September 15, 2008

Music, food, a silent auction, laughter, visiting among friends and family and much joy were all part of Sibylla Peters’ 90th birthday celebration on August 2nd. It was also a day to celebrate Humber Nurseries’ 60th anniversary.

Among the 300 people who enjoyed the event were Brampton city councillor John Hutton, who brought his best wishes and passed on those of Brampton mayor Susan Fennell. MP for Bramalea-Gore-Malton Gurbax Mallhi was on hand to present his congratulations. LO president Bob Adams and executive director Tony DiGiovanni were present to offer best wishes from the association. Congratulatory messages were also sent by Premier Dalton McGuinty and Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Although heavy rain fell early, threatening the celebrations, the clouds disappeared and sunshine allowed a great party to carry on for the rest of the day. One of the highlights was the cutting of the massive cake that depicted Humber Nurseries, complete with edible photographs displaying the history of the family and business.

Mrs. Peters and her husband Frans L. Peters were busy throughout the day greeting the many friends and family who took the opportunity to wish them the best. In April the couple celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary.

Humber Nurseries was established in 1948 by Frans and Sibylla Peters after they emigrated from Holland. As a graduate of the Dutch Agricultural College, Frans Peters’ talents were used in the development of the nursery. Sibylla Peters did everything from planting to selling flowers, working in the store and giving birth to four children.

They located their nursery in the Mount Dennis-Weston area of Toronto. With the business so close to the Humber Flats and the banks of the Humber River, the name Humber Nurseries was born.

Frans L. and Sibylla Peters worked hard to create what has become Ontario’s largest all-season garden centre. Over the years, despite Hurricane Hazel, a major fire in 1973 and economic downturns, the business has thrived. Its present-day location on 24 acres in Brampton offers 25,000 square feet of products that include giftware, pottery, garden furniture, tools, soils and more.  The company has a 100-acre growing farm in Caledon East, and Humber Nurseries has also become known for its butterfly conservatory. In 1998, Humber Nurseries constructed a 4,500 square foot mesh-enclosed native butterfly house to mark its 50th anniversary.

The couple has four children, Sibylla, Frans G., Astrid and Guy Peters. Today, Frans G. Peters is president of wholesale operations and manager of Boston Mills Tree Farm, while Guy is president of retail operations. Frans G. Peters is a past president of LO, and Guy Peters has served on LO’s garden centre commodity group.

Humber Nurseries is truly a family operation, as the third generation of the Peters family has moved into the business. On August 2, everyone had a chance to celebrate not only the family matriarch’s birthday, but the story of how one family achieved great success in its chosen homeland.

Caption: Sibylla Peters and husband Frans L. Peters.