Profiles of Historic Sites
Ferncliff Gardens "Jack's Nursery", looking west
Slack Family fonds/0176-MCA022-23A
Courtesy Mission Community Archives
8502 McTaggart Street
Date of Original Construction:
Ferncliff Gardens is an internationally acclaimed "pioneer flower farm" located on McTaggert Street in Hatzic, just east of Mission. Pioneers in the horticultural mail order service and hybridizing of new varieties of flowers, the members of the Jack family have adapted their business since 1920, making it the oldest family operated business in Mission.
The property includes 10 acres of farmland and the private residence. The house sits on the eastern end of the farmland overlooking the eastern Fraser Valley.
Mr. Milton Jack launched Ferncliff Gardens at Hatzic in 1920 on land rented from Mrs. Thomas Hodgson (6.67 acres) and Thomas Catherwood (4.84acres). In 1922 and 1931, respectively, he became the deed holder for both properties. There, he hybridized and developed new forms of gladioli and other flowers, which were shipped to customers throughout North America, and sent to major shows and competitions. Those blooms by Mr. Jack's own originations were entered into competition and would go on to win a great majority of prizes; "many of his varieties are successfully grown as grand champions in international shows."1
On September 18, 1947 the Fraser Valley Record ran a story in which Mr. Milton Jack explained how the Bulb Industry had developed. The paper reports that Mr. Jack had recently returned from visiting a number of the major gladiolus shows in the Pacific North West area where he displayed his own originations.
In 1953 Mr. Jack was awarded a Bronze Plaque for his "conspicuous contribution to advancement of gladiolus from the North American Gladiolus Council. Mr. Jack was selected for the award because of his contributions during the past 30 years in hybridizing and developing new varieties of gladiolus. The award was presented for the first time to anyone living in the Pacific Northwest."2
"In the forties and fifties the garden at Ferncliff was the scene of the annual "Strawberry Social" tea of the Hatzic United Church."3
The Jack family continues to operate a retail nursery growing high quality dahlias, iris, daylilies and peonies.
People Associated with the Site:
Reverend Milton Jack was "born in Chateauguary, Quebec and educated at McGill and Chicago universities. He entered the Canadian Presbyterian Mission in 1905. He was principal of the Theological Training School in Formosa and later joined the faculty of the University of Seoul, Korea. He also did missionary work on Formosa and the Chinese mainland."4 After contracting malaria he retired from his missionary work and opened Ferncliff Gardens. After a lifetime of recognition, Mr. Jack passed away at his home on December 5th ca 1964 at the age of 88.
Catherine Winifred Jack: wife of Milton
Lawrence Jack: son
Wilfred Jack: son, operated the business along with his father.
The 1975 Ferncliff Gardens catalogue states remittances were payable to W.R. Jack
David Jack - grandson; continues to operate Ferncliff Gardens with his wife Sheila. They received a special recognition in 2007 by the Mission Community Heritage Commission for continued operation of the pioneer family business.
The Jack home, built in 1922 is two stories, Tudor style white stucco with brown trim, at least 6 small windows on the second story, 2 larger windows on the first story. The interior includes spacious well-maintained rooms, which provide a gracious setting for many gatherings and special events.
Construction method/materials: wood
Site includes farm outbuildings, barn and shed(s)
Rural farmland features fields of flowers. The owner's personal gardens comprise about 3/4 acre.
Daughter Elsie Jack remembers that "the private flower garden at Ferncliff became, over the years, very lovely. A spacious terraced lawn over looked the valley. To the north a wide border of trees and Azaleas. A border of low growing Juniper marked the boundary where the hill sloped steeply down in front of the Juniper, Azaleas, Dwarf Shrubs and Perennials. On the west side a pergola about sixty feet long covered by wisteria, and some other climbers along the way marked the end of the lawn. Below the Pergola on a slope was my father's hobby, a rock garden, full of unusual Alpine plants."5
Designer/creator: Jack family members.
Where to get further information:
- Corporation of the District of Mission Assessment and Collector's Rolls: 1922,Ward I, p.4, Roll#15 - Corporation of the District of Mission Assessment and Collector's Rolls: 1931,Ward I, p.4, Roll#14 - Mission Community Archives, Community Resource File 250.1 F.
- FVR. "Milton Jack Returns From Trip to Chicago." January 22, 1948.
- FVR. "Champion Hatzic Gladiolus Grower Explains How Bulb Industry Has Developed." Sept 18, 1947.
- FVR. "Milton Jack Gets Bronze Plaque for Gladiolus Work." January 28, 1953.
- FVR. "Shrubs at Half Price." March 5, 1936.
- FVR. "Milton Jack...Funeral Services were held..." ca late 1964.
- HP Inventory V2: Horticulture, Agriculture (white binder).
- Oral history and notes: Hatzic Pioneers. Map key by Doug Catherwood.
- Jack, Elsie. Garden Memories.
1 Fraser Valley Record, September 18, 1947
2 Fraser Valley Record, January 28, 1953
3 Jack, Elsie: Garden Memories
4 Fraser Valley Record, December 1964
5 Jack, Elsie: Garden Memories
Last Modified December 20, 2013