slide, and three ice rinks were made on Silver Lake for hockey and recreational skating.

In 1930, a brochure advertised the park as being a place for picnics, boating, tennis, and dancing and “banqueting” in the park pavilion. A 1945 newspaper article illustrates some of the issues of the day for Coltart. The problem in the mid-40s was the “rowdy young people” who were spoiling the band concerts in the park. Representatives from the Waterloo Musical Society complained about “honking of horns, running motors . . . motorcyclists tearing down the driveway . . . when the band concert is in progress.”

Coltart also served his community as the president of the Waterloo Horticultural Society from 1918 until 1921 and then again for a year in 1930. In the intervening years, 1921 to 1929 he served as director, and then again from 1932 until 1939.

George Coltart immigrated to Canada in 1912 and married Charlotte Jack. The couple had a son named James and a daughter Agnes. Like many of the early park superintendents, the Coltart family lived in the historic Eby house on the park premises. In 1968, the Eby house became a potters’ studio. Coltart died a few short months after retiring.

Photo courtesy of the Waterloo Public Library

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