To provide exceptional plants and service to the landscape trade.
The Growth of Humber Nurseries from 1948 -2019
Frans L. Peters was born on January 24, in 1921, in Deventer, Holland. At about the age of sixteen, he apprenticed for a local gardener and fur-thered his education at the Horticultural School of Nymegen, graduating in 1940 at the age of 19. Frans would soon apply and be accepted to immigrate to Canada in the spring of 1948, but first married Sibylla Dorothea Johanna Maria Janssen.
Frans and Sibylla, were married on April 12, 1948. Then only two weeks later, they bid farewell to their families and headed to Canada.
Frans wanted to start his own business, so in 1948 he rented ten acres of land near the Humber River from the Wilson family in nearby Mount Dennis. Frans, Sibylla and their newborn daughter Sibylla, moved to one of the Wilson houses. Frans placed an order with Stokes Seeds, built some frames, and started growing seedlings. That was the birth of Humber Nurseries, with the name coming from the fact the property ran along the Humber River.
They didn’t want the land to lay empty during the summer months, so they planted five or six acres of nursery stock which came from Holland. Through trial and error, they found out which varieties were hardy in Canada. Sibylla in the meantime helped out with the planting and would go to Toronto by bus to sell flower bunches at seventy-five cents a bunch.
Their first son Frans was born in 1950, and their second daughter Astrid, was born in 1952. The small nursery was growing with added stock such as Privet, Chinese Elm and Red Barberry for hedging. Clientele came to Humber because they trusted the goodwill of Frans and Sibylla.
In 1954, they also acquired a 97-acre farm at 14905 Bramalea Road, Caledon for the production of local nursery stock, which continues to sup-ply a large volume of trees, evergreens, and shrubs to wholesalers, landscapers and the garden centre. This was the beginning of Boston Mills Tree Farm.
In the autumn of 1954, just after the birth of their last son, Guy, the business was challenged by Hurricane Hazel. The floods of the hurricane destroyed everything on the Humber River property. For the next five years, Frans, Sibylla and their little family rebuilt the house and nursery, but finally decided to move in November 1959.
They moved Humber Nurseries to 8386 Hwy. 50 in Brampton Ontario and set up two greenhouses brought from the Humber Valley location. Dur-ing the 1960’s and the 1970’s, there were many factors in the growth of the business. The four children played a large supportive role in the daily business activities, handling accounting, labour organization, and inventory in the office, as well as budding of roses, cuttings, planting, seeding, deliveries and many other jobs around the nursery. Frans Sr. applied his passion for discovering new plants, innovative methods of growing and creative landscaping techniques.
In 1973 Frans G. Peters graduated from the University of Guelph. Guy graduated from the same university in 1974. Both brothers had degrees in Horticulture and they took on administrative roles at Humber Nurseries. After graduation from University, Frans and Guy eventually assumed their duties at the nursery: Frans in Wholesale Operations and Guy in Retail Operations.
During the 1980’s to 1990’s Humber divided into four departments: Landscaping, Greenhouses, Garden Centre and the Wholesale Operation – which was the growing of nursery stock for future Humber Nurseries sales.
Once Frans and Guy’s careers were set, came weddings and children. Frans G. Peters named his son Frans, who now takes the name of Junior (JR) to differentiate him from his father, because they work so closely together in the business. The 24 acre property on Hwy 50, grew to become On-tario’s Largest Garden Centre. After 60 years at this location, the land was sold in 2019, but the business will continue from the farm on Bramalea Road.
The Evolution continues with Humber Nurseries 2020 Ltd.
The Peter’s family-owned and operated businesses, is now managed by the third generation. Humber Nurseries 2020 Limited will be operated by Frans G. Peters and his son Frans W. (JR) Peters, focused on the growing and supply of trees, evergreens, shrubs, perennials and annuals to the landscape trade.