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Gardens in Niagara


Stokes Seeds

The Stokes Seeds farm on Martindale Road in St. Catharines was used as a testing facility to assess how well the seeds performed in local weather and soil conditions.   The farm had its beginnings with the McSloy Brothers, the wealthy owners of the Canada Hair Cloth Factory.  They inherited the property from their uncle and planned to build a mansion and model dairy farm.  The property remained in the McSloy family until 1945.  The farm part of the property was sold to James Stork, a local fruit grower, who then sold it to Stokes Seeds Inc.

Stokes Seeds in St. Catharines was originally the Canadian branch of Johnson & Stokes, an American seed company founded in New Jersey in 1878.  It became one of the largest seed companies in North America and was eventually simply known as Stokes Seeds.  St. Catharines resident W. Harry Gale purchased the Canadian branch during the Depression and transformed it into a seed planting and testing facility.

Over time, the area became increasingly residential.  In 1990, Stokes sold the farm and in 1993 moved its testing operation site to Lakeshore Road.  By 2000, most of the farm buildings had been demolished or moved and construction began on several homes which now occupy the site.   

Stokes Seeds testing facility

Flower seeds sold by Stokes Seeds in their 1954 catalogue 

Tomato seeds sold by Stokes Seeds in their 1954 catalogue

E.D. Smith

In 1878, E.D. Smith was a farmer in the Niagara Peninsula.  On his 120-acre farm in Niagara, he experimented with growing various fruits and vegetables and raising livestock.  He also had a farm in Winona and by 1882 decided to make jam out of his excess fruit.   By 1904, he had a jam factory in Winona.  Smith also sold fruit and ornamental nursery stock from his farm.  Over the years, the business grew to include other processed foods and remains in business today as a subsidiary of TreeHouse Foods Inc.


E.D. Smith price list for fruit and ornamental nursery stock, 1933

A list of some of the ornamental and flowering shrubs sold by E.D. Smith in their 1933 catalogue