November 15, 2011
The van Wissens mark 50th anniversary
John van Wissen was always proud to have been involved during the beginning of Landscape Ontario.
He believed firmly in a trades organization that represented his industry.
Today, John Jr. operates John van Wissen Nurseries and Garden Centre in Brampton.
John van Wissen suffered a stroke while battling cancer about three years ago, paralyzing him and leaving him without the gift of speech. The couple still maintains an apartment, and their dedication to each other continues after 50 years.
Immigrating to Canada from Holland when he was 19 years old, John van Wissen came from a market-gardening family of nine kids. It was natural process that his first job in Canada was at a garden centre, Goodison’s on the Queensway in Mississauga.
A wonderful mentor and trainer, Harold Goodison taught John in all aspects of retailing.
After establishing himself in Canada, John placed an advertisement in the Dutch newspaper wishing to correspond with a girl back in Holland. Hendrika van Spijk, from a market gardening family of 14, came to Canada and married John van Wissen.
In 1979, the couple purchased a two-acre property in northwest Brampton, where John van Wissen Nursery and Garden Centre began. It started with apples, tomatoes and a few perennial plants and grew to include three separate businesses: van Wissen Perennials, van Wissen Cut Flowers and John van Wissen Nurseries and Garden Centre.
van Wissen recognized early in his market gardening career that he was not only selling plants, but knowledge. The buying public craved plant information and knowledge, and the couple became extremely helpful and giving with their time and knowledge.
The business grew, and soon they became supporters of the vision that is Landscape Ontario.