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McKenna's House of Flowers fonds (P728)

1925-1975. - 5 cm of textual records. - 37 photographs.

Administrative History - Biographical Sketch:

The McKenna flower business was established in Montreal in 1851 by an Irish immigrant, Patrick McKenna (1819 County Cavan, Ireland -- 1912 Montreal). He was gardener at the estate of Donald Ross, which extended from Côte des Neiges Road to the limits of Westmount. He opened a greenhouse for wholesale in 1852, then a retail store in 1878 known as P. McKenna & Son. Patrick McKenna organized the Montreal Gardeners and Florists Club in 1883. He was also the founder of the Canadian Horticultural Association, now the Allied Florists and Growers of Canada. Around 1903, the McKenna shop on St. Catherine Street, at the corner of Guy Street, was called McKenna Limited and was managed by Patrick's son, James McKenna (1851-1943). They were the only retail florists in Montreal who had their own greenhouses. Then James's son, Frank McKenna (1884-1958), established the McKenna House of Flowers Inc. That business was incorporated in 1926 and became independent from McKenna Limited in 1929. The first location of the House of Flowers was at 1306 Sherbrooke St. West, at the corner of Mountain St. In 1934 it moved to 1528 Mountain St. in a new building designed by Frank McKenna himself. He was one of the first directors of the Florists' Telegraph Delivery (F.T.D.) association, a worldwide organization based in Detroit.

A second Montreal store was subsequently opened on Laurier Avenue West and managed by E. Phil McKenna, Frank's brother. Another son of James McKenna, Harry W. McKenna, opened a shop in Quebec City, and his son, Paul McKenna, opened his own shop in Sherbrooke in 1952. Also from the fourth generation, James (Jim) Donald McKenna, Frank's son, joined the House of Flowers business in 1956.

Jim always took a personal interest in promoting the business of the House of Flowers. For many years, he prepared his own advertisements, which he inserted weekly in The Gazette. He was also a director of the F.T.D. association. The last McKenna store documented in this donation was opened in Montreal, in the Cantle House at 1112 Shebrooke St. West, in 1975.

Scope and Content:

This fonds pertains to the business activities of McKenna's House of Flowers. It contains documents produced by the House of Flowers, such as advertisements, business cards, stickers, an invitation to the opening of a House of Flowers store in 1975, a copy of incorporation papers dated 1974, and one manuscript document signed by Frank McKenna, May 30, 1927.

The fonds also contains photographs documenting the history of McKenna's business. The photographs include two portraits of Frank McKenna, ca. 1929, by Rice, and views of the different House of Flowers stores, exteriors and interiors, from 1926 to 1975. There are two group portraits: Board of Directors, F.T.D., 1926, 1969; and also a photograph of the delivery van with the sign F.T.D. ca. 1957.

The fonds is divided into the following series:

  • P728/A: Textual Documents
  • P728/B: Photographs