Next Time You Drive Down Highway 15–Gemmils

Next Time You Drive Down Highway 15–Gemmils


Photo’s from Gemmils



With files from Gemmils

There is a story behind every family business and if you have driven down Highway 15 towards Smiths Falls you have gone by Gemmils. When I moved to Carleton Place in 1981 there were very few locations and I remember each year taking the seasonal trek on Highway 15.

I came across these photos by accident, and knew if I had no clue about the history behind the greenhouse there might be others that did not either. Did you know that over 85 years ago, Donald Gemmell, Rob’s grandfather, first began selling flowers, fruits and vegetables, in Smiths Falls, at the same location where their flagship store is now located? Donald began with a  small roadside stand, and he also built a honey house. He sold his cut gladiolus, raspberries, strawberries and honey and history began with that first sale.



Photo’s from Gemmils


Soon Donald became well known in the community for excellent quality plants and his passion for growing, particularly his beloved pansies. In 1932,  they built new glass greenhouses next to the family home at 52 Church St. W. in Smiths Falls, .

Donald, along with his wife Lillian and his sister Eva Beach, worked together to bring beautiful plants to the local community. Soon after a new generation of Gemmell’s, and Ron, Ralph and Carlisle, were born.



Photo’s from Gemmils


The business grew again in 1967 with a move back out of town to its original location on Highway 15, where several greenhouses were constructed. Donald and his three sons operated Gemmell’s Sunnydale Gardens where Ralph Gemmell was the primary grower.

Ralph and his wife Liz worked tirelessly at the family business as their young sons, Robert and David, grew up running through the greenhouses. They loved to work alongside Grandpa Gemmell, growing snapdragons were a particular favourite. Rob was smitten with the bug to grow from the beginning, while David’s interests always lay in the mechanics.

Mr. Gemmell worked with the plants in the greenhouses right up until his passing in 1979. This event became a major turning point in the family business and in 1982 the business was split into Gemmell’s Flowers, owned and operated by Ron & Janice Gemmell, and Gemmell’s Garden Centre, owned and operated by Ralph & Liz Gemmell.

In 1987, Rob became an active partner in the business with Liz and together, with their hard working team, they continue to bring the tradition of locally grown top quality plants to the surrounding areas. Rob is the third generation of this horticultural family to operate the greenhouses and along with his mother Liz, they grow some of the most beautiful plants in Eastern Ontario.


Now you know the rest of the story– or do you? 🙂

read the rest here





Murray’s Furniture & Flea Market  Photo




Clipped from The Ottawa Journal22 Aug 1979, WedPage 48




Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun and Screamin’ Mamas (USA)



Remembering the Smells of Heaven on Earth —Davidson’s Bakery

The RCA Plant –Smiths Falls –The Day the Records Stopped Spinning

The Bomb Girls of Smiths Falls

Rideau Ferry Road– Black Snakes Bridges and SS#6

What Was Smiths Falls Perth and Port Elmsley like to Joseph and Jane Weekes?

The Publicity Club Coupon Contest of Smiths Falls 1931

Antique Furniture? The End of an Era?

About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

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