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This car decked out in roses is from when flowers were hotter than vegetables in Vancouver

A Vancouver florist learned people were willing to pay more for his flowers than his vegetables.
Vancouver business Brown Brothers Ltd. decked out a car with roses to use as a parade float in 1928. At this time, Brown's owner found flowers to be more popular than the vegetables he also sold.

“We at Brown Brothers are sincere flower lovers, with three generations of horticultural experience in the firm,” Joseph F. Brown Jr., Managing Director of Brown Bros. & Co. Ltd. wrote in his notes on “How to get the most out of flowers."  This float, from around 1928 showing a car decked out in roses and bearing a crown motif, pays firm tribute to his statement.

Joseph Brown, the grandfather of Joseph F. Brown Jr., began the company. He grew up working in his father’s nursery in Kent, England, taking over the operations in 1871. A depression in 1880 prompted him to leave England for the United States.

In 1898, after spending time in Chicago, Wisconsin and Winnipeg, he settled in Vancouver and set up a market garden on 21st Avenue and Sophia Street (now the site of Prince Edward Park) which at the time was just outside the city limits of Vancouver.

Brown found success, however, not in vegetable production, but in floriculture after quickly realizing people were willing to pay more for his flowers than his vegetables. The erection of greenhouses on the property soon followed, along with the opening of a retail store on East Hastings.

At the peak of the company’s operations in the 1920s and 1930s, Brown Brothers Ltd. had several retail stores throughout Vancouver, two greenhouse locations and a 45-acre nursery in Hammond.

nterested in finding more archival photographs of Vancouver? Search the City of Vancouver Archives’ online database. For more information about the Archives, its holdings, and how to research, visit the Archives’ website.

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