Throughout the years, there have been many dedicated people who have contributed a significant amount of their time to the growth and preservation of the Vancouver Orchid Society (VOS). The VOS is one of the oldest orchid societies in Canada and its achievements are due to the hard work of its volunteers.
In 1946 Mr.R.B. Luscher organized a number of orchid enthusiasts to meet informally as a group. In 1951 the membership roster numbered 20
members who met regularly in each other’s homes. Mr. Carson was the first acting President in 1952; he was also an honorary Vice- President of the American Orchid Society at the same time. On March 17, 1952 the VOS officially affiliated with the American Orchid Society.
It should be noted that in the early years and throughout many subsequent decades, the VOS received a great deal of support from Mr. Jim le Nobel who was also the founder of leNobel Orchids. Mr. leNobel’s contributions to the VOS were unparalled.
Dr. Wally Thomas visited as a guest in April 1958 and two years later in 1960 he became the Vice- President of the VOS. Dr. Thomas has been President of the VOS several times.
In 1969 the VOS exhibited at the Pacific National Exhibition (PNE) for the first time. The remuneration received from the PNE exhibition set the stage for the establishment of an account from which the VOS would fund future shows and services.
The VOS was responsible for setting up and maintaining an orchid display at the Little Mountain Geodesic Dome when it first opened on December 6, 1969. That facility is now known as the MacMillan Bloedel Conservatory located at the Queen Elizabeth Park.
The Society’s first AOS judged show was heldin the Oakridge Auditorium in 1972. The Judging Chairman was Mr. Wayne Smith, an AOS Northwest Regional Judge from Seattle.
In 1975 the VOS incorporated as a not for profit society, in accordance with the Societies Act of BC. In that same year the Society moved its meetings and annual shows to the new VanDusen Botanical Gardens Floral Hall. In 1975 the VOS also affiliated with the Orchid Digest Corporation.
In April 1983 Ms.Kay Morphy of the VOS was the designated Show Chairperson for the Spring AOS Trustees Meeting held in Vancouver, the first time outside of the USA. The theme of the show was “Orchid Magic”.
In 1986 Dr. Wally Thomas organized the first meeting of the International Odontoglossum Alliance during the Vancouver Orchid Society’s 10th International Show and Sale.
In 1987 the Society considered entering a bid to host a future World Orchid Conference. Members of the VOS attended the 12th Conference in Tokyo and gathered important information pertinent to a possible future bid. It was also the first time that a Canadian orchid society entered a display at a World Orchid Conference. Ultimately, at that time the VOS concluded that it did not have the necessary funds to finance and support such a bid.
During 1988 Kay Morphy chaired the first Congress of The Canadian Orchid Societies. In the same year, the noted orchidist Dr. Carl Withner officially became the Botanical Advisor to the VOS.
In 1989 the Vancouver Trade and Convention Centre offered to assist with the financing of a bid to host the World Orchid Conference and
offered interim financing if the VOS was successful. A committee of 25 members from various B.C. orchid societies was formed. Dr. Wally Thomas, Ms. Marjorie Disher and Mr. Dewayne Klobas were all named as Co-Chairs.
Two of the Co-Chairs and a representative from the Canada Food Inspection Agency (Agriculture Canada) attended the next World Conference in New Zealand. However the bid was unsuccessful and Brazil was awarded the conference for 1996.
In 1991 Ms. Diana Burritt became the first member of the Society to achieve the status of an AOS judge. She was soon followed a few months later by another Society member, Ms. Betty Berthiaume. It is interesting to note that our first AOS accredited judges were women.
In 1993 the local Committee put in another bid to host a World Orchid Conference at the Conference in Glasgow. This time the bid was successful
and Vancouver was awarded the opportunity to host the 1999 conference.
As a prelude to hosting the upcoming World Orchid Conference, the Society again had the privilege of hosting the AOS Spring Trustees meeting in April 1996. It was a highly successful function and garnered rave reviews from the attendees.
In 1999 Vancouver had the privilege of hosting the World Orchid Conference at the Vancouver Trade & Convention Centre. It was a tremendous success and the VOS is indebted to the persistence and hard work of the dedicated committee that was so instrumental in bringing this event to our city, a Canadian first.
For more than 9 years Ms.Betty Berthiaume led the ” beginner’s” culture classes for the VOS.
In 2002 Mr. Russ Volker became the third member of the VOS to be accredited as an AOS judge. Mr Volker was also the monthly “show table” judge for over 11 years.
The VOS Annual Spring Shows have been held at various venues over the years, attracting enthusiasts from throughout the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island. Shows have been held at the Library Square Towers, the Croatian Cultural Centre, the Richmond Curling Club and are currently held at the VanDusen Botanical Gardens.
With the support of the VOS and other West Coast Orchid Societies, the American Orchid Society affiliated Pacific Northwest Judging Centre (Pacific Northwest- Richmond) was opened in 2006.
Today the VOS Board of Directors and its many dedicated volunteers are hard at work to modernize the Society by bringing it to the 21st century.
New initiatives include the launch of a new website, rebranding the VOS to appeal to a younger demographic while keeping our loyal members engaged, seeking strategic alliances with like- minded corporate members, and developing a presence on social media through Facebook, Linked-In, YouTube.
The VOS remains dedicated to promoting the education and the love of orchids.