Ernie Henderson

Ernie Henderson

January 10, 1905 - November 9, 2011

The Alberta Dahlia and Gladiolus Society, along with the CGS, ADS, NAGC  and the Montana Dahlia Society can with little doubt claim to have had oldest living member of any  active society of gardeners.

Ernie Henderson was 106  at the time of his passing, November 9, 2011.

This picture of Ernie, with his grand champion dahlia Elma Elizabeth, was taken at this year’s (2011) show in Red Deer. Ernie first started showing flowers in the late forties. Gladiolus and dahlias became his particular passion.

Exhibiting was not new to Ernie as he had grown up showing heavy horses. As well as showing horses and flowers he had a brief “run” at showing dogs; in particular, Cocker Spaniels.

He was an accredited judge of gladiolus, dahlias and horses.  During her life, Ernie’s wife Fanny, would often inquire whether the weekend was to be a “horsey one” or a” flower one” as Ernie was frequently off to shows as an exhibitor, judge or both.

Ernie also had the distinction of being the oldest living person to have served with the RCMP. In 2005 wearing his Red Serge Jacket (see photo) Ernie was the parade marshal for the Little Britches Parade here in High River (see photo). In that year both Ernie and Alberta  turned 100. As a member of the RCMP Ernie was part of the first Musical Ride. Along with his horse, Pard, he was  an extra in the movie “Rose Marie” starring Nelson Eddie and Janette McDonald.

Ernie and his friend Bill McClaren were awarded life membership in ADGS  at our founding meeting. This was most appropriate for these two were great friends- Though showing  Ernie did much to raise the interest  in dahlias here in Alberta. Ernie rarely if ever missed the mall show of the Montana Society in Kalispell, until the last few years; when other friends questioned the wisdom of his travelling to the U.S.

On the door of his room at the Medicine Tree manor Ernie had a sign stating “Gardeners don’t grow old, they just lose their bloomers”. This is perhaps, more humorous to those of us pre-Victoria’s Secret but Ernie never did lose his bloomers as illustrated by his accomplishments.  Also, some of us are still growing his dahlia introduction Alberta Flame (B FD Flame ).

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