Where Have All the Flowers Gone? Benson McRae

Where Have All the Flowers Gone? Benson McRae

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Photos from the McRae family.


Deep in Lanark County, in the township of Dalhousie, Pollock and Dora McDougall’s rose garden was the talk of the area. Located a hop, skip , and a jump near Wilson’s Corners 100’s of tourists used to visit this rose garden each year. Sadly, it no longer exists, as well as a floral garden that was once the talk of Carleton Place.



Located on the corner of Queen and Santiago Street was the McRae home and in that home lived a genius horticulturist named Benson/ Ben McRae. Ben worked as a conductor for the C.P.R. station that was just a hop skip and a jump on what is now called Coleman. In his spare time he bred gladiolus and became a name among gladioli societies in Canada and the United States.





He loved these flowers so much he decided to begin a project–hybridizing a gladiola. is experiments were so successful  that he had new versions of them listed in catalogues. He won a silver medal for his breed and his bloom was accepted by every province in Canada. he won 15 firsts with it in Montreal shows and was grand champion of the Ottawa and District Gladioli Society. Carleton Place folks of a certain age on Queen and Santiago will remember the tremendous numbers of gladioli he used to grow there.


Mr. McRae developed three gladiolas. White “Gate of Pearls” and Pink “Gate of Pearls” and Patmos which was the wine colour in the middle. All these names were of biblical origins, but because they also lived on the 9th line of Beckwith– the Patmos name was also for the Patmos family who along with his family settled on 220 acres of Beckwith swampy land. But–when they arrived, or when they left, or where they went, is not known. The Man who Disappeared– Stories of Dr. G. E. Kidd



So what happened to all these gladiolas? Eventually after years they developed soft rot bacteria which causes them to completely break down. Neck rot is also more likely to occur with high plant density, and they no longer exist. I don’t know about you but this year I am planting a lot of gladiolas in memory of Mr. McRae. Can you imagine what a tourist attraction we would become if there were gladiolas planted everywhere?

No way you say? One only has to look at Pollock and Dora McDougall’s rose garden that once existed. People came for miles…… and they would here too.



Photos from the McRae family.


















Photos from the McRae family.

 - Record Entry List For District Gladiolus Shoiv...

Clipped from

  1. The Ottawa Citizen,
  2. 13 Aug 1949, Sat,
  3. Page 10
  4. All photos from the McRae family


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

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.



Paradise in Hopetown

The Carleton Place Goddess of Greenery — Erica Zwicker

Remember Her? Still Living in a Bed of Roses!!

Gardening 2016–From Herbs to Edible Flowers?

The Mysterious Sex Life of Flowers— Carleton Place and District Horticultural Society

photo Jason Porteous

Jason Porteous

Could be. Mygrandmother’s cousin Catherine Bennett was married to a Charlie McRea/McRae. I don’t have other details on Charlie. Maybe they were related on his side.

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.

3 responses »

  1. My grandmother lived at 127 Santiago. She owned the adjacent empty lot and I remember it was used as a garden full of gladiolas in the 1960’s. I think it was tended by a gentleman called Mr. Pretty, her tenant in her upstair’s apartment. Does anyone know about this gladiolas garden?


    • Did not even have to post it and I got this LOL–Linda Gallipeau-Johnston My Mom used to plant “glads” as she called them for Decoration Sunday – as well Mrs. Pretty on Queen Street and Arthur McLellan would help each other out if one or the other ran out of a color. Mom had 300 or so bulbs and use to carry this awful tank of chemicals for spraying on her back to ensure the glads were not invaded by the thirp bug – that would have been devastating.


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