Driving up the gravel laneway, surrounded by trees, flowers and shrubs, you come to an old rustic building that is the nursery. It’s a piece of nostalgia woven into our modern big-box retail world. Windover Nurseries has stood the test of time and recently celebrated their 100th anniversary.
Current owners Paul and Jean Windover took over the family business 50 years ago from Paul’s father. They held a 100th anniversary celebration in June with festivities that included lunch, live music, a presentation and of course cake.
Paul’s father started the business in 1918 selling trees at the market that he had dug out of the bush. He later started to plant trees specifically for sale and the business continued to grow, finally settling in the current location on Petrolia Line in 1945.
Windover Nurseries offers plants, tress, shrubs, and everything in between. They are both a retailer and wholesaler, who also offer landscaping services. They are open from early spring for all your gardening and landscaping needs right up to Christmas Eve, selling Christmas trees.
Jean admits that when she married Paul, “she didn’t know a tulip from a maple, but I learned from the best, my husband.” She married Paul in November of 1961 and was immediately put to work selling Christmas trees. “If you love what you do, it’s easy to learn quickly. I love the business, and I love the people,” says Jean.
A lot has changed over 100 years ago. “There is a lot more technology and modern equipment used, and the customers are looking for more ‘maintenance free’ landscaping than in previous decades,” says their son, Ira. Their annual catalogue first published in 1934 can also attest to some price changes. A maple tree was $1 and a shrub was 35¢ (now $30).
However, some things never change, like that gravel driveway leading into Windover Nurseries. Their magic formula: “We treat our employees well and focus on good service for our customers and both have rewarded us with their loyalty,” says Paul. Some of their employees have been with them for over 20 years. “Our old employees often drop in to say ‘hi’ ten or twenty years later and reminisce about their summers working here.”
Windover Nurseries is the second oldest family owned nursery in Ontario. Paul spent many years on the Board of Directors at the Ontario Nursery Trades Association and was even voted Junior Nursery Man in the 1970’s.
The family business will continue into the next generation as son Ira and his wife Elsie will eventually take it over.
In their slow season (July and August) the family enjoys heading up north to their cottage to relax and get some fishing in. During the winter months, they head south to keep warm at their Mississippi cottage and recharge for the next season.
Windover Nurseries is located at 3662 Petrolia Line, Petrolia and you can contact them at 519-882-0120 or check out their website www.windovernurseries.com