Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Celebrating My Family Roots

All of my followers who have read my food column and/or have a signed copy of my cookbook have read and heard many stories of my family's Market Garden and Greenhouse business, Wallish Greenhouses. My grandparents John and Sally Wallish started out in 1919 and eventually the business moved to Bremner which is now called Sherwood Park, Alberta. 

Jean and Charlie in the wagon, with big brother Robert in 1932
I have many fond memories of growing up a short mile down the road from the 'Greenhouse' business where my Grandma Sally and Uncle Robert lived. By this time the second generation had taken on the business with the three families as partners. I was there almost daily either with my parents or a short bike ride or walk down the road for a visit, 'tea time' or to lend a helping hand. I am the second grandchild and loved being in the fields around our house to help with planting and harvest. It was not unusual for me to pick a head of lettuce or fresh corn cob and eat it right there in the field! When I was too young for the heavier work, I was out there anyways and used to come to the house early to get lunch ready for the family. Through my teen years I took on more jobs; from weeding never ending rows of onions, cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower ... to this day I hate weeding, to pruning long quonsets of English cucumbers to 2' off the ground, transplanting bedding plants, mowing lawns, dragging the corn sack while Uncle Robert expertly picked ripe cobs and eventually a weekly Saturday job at the Edmonton City Market. Then there was the onion harvest from the fields at my family's property, loaded onto wagons and moved to the drying room at the Greenhouse. Once dried, the onion necks had to removed by 'wringing' them to create a seal to keep the onion in storage longer. The dried onions were stored and taken to the Market. In this same area of the property there was a root cellar and eventually a large walk in cooler beside the vintage gas pump for the tractors.

My Uncle Robert was the face of Wallish Greenhouses at the Edmonton City Market after my grandma stopped going. My older sister and I remember the old City Market but it wasn't until I was a bit older that I got to go help Uncle Robert every Saturday morning. I loved the Market and Wallish Greenhouses had a permanent stall there for 49 years. Bedding plants in the spring, fresh vegetables, geraniums and 'spikes' through the summer, sacks of dried onions into the winter months. Every Saturday morning my Mom would wake me early (not my style for those who know me!), Uncle Robert would pick me up with the truck loaded and ready for a Market day. I loved the Market, bustling with friends and fellow stall holders, shoppers, aromas of soil, flowers and food, a social atmosphere with talk and laughter.  

My cousins have taken the family business into the third generation and it has changed a lot from what I knew. This year is 100 years since my grandparents started Wallish Greenhouses and I am celebrating my family roots and history. Although with great sadness, two business partners of the second generation are no longer with us. 

Today is a year since my Mom passed away, on the same day as my Dad 18 years before. Uncle Robert is also gone ... may they Rest In Peace. My Uncle Chuck, in semi-retirement has moved to the old Greenhouse property that I knew so well... growing up, it was my second home.

In honor of my family history and those who are no longer with us, I Celebrate My Family Roots.

Until next time... Happy Gardening and Bon App├ętit

Photo archive from my Mom


  1. I love this story of your family's roots, Sally. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Thank you JP! I have fond memories of my childhood gardening lifestyle, that developed into my love of growing, storing and preparing my home grown food.