Pages of history found at the Ottawa archives establish that this family shares a special bond with Canada’s anniversary. Actually, it is in 1867, that Louis Parisien III, ancestor of this family of gardeners, moved to Cyrville. He was the first of a great line to cultivate local land and sell its products in the ByWard Market. “Louis Parisien saw great for this region. With his experience of market gardening, he allowed Cyrville to become an important centre for vegetable gardening” (free translation of Suzanne Martin Labelle’s words).
A bit of history…
In fact, the company Serres D. Parisien is the result of seven generations of gardeners who, in turn, occupied stalls on York and Byward streets. Although Louis III was the first owner of gardening land, his father Louis Parisien II participated in the culture and the sales of the products of the land. Eventually, it is Cleophas, son of the owner who took over and passed on his passion to Paul-Emile who became the fourth generation gardener.
The latter experienced life-changing events. With Ottawa City’s growth, he was forced to part with a section of his agricultural land to allow for the construction of Highway 417. It is at this point that the family opted to convert from culture in fields and cold frames to production of annuals in greenhouses. Paul-Émile who had experienced going to the market with horses and wagon eventually benefitted from the modernization and began trucking his products.
From vegetables to plants
Although the first three generations sold the actual vegetables, Paul-Émile, his wife Dolorès and family, eventually concentrated on plant sales. From geraniums to marigolds, petunias and many more bedding plants, the collection was colourful and also included many vegetable plants.
On the Move
In time, Jean, Paul-Emile and Dolores’s second son, followed his parents’ footsteps and dedicated his career to greenhouse culture. He moved the company to Cumberland in the mid 1970s. While he continued the tradition of retail sales at the Byward Market, he expanded the wholesale division of Parisien Greenhouses.
In 1990, Daniel, eldest son of the 6th generation, became co-owner. He built a 30 000 sq. ft production greenhouse complex, in 1994, in the village of Bourget, located east of Ottawa. With efficiency and a care for the environment in mind, Daniel switched from oil furnaces to a hot water and biomass heating system burning clearing wood from the local forest maintenance program. He also developed many heat retention systems.
While their father was preparing his retirement, Daniel’s younger brother, Mario, decided to be part of the next generation. After operating the Cumberland site for a few years, Mario joined Daniel in Bourget. Expanding the complex to 55000 sq. ft, the brothers worked side by side on production for many years, keeping Cumberland as a point of sales. Eventually, Mario officially opened a garden centre under the banner Jardinerie Le Migrateur Garden Centre. In light of his success, he now produces and sells his own crop on site.
A heartbreaking decision…
Over the years, owners of Serres D. Parisien assessed their options, studied the habits of their customers and were able to adjust their production in order to continue to meet the demands of consumers in Ottawa. However, in the past years, some decisions regarding the restructuring of the ByWard Market and the celebrations of Canada’s 150th anniversary have directly affected the stalls normally occupied by the Parisien family. Regretfully, brothers Daniel and Mario Parisien decided to bow out of the ByWard Market, putting an end to the presence of a pioneer family at the heart of the capital.
Yesterday to today, times have changed…
Today, Serres D. Parisien is operated by Daniel Parisien, for whom growing annual bedding plants is a lot more than a job; it is a passion. His wife and children are also involved in the activities of the company. Raised between the bedding flats and the planters, Emile, Pier-Jean and Ariane learned the trade early on and still contribute part-time as they begin their respective careers.
Because quality is a tradition!
Loyal to his ancestors, proud of his origins and passionate of his field, Daniel continues to operate the family business and to offer his products directly to customers, as well as through wholesalers. You can always meet him in the greenhouses or the garden centre in Bourget. He never hesitates to spend time with customers discussing products, maintenance requirements and ideal growing conditions, ensuring that the amateur gardener enjoys a successful gardening season.