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Weall & Cullen Nurseries Ltd.
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Weall & Cullen Nurseries Ltd. (Weall & Cullen) was founded in 1947 when Leonard Cullen, a landscape gardener, purchased the landscaping business of John Weall for $3,000. Soon after, Leonard Cullen sold John Weall's storefront on Avenue Road in Toronto and jointly purchased land on Sheppard Avenue East in Willowdale, Toronto with his brother, Ken, and Leonard Chambers. Leonard Cullen and his partners built a garden retail center on Sheppard Avenue East, thus establishing Weall & Cullen as a nursery retailer in addition to a landscaping company.
In 1954, Weall & Cullen purchased 22 acres of land on Highway 12 in Whitby. This land was maintained by Ken Cullen as a farm for nursery stock. In subsequent years, Weall & Cullen opened five additional garden retail centres in the following locations in the Greater Toronto Area: Woodbridge (1960); Scarborough (1962); Whitby (1978); Oakville (1988); and Mississauga (ca. 1988). In 1965, Weall & Cullen also purchased roughly 150 acres of land on Taunton Road West in Whitby from Frank Puckrin. 100 acres of this property was designated as nursery farmland. In the early 1970s, the remaining 50-acre tract was transferred to the ownership of Leonard Cullen's company Cullen Gardens Inc.
In the mid-1970s, Weall & Cullen established a subsidiary company, Greendale Agents & Distributors, which supplied garden-related hard goods for the nursery trade in Ontario. In 1983, Weall & Cullen also opened Cullen Country Barns, a retail centre on the border of Markham and Scarborough. Cullen Country Barns featured a casual dining restaurant, gift shop, craft centre, Christmas shop, ice cream patio, theatre, candy kitchen, and bakery.
Mark Cullen, Leonard Cullen's son, was appointed Vice President of Weall & Cullen in 1984. Mark Cullen took over responsibility for Weall & Cullen's garden retail centres, while Leonard Cullen, Weall & Cullen's primary shareholder, managed Greendale Agents & Distributors and Cullen Country Barns. Weall & Cullen continued to expand throughout the late 1980s, adding new locations and renovations to the Woodbridge garden retail centre. Leonard Cullen supported some of this expansion through profits from land sales in Whitby that he converted to shareholder loans.
In October 1988, a fire at the Cullen Country Barns destroyed a significant amount of holiday merchandise. Following this, sales began to decline for the Barns and some other Weall & Cullen locations.
By 1990, Mark Cullen had assumed presidency of Weall & Cullen. In this year, CIBC, Weall & Cullen's mortgage holder, increased pressure on the company to repay its loan. In 1993, Weall & Cullen entered an 18-month negotiation process for the sale of the property on which Cullen Country Barns was located. The sale was concluded in 1994 and Cullen Country Barns closed. In the same year, Weall & Cullen closed its garden retail centres in Oakville and Mississauga. In the process, the organization laid off 300 employees, which comprised roughly half of its staff.
In 2003, Sheridan Nurseries, another nursery retailer in the Greater Toronto Area, purchased Weall & Cullen. Sheridan acquired all operative Weall & Cullen locations at the time, which included the Whitby store. All Weall & Cullen locations were re-branded and re-opened as Sheridan stores.
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Created by Gillian Dunks (Archives at Whitby Public Library) in December 2017.
Cullen, Len and Gwen Cullen. "...Some Fell on Good Ground." Self-Published. 1997.
Cullen, Len and Adele Stephens. "Dig About It...And Dung It." Self-Published. 1983.
Susan Green (Former owner of Cullen Gardens Inc.), interviewed by Gillian Dunks, Whitby, ON, November 2017.