Neal Avenue

Where have all the flowers gone?

An "autographed" Dale rose

Neal Avenue was named for members of the Neal family who owned the Neal greenhouses that were in the vicinity of what is now Neal Avenue.

Alfred Neal Sr. built the greenhouses and. the business was operated for many years under the name Alfred Neal and Son, Florists. He  had come to Canada from England to work at the Dale estate in Brampton, Ont. The Dales and Neals were friends in England and the Dale estate in Brampton became famous for its fresh-cut roses. The name Dale, pricked through the leaf of a rose, became a trademark of excellence. Alfred Neal later came to Stratford and in 1915 was living at 26 Centre St. He and his son, Alfred Boyd Neal, were listed as florists, and the address of their greenhouses then was "Idington," which was subsequently changed to Delamere.

The Neals built a house adjacent to the greenhouses and surrounded by Norway spruce trees. Decades later the house was demolished but some of the Norways are still standing, between Neal Avenue and Glendon Road. By 1937, Alf Neal Sr. and his wife Katherine, and Alf Boyd Neal Jr. and his wife Jean all were living in their new house at 230 Delamere Ave. For many years, the Neals sold cut flowers and plants wholesale and retail from their greenhouses. They also operated two flower shops in downtown Stratford, one at 10 Ontario St., which they shared with Harry McMillan and his picture-framing shop, and the other at 46 Wellington St.

The Neal property stretched down to the Avon River. Much of it, along the Avon and south of William Street, between Hillcrest and Guthrie avenues, they gifted to the people of Stratford. It was a significant addition to the park system, one long forgotten today. Regardless, it's a reminder that Stratford's picturesque parkland system did not evolve by accident. There always have been, and still are, people who care about the city's parks. The Neals are among the many who deserve greater credit and recognition for helping to make them what they are today.


When the Neal greenhouses came down, it was the end of a family business and the end of an era. They provided generations of Stratford residents with fresh flowers and plants. They were among the last in and around Stratford to grow flowers on such a large scale. The Autographed Dale Rose is also gone.   By Stanford Dingman