Our History

Our History

Lengthy hours of discussions, many more hours of work and networking,
plus a committed group of individuals is what it took to MAKE IT HAPPEN!

Such is the story of the ADGS – the Alberta Dahlia and Gladiolus Society.

Lengthy hours of discussions, many more hours of work and networking, plus a committed group of individuals is what it took to MAKE IT HAPPEN!

Such is the story of the Alberta Dahlia and Gladiolus Society.

It was at the turn of the century that Lorne McArthur, Ken Jensen and Wayne Roberts began discussing the possibility of starting a dahlia society in Alberta. All had been growing and showing dahlias throughout the late 1980’s and 90’s and had won numerous prizes in Alberta & the North Western States with their beautiful blooms. It was through these shows that the initial contacts were made with Ernie Henderson, a local grower, and Bill McLaren, grower, senior judge and author of ‘The Encyclopedia of Dahlias’ and Reg Powys-Lybbe, a gladiolus grower and exhibitor from Southern Alberta. Each of these men contributed their special gifts and talents and talks moved towards reality

Lorne McArthur; Wayne Roberts
Wayne Roberts

Wayne began with educational talks to twenty flower clubs around Central Alberta (Sundre, Olds, Lacombe, Innisfail, Drumheller, etc.). With these educational seminars, Wayne gave free tubers and plants to the participants. “We must stimulate interest in this flower in order to see more people growing these beautiful blooms.”  Ken Jensen stepped in as the American Dahlia Society Representative and attended all the courses in United States to be come a senior judge and volunteered to organize all the required judging courses for the Alberta group.  Margo took on Secretarial duties and helped steer the group with all the paperwork with the Alberta Government.  Eileen Grant took on the position of Treasurer in those first years.

Lorne became the promotions expert before he became the first vice-president of the ADGS. He too gave free tubers and started tens of thousands of plants for friends and contacts to grow. He became the arm twister with the connections it took to spin the web of growers from south of Calgary to north of Edmonton. Lorne had been showing blooms of dahlias and gladiolus for 50 years; in fact, he was in competitions with the late Richard (Dick) Powys-Lybbe in the 1960’s! To this day, he still maintains a ‘MUST SHOW’ attitude!

Lorne, Wayne, Reg, Bill & Ken, the Dahlia and Gladiolus Gurus, have a cumulative total of 260 years of growing and showing experience. It was a NATURAL FIT for both flowers to be part of the dream.

With the tremendous support of Bill McLaren, the dream was stretching towards reality. Lorne, Wayne, Ken and Reg’s networks grew to: interest in judging and ‘promoting the culture and development’ of dahlias and gladiolus.

Planning for this new society revved into full motion in 2008 and a small group of individuals plunged into forming an official society in 2009. Nineteen dahlia and gladiolus growers signed the first declaration on November 8, 2009.

John Henderson; Ken & Ann Owens
Lorne McArthur
Trial Garden
Piper Creek Trial Garden Ribbon Cutting

The idea, that became a dream, turned into a REALITY! Lorne & Wayne’s DREAM to have people growing dahlias and gladiolus from the British Columbia to Saskatchewan borders and from the Northwest Territory to the 49th parallel came true. They wanted to re-energize, re-connect and re-new the excitement & passion for growing these two stunning and beautiful flowers. Their VISION will allow our membership to share in the joys and the passion of growing unique flowers. Their HOPE is that more individuals will begin to hybridize new varieties that may be shared with others. 

Bill McLaren became the first honorary member of the Alberta Dahlia and Glad Society. Without his passion and support, the dream would not have become a reality. Ernie Henderson, at 106 years of age and still growing and showing dahlias and gladiolus, is also an honorary member of the newly incorporated Alberta Dahlia and Glad Society.  In 2020 Lorne and Marilyn McArthur were voted as honorary members of the group.

First Officers

President:   Wayne Roberts

Vice-President:  Lorne McArthur

Secretary:  Margo Kusiek

Treasurer:  Eileen Grant

ADS Representative:  Ken Jensen

Board Members:  Reg Powys-Lybbe, Cleve Cooper, Bill Carter

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