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Hail To The Rose Man – Jack McIntyre And The Famous Trudeau Boutonnieres
by Art Drysdale
by Art Drysdale


Art Drysdale, a life-long resident of Toronto and a horticulturist well known all across Canada, is now a resident of Parksville, British Columbia on Vancouver Island, just north of Nanaimo. He has reno-vated an old home and has a new garden there. His radio gardening vignettes are heard in south-western Ontario over radio station Easy 101 FM out of Tillsonburg at 2 PM weekdays.

Art also has his own website at

March 11, 2001

CanadianCentennial.jpg (49498 bytes)
‘Canadian Centennial’ was a controversial choice for Centennial celebrations in 1967.

With two of Canada’s major gardening events coming up in the next week, many would likely expect me to write about Success With Gardening and Canada Blooms. Not wishing to be anticipated, I thought I’d go in a totally different direction! Since this is the week that the first of my Canadian Horticulture Personalities is posted on my website (, and since I had a call from a gentleman with whom I had not talked for several decades, I decided to write about my long-lost caller friend. 
Jack McIntyre called me from Kingston this week. Who is he? He’s Canada’s rose man, and he’s been that since back at least to 1962. It was then he came up with the idea of a rose to celebrate Canada’s Centennial year, 1967. Jack, a rose fancier and member of the Canadian Rose Society, wanted an official Centennial project that could involve many Canadians. At the same time, Mr. McIntyre realized that only a new and outstanding rose variety could properly distinguish such an occasion. A selection panel of rose experts was able to obtain three top test cultivars then unnamed, and arrangements were made to have beds of the three test roses displayed in prominent gardens and parks across Canada.
The problem was Mr. McIntyre and his panel of rose experts could not, though they expended considerable energy trying, obtain new Canadian-produced rose cultivars. There were literally no such plants in those days! So, he obtained the three cultivars from a U.S. producer. Therein started all the “fun.” More about that after a bit more of the history!
After the programme was presented and accepted as an official Centennial project by the Centennial Commission and the Centenary Council, a Canadian Centennial Rose Committee was formed in February 1963. Patrons were the ten Lieutenant-Governors, and many prominent Canadian citizens were honorary directors.
Ten gardens were located in 27 communities from St. John’s, Newfoundland to Victoria, B.C. The contest was sponsored by the Rotary Club of Montreal-Lakeshore, in co-operation with other rotary clubs, parks departments and horticultural societies across Canada. Thousands of individuals visited the test gardens during the summer of 1964 and cast their vote for the rose they felt should be named “The Canadian Centennial Rose.” More than 12,000 cast their vote in greater than five hundred town and cities. In reality The Centennial Rose became the people’s choice. 
The chosen rose was a floribunda that was a “vibrant fluorescent-coral with soft overtones of salmon that remained true from start to finish.” Like many floribundas, it did not produce large flowers, but it did produce them in abundance. Its parentage was ‘Spartan’ and ‘Pinocchio’--two well-known cultivars.
Now, about the problem mentioned earlier. Not having been involved in the selection of the rose, Canada’s (and particularly Ontario’s) rose-growing nurserymen were not pleased. They went out and found a relatively new rose cultivar hybridized in Victoria, B.C. by an amateur rose hybridizer (and all-round gentleman) named Fred Blakeney. When I say it was relatively new I do so because it was first germinated in 1958--the result of a cross made by Mr. Blakeney between ‘Karl Herbst’ and ‘Peace’. But the nurserymen wanted to use the name that Jack McIntyre had already registered. Jack was willing to give it up to the nurserymen, and told them so but asked that a cheque be written to the Canadian Association for Retarded Children--the intended benefactor of his ‘Canadian Centennial’ rose. No such cheque was written!
And so we had two roses for Canada’s Centennial. I remember it well, and more than once I wrote articles about Canada’s “War of the Roses”.
Though the nursery industry was able to generate considerable publicity for Fred Blakeney’s ‘Miss Canada’ rose (Mr. Blakeney had originally chosen another name which had to be changed for the occasion!) they did not nearly compete with Jack McIntyre’s headline-grabbing moves. For example, 500 ‘Canadian Centennial’ were shipped in March 1966 for planting in the gardens at Buckingham Palace. The rose plants and an original oil painting of ‘Canadian Centennial’ were officially presented to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in July 1967 in appreciation of The Queen’s gift of $25,000 to The Quebec Association for Retarded Children.
The ‘Canadian Centennial’ rose was only the first of Jack McIntyre’s “Roses with a Purpose.” He followed it up with 1) the ‘Royal Canadian’ rose for the Vanier Institute of the Family in 1968, 2) a major planting of the ‘Peace’ rose for the United Nations Association and UNICEF in 1970, 3) the ‘John Paul II’ rose on behalf of the Building Fund for the John Paul II Wing of the University of Poland in 1984, and now he has an idea for the ‘Rose of Hope’ on behalf of the Canadian Cancer Society for prostate cancer research, and The Parkinson Foundation for research into Parkinson’s Disease.
The ‘Rose of Hope’ itself has an interesting background. Jack sees it as a tribute to our late Prime Minister, The Right Honorable Pierre Elliot Trudeau. And the reason behind that is itself interesting. 
In the spring of 1970 Jack the rose man was at the Prime Minister’s residence for the planting of a bed of ‘Peace’ rose bushes to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the United Nations. In a photo Jack has, he is seen talking to PET. The conversation when something like: 

PET: “Why the Rose” (Jack had a red rose in his lapel)
Jack: “I always wear a rose, it makes me feel good

And that was the beginning of Mr. Trudeau wearing a red rose in his lapel!.
Jack McIntyre and his wife Nina will celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary this June. I hope by then he has his new and current project off the ground. He’s still looking for a good new red rose (Canadian?????), and a company or organization to promote and market the idea. I for one wish him well.
If you wish to communicate with Jack, you may e-mail him at or call him at 613-544-5452. 
“May my Heart be filled with Forgiveness, Hope and Love.
May the Thoughts I think… The Words I speak… The Deeds I do…
Bring Hope to Everyone I meet.”
--Jack McIntyre.


Art Drysdale is horticultural editor of Canada's oldest and fastest growing national gardening magazine, Plant & Garden. He is heard Saturdays from 8 to 10 AM, with a live radio broadcast on Toronto's powerful and clear, AM740 CHWO Primetime Radio.

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