In Memoriam




1915 September 22 — 2010 March 14

The above photo by Jack Julian is of one of Capt. Dick Steele’s many rhodos around his former home in Halifax. Not only is the house completely surrounded by rhodos but he shared them with his neighbors by planting them up and down the street. The present owner of the house acknowledges a responsibility to preserve and maintain this heritage. Across the street and down by the shore the neighbors have planted a memorial garden to honor him. The entrance is off Purcell’s Cove Road. He pioneered breeding rhododendrons hardy enough for the climate of eastern Canada. In 1998 he was awarded the gold medal of the American Rhododendron Society at the annual convention in Niagara Falls.

Captain Richard Steele known as Captain Rhododendron died quietly this year on March 14th after a brief illness. His first career was as a naval officer. As a leading Canadian plantsman he operated since 1973 a nursery, the Bayport Plant Farm, where he bred rhodos. Each year he led what he called ‘plant expeditions’ with groups of plant enthusiasts to locations throughout eastern North America collecting seeds and cuttings.

Pine Grove Park at Bowater Mersey, Milton in Queen’s County, Nova Scotia has been dedicated to him. For the large collection of rhodos in this 50 acre park, Dick Steele selected, planted, donated and bred many. Also Boulderwood Park features his rhodos.

To read more about this plantsman see his article ‘Plant Hunting: Privilege Pleasure Posterity’ at For a list of his hybrids and selections, many tributes and photos go to In the Globe and Mail colmn on Lives Lived see 2010 August 12. For an extensive obituary by John Weagle see the Journal of the American Rhododendron Society, Volume 64, Number 3, Summer 2010, pages 148 to 149.


Died 2010 June 6th at the age of 89

Kenneth Erskine Duncan was a founding member to the Rhododendron Society of Canada in 1971 and the second president from 1973 to 1974. He was president of our Toronto Society from 1975 to 1978. For 38 years he has been the best friend of Edwards Gardens working to the day he died. Along the west side of Wilket Creek he planted beds of rhododendrons, azaleas and magnolias. Many of these have grown from seedlings started in the garden of his Don Mills home. It was a proud moment for him when Metro Parks Commissioner Tommy Thompson planted a collection of Ken’s azaleas in Edwards Gardens.

He was awarded the Leslie Hancock Memorial in 1984 and the Toronto Clean and Beautiful Award in 2005. The members of the Toronto Regional Rhododendron and Horticultural Society planted a tree in honour of Ken’s contributions to the development of Rhododendrons and his work in Edwards Gardens( check Our News page for more info)


1936 January 19 – 2010 March 23

Bill was born in Sumatra and after the war lived in the Netherlands. He came to Canada in 1958.

Bill graduated with a Bachelor of Science and then a Master of Science in Forestry from the University of Toronto where he then taught as a lecturer and then assistant professor.

He was a pioneer of urban forestry working in Windsor, Toronto and North York.

In 2007 our Society awarded Bill the Bronze Medal with the following citation:

The Rhododendron Society of Canada was very fortunate and pleased to have Bill Morsink join the Toronto Chapter a dozen years ago with the following credentials: A master of Science degree in forestry, who become an urban forester for many years, and is dedicated to the preservation of urban parks gardens and forests. You came to us as a “dendrologist” (one who studies trees and shrubs), but you enriched yourself and us to become a “rhodo-dendrologist” (a ‘rose-tree’ lover).

You have distinguished yourself in the years you have been with us as a dedicated secretary, president and now treasurer but above all you are a person who puts heart and

soul, knowledge and determination to use in your research, including an extensive survey on the hardiness of plants and trees, especially in Eastern Canada, and have studied and published scientific articles in the ARS Journal, and the local Chapter’s newsletter. Your new endeavour is a new, innovative and unique “air layer cutting” technique for the propagation of rhododendrons.

For your tireless and dedicated work, the Toronto Chapter of the Rhododendron Society of Canada is proud to award the Bronze medal to Willem Anton Morsink.

Bill served on the Ontario Urban Forestry Council and was active on many projects involving trees and the environment. He was an avid grower of rhododendrons and trees. In general he was a passionate naturalist and enjoyed outdoor activities.

We will be planting at tree in a bed to be renovated in Edward’s Gardens in Bill’s memory at a time to be announced later.



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The latest newsletter was sent out on Sept 11th, 2017.

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Schedule – 2017

General Meeting

Location: Toronto Botanical Garden
Date: Sunday Nov 19th, 2017
Time: 12 pm - 4 pm
(free admission, free parking)

Volunteer Day

Location: Edwards Gardens
Date: TBD
Time: 10 am - 2 pm

Plant Sale

Location: Toronto Botanical Garden
Date: April 23rd, 2017
Time: 10 pm - 2 pm
(free admission, free parking)
Click here to open Google Map


Location: TBD
Date: TBD